Everyone at some point or another has had a pimple: a red, irritated bump on the surface of the skin that hurts to the touch and makes you want to hide your face in shame.
The most common complaint I hear from clients during their pre-facial consultation is breakouts. Everyone wants to be rid of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and blemishes. Unfortunately acne conditions are more prevalent than ever. “Acne affects approximately 95% of the population…“ (Source: Journal of Reproduction Medicine).
I suffered with acne for years and part of my healing process was educating myself on the condition itself. I learned everything there was to know about a pimple. Not what I have been told by cosmetic companies or commercials on television. No, I learned the actual physiological causes. This helped me realize that there is an actual truth among all the myths pertaining to blemishes and their causes. So here goes…
Myths and Truths:
The myth #1: Most people think that they need to “dry up” the acne. “Water is the only thing you “dry up”, and a blemish has nothing to do with being wet.” There is a bit of water in the skin cell and when we try to dry up our acne, we end up drying up all the water. This only impairs the skin’s protective barrier which will increase the chances of bacteria going into the pore. This leads to irritation, flaking and a tight, taught feeling.
The truth: blemishes are aggravated by oil production. Oil can be absorbed or can be controlled.
The myth #2: Another myth is that acne is caused by dirty skin. So many parents bring in their teenaged children with hopes of finding a cure for their acne. They are often frustrated that their children are not washing enough with soap because they believe that acne is caused by dirt. This is untrue and may lead to over cleansing. So many acne cleansers sold in stores are detergent based which over dry and strip the skin. This leads to more irritation, unprotected pores and MORE ACNE.
The truth: GENTLE CLEANSERS and GENTLE SKIN CARE ARE THE KEY TO RIDDING THE SKIN OF BLEMISHES.
The myth #3: Lastly, many people feel as if ingredients that make your skin feel tingly, smell like mint, menthol, lemon, lime or grapefruit will kill whatever it is causing your breakout.
The truth: These scents, fragrances, essences (natural or artificial) are skin irritants and serve no benefit to the skin whatsoever. Irritation to the skin tells oil glands to produce more oil to protect it. Hence, causing a breakout or irritation.
Acne is an inflammatory disorder. Finding the triggers is part of the solution.
If you are experiencing a breakout these are some possible causes:
1.Hormone imbalance: may be caused by pregnancy, stress, birth control, certain medications and in some cases food allergies.
2. Overproduction of oil by sebaceous glands
3.Irregular or excessive skin shedding. On the surface and inside the pore
4.Bacteria build-up in the pore
6.Sensitivity to cosmetics, foods or medicine
To heal acne takes consistency, regular exfoliating (by use of a gentle chemical exfoliant or very gentle and non-abrasive scrub), disinfecting, absorbing oil and treating hormonal imbalances.
Part of treating skin blemishes and recurring breakouts is experimentation. There isn’t one absolute correct way in curing acne. It is a process.
There are topical options like water soluble cleansers and home care products and exfoliants that don’t contain irritating ingredients. This is a great place to start when trying to find the answers to your breakouts.
If topical options don’t seem to work, a knowledgeable dermatologist can prescribe antibiotics to eliminate bacteria growth. Birth control pills are also another drug prescribed to treat acne because of its hormone blockers. Lastly, Accutane can be prescribed which in the only prescription medication capable of curing acne.
Some things you definitely should not do are use harsh soaps, bar soaps of any kind, tough scrubs, excessive heat, irritating masks and spot treatments that contain harsh ingredients. Also over-squeezing, picking, digging and scraping at a pimple slows the healing process and can lead to scarring. Never use toothpaste on a pimple. The toothpastes sold have whitening agents and other bleaching ingredients that are not meant for the skin. Acne is often triggered by fluoride and can even cause dermatitis. Finally, just because a product says it’s oil free doesn’t mean it won’t make you breakout. Oil-free means nothing because some oils are beneficial to healing acne and don’t clog pores. Meanwhile, thickening agents in many products that don’t contain oil can also clog pores and irritate the skin.
The best things to use on the skin when fighting acne are: a gentle, water soluble cleanser, a chemical exfoliant made with beta hydroxy acid and a gentle non-greasy moisturizer with antioxidants.
There are many products available in department stores and pharmacies that are suitable for acne conditions.
I highly recommend reading, “Don’t Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me” by Paula Begoun. This is my product bible that lists the best and the worst products out there for all conditions.
You may also check out beautypedia.com for a list of product brands.
Mind over Acne:
I can’t express enough how important it is to love your skin regardless of its imperfections. It can be frustrating and painful to have acne but it’s important to forgive your skin when it’s acting up. Whenever you look in the mirror, compliment your skin no matter what you see. Be gentle with it. If there is a breakout, your skin is telling you that something is wrong and giving you a sign to look into it. Check your at home products for irritants like strong fragrances, menthol & citrus essential oils. Part of the healing is to love your skin no matter what.
The Little Owl Spa carries Paula’s Choice products that do not contain harsh ingredients. Do not hesitate to call to book a free product consultation and skin analysis. This includes product samples to try at home.
Kiki is the owner of The Little Owl Spa Boutique located in Poughkeepsie, New York. She is a skin care expert and consultant. Kiki uses massage and esthetics to serve others in healing through skin and body care. Kiki has gained experience in the spa industry by working in very successful day and medi-spas as well as traveling abroad to gain insight into self-healing techniques and other healing arts.