Acne is a stressor and stress triggers acne. Does that sound like a loop? Well, yes it is! Can skin be cleared of acne fast is a question that is often asked, and it has its answers in two parts. Yes, it can be cleared, and no…….not fast! But some acne facts first before we delve deeper.
I am tempted to quote these lines “Be in love with your acne, they have taught you patience in life“. Whoever coined this is wise. If you hate your acne, it gets you with a vengeance. Acknowledge, accept, and heal – now that’s a good mantra! Couple it with an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and a few high-performance skincare products and you should be good to go.
But What Is Acne?
Is acne pimples? Or blackheads? Or whiteheads? Or breakouts? Well, acne is all of these. Acne is a medical term for blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, pustules, cysts, and nodules (pimples that don’t come out on the surface but just seem like hard bumps inside the skin). Acne is usually diagnosed in stages and here you go :
- Grade 1: Whiteheads and blackheads
- Grade 2: Pus-filled pimples
- Grade 3: Large painful pimples that look like cysts
- Grade 4: A mix of all of the above plus those red bumps which never come out.
A simple acne fact – it is a pore that’s clogged with sebum. When it oxidizes or collects dirt and particulate matter, it turns into a blackhead that later gets inflamed causing pus.
What Causes Acne?
Several factors and that’s what makes it so hard – to diagnose and to treat. The first task is to identify what causes acne in a person and I am hoping this list will help :
Hormonal imbalance is the most common cause of acne, in both males and females with puberty topping the list. Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, or PCOS are other predominant factors in females.
Stress, the second most common cause.
Intake of certain drugs like steroids, bodybuilding supplements, and other hormones.
Improper skin hygiene and by that, we mean usage of wrong skincare products as well as inadequate daily cleansing. Includes makeup removal. Listing a little later in the blog ingredients to be avoided.
Lifestyle – Junk food like fried and fast food. Dairy products, and food with a high glycemic index.
Genes – it can run in the family.
Picking zits and pimples can flare it up further and leave behind scars and pigmentation.
Acne can be mild, or stubborn. Yet, it can be managed and cared for with the right lifestyle and effective topical applications. Diet plays a major role in managing acne and hence, before you begin your deep dive into skincare, give your food choices a thought.
“It seems that for many, the cure to acne is at the end of a fork, not in a prescription pad” – Unknown.
Ingredients You Should Avoid
Synthetic Fragrances The words fragrance, perfume, or parfum are to be viewed with suspicion when it comes to acne. They are skin irritants that you can do without and they can cause breakouts and inflammation.
Essential Oils These oils are extremely concentrated compounds and can cause havoc when applied directly to the skin. Those with acne-prone skin can avoid them completely. Other types of skin too need to be cautious – always dilute the oils in suitable carrier oils.
Carrier oils that work well are jojoba oil, hazelnut oil and hemp oil. Coconut oil and cocoa butter are a no-no for acne skin.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate SLS is a surfactant and hence an irritant to sensitive, or acne-prone skin. It can disrupt the skin barrier leading to inflammations of the skin. Choose sulfate-free cleansers over the rich foaming ones.
Sodium Chloride In simple words, this is sea salt and is often used in cleansers for its exfoliating properties. It also helps thicken formulations. But, it can cause breakouts.
Coconut Oil & Cocoa Butter Though it has gained in popularity amongst those with dry, parched skin, acneic skin can do well without it. Coconut oil contains saturated as well as unsaturated fats and by now we should know that they are bad news for acne-prone skin.
Algae Extract It may be a universally loved ingredient, but it can also be comedogenic as per skincare experts.
Now for some Acne Friendly Ingredients – Apple cider vinegar, baking soda, turmeric, honey, tea tree oil,
Cleansing For Acne Prone Skin
Cleansing and ‘appropriate cleansing’ is the key to managing acne. Earlier in the blog, I brought to your notice that the root cause of acne is pore-clogging.
Is there one ingredient in face cleansers that can alleviate acne? Yes, and that is BHAs – beta hydroxy acids, more specifically Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid is derived from the bark of White Willow and Wintergreen leaves. It works as an anti-infective and anti-fungal agent, thereby protecting the skin from microbes.
Time to look at the next step in skincare – moisturizing. Does oily skin need moisturizing is probably one of the most searched topics on the net, and the answer is yes, it does. Oil or sebum secretion is a continuous process in all types of skin. Sebum is what keeps skin hydrated and looking healthy. Drier the skin, a) darker it gets, b) faster it ages, c) itchier it gets.
Why Does Oily and Acne-prone Skin Need Moisturizing?
There is an oft-quoted misconception that people with oily skin should skip moisturizing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every type of skin needs moisturizing because there is a constant loss of moisture from our skin due to TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss) and weather conditions. The natural tendency of skin is to produce sebum every day, every minute. In the mistaken notion when you deprive the skin of external hydration, it produces even more oil to compensate for the lack. So, the wise ones choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic, and water-based moisturizer to keep their oily skin hydrated.
An important ingredient we all must look for in a moisturizer is Hyaluronic Acid. It is sometimes called the ‘moisture magnet’ because it attracts moisture and retains it in the skin, keeping tissues lubricated and plump.
Are Toners & Face Mists Good For Acne?
Yes, yes, and yes! Toners do oily and acne-prone skin a good turn. They lend a hand in some additional cleansing. They unclog pores and dislodge makeup more easily. Often, toners and mists can be substituted for moisturizers when skin feels dry. Air-conditioned spaces and dry and cold weather can dehydrate skin. Work, travel, sports, or even leisure sometimes is not conducive to frequent application of moisturizers. That’s when toners and mists are so convenient! Just a spray all over your face and neck, and skin feels hydrated.
Bonus Tip :
And before we move on to another skin topic in our next blog, I wish to remind you to stay clear of sugar, all refined foods, eat a nutritious diet, sleep and exercise adequately, meditate to keep stress at bay, and stay happy. Show acne the backdoor with these great lifestyle habits.