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What's the best treatment for acne?
Problematic, congested or acne-prone skin can be a real confidence drainer. Although most people associate this condition with teenagers, adult acne is on the rise, with causes blamed on everything from diet and stress to environmental factors such as pollution, and reduced Vitamin D levels from less sun exposure. With today's Coronavirus threats, 'mask-ne' has also become a significant concern for all ages, particularly on the chin and cheeks area covered by masks. The key to solving problematic skin is understanding the cause... and a bit of patience!
For hormonal acne, it's important to remember that the source of spottiness is inside your body, so there is a limit to what something you put on the surface can do. Here's why. Androgen levels in teenage puberty cause your skin to produce excess sebum (the natural oil that moisturises your skin) which then combines with loose dead skin cells from the skin's surface and bacteria to create sticky 'plugs' that can then block pores. Bacteria gets in too - as our skin is naturally covered with bacteria, plus it's picked up on makeup, wipes, hair and through touching your face. If a blocked pore becomes aggravated, you might see redness, inflammation, irritation and sometimes a 'whitehead' (in dermatological terms, it's called a pustule) which is the sign of bacterial infection.. the pus appears whitish-yellow and contains the dead bacteria and used up white blood cells that are fighting the infection. For 'mask-ne', the cause is less about the excess production of sebum in the skin, but more about the build up of bacteria which is then 'trapped' against your skin by the mask. Excess moisture from your breath can also make things worse, as your exhalations will also contain bacteria to add to the party.
So with all this going on, it can be hard to stay 100% zit-free - but we can definitely apply some clever thinking and the right product ingredients to improve the situation.
First up in the fight against spots is cleansing. We need to remove as much bacteria and as many dead skin cells as possible from your skin. Ingredients like Salicylic Acid helps strip those dead cells away, and anti-bacterial agents like Tea Tree reduce bacteria levels on the skin. Remember if you wear make up that you definitely need to pre-cleanse first. Think of it as firstly removing makeup, then cleansing your skin. We love Environ's pre-cleansing oil... it literally melts away even the toughest foundations and waterproof makeup. To keep skin nice and clear, a Toner is essential - as it's the second cleansing step and an extra layer of dead skin cell removal that problematic skin really benefits from. Again look for acid-based toners - we love Environ's SebuTone.
So, with fewer bacteria and fewer dead skin cells, we are on the way!
The next important step is to moisturise. Yes, we know it's counter-intuitive, but trust us! One of the reasons that sebum production can get out of control is if the skin is desperately thirsty and trying to moisturise itself... by making even more sebum. Although you may not feel like your skin needs moisture, it definitely does - so adding a lightweight, easily absorbed moisturiser or facial oil is essential to feed your skin with moisture. Top tip - look for products containing Vitamin A "the skin vitamin", which helps to balance and normalise skin.
Lastly, protect. Problematic skin is more prone to picking up damage from free radicals and UV, so always complete your routine with a broad-spectrum SPF which also contains anti-oxidants. These wonder ingredients 'munch' up the free radicals, to help keep your skin in better condition.
For mask wearers, change your mask regularly, at least every 4 hours. Either use disposables, or use a high grade cotton or silk mask, washed in a non-bio or eco laundry detergent. Always dry your masks naturally not in the tumbler, to preserve the fibres.
And lastly... tempting though it is, never pop a whitehead or spot! 3 main reasons;
- the action of squeezing causes damage to the surrounding tissue, and can lead to scarring in the longer term
- squeezing forces the infection deeper into the skin so it takes longer for the spot to heal and disappear
- if you do manage to get the pus out, it's on your skin and fingers and there's a very high chance you'll spread it to new areas of the face
plus... honestly, it's MUCH easier to cover up a whitehead with make up than a popped, oozing spot... you know it's true!