How is acne formed?
Skin cells are constantly replacing themselves. As they age and die, they get pushed up to the skin’s surface (the epidermis) where they flatten out. Once on the surface, they join other dead skin cells and form a protective layer that helps protect us from bacteria and viruses.
We have hair follicles all over our skin and inside them, we find small glands (sebaceous glands) that produce ‘oil’ called ‘sebum. This oil mixes with skin cells in the follicle and joins them on the journey outward. But when there’s too much sebum, too many dead skin cells or something on the surface that blocks their exit from the follicle, a blockage can occur. Add the presence of bacteria to the equation, you get breakouts.
How to prevent acne?
Each one of us is different. And if there were a simple way to get rid of acne, no one would suffer from it. However, there are some steps you can take to make things better.
- Keep your hands off your face. – Our hands are full of dirt we can’t see so don’t pick at your zits!
- Wash your face twice a day. A gentle and thorough wash is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent breakouts. It helps clean away grime and grease build up, makeup, residue from pollutants and other things that we can’t see :p Avoid scrubbing your face (you’ll only aggravate any acne you might have), and use a water-soluble cleanser. If you wear makeup, thorough removal of makeup is required.
- Sweat it out. – Sweating helps clear out your pores, pushing those dead skin cells to the surface where they can’t cause as much trouble.
- Shower. Showering cleans away dead cells and other debris on your body, removing any substances that can cause blockage.
- Use benzoyl peroxide or other topical acne solutions. Acne formulations containing benzoyl peroxide in gel or cream form can help control breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide kills the P. acnes bacteria that cause inflammation in ablocked pore. Results may take about three weeks. But do be aware that benzoyl peroxide can cause allergic reactions.
- Use chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and BHA. Using a chemical exfoliant helps to shed dead cells on the surface, which tend removes blockages to your pores. Chemical exfoliants are different from scrubs. They come in gel or cream forms, which you apply nightly as part of your regular skin care routine. (Click here to see my post on exfoliating. / Click here to Paula’s Choice website to watch a video on Why You Need Exfoliants / Choosing the Right Exfoliant.)
Alternatively try exfoliating pads. Get them in salicylic acid (BHA) which is oil-soluble, but those who are allergic to aspirin should avoid this.
- Check your makeup and your brushes. Makeup clogs pores. To make sure you don’t make it worse, use makeup that’s oil-free and non-comedogenic. Most importantly, a good removal regime must be adhered to. Wash your makeup brushes with shampoo regularly in order to remove dirt and grime. And sanitizing them with brush cleaners in between uses also help. I use Stage Cosmetic’s “Keep It Clean Brush Cleaner”. For RM25, it’s really a good buy.
- Manage stress. Hormonal activity is a reason for acne. Stress can increase stress hormones that cause your skin to produce more sebum, which block pores when mixed with dead cells and debris.