Acne is a widespread ailment, yet very few people understand how to treat it. Clearing up skin often requires actions that seem counter-intuitive and fly in the face of conventional wisdom about skincare.
Nearly everyone deals with the occasional pimple, but people who are truly acneic- people who struggle with breakouts year after year, and usually have a family history of acne- actually produce a different kind of sebum (skin oil) than people who are not acneic.
Scientists have discovered that the sebum produced by acneic peoples’ sebaceous glands is thicker, and therefore harder to expel. Additionally, acneic skin has less lamellar granules, which means it doesn’t exfoliate itself as regularly as “normal” skin does. Acneic skin is also deficient in linoleic acid- an essential fatty acid.
We are barraged with information about our skin- it seems like every other day we’re presented with new data (usually tied to a pricey product or treatment). So what does this data about acne mean? More importantly, how do we apply it to our skin care routine? Not to worry- we have written a list of DOs and DON’TS in the fight against acne….
KEEP IT NATURAL
Most people dealing with acne are far better suited using organic products that aren’t specifically marketed towards “acne” than any of the chemical-laden “acne products” lining drugstore shelves. A simple, green routine helps your skin reach a natural balance instead of putting it under the stress of the constant push-pull of drying ingredients and irritating chemicals that at best clears skin of acne while leaving it red, flaky, sensitized, and prematurely aged.
DO NOT USE A DRYING “ACNE” CLEANSER
I get it. You look in the mirror and see your face covered in breakouts and just want toCLEAN! Acne makes us feel dirty- and most of us know enough about skin to know it’s somehow connected to oil, so our first instinct is to strip that oil away- “starve out” the congestion. Unfortunately this won’t happen, and what WILL happen is your skin will produce even more oil to compensate for its dryness….and since acneic sebum is that special, extra thick sebum I explained about earlier; the last thing you want to do is trigger your skin to make more of it. Any time you get that “tight, clean” feeling after washing your face you are using a product that is too drying. Avoid sulfates, perfumes, and dyes, all of which are drying and sensitizing (while simultaneously doing nothing good for the skin; they’re used to make products look prettier and to cut costs).
On that note: non-drying oil-based cleansers are perfect for acneic skin. Oil attracts oil- providing a deep clean without drying your face, and both of our organic cleansers are oil-based and free of sulfates, perfumes, or dyes. Our Elixir de Beaute cleanser is mildly astringent, which makes it wonderful for all but the most sensitive skin- and perfect for dealing with acne.
Because acneic skin is not as good at exfoliating itself as non-acneic skin, it’s especially important for acneic people to exfoliate. A common misconception about exfoliating is that aggressive scrubs are highly effective. They aren’t– in fact manual exfoliation is often more harmful than helpful. Those ubiquitous rough apricot scrubs we all grew up using can causemicro-tearing, irritation, and pore enlargement! Additionally, using an aggressive scrub on broken out skin both increases the chance for scarring and spreads bacteria around, potentially causing more pimples. Far preferable to aggressive scrubs for polishing skin is using an oscillating brush (I love my Clarisonic!) every other time you cleanse- it gently sloughs off dead skin without damaging or stretching pores. Our Elixir de Beaute cleanser has finely ground champagne seeds in it for an incredibly gentle daily exfoliation boost.
When dealing with acne alpha hydroxy acids- especially lactic acid- are highly effective exfoliants. Physical exfoliants (scrubs, etc) only polish the very top of skin; AHAs go deeper and trigger our skin to make “new skin”- meaning scars, hyperpigmentation and fine lines are minimized…as so is acne.
Getting professional-grade fruit enzyme peels like the organic lactic acid treatments ones our estheticians administer at the spa regularly is ideal, especially when combined with extractions and high frequency treatment, as during our 60 minute Fruit Enzyme Facial. Lactic acid is the most multitasking of all AHAs: it exfoliates, brightens, and hydrates. Using lactic acid helps prevent future breakouts while simultaneously hydrating and fading acne scars and hyper-pigmentation. At home, apply an organic lactic serum one to three times a week at night.
It is especially important to wear your sunscreen after using chemical exfoliants. On that note…
WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN
Compromised skin is easily scarred skin. If you aren’t using sun protection during breakoutsyou will get hyper-pigmentation. Use a physical sunscreen if chemical sunscreens sting or irritate, but whatever you do, use a sunscreen. Wear a sunscreen if you are naturally fair, and wear a sunscreen if you have dark skin. Nobody is immune from the need for sun protection. Our Red Raspberry serum is a great way to boost the power of your SPF while simultaneously providing that linoleic acid acneic skin is deficient, hydrating, and soothing our skin!
KEEP SKIN HYDRATED
Again, you don’t want your skin to make that sebum, and if you aren’t keeping moisturized your skin starts overcompensating and producing more of it. A lot of people are amazed their skin is dehydrated even though they drink tons of water- but there’s only so much hydration that can come from the inside out. Our skin is constantly being assaulted by the world around it, and even if we aren’t using products on it that contain sulfates, fillers, dyes or perfumes, we can have a hard time keeping in balance. Because acneic skin is deficient in linoleic acid, linoleic-rich oil based serums like ours are ideal for moisturizing acne-prone skin.
Our clients are constantly amazed that using oil on their face actually reduces their acne. The idea that we have to age our faces with harsh chemicals or suffer with acne is false. When serum is combined with vitamin-rich organic face moisturizer like our Creme Luxe to seal in the moisture, skin can achieve the balance it needs to heal. Our day serum helps boost SPF and prevent scarring, and our Pumpkin Night Serum helps fade hyperpigmentation and scars.
TREAT (AND SPOT TREAT) WISELY
While our organic Tea Tree Toner is gentle enough for daily all-over use, strengthens skin’s acid mantle, and helps skin fight off the bacteria that causes acne, most topical acne treatments are much to harsh to put all over our faces. It is important to spot treat.
Here’s a tip: when you feel a pimple coming on, dab some benzoyl peroxide on just that area. Benzoyl peroxide works by oxygenating your pores and preventing the pimple from fully forming, which means once it’s a full-grown zit it’s too late. Using benzoyl peroxide then just makes skin flaky and more irritated.
Our non-drying Manuka Honey Masque is also great at preventing breakouts, while simultaneously soothing compromised skin.
5 Simple Steps to Clearer Skin
- Cleanse with an organic oil based cleanser like our Elixir de Beaute
- Tone with a mildly astringent, organic toner like our Tea Tree Toner
- Hydrate and boost UV protection with our Red Raspberry Seed Serum during the day/ Hydrate and fight uneven pigmentation and scarring at night with our Pumpkin Seed Serum. Both serums are rich in linoleic acid, which acneic skin is deficient in.
- Seal in moisture and deliver vitamins and minerals to skin with a light organic moisturizer, like Creme Luxe 1
- Apply an organic, mineral sunscreen to protect skin.
We are always happy to answer any skin questions and concerns- stop by our West Village boutique or email us at email@example.com so we can come up with the perfect skincare program for you! xoxo