As a Skin Therapist for many years, I get asked these questions all the time: "I have acne, what can I use?” or "How can I fix my acne?” and “Why won't my acne go away?”.
However, this is not a simple, straight forward answer. Hopefully I can help guide you through the answers and understand that issue better.
Why do we get Acne?
Acne is an inflammation of the hair follicle. This inflammation occurs when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil, dead skin, or bacteria. They can also occur due to an infection of the hair follicle and sebaceous gland.
How does the sebum get clogged?
Each pore of your skin is the opening to a follicle. The follicle is made up of a hair and a sebaceous (oil) gland that releases sebum, which travels up the hair, out of the pore, and onto your skin. The sebum keeps your skin lubricated and soft.
However, with an acne skin, the sebum is thick and tacky in consistency, like butter. Which is likely to cause blockage when moving from the oil gland through the narrow hair follicle to the skin's surface. Once the passage becomes blocked it is easy for infection to begin.
Acne bacteria is what causes breakouts. It is an anaerobic bacteria, which means it can not survive in an oxygenated environment. Hence, when there is a blockage, there is no oxygen getting to the pore and the bacteria thrives in this environment.
What does acne look like?
- Blackheads - They’re open at the surface of the skin, and become black because of oxygen in the air.
- Whiteheads - They’re closed and hard just under the surface of the skin, giving them a white appearance.
- Papules - Small, red, raised bumps caused by inflamed or infected hair follicles.
- Pustules - Small red pimples with pus at their head, our immune response to a congestion
- Nodules - Solid, painful lumps deeper beneath the surface of your skin
- Cysts - Large lumps found beneath your skin containing pus and infection in the dermal tissues - they’re painful too.
What are the causes or triggers of acne?
- Genetics - Hereditary tendency to overproduce skin cells or sebum
- Hormonal changes - Puberty, escalation of testosterone, menstrual cycles, and additional health issues
- Lifestyle habits - Lifestyle factors, work environment, poor hygiene, environmental aggressions, change of season, climate and pollution
- Diet - High glycemic foods, dairy, and sugary drinks
- Gut health - Unhealthy microbiome
What ingredients and products are essential for acne-prone skins?
Salicylic Acid - This ingredient is highly regarded to combat acne due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic Acid is an oil-loving acid. It absorbs the oil from the hair follicle giving it a deep clean.