We’ve been discussing acne this month, and chances are you’ve been relying solely on topical care. Here’s a fundamental truth: Acne is a wound. That’s how your body sees it, so let’s shift our approach in controlling acne from “search & destroy” to that of a more healing, supportive and less-is-more, but consistent approach. With that new way of thinking, here are some things to remember when deciding what to incorporate into your topical acne care regimen.
- Over-wash: in most cases, cleansing twice daily is adequate to keep this skin clean. Too-frequent cleansing can strip the skin of valuable moisture and microbes, making acne worse.
- Use harsh ingredients: While ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, retinoic acid, glycolic and salicylic acids can be very beneficial for controlling acne (particularly in the early stages of treatment), using ingredients like this for prolonged periods and especially in high percentages, can often cause more sensitivity and irritation.
- Pick or pop pimples: You wouldn’t pick at other wounds on your body (we hope), so pickign on acne wont’ help it heal either. It also creats a portal for some realy bad bacteria to enter your body and can lead to serious infections! Picking often leads to scarring that is very difficult and expensive to try and eliminate later on.
- Try to kill all bacteria: Remember, your skin has its’ own microbiome too – bacterial microbes that are native and beneficial to the healthy function of your skin. The goal here should be reducing the overgrowth of bacteria by incorporating more gentle and natural ingredients to control bacteria (see below).
- Over-exfoliate: You can’t scrub, peel or microdermabrade your way out of this condition. Exfoliating too often (at home or professionally), can make acne MUCH worse and can cause scarring, hyperpigmentation, irritation, and hyper-sensitive skin. An appropriate exfoliating wash or mask for your skin type/sensitivity can be used intermittently to help control the abnormal production of skin cells that is often part of the problem with acne.
Incorporate beneficial ingredients into your skincare regimen:
- Anti-inflammatory ingredients like licorice root extracts (glycyrrhiza glabra, lichocalcone), sea whip (a marine extract), aloe barbadensis, gluconolactone, and
essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus and chamomile are all naturally derived and can be very effective at helping to reduce inflammation topically.
- Encourage proper skin cell production and exfoliation with AHA’s like lactic and azelaic acid as well as low-dose glycolic, BHA’s like salicylic acid in lower concentrations, and the “gold standard” retinol or prescription retinoic acid (consider using these cyclically for best results with limited irritation).
- Control over-production of oil (sebum) hyaluronic Acid and panthenol can bind moisture and balance hydration, lactic acid can attract moisture too, lemon and grapefruit peel oils, cinnamon bark and ginger root all help to normalize oil production in the skin.
- Reduce overgrowth of bacteria with Low-dose BPO, salicylic acid, spirea ulmaria, sulfur, tea tree, sage and thyme oils.
A good skincare product will incorporate the right mixture of these beneficial ingredients to address as many causes of acne as possible without relying on high doses of just one or two ingredients.
Get help from a licensed skin care professional: Acne can be a progressive condition – worsening over time if not addressed properly and can lead to scarring and pigmentation that are very difficult to address, even after the acne itself has subsided. Sometimes trying to figure out what’s going on in your skin and what products are best for YOU can be frustrating and costly. Having someone with knowledge and skill can help you figure it out more effectively.
Next week, we’ll focus on other internal factors for helping to control acne from the #skinside out.