Acne is by far the most common skin disease in the United States. According to Acne-Resource.org, 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 will suffer from acne. Of that 85%, 25% will suffer permanent scars and pockmarks. Acne is said to have several causes; hormones, genetics, poor diet, and clogged pores. Though the exact cause is unknown, treating it doesn’t have to be difficult. In order to successfully treat break-outs you have to establish a healthy skin care regimen.
When washing your face, there are two things to avoid: hot water and hard scrubbing. When you use water that is too hot, you damage your skin. Scalding water robs your skin of moisture and causes more irritation. Medical research has shown that reducing irritation is essential to aiding the healing process. This means- no scrubbing and absolutely no pimple popping. Even if you take all precautions when popping a zit, you run the risk of pushing the bacteria deeper into your skin. That zit ends up swelling and sticking around longer than if you left it alone.
The bottom line is- be gentle.
Proper cleaning process;
1.) Start with clean hands. This is the most important step in your skin care regimen. Every time you apply product with your fingers directly to your face- wash your hands. The bacterium, oils and dirt from your hands can cause more break-outs.
2.) Splash your face with warm water. Do not rub or scrub your face. This step allows the water to rinse dirt from the surface of your skin.
3.) Dispense adequate cleanser into your palm. Do not apply it directly to your face, instead, lather in your hand before application. This is a very important step- the ingredients from your cleanser can clog your pores.
4.) Rub not scrub. When washing, make sure you press gently into your face. Remember- you don’t want to irritate any acne you have already.
5.) Rinse with lukewarm water, making sure to wash away any remaining product around your hairline and neck.
6.) Pat dry with a soft, clean towel. It is important that you do not rub your face dry. Again, avoid irritation at all costs.
Exfoliation is important for all skin-types, even those with mild to severe acne and should be done no more than twice a week. This allows you to lessen your break-out activity by ridding your face of the dead cells that remain and clog your pores.
Physical exfoliation is the process by which something (product or tool) is used by rubbing it over the skin to remove dead skin cells. If you prefer a manual process, make sure you look for the softest method possible. This means, when choosing a facial buffer, look for one with soft fibers such as one made from bamboo.
Another alternative for acne prone skin is by using products that contain a AHA. A alpha hydroxy acid exfoliator can come as a cleanser, toner or peel and vary in strength depending on the form of acid used. Though it’s naturally occurring, it’s important to note that individuals with sensitive skin may react negatively to the use of any alpha or beta hydroxy acids.
Fortunately, for those who cannot use those methods there is still hope. You can make simple scrubs from products in your pantry. Try making a scrub from brown sugar and honey. Honey not only has antimicrobial properties but it also absorbs impurities from your skin.
Toner and Treatment
It’s important that after you clean your face to apply a toner. The toner will remove any left over dirt or make-up that your cleanser has left behind. When choosing a toner look for one that is alcohol free. Alcohol is extremely harsh and drying.
After toning your skin, you want to apply your treatment cream of choice. (Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid) Make sure you apply with clean hands. You shouldn’t rinse your face after the cream dries. This allows the treatment to be more effective.
Hydrate and moisturize
Even if you have oily skin and acne, you must moisturize. Sadly, most high priced brands contain heavy oils that will cause your skin to get worse. The key to finding a moisturizer that won’t break you out is in the ingredient list.
1.) Read the ingredient list. Typically, the shorter the list the better. This isn’t always the case though. Some products will contain harmful items regardless of the number of ingredients used. Avoid things like; mineral oil, petrolatum, carrageenan, coconut oil, algae extract, and wheat germ oil. This isn’t a full list but merely a few of the highest rated comedogenic substances.
2.) Chose a light moisturizer. Generally, night creams will be heavier than a day cream. A moisturizing lotion will be even lighter than a cream. Whatever you choose- make sure it’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic.
No two products are alike and will not work the same for everyone. If something doesn’t work for you- try something else. You may have to change products a few times to find something that suits your skin type. In the end, it’s worth the extra effort. Once you establish products that work for you be sure to continue this regimen. Attaining amazing acne free skin doesn’t happen overnight but is possible.
Some recommended products;
Murad – Time Released Acne Cleanser
Dermalogica – Dermal Clay Cleanser
Dermalogica – Clearing Skin Wash
Mario Badescu – Enzyme Cleansing Gel
Mario Badescu – Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
Burt’s Bees – Garden Tomato Toner
Mario Badescu – Glycolic Acid Toner
Alba Botanica – ACNEdote Deep Clean Astringent
Neutrogena – Pore Refining Toner
Burt’s Bees – Natural Acne Solutions Lotion
Murad – Anti-Aging Acne Moisturizer
Alba Botanica – ACNEdote Oil Control Lotion
Dermalogica – Concealing Spot Treatment
Murad – Acne Spot Treatment
Mario Badescu – Drying Lotion
Disclaimer: I’m not being paid to promote any of the products listed above. While I have used some of those products listed- I merely put together the list after doing minor research on those products. The products I chose to list represent some (not all) postively rated alternatives to products such as Proactiv and SkinID.
I cannot guarantee that they will work for you.