As winter finally starts to wind down and the weather warms up, who isn’t excited to get outside and feel the sun on our skin? And who knows, maybe we won’t have to wear masks towards the end of the summer! During COVID quarantine, we’ve all been layering up under sweatpants and comfy clothes, but as we start to shed the layers and maybe take our masks down a bit, we may realize that our skin is broken out. So what can we do to get our skin ready to bare? Read on to learn more about what causes acne and how to clear it up with simple, effective routines for the face and body.
What is acne and what causes it to form?
Acne is caused by an overproduction of dead skin cells inside of the pores. Most people shed one or two layers of dead skin cells each day, and these dead skin cells flake off without being noticed. People who are acne-prone shed many more skin cells than average. The extra skin cells clump together inside the pores and mix with the body’s natural oil, called sebum. This sludge of skin cells and sebum form little plugs in the pores, called microcomedones. When pores get infected with bacteria, they turn red and inflamed, forming raised pimples and cysts. On the other hand, if acne bacteria aren’t reproducing inside the pores, then your microcomedones don’t get inflamed, appearing as whiteheads, blackheads, or tiny, closed bumps.
Face Acne – Why Me?
Having acne on your face can cause unnecessary self-consciousness and embarrassment. When you’re acne-prone, you never know what’s going to set your skin off, which can be the most frustrating part. Knowing potential conditions that cause breakouts to appear is helpful for understanding what in the heck your skin is doing and what it’s reacting to.
Why does acne happen? The answer is a combination of genetics and lifestyle choices. If your mom or dad had acne, then you’re much more likely to have acne as well--it’s as simple as that! Additionally, lifestyle choices can dictate the health of our skin as well. Some common lifestyle choices that can cause acne breakouts are:
- Using the wrong skincare products
- Scrubbing your face too hard when cleansing
- Wearing pore-clogging makeup (oil based products)
- Eating a lot of processed food and drink
- Going through a stressful time
Face Acne – Treatments That Work
To clear up acne, you need to get rid of the clogging dead skin cells, dissolve extra oil, and clear up P Acne bacteria. To do this, you must introduce the appropriate skincare products into your routine. When building your skincare routine, always remember to keep it simple. Here are a few key products that are incredibly effective for clearing acne-prone skin and protecting it from any further damage:
- Leave-on acne treatment: You need to apply a leave-on acne treatment once or twice a day to the entire breakout-prone area. No spot treating! Leave on treatment products include serums, creams, sprays, and medicated pads. Effective acne-fighting ingredients include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. Almond Clear's Level 1 Face Clearing Serum and The Acne.org’s Regimen Kit are excellent acne treatment options .
- A gentle cleanser: Washing your skin removes dirt, oil, makeup, bacteria, and other pollutants that clog pores. Make sure to use a gentle cleanser because leave-on acne treatment products can be drying. Further drying and irritating the skin with a harsh cleanser does nothing to clear the skin and can even be counterproductive, so look for a wash that’s gentle and non-irritating. Some amazing, non-irritating cleanser options are Almond Clear's Face and Body Wash and Face Reality's Ultra Gentle Cleanser
- Moisturizer: Many people with acne-prone skin are scared of using a moisturizer because it feels like you’re adding more grease to the fire. But when your skin gets too dry, your body produces more oil to compensate, which leads to more breakouts. Additionally, if you use a skincare treatment such as mandelic acid in Almond Clear, your skin can get dry and irritated. A couple of light-weight, non-comedogenic moisturizers are Sebamed's Clear Face Care Gel, Face Reality's Clearderma and Facetheory's Supergel Oil-Free Moisturizer.
- Sunscreen: Protecting your skin from the sun every single day is so important, especially if you apply a leave-on acne treatment, such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. All acne treatment products increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and make it much more likely that you’ll get sunburned. Besides that, wearing sunscreen protects you from cancer and early signs of aging! But, if you’re acne-prone, finding a sunscreen that doesn’t break you out is a huge struggle! A couple of acne-safe sunscreen products are Brush On Block's awesome line of mineral powder sunscreens, and EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46.
Body Acne – Change Your Habits, Change Your Skin
Having body acne can bring on some serious anxiety and self-consciousness, especially during the summer months when our skin is more exposed. What should be a fun trip to the beach can quickly turn into a day of trying to hide your skin from the world. This is no way to live! So, why the heck do we get body acne? Again, we can blame a lot of this on genetics, but we also have to evaluate our lifestyle choices. Some factors that can aggravate body acne include:
- Wearing tight, non-breathable clothing
- Not showering and/or changing out of sweaty clothes after a workout
- Eating a lot of processed food and drink
- Not cleaning your sheets regularly
- Repeated rubbing, such as a backpack, bra strap, or even just sitting on your butt all day (acne mechanica)
- Excessive scrubbing of skin and picking
Body Acne – Treat and Prevent
Just like the treatment for facial blemishes, to clear body acne, you need to remove the dead skin cells and oil that are plugging up your pores. Here are some tips for getting rid of body blemishes and preventing new ones to form:
- Leave-on acne treatment: Using a leave-on acne treatment to dissolve dead skin cells and oil on the body helps clear the skin like nothing else! Almond Clear’s Level 2 Body Clearing Serum, contains 15% mandelic acid, which makes it amazing at penetrating the thicker pores of the body to zap dead skin cells and oil. Another effective acne-fighting ingredient is benzoyl peroxide. Acne bacteria thrive in an anaerobic environments (places lacking oxygen.) A clogged pore doesn't have any oxygen (just dead skin cells and oil) so benzoyl peroxide brings oxygen into the pore, killing the bacteria and also exfoliating dead skin cells and oil. Just be careful because benzoyl peroxide bleaches clothing and sheets, so only use it at night and sleep on white sheets. Try Humane Brand's 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment for an excellent benzoyl peroxide leave-on treatment.
- Clothing & Sweating: After a workout, be sure to quickly change out of your sweaty clothes and hop in the shower. If you don’t have access to a shower right away, getting out of the sweaty clothes and applying some Almond Clear mandelic acid serum to the areas you usually get acne can keep blemishes at bay for a while. Try wearing looser, more breathable clothing like cotton, instead of synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester. Wearing cotton and other kinds of breathable materials will help your skin dry out more quickly. If you’re dealing with acne on your booty, then wearing cotton underwear instead of synthetic fibers is super important.
- Wash gently: Scrubbing your body super hard with a gritty cleanser or loofah under boiling hot water irritates existing blemishes, spreads bacteria between pores, and makes breakouts even worse! Instead, try washing your body with a gentle, non-irritating wash like Almond Clear's Face and Body Wash with a clean washcloth under lukewarm water.
- Sunscreen: Alpha hydroxy acids make you prone to sunburn, so it’s very important to apply and reapply. Get a good quality, high SPF sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging). Oftentimes the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin are labeled as “non-comedogenic face sunscreen”, but these products can also be used on the body. If you’ll be sweating or getting in the water then be sure to choose a product that’s water and sweat resistant.
If you follow these basic acne-care tips then you can get your skin looking great from head to toe in time for the sun to start shining and the layers of clothes to start coming off! Just remember, when you are treating acne, you need a good sunscreen that will protect your skin and not exacerbate the problem. Brush On Block Mineral Powder Sunscreen does not clog pores, is easy to apply and provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB SPF 30 protection. Not only that, but it is sweat- and water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Guest blog post by Maddy Lamontagne.