What is acne?

What is the solution to the problem?

What can I do about the acne breakouts?
It is a genetically-inherited disease, which is the result of several factors occurring in the skin. Aside from excess oil secreted by the sebaceous glands, there is a proliferation of cells that clog the pores, trapping oil in the follicle. Bacteria inhabit the follicle and digest the oils, generating waste products which then cause the irritation to the skin. Oilier skin conditions tend to experience more breakouts because they provide more food for the bacteria. Teenagers’ hormonal changes increase oil production, in turn increasing the problem.

Is it a prevalent pang of adolescence, or a life-long skin health challenge? Turns out it can be both.

While it is associated with teenage years filled with raging hormones and the struggle for social acceptance, many adults are finding themselves caught in the middle of an acne epidemic. Skin care professionals and dermatologists alike are also reporting adult with the problem is on the rise.

Clinical studies indicate between 40 and 55 percent of the adult population in the 20 to 40 age group has been diagnosed with low grade, persistent acne and oily skin, with the primary catalyst identified as chronic stress.

Balancing personal and professional responsibilities makes this generation of adults the most time-compressed generation in history, which contributes to chronic stress: the constant, continued and heightened level of stress that throws our adrenal glands into overdrive, which in turn can boost sebum production, setting the stage for acne development.

Once there’s a boost in sebum production, the cascade of events leading to breakouts begins: oil spills onto skin’s surface and acts as a binder, creating a mixture of oil and cells that blocks oxygen from entering the pores. The lack of oxygen creates the ultimate breeding ground for bacteria, which leads to the swelling, redness, and inflammation around the follicle, resulting in acne.

Adult cases are often more persistent and more inflammatory than teenage cases. Adult acne is also often accompanied by skin sensitization, or a combination of skin conditions, which makes treatment more challenging. To successfully treat, clear and prevent it, the cascade of events leading to the development must be controlled; but don’t turn to popular teen-centric treatments that may be too harsh and irritating.

What can I do at home to help my breakouts?
Excellent skin care and hygiene are vitally important to remove the excess oils and bacteria. Products are non-comedogenic and completely water-soluble, making them ideal for breakout-prone skin. Always follow a strict regimen of thorough cleansing with skin wash and lukewarm (never hot) water, followed with a hydrating conditioner Multi-Active Toner, and an oil-free moisturiser. Exfoliate twice a week to help the skin rid itself of congestion-causing debris. Clearing Gel helps regulate sebum (oil) production, remove follicle-clogging debris and kill bacteria. For an existing breakout, Benzoyl Peroxide provides unsurpassed clearing while a calming mask reduces irritation. In addition, lifestyle changes can often improve your skin. Try to reduce stress, drink plenty of water and limit your intake of caffeine and cigarettes, which may stimulate the adrenal glands and promote oil production. And always remember never to pick or squeeze pimples, as you'll be left with an even bigger blemish and a scar to remember it by!

How should I change my regimen if I am taking prescription acne medication?
If, after a month of following your recommended regimen your complexion does not clear, it may be time to involve a dermatologist.
Depending on what you were prescribed, you'll have to make some adjustments to your at-home regimen, to help your skin adjust to the new medication. For example, you may opt for a more gentle cleanser. Users of Retin-A, Adapalene and Accutane should not use any exfoliating products, or undergo waxing on the treated areas. All users of prescription exfoliating products, as well as of antibiotics, should avoid sun exposure as much as possible, and apply a Solar Defence product with a minimum SPF15 daily.

What is the difference between acne vulgaris and rosacea?
Vulgaris a more common form and is caused by clogging and inflammation of the skin's hair follicles. Rosacea, on the other hand, is not actually a form of acne at all, even though it looks that way in its early stages. Rosacea is an inherited vascular disorder in which the blood vessels of the face become swollen after repeated exposure to certain triggers such as extreme temperatures, alcohol, spicy food, etc. While it starts as a simple blushing, it advances into bumps on the face that look like an breakout. Rosacea is treatable... but not by the same regimen! Skin prone to Rosacea must be treated gently to avoid triggering redness and inflammation, and may also require a dermatologist’s prescription for special medication to control the symptoms.

You may have heard of comedogenic ingredients that cause or promote comedones in skin. You may not be as familiar with acnegenic ingredients – those that cause or exacerbate the problem. These common ingredients can be hiding within the treatment products, causing ineffective treatment of your breakouts.

Here’s what to look for:
Lanolin: Derived from the words "lana" for wool and "oleum" for oil, Lanolin is a fatty substance obtained from the sheep’s wool. While it’s a known emollient with moisturising properties, it can have skin-clogging capabilities, triggering the cycle of breakouts.

Fragrance: Artificial fragrances can increase the infection, skin sensitization and photosensitivity.

D & C red pigments: Some of these dyes, which are coal tar derivatives, have exhibited highly comedogenic and acnegenic properties.

Mineral Oil: Mineral Oil is an occlusive (something that physically blocks water loss in the Stratum corneum). It’s used in many products, however, has been shown to cause and exacerbate.

Speak with your professional skin therapist about products free of comedogenic and acnegenic ingredients, and that contain known botanical extracts that help inhibit the growth of acnegenic bacteria.

Do your laundry habits affect your skin?
Cut through the rumours and understand the facts to further your understanding of how to keep skin clear.

Myth 1: A blackhead is actually dirt inside the pore.
FALSE! Blackheads, known as open comedones, are simply whiteheads that have reached the skin’s surface, triggering oxidization upon contact with air. Oxidization makes the comedone change/darken in colour (think how an apple turns brown after it’s been cut).

Myth 2: Sugary, refined foods contribute to the problem.
This is actually a misinterpretation – these foods don’t directly cause the problem, but they do feed the breeding ground for acne by exacerbating sebum production. Speak to your professional skin therapist to find out if your oil production is being triggered by specific food intake.

Myth 3: Sunscreens increase oil production and feed bacteria.
FALSE. Speak with your professional skin therapist about new, sophisticated formulations that provide sun protection with skin care benefits, including oil control and minimization of bacteria.

Myth 4: Stay away from fabric softeners.
TRUE! Try to stay away from use of fabric softeners on sheets and pillowcases. Beef lard and fragrance are the main ingredients, and they’ll coat your skin!

Preventing acne on the body
Blackheads and whiteheads can appear anywhere on the face, chest, back, or even lower! Blackheads occurring on the body are most common in those with genetically oily skin. However, a person using comedogenic or acnegenic lotions or body care products can experience blackheads on the body.

Here are 6 tips to help control and prevent it on the body:
Wear natural fibres, or fabrics specifically engineered to wick moisture away from the skin. This is especially important if you're working out.

Experiencing it where you carry a backpack or purse?
Carry a bag with your hands instead.

Shower as soon as possible after perspiring. If you can’t shower, carry a travel-friendly product containing Salicylic Acid to help purify and clear skin of excess oils.

Wash the affected areas with a cleanser designed for acne-prone skin.

After allowing the skin to dry, apply a product containing benzoyl peroxide to the affected areas.

If you often suffer from dry skin, moisturise, using a non-comedogenic moisturiser. Excessively dry skin can lead to breakouts.

Visit your professional skin therapist for your skin analysis and customized product prescription.

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