I am not one who's blessed with perfect skin. I have dealt with so many skin issues growing up and i am sure many of you who have been long time followers would have seen some parts of my skincare struggles. Oh boy, what a journey my skin has went through in this lifetime of mine! Till today, even though i am better equipped with all the knowledge, i still face the occasional pimples and clogged pores because having perfect flawless skin is so much more than just following a good skincare routine. Hormones, diet, stress and climate changes can cause acne. I also tried Accutane at one point as i wanted to rid Acne once and for all but unfortunately, i could not deal with the side effects.
Different types of acne i have personally faced in my life.
What is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles (pores) become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Comedones on the other hand is a non-inflammed clogged pore in the skin. Open comedones are known as blackheads and closed comedones are known as white head.
4 Main Factors that cause Acne:
- Bacteria (P. acnes)
- Sebaceous gland hyperactivity (excess oil production)
Hormonal Imbalances - Males: Testosterone Females: Luteinizing hormones following ovulation which results in the increased gland activity or excessive androgen states such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Changes in follicular keratinization (pores clogged by oil and dead skin cells)
How to deal with Acne, Blackheads and Closed Comedones?
What are BHA and AHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid vs Alpha Hydroxy Acid)?
They are comedolytics that remove the substances that clog pores. They unglue dead cells to make them slough off the skin without physical traumatic irritation.
AHA is water soluble while BHA is lipid (oil) soluble. A popular BHA we find in many "anti-acne" products is Salicylic Acid. BHAs are able to penetrate sebaceous material in the pores and induce exfoliation within it (remove dead skin cells and excess sebum). BHAs also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it great for reducing acne. To prevent closed comedones and rid it, you can use AHAs. AHAs work on the surface of your skin to get rid of dead skin cells built up. Some popular AHAs are - Glycolic Acid (smaller molecules, can penetrate deeper but can be too strong for people with a damaged skin barrier), Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid (bigger molecules, ideal for sensitive skin).
A helpful and easy way to remember what the chemical exfoliant is for:
(A)HA works Above
(B)HA works Below
Apply an Essence and/or Serum with ingredients to help repair your skin and calm down inflammation - look out for ingredients (like Centella Asiatica Extract, Calendula Extract, Green Tea Extract, Honey/Propolis, Snail Secretion...etc) which will soothe your skin, reduce redness, speed up wound healing, fade dark spots and hydrate your skin at the same time.
Always put on Moisturizer. Some think that avoiding putting anything at all on the face will help get rid of acne fast, but this is a misconception. Failing to moisturize your skin can lead to over-drying, which can cause excess oil production. Keeping your skin hydrated with an oil-free lightweight moisturizer designed for acne-prone skin is an important step toward clear skin.
After you have learnt to build a good basic skincare routine, you can learn more about the available Treatments for Acne.
Beneficial Ingredients to look out for in your Skincare for the treatment of Mild-Moderate Acne Treatment are:
- Salicylic Acid (BHA)
Moderate-Severe Acne Treatment
If all of the Over-The-Counter products do not seem to work, there are stronger options which you can only obtain with a prescription from a registered medical practitioner.
Prescription Only Medications
- Topical Antibiotics + Benzoyl Peroxide (Clindoxyl Gel)
- Oral Antibiotics (doxycycline, erythromycin, minocycline)
- Contraceptive Pills for females such as Yaz
- Adapalene (Differin)
- Benzoyl Peroxide + Adapalene (Epiduo Gel)
- Tretinoin Cream (Retin-A)
- Isotretinoin (Accutane) *the success rate of this medication is very high and it is the most effective way to get rid of acne, however there are many side effects hence this is usually the last resort
Other Treatments (in clinic treatments)
- Laser treatments (carbon laser peel – reduce sebum production, reduce P.acnes on the skin)
- Hydrafacial (contains Salicylic acid in the serums which help to reduce inflammation and unclog pores. it’s vortex suction technology helps to remove dirt in pores without physical extractions which can result in further inflammation and scarring.)
- Chemical Peels
- Light Therapy- Blue/ Red light treatment/ IPL (kills bacteria)