What causes acne and how is it treated?
Acne is an inflammatory skin disorder characterized by red bumps, pimples or blackheads, and caused by excess sebum production and bacteria, often trapped by dead skin cells.
In trying to treat acne most practitioners prescribe solutions designed to perform two main functions: dry out the skin surface to eliminate bacteria, and exfoliate the surface layer to eliminate dead skin cells. It sounds very simple. Right? Not so fast. This approach may improve acne for a short period of time, but it's merely a bandaid that leaves the underlying issue unresolved.
What practitioners rarely look at are the variables that cause the sebum imbalance in the first place. Acne is often a result of hormonal fluctuations, stress, allergic reactions, select skincare ingredients, a diet high in sugar and processed foods, increased toxicity in the body, hair products and so much more. But instead of identifying the culprit and correcting it, acne sufferers become dependent on skin drying ingredients that speed up aging and cause further skin imbalances as they deplete moisture & disrupt the skin's delicate microbiome.
What are the most common acne fighting treatments?
Dermatologists often recommend Retinoids and/or Benzoyl Peroxide creams in higher concentration of than over-the-counter medications. This may give faster results, but come with more side effects such as increased inflammation, irritation & sensitivity. It is also important to note that the results are temporary. So continued use is necessary to continue to see results. I don't find this a sustainable solution due to the long term negative effects on the skin. Not to mention that studies have shown that Bezoyl Peroxide has tumor promoting properties.
Patients are often advised to take these for several months, usually in combination with a topical treatment. Although helpful in treating bacterial infections, antibiotics are powerful medications that have significant side effects on gut disfunction, microbiome imbalance, low immunity, heart problems, sensitivity to light and drug interactions; not to mention antibiotic resistance.
Birth control pills
Contraceptive pills are often prescribed for acne treatment. It is also important to consider the side effects.
This is an effective medication for severe cases of acne. However, isotretinoin comes with a long list of serious risks such as birth defects, depression, and suicidal feelings.
Non-drug treatments (My favorites)
What's the best clean and safe skincare routine for acne?
Both prescription and over the counter cream designed for acne include high concentrations of actives that may render quick visible results by Beverly drying the skin, eliminating surface bacteria. But that isn't an effective long-term strategy as it sets the skin way off balance creating further skin issues.
The best cure of action is to still use acne-fighting ingredients but in concentrations that are skin microbiome friendly, while still nourishing the skin and providing it with a good dose of antioxidants and lipids.
A healthy skincare routine can be boosted with a daily dose of LED Blue Light Therapy, which will eliminate surface bacteria without side effects or dryness.
Here are the essential steps necessary to safely treat acneic skin:
1- Romer Gel-Oil Cleanser Manuka Honey, Calendula, Tea Tree
A truly ideal cleanser to start the day. Also perfect for the second cleanse, at night, following an oil or cream cleanser (top choice for acneic skin is Bloomeffects Tulip Nectar Cleansing Cream). It gently refreshes the skin, removing excess oil with our drying the skin. Tea Tree oil works as a great substitute to Benzoyl Peroxide, while honey acts as an anti-bacterial, anti-microbial agent that's also a humectant, improving the skin's ability to stay hydrated and better benefit from the next step.
Use AM & PM.
Rich in essential minerals such as Zinc and potassium that help hydrate, strengthen and rebalance the skin while soothing irritation.
Use AM & PM.
This doctors-vetted serum contains the super star ingredient, Azelaic Acid, which is perfect for calming breakouts and improving the appearance of post-inflammation dark spots and melasma. It also works by preventing the formation of tyrosinase. Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid, Kakadu Plum Extract, Ceramide, plus Azelaic Acid. All in one pH-balanced, effective formula.
Use for PM Only.
Infused with potent but soothing botanicals and bioactive extracts native to Australia, including Kakadu Plum, Pomegranate, Mountain Pepper Berry and Kunzea. It works quickly to soothe and calm flare ups. Apply as a spot treatment and allow to absorb, for a minute or two, before moving to the next step.
Use AM & PM.
Just Phenomenal!!!! A water-based serum that combines all the things! Hyaluronic Acid to help retain water, banana juice with soothing polysaccharides. Sea-Samphire, rich in pro-vitamins A and C, acts as an alternative to Retinol providing the benefits without the irritation or sensitivity. And if you are, like most of us, facing screen all day everyday, this product helps protect from blue light imitated from your digital devices. Nothing to do with acne, but good to know!
Use AM & PM.
For a daily facial oil we love Blubiome's Botanical Facial Oil. I know applying oil to oily, acneic skin might seem counterintuitive but it is exactly what your skin needs rather than over stripping with harsh products. When you strip oils from your skin it leads to an overproduction of sebum which can lead to further breakouts. This facial oil is amazing for acne-prone skin because it helps to balance oil production which helps to keep your breakout under control.
Use AM & PM.
The next and last step is the only one that changes from AM to PM. In the morning, you want to finish your routine with sunscreen, while at night, you can apply a light layer of moisturizer on any dry areas, primarily the cheeks and neck.
Sunscreen is especially difficult to formulate for oily skin types, especially in clean mineral-based formulations that are Zinc-based. Zinc Oxide is innately thick and pasty. However, Salt & Stone did a great job with this sunscreen. It's the lightest texture I could find that still provide a dece t amount of protect and clean ingredients. I also find this to be the best deal for the money. $18 for a 3oz tube is very economical. Another great option is Earth Harbor Eclipse Sheer Mineral Sunscreen. This comes in a smaller 1oz bottle for $25.
Use AM only.
Whenever I talk about sunscreen, I like to mention that it is always BOGO 1/2 OFF on thebeautydoctrine.com, with discount code 'PROTECT'. An incentive I put in place to encourage everyone to use sunscreen on a daily basis. Sunscreen is, and will remain, the number ONE defense against premature aging and skin cancer.
Clinical grade actives like Ashwagandha, Pomegranate, Blue-Green Algae, and Kelp calm, balance and hydrate the skin while infusing it with Vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants for optimal skin health!
This detoxifying mask is deal for acne-prone skin as it helps to de-clog pores, removes dead skin cells and refines the skin. Crafted from a blend of Ayurvedic botanicals, which contain powerful enzymes and antioxidants, it helps to nourish the skin and provides anti-inflammatory properties!
For use once per week.
Formulated with 15% AHA + BHA blend, Macro-algae Collagen, and Vitamin C-rich oils, Luna Rain Serum sinks in easily and delivers effective and precise exfoliation without the harsh side effects like dryness or sensitization.
Great to use once to twice a week to improve clarity, exfoliate and minimize acne.
What are the best devices to treat acne and speed up healing?
Not sure what skincare to get? Book a consultation with Nadia here.
Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!