Our resident Skin Agony Aunt Joanne dishes the dirt on all things acne and shares her simple steps to ensure its ‘acne out’ and ‘clear complexion’ in.
Acne sufferers will normally notice the following:
- Greasy and shiny skin with enlarged pores
- Inflammation in and around sebaceous glands (redness and swelling)
- Comedones (Blackheads)
- Papules (hardened pimples under or raised on the skin that do not develop a white head)
- Pustules (Pus filled pimples that may be angry and sore to touch)
- Cysts and nodules (commonly on the back of the neck that are very slow to heal)
So, what causes Acne?
Acne usually begins to develop when there is an increase in hormone production during puberty that stimulates the sebaceous glands. So, all those lovely hormones affect the glands that produce the oil in your skin. Your hormones put your glands in overdrive so they are working really hard pumping out oil, but often this overproduction in oil doesn’t have a clear exit route.Imagine a kind of roadblock ahead on an extra busy road, the blockage is caused by dead skin cells that the skin sheds every 21-28 days.
A blackhead forms in the sebaceous duct, the main road way, caused by this increase of sebum, then the mouth of the follicle is blocked there is nowhere for the oil to go. Because the free flow of the oil is impassable by this plug of sebum and dead skin cells, it becomes blocked and turns black when exposed to the air these are commonly known as blackheads. Alternatively, the blockage could raise above the skin surface and develop into a whitehead.
Nodular acne is a little more serious as it involves bacteria. Although it’s normal to have bacteria on your skin, it can turn into an infection when it gets trapped in your pores alongside sebum and dead skin cells. The resulting infection can go deep underneath your skin, causing the affected pores to become red and swollen. It can be quite painful and can sometimes require an antibiotic.
Inflamed cysts are the cause of more severe cases of acne. Usually found on the back of the neck, they can also be slow to heal. The Cysts can look like large, red boils. Cysts reside deep underneath the skin’s surface. But because they’re filled with pus, cysts are softer than nodules. When the cysts burst open this can lead to infection. Acne cysts develop when the contents of blackheads and or whiteheads “spill” into surrounding areas of the skin. Then the body perceives an attack, and the immune system responds by producing pus.
Every three to four weeks the skin replenishes new cells, causing a layer of dead skin cells to form on the top of the skin. Once these cells mix with any excess oil they sink down into your pores and form blackheads or they can form bumps above the skin. This problem can also lead to the cycle of blockages detailed above becoming an issue.
My Top Tips
- Double cleanse twice daily, use an active cleanser once a day to help exfoliate the build-up of skin cells from the pore and one containing salicylic acid, BHA that can travel through the oil is my preferred choice.
- Tone to keep the pores clear and minimise the appearance of your pores, use an active toner to help clear the dead skin cells that are leading to the blockages.
- Use a treatment moisturiser to suit your skin type, use this until your acne breakout is under control then treat with a bridging moisturiser.
- Wear SPF daily ( this is the key to protecting you from accelerated ageing, skin cancer and helps balance oil production in the skin)
- Use AHA’s to clear dead skin cells and freshen the complexion. Try a Glycolic or lactic acid either in a serum, mask or a wash to clear the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to reveal a fresher complexion
- Use a makeup that will not clog the pore, I recommend the below.
- Look at supplements to help especially Vitamin A, B and C
It increases the natural exfoliation process of the skin, it aids skin rejuvenation and healing and It helps with enlarged pores as it strengthens the skins elasticity
B6 Helps with balancing hormones. A B6 supplement will help with hormonal breakout whilst, Niacin- B3 is hydrating, Lightening and Brightening.
Reduces redness in the skin, helps with the health of the blood vessels and helps with inflammation.