I was inspired to write this post because I'm so happy with how clear and smooth my skin has been lately!
I hope saying that doesn't come off as bragging, I'm honestly just relieved and happy that I've finally found the right products to clear my skin! Can you believe that just 6 months ago I was dealing with cystic acne?! It was a nightmare.
If you’ve ever had to deal with acne, you understand that it's a difficult battle. Blemishes are embarrassing and frequent breakouts can lower your self-esteem. I felt so ugly that sometimes I didn't even want to leave the house!
I tried everything that I knew to try. Pretty much every OTC cream, gel, cleanser, etc. I even went to the dermatologist to try prescription creams. Nothing worked!
Since there is so much conflicting info out there on how to treat acne that I decided to ditch what everyone else was saying and think about how to clear my acne based on my knowledge on how acne forms in the first place.
Why do blemishes form?
The first step in the formation of a blemish occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands produce excess amounts of sebum. Sebum is a naturally occurring oily substance that moisturizes, lubricates, and protects the skin and hair. Even though sebum production is normal, when it is produced in excess it can clog the skin’s pores. There are numerous factors that can increase the skin’s sebum production, including cosmetics, smoking, stress, foods and drinks with high sugar content, and many more.
The next step in the development of acne is follicular hyperkeratinization. While the name may sound complicated, this simply means that follicles in the skin are not exfoliating properly and are more prone to becoming clogged. When the follicle becomes clogged, a species of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes accumulate and multiply in the follicle. The follicle becomes inflamed, thus leading to pimple formation.
Considering how acne develops, effective treatment options should accomplish the following:
Normalize the skin’s sebum levels
Destroy the P. acnes bacteria
Calm the skin and reduce inflammation
With this in mind, I finally cleared my skin by finding the products + lifetstyle habits that work for me.
It’s important to understand that there is no cure for acne. However, through what I've learned as a pharmacist and my personal battle with acne, I've discovered the best tips to get rid of acne. In fact, I bet you haven't even heard of some of them before! Check them out below.
1. Try a sulfur cleanser
I have to start with this tip because sulfur cleansers have been by far the best thing to help get rid of my acne. After using a sulfur cleanser for just a couple weeks my cystic acne significantly improved!! I started with the R+F UNBLEMISH Acne Treatment Sulfur Wash & still use this today to keep my skin under control.
The reason I had never tried one before was from what I learned in pharmacy school! According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "There is limited evidence to support recommendations for sulfur, nicotinamide, resorcinol, sodium sulfacetamide, aluminum chloride, and zinc in the treatment of acne." Knowing this, I dismissed the thought of ever using a sulfur cleanser. I guess this goes to show that everyone's skin is different and what works for the majority of people might not work for you (& vice versa!) So while the AAD may not consider sulfur to be effective, it worked extremely well for me.
Sulfur products get rid of acne so well because sulfur is a keratolytic agent, which means it causes the uppermost layers of skin to loosen and shed. Ultimately, this action clears out dead skin cells and other debris from pores that can cause acne.
2. Reconsider your fabrics
With this tip, I'm suggesting that you reconsider the fabrics you use in both your bed sheets and towels. Did you know that certain fabrics are better for your skin than others? In fact, choosing the wrong type of fabric will not only lead to acne breakouts, but also causes lines and wrinkles that could become permanent!
One of the worst fabrics that you can use is cotton.
Cotton is a soft, extremely absorbent fabric. In fact, cotton has the ability to absorb up to 27 times its weight in water! This is due to cotton's composition of mostly cellulose, a hydrophilic (water-loving) polysaccharide. So what's the problem with a highly absorbent fabric? Our bodies naturally lose moisture and oils as we sleep, which ends up being absorbed into the cotton pillowcase. This becomes a problem when our skin sticks to the fabric, causing friction that can lead to creases in facial skin. Also, the buildup of sweat and oil in the fabric can cause or worsen acne.
3. Don't be afraid of oils
Many people with oily skin avoid oils due to fear of breaking out. Skin needs oil to help maintain its hydration, especially when it is stripped of its own natural oils, such as from using too harsh of a cleanser.
If you have oily or acne prone skin try to avoid oils that are known to clog pores, such as mineral oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. One of the best oils for these skin types is jojoba oil because its structure so closely resembles human sebum (the natural oil produced by skin). By mimicking the body’s natural oil so closely, applying jojoba oil will signal to the skin to stop overproducing sebum, which is one of the major causes of acne.
Additionally, there’s an oil that specifically treats acne and can help reduce the size of pimples: tea-tree oil. This oil has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2007) However, tea-tree oil can irritate the skin, so keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
4. Don’t skip the moisturizer
A common skin care myth is that people with acne-prone skin should not use moisturizers because they will further clog the pores and contribute to more breakouts. Quite the opposite is true! Moisturizing prevents your skin from feeling like it’s too dry, which would ultimately lead to even more oil production. As mentioned above, too much oil is part of the process of acne formation. Thus, using a moisturizer that is light, oil-free, and noncomedogenic will help to better manage your acne symptoms.
5. Be cautious of what touches your skin
Many people forget that little things, such as letting your hair rub against your face throughout the day, can trigger breakouts. Try to keep your hair clean and off your face. Also, avoid resting your hands or objects, such as your cell phone, on your face.
6. Always protect against the sun
While protecting skin from damaging UV rays is important for all skin types, it is especially important for those with acne-prone skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and worsen breakouts. UV rays can also cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration).
Many patients convey they are worried that sunscreen will cause them to break out. While this may be true for certain sunscreens, you can still have superior protection against the sun by knowing which ingredients to look for. Look for a sunscreen that is in a lotion form. It should be light, oil-free, noncomedogenic, and provide broad spectrum protection.
Ok friends, those are my best 6 tips to get rid of acne that you haven't heard before!
If you know anyone who would benefit from these tips, please share this post with them! :)