If you’ve found your way here, it's probably because you have acne, which includes whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. It's also possible that you've visited several doctors, and tried multiple treatments, only to be disappointed. I can relate because I had acne for seven long years. I learned a lot along the way however, and was able to clear up my skin. In this post I'll share everything I learned that helped me so that you don't have to suffer like I did.
Since you're probably wondering what my skin looked like before and what it looks like now, I've attached images. The two on the left are from 2016 (it was worse than it looks in the pictures) and the one on the right is from 2019.
Here's what I'm going to cover in this post:
What Is Acne?
Acne, not to be confused with fungal acne (Fungal acne looks similar but is not the same thing. You can learn about it here) occurs when the hair follicles - also called pores - in your skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It starts as micro-comedones - blockages that are too small to see. Blackheads - open comedones - and whiteheads - closed comedones - are the smallest visible type of acne.
As the size of a comedone increases, it ruptures the wall of the hair follicle resulting in redness and inflammation. These inflamed comedones, are commonly known as pimples. Pimples can take the form of papules - red bumps without pus - or pustules - bumps that contain pus.
If the clogged pores are deeper and more irritated, they can even turn into painful, deep nodules - solid lumps - and cysts - pus-filled lumps. Nodular and cystic acne are the worst kinds and tend to leave the deepest scars.
Acne is most common among teenagers, but can affect people of all ages. Depending on its severity, acne can cause emotional distress and scarring. The earlier you start treatment, the lower your risk of such problems.
How Does Acne Develop?
4 internal factors are thought to contribute to the development of acne:
High sebum production. This occurs when the sebaceous - oil producing - glands in the skin are hypersensitive to normal circulating levels of hormones called androgens.
Hyperkeratinization. This occurs when the cells in the hair follicle don't exfoliate properly and instead form clumps that clog your pores.
Cutibacterium acnes (formerly known as Propionibacterium acnes) is a type of bacterium that lives on the skin of most healthy adults and subsists mostly on sebum, cellular debris, and metabolic byproducts from surrounding tissue. Clogged pores create the perfect environment for this bacterium to grow and multiply.
Inflammation. As the C. acnes bacteria grow, they secrete waste products and enzymes. These damage skin cells and trigger an immune response resulting in inflamed acne.
External Causes Of Acne
Medications like lithium, steroids, and anticonvulsants.
Exposure to excess sunlight. This can cause sebum to oxidise, making it more likely to clog your pores.
Endocrine disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and sometimes even pregnancy.
Stress and lack of sleep.
Genetics. Genetic factors determine how thick and sticky your sebum is.
Skincare. Just like what you put in your body has an impact on your internal health and weight, what you put on your skin has an impact on your skin's health. You don't need to use a lot of products to have good skin, but you do need to ensure that the products that you're using are well formulated and right for your skin type. In most cases, acne can clear up completely just by consistently having a good skincare routine.
Skin Care For Acne-Prone Skin: 4 Key Steps
Before anything else, I want you to know that the routines I'm about to recommend below work and I'm going to attach before and after images some of our customers have shared with us to prove it. You don't need to just take my word for it.
So without further ado, here's a quick breakdown of the routine. Specific routine recommendations for different acne types follow.
Step 1: Cleanser: Wash your face 1 to 2 times per day with a gentle, pH balanced cleanser. Harsh cleansers disrupt the skin barrier, creating more problems than they solve. Don't forget to double cleanse if you've been wearing makeup or sunscreen!
Step 2: Treatment: Different treatment options exist for acne. Popular ones include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinol. Salicylic acid is my personal favourite. It works by helping dead skin cells shed off more easily. It acts faster than retinol and is less irritating for the skin than benzoyl peroxide. You can find more information on incorporating salicylic acid into your routine here.
Step 3: Moisturiser: A non-negotiable step that's essential for healthy skin, even if your skin is oily. The trick lies in finding one that works well for you.
Step 4: SPF: UV rays can aggravate acne and post acne marks and redness. So definitely don't forget SPF in the morning, especially if you're going to be out in the sun!
Recommendations For Mild Acne Or Acne With Sensitive Skin
Mild acne is when your skin is mostly clear except for blackheads and whiteheads and occasional pimples in the form of papules and pustules as opposed to deeper cysts. If this describes your acne, here's what you should do. In the morning, wash your face with our Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser and follow up with our Million Dollar Moisturiser. Moisturise while your skin is still damp for maximum benefit. Follow up with a suitable SPF.
At night, wash your face with the Salicylic Acid Cleanser (If your skin is sensitive start by using this 3 times per week and using the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser on all other nights. Build up use of the Salicylic Acid Cleanser slowly to as much as your skin can tolerate.) and follow up with the Million Dollar Moisturiser. That's all you need to start with.
Recommendations For Moderate To Severe Acne - Normal To Oily Skin
When your acne is cystic or nodular to any extent, here's what you should do. In the morning, wash your face with our Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser and follow up with our AccuHydra Gel Cream Moisturiser. Moisturise while your skin is still damp for maximum benefit. Follow up with a suitable SPF.
At night, wash your face with our Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Follow up with our Salicylic Acid Pore Cleansing Emulsion. Start by using this 3 times a week. Use 3-4 drops on your entire face. Avoid the eye area. Follow up with the AccuHydra Gel Cream Moisturiser.
Recommendations For Moderate To Severe Acne - Normal To Dry Skin
When your acne is cystic or nodular to any extent, here's what you should do. In the morning, wash your face with our Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser and follow up with our Carbamide Intensive Hydration Cream. Moisturise while your skin is still damp for maximum benefit. Follow up with a suitable SPF.
At night, wash your face with our Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Follow up with our Carbamide Intensive Hydration Cream. Three times a week (to start with and then you can slowly build up to as much as your skin is able to tolerate) replace this with our Salicylic Acid Moisturiser. Use a pea sized amount on your entire face. Avoid the eye area.
Still have questions? Reach out for a free skincare consultation. :)