Acne is something that many of us will have or have suffered in our lifetime. Much of the frustration surrounding acne stems from the fact that it is incredibly difficult to get rid of and seems to show up at the most inopportune times.
So what exactly causes acne?
Well, you might already know the answer to that, but just to cool you off quickly, it's mostly due to a buildup of oils and dead skin cells.
To better characterize acne, note the different types of breakouts which are all classified as acne. These are:
- Blackheads - small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin. They are black because the inner wall of the hair follicle produces color.
- Whiteheads - similar in appearance to blackheads, but can be firmer and will not drain when squeezed.
- Papules - small red bumps that may be tender or painful.
- Pustules - similar to papules, but have a white tip in the center, caused by a buildup of pus.
- Nodules - these accumulate below the surface of the skin. These are large, hard lumps that can be painful.
- Cysts - a type of severe acne that looks like bills. They are big lumps filled with pus. They also carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring.
The best ingredients to look for in acne products
My philosophy for cutting through beauty marketing jargon is to look at the ingredient list. And while I agree it is also important to see how the product feels and reacts to your skin, the INCI list is for me the only source of clarity in the sometimes overwhelming world of beauty.
So I'll start this list with the three ingredients to look for in an acne treatment so that you can make the best decisions for your skin yourself.
If you know anything about acne, you know benzoyl peroxide. It has been touted as the holy grail ingredient in acne treatment and for many it is a last resort because it is so strong.
It kills bacteria and can cause major irritation. It's available over the counter and over the counter, but my advice would be to check with your dermatologist (if you can) if it's even worth putting something this strong on your skin.
If you don't have a dermatologist, try to get a sample of the product you want to use and test it to see how your skin will react. If you get any side reaction like tingling, redness and increased inflammation, I would stop using it.
Another OG from the acne treatment world. Salicylic acid is a staple chemical exfoliant in the skin care world and can be used by many skin types and for many skin conditions.
It is a beta hydroxy acid and is relatively mild compared to something like glycolic acid. This is because it exfoliates the stratum corneum (outer layer of the skin) and penetrates the pores to remove sebum. Hence, it tends to cause less irritation because it does not penetrate so deep into the skin.
Finally, we have adapalene. This is an OTC retinoid.
This is a fairly standard first line defense when treating mild acne where comedones (small skin-colored bumps like papules) are predominant.
Its mechanism of action regulates the renewal of skin cells to keep the pores free of sebum and inflammation.
It has a few names including; Differin, Pimpal, Gallet, Adelene, Adeferin.
Acne product recommendations
IREN Clearer Days Anti-Blemish Serum
After using this when I had my own whitehead breakout I cannot recommend it highly enough. After a week, my skin was really rid of it.
Read my interview with IREN founder Kristin Chen, here.
Pixi Glow Tonic
This product is very focused on preventing rashes. It is an incredibly effective and gentle chemical exfoliant that contains glycolic acid. I have been using it for years and rely on it a lot to prevent breakouts and keep my skin properly exfoliated. I tend to escape if I stop using it.
Find fools for Pixi Glow Tonic here.
NIP + FAB Teen Skin Fix Salicylic Acid Tonic
This is a good place to start if you are just reliving in the world of acne treatments and will give you a clue as to whether salicylic acid is working with your skin.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
This is a step forward compared to something like the Nip + Fab tonic because it is a double action. It contains salicylic acid and a unique rice-based enzyme powder that "microfolizes" the skin. It's a great choice if you've used salicylic and want something stronger.
REN Clean Skincare Clean Skincare Non-drying anti-stain treatment
A great spot treatment for those of you with very reactive skin that can easily turn red and itchy.
Aesop Chamomile Concentrated Anti-Blemish Mask
A great mask that reduces swelling around spots overnight while softening and moisturizing the skin.
Sukin Blemish Control Perfect Pore Toner
Another preventive treatment. This toner has received a lot of reviews for keeping oily skin at bay and therefore is a great way to prevent breakouts.
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“Sometimes you have to cleanse your mind. Sometimes you have to clean your mind. Sometimes you just have to get rid of dead skin.
We all dream of flawless, glowing skin, but with new products constantly hitting the shelves and the seemingly endless skincare advice out there on the Internet, it’s not always easy to figure out the skincare routine that’s going to work best for you. You know the basics — drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and wash your face, but what about everything in between ? Luckily, there’s no need to shell out couleurs of cash on any magical procedures or expensive creams to achieve flawless skin.
We spoke with dermatologists and top beauty experts to put together a list of some of the best skincare tips. From choosing the right cleanser for your skin type to the importance of cleaning your makeup brushes, these easy tricks — plus some top-tested product picks from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab — will help guide you to glowing skin ASAP.
' For oily or acne-prone skin, a salicylic gel or benzoyl peroxide wash works great, ' says Dr. Ava Shamban, a dermatologist in Santa Monica. ' For dry mature skin, use either a moisturizing glycolic or milky cleanser. For skin with brown spots or melasma, use a brightening wash, such as an α hydroxy acid cleanser. '
' The best times to moisturize are right after you get out of the shower and right before you go to bed, ' explained Dr. Janet Prystowsky M. D., an NYC-based dermatologist. Avoid lotions with heavy fragrances and make sure you find a moisturizer gentle enough for every day use with zero irritation.
Dr. Tzu says figuring out how to avoid touching your face is very important. It doesn’t just spread bacteria and cause breakouts — it can lead to scarring, an increase in wrinkles, and even the flu or other viruses.
Every skin professionnel we spoke to emphasized the importance of hydration. ' A lack of water means less radiance and more sag, ' says Dr. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist in Connecticut. She suggests choosing products ( cleansing, moisturizing, and anti-aging ) that have hydrating formulas. And, évidemment, drink around eight glasses of water a day.
Don’t just watch out for the sun — getting too close to heaters and fireplaces can also wreak havoc on your skin. ' It causes inflammation and collagen breakdown. I recommend staying at least ten feet away, ' explains Dr. Debbie Palmer, a New York dermatologist. So next time you’re roasting chestnuts or s’mores over an open fire, take a step back.
' We lose 50 million skin cells a day, and without a little extra nudge, they may hang around leaving the skin looking sullen, ' says Dr. Gohara. to fight this, you should ' choose a product that is pH neutral so it doesn’t dry as it exfoliates. ' And don’t just stop with your face — the skin on your body needs exfoliation, too.
A balanced diet is important, but there’s more than one way to give your skin vitamins. There are also topical antioxidants, which are serums and creams that contain ingredients that nourish the skin ( think vitamin C serum ! ).
' These can really help to repair the skin from sun damage, ' says Dr. Palmer. Not sure how to use them ? The best time to apply them is right after cleansing so that your skin can soak them in, or they can be layered under your sunscreen for added protection.
Though it’s tempting to grab a coffee the minute you wake up, Joanna Vargas, a skincare facialist in NYC, says choosing the right beverages can be a game changer. ' Drink a shot of chlorophyll every morning to brighten, oxygenate, and hydrate your skin. Drinking chlorophyll also helps drain puffiness by stimulating the lymphatic system, so it’s also good for cellulite. '
If you’re not keen on downing a shot of the stuff, chlorophyll supplements can be found at many drugstores and health food stores. She also advised drinking green juices with lots of veggies in them : ' It will transform your skin in a matter of days — and it helps oxygenate the skin and stimulates lymphatic drainage, so it’s de-puffing, too. '
' Your skin has a natural barrier to retain moisture, and essential to that is omega-3 fatty acid, ' Joanna advises. ' Flax seeds on your salad or even walnuts will be an instant boost to your omega-3, thus increasing your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture. ' And be sure to eat a diet low in foods with a high glycemic index ( simple and complex carbohydrates ).
to fight épidémie and clogged pores, Dr. Prystowsky recommends washing concealer and foundation brushes once a week. For brushes you use around your eyes, she recommends twice per month, and for any other brushes, once a month is fine.
Here’s how : Put a drop of a mild shampoo into the palm of your hand. Wet the bristles with lukewarm water. Then, massage the bristles into your palm to distribute the shampoo into the brush. Avoid getting the metal part of the brush wet/or the base of the brush hairs because the glue could soften and the bristles could fall out. Rinse the shampoo out and squeeze out the water with a towel. Lay the brushes on their side with the bristles hanging off the edge of the counter to dry.
' Many people feel they only need to protect themselves on sunny days or when visiting the beach, ' says Dr. Palmer. ' But the truth is that we need to protect our skin even when we’re driving a car, flying in an airplane, or course errands. It’s the daily uv exposure that contributes to the visible signs of aging. ' What kind of sunscreen is best ? Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater — and remember that it needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.
We’re talking SPF makeup, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats. ' Preventing sun damage is a million times better for your skin than treating it after the fact, ' says Dr. Prystowsky.
' Fad products and fancy ingredients are fun to try, and sometimes they work well, ' says Dr. Prystowsky, ' but usually they’re off the shelves just as quickly as they’re on them. ' Find a cleanser and moisturizer that you know work for you, and keep them at the core of your routine.
It’s not just about getting eight hours a night. Skin will also benefit from regularly using clean silk pillowcases. ' The material glides easily and prevents creasing and wrinkles, ' says Jesleen Ahluwalia, M. D., a dermatologist from Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. ' Silk is also easier on hair — it helps avoid tangles and breakage. ' Better hair and skin while you sleep ? Yes, please.