Why do some of us have to deal with the despair of acne while others (even relatives) have clear skin?
That is the million dollar question, and I am here to give you the answers, and also what you can do to tame the Acne Monster inside of you.
I would like to begin by stating that my problem skin is the reason I started Platinum Skin Care Inc. I can definitely give you some ideas on how to begin controlling your acne. Generally speaking there are a few key products that will start you on your journey. Learning a bit about acne will help you to understand HOW these products will help you.
First of all Acne is genetic! That is all. You are predestined to either get acne or not. You may not see it in your parents or siblings, but somewhere down the line (Grandma or Grandpa perhaps) someone in your family passed it along to you.
Everyone has the same sebum, testosterone and hormones, so we can't blame it on those - though those with a great deal of testosterone may have a bit more aggravated form. Acne is also more severe in humid climates. It is just in certain families there is a "special" vulnerability called "retention hyperkeratosis. This is when deep in the pores an abnormally rapid (literally 4-5X faster than normal) build-up of dead cells stick together and form a mass in the follicle. This then accumulates at a very rapid rate and forms the keratinous clog that will become a pimple.
After the impaction is formed, the body releases an enzyme that wants to dissolve the matter. The enzymes can not dissolve the keratin, and instead begin to dissolve the follicular wall (leading to a rupture beneath the skin) and surrounding collagen which can lead to depressed scarring. So you can say that those with acne-prone skin generally have weaker follicular walls, and tend to have an excess of dead skin build up deep in their pores.
In order to stop acne from reoccurring again and again - until it eventually burns itself out (which it WILL at some point in later life) - we must control the excess buildup in the follicles. I am going to suggest some products to use to aid in this process.
Types of products to utilize
Vitamin A (Retinol or Retin A), Alpha Hydroxy acids (Salicylic or TCA), Benzoyl Peroxide (liquid oxygen) and Sulfur. These products will cause some light to moderate flaking once you begin using them - this is the entire point! You want to work yourself down to a point where your acne is controlled and you have just the slightest bit of flaking each day (this can be gently washed away with a scrubbing granual or facial brush). If you have extremely troublesome acne that does not respond to topicals, it may be necessary to obtain an antibiotic such as Tetracycline or Accutane from a dermatologist or family doctor.
Where do I apply my topical treatments?
Most people tend to just "treat active lesions", when it is of the UTMOST importance to always treat ANYWHERE you are prone to acne. Acne is busy forming new blemishes for a good 90 days before you can actually SEE and FEEL it! You have to treat THOSE! So basically most people will be applying their topicals to the majority of their face/neck.
Generally acne placement follows a pattern on your face regarding your age. Younger ones have it on the nose, forehead and chin, slightly older go to the cheeks, and adults can have it anywhere - but it is mostly on the jawline, forehead and chin. Most adults need to treat the entire face/jaw area. Apply your treatment products everywhere, everyday.
The Vitamin A and Benzoyl Peroxide should keep your skin at a light flaking. The flaking is not bothersome - just use a microdermabrasion scrub or facial brush to loosen the dead skin and wash it down the drain. I suggest applying a gentle moisturizer such as Pure EMU oil. *IT is 100% non-comedogenic, anti-inflammatory, and also a topical wound healer! Exactly what our skin needs - and I use every day (btw).
*Contrary to what most OTC acne products say - do NOT discontinue usage if the product causes flaking or redness. This IS the GOAL! If you are excessively bothered, then you may cut back on one of the products by either washing it off after a shorter time, or by alternating them on different days.
What shouldn't I do/use?
- Stay out of the sun! Ultraviolet rays irritate and damage the skin. The skin responds with an increased production of replacement cells - opposite of what your face/body needs.
- Keep the friction off of your acne-prone areas. Tight helmets, chin straps, nervous rubbing on the same area. By having constant friction on certain spots you are aggravating the clogged pores deep in the skin and are causing them to rupture.
- Picking at your acne. Some of you (most) feel the need to pick at a
pimple. There is a right way and a wrong way to pick. Wash your hands
and face before you even think about eradicating a pimple.
- Never squeeze a pimple that does not have a white center!
- Never just squeeze the pimple without FIRST popping a small hole with a sterilized needle (or other such instrument). **If you pop a pimple by simply applying pressure until it bursts, you will rupture the follicular wall beneath the skin. This then allows the infection to seep out inside your skin causing inflammation and even MORE pimples!
- Watch out for too much IODINE or KELP in your diet. You will find these items in excess in many vitamins. Large enough amounts can cause acne in ANYone, so since you are succeptable steer clear of them.
- Stay away from steroids - unless they are prescribed to control an illness.
- Women - check your birth control pill. Many are great for acne and just as many are terrible. Estrogen based pills have the most clearing effect.
- Check your cosmetic ingredients. Even products geared towards acne
prone skin are known to have comedogenic ingredients! Stay away from the
- Lanolin derivatives (pure is SAFE) such as: anhydrous lanolin, lanolin oil, lanolin alcohol, acetylated lanolin, ethoxyated lanolin.
- Isporopyl Myristate and similar forms: isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl isotearate, butyl stearate, isostearyl neopentanoate, myristyl myristate, decyl oleate, octyl stearate, octyl palmitate and isocetyl stearate.
- D&C red pigments.
- Foundation: "oil free" does not mean oil free! Stick with a mineral powder make-up
- Hair products: If you are breaking out around your hair line, one of your products is likely to blame.
- RetinA -- Even RetinA has Isoproypl myristate in the cream form. Stick with the GEL to be safe
I would like to highly suggest the book Acne Rx, by Dr. James E. Fulton Jr. for anyone with troublesome acne to read. Many of the suggestions above were gleaned from his expertise. He highly believes in the exfoliation method for clearing aggravating acne. Vitamin A, Benzyl Peroxide and Hydroxy Acids will help to control your issues.
I will tell you my personal schedule of products and their application. Every day (morn/eve) I wash with an exfoliating cleanser for Acne skin (our AB Cleanser to be exact). Each evening I alternate my RetinA Micro with my Retinol .10% or Benzyl Peroxide.
I like to alternate them so my skin can not build up a tolerance to any type. Generally I will alternate one evening RetinA, the next Benzyl Peroxide, and the next my Retinol .10%. During the day I sometimes need to use our Acne Microdermabrasion cream to get some of the dead skin flakes off (otherwise I generally use the facial brush with my cleanser). I then apply Vitamin C/Hyaluronic Acid/Emu combination to my entire face. This is an antioxidant, and 2 non-comedogenic moisturizers with anti-bacterial properties.
I then follow with my SPF 30. I have to say that my skin looks great. I went through a period where I could have anywhere around 20-30 clogs on my forehead to mainly just a few hormonal pimples each month. *Generally speaking, I may add in either a 15% Salicylic peel or 20% TCA peel monthly to keep things moving along nicely! ; )
Even when your skin is clear - DO NOT STOP USING ALL OF THE PRODUCTS! You must continue with them every single day. After several months you can start to SLOWLY back off with your products (think about using your treatments every other day instead of every day). Each time you start to back off - wait 90 days before you attempt to back off more! Like I said before, it takes 90 days for a pimple to work its way to the surface, so you do not want to feel like your skin is all better - when you are just having a clear moment, and later you will see what was REALLY still happening and end up with another break-out. Go slowly.