Everything You Need to Know About Acne
What are the different types of acne? Why does it happen? How best to treat it?
Acne is a skin condition which affects 90% of us, to some degree, at some point in our lives. Despite this being such a common skin condition, it can sometimes be difficult choosing the best products for your skin. Here, licensed aesthetician and Renude skincare expert Melody gives a run down on everything you need to know about acne.
What are the types of Acne?
Acne can be categorised into six different types, and split into two groups: non-inflammatory and inflammatory.
- Whiteheads (small red spots with a white circular centre)
- Blackheads (small blocked pores, appearing as black dots on the skin)
Inflammatory / mild
- Papules (small red bumps with no visible centre)
- Pustules (larger red spots with a larger, pus-filled white centre)
Inflammatory / moderate-severe (requires prescription medication)
- Nodules (hard, painful under the skin bumps with no visible centre)
- Cysts (large, soft red or white under the skin lumps)
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused when a pore becomes blocked, usually by a build-up of sebum and dead skin cells, causing a specific strain of P.Acnes bacteria over-produce, resulting in a blemish or blackhead.
Blocked pores + P.Acnes bacteria + Sebum = Acne
There are several factors which can contribute to this:
Stress in the skin will disrupt the balance of the skin’s bacterial ecosystem (known as the microbiome). The body relies on the balance of systems to perform optimally and the skin is a huge part of that considering its the largest organ of the human body. Our skin is also responsible for the elimination of toxins from the body through sweat, oil, and secretions. These secretions can build up and get trapped inside a pore, mix with bacteria and cause blemishes on the skin.
Everyday life choices such as diet can lead to an unbalanced microbiome which can affect our skin. The research in this field is fairly new, but shows that sugar can create an imbalance in the microbiome, and dairy, in particular cow’s milk, may cause the hormone insulin to go astray and signal your body to produce more oil. This increased oil production weakens the skin’s defence and causes painful blemishes along the chin and jawline.
Hormones can cause various effects in the body, such as causing the sebaceous glands to overproduce natural oils in the skin, or even change the composition of the skin’s sebum, both of which can cause blemishes to form. Hormone replacement therapy and birth control also can have this effect on the skin. Hormonal acne is usually in the form of inflamed raised bumps on the skin that can sometimes be painful.
Our skin’s ecosystem of bacteria, known as the microbiome, is crucial in supporting health skin. Recent research has shown that skin conditions, such as eczema, acne and psoriasis can be linked to a lack of diversity within the microbiome, causing this to become out of balance. Introducing bacteria from other sources which are not present on the skin, can cause this delicate ecosystem to be thrown out of balance, which can cause or worsen blemishes. Bacteria is found on our phones, hands, pillowcases, and the flannel that we cleanse our faces with daily. When we are experiencing blemishes and breakouts we need to be more aware of the surfaces that our skin is coming into contact with.
Here are our top tips for minimising contact with bacteria:
Wipe phones off daily with an alcohol wipe or disinfectant
Change your pillowcase every other day. Sleep on one side one night and flip it over and sleep on the other side the next night then wash and repeat. It’s best to have a few pillowcases you can rotate
Be mindful of touching your face and wash your hand more frequently
Don’t touch your blemishes, or try to squeeze/extract them on your own. Have a professional perform the extractions to minimise the spread of the acne-causing bacteria
Use a fresh clean cloth every time you wash your face. Using the same one even two days in a row can spread the harboured bacteria in the cloth on to the face
The good news is that blemishes are treatable. A skin expert can recommend certain products to alleviate and treat the blemishes you are experiencing. A few of our favourite treatment combinations are:
What are the best ingredient combinations for treating acne?
Niacinamide and Retinol - Niacinamide keeps skin calm, hydrated, helps to prevent scarring and regulates sebum production in the skin. Retinol exfoliates the skin, keeping it clear and smooth. These can be used together at night and niacinamide under moisturiser in the morning. Retinol is to be used at night only and SPF must be used during the day, as retinol can make skin more sensitive to sunlight.
PHA and Retinol - PHA or Poly Hydroxy Acids (e.g. gluconolactone and lactobionic acid) can be used with retinol IN the right order. Use the PHA toner/serum in the morning and the retinol at night. Layering them together can cause irritation and lessen the effectiveness of the retinol.
Niacinamide and Azelaic Acid - Niacinamide targets enlarged pores while the Azelaic acid reduces redness and inflammation caused by blemishes, as well as targeting the hyperpigmentation commonly left afterwards. This duo can be used together morning and night if tolerated well.
AHA’s and BHA’s- AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are used to exfoliate the outer layers of the skin and help products penetrate deeper into the skin where they are needed the most. BHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acids kill the acne causing bacteria on the skin by clearing the pores from oil and skin cell build up, exposing the pore to oxygen (acne-causing bacteria is anaerobic, meaning it can’t survive in the presence of oxygen) . Unless these ingredients are in a pre mixed solution it is better to use one acid in the morning and the other at night to avoid irritation, or select one or the other based on your skin type.
Top tips in starting a new skincare routine
When starting any routine with exfoliating ingredients (such as retinoids or acids), it is best to introduce these ingredients gradually to the skin to avoid any irritation. Start by applying 1-2x week for the first couple of weeks, gradually building up to each night over the course of 4-6 weeks. This should minimise any irritation or peeling which can happen with exfoliants whilst the skin adjusts.
Speak to a specialist
Always seek the advice of a professional before starting a new skincare routine - it skips that trial and error process and can save you so much time and money in the long run. At Renude, our experts can guide you on what active ingredients are best for the type of blemishes you are experiencing, and provide guidance on exactly how to use these in combination.
Hydration and Sunscreen
These are essential in any skin care routine, and especially when using exfoliants that can dry the skin and make it more sensitive to sunlight.
Interested in receiving a skincare routine for acne?
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