Nothing can knock your confidence more quickly than an unexpected breakout, but when it comes to ongoing acne, it often feels like the problem is here to stay. A condition that, for most, begins during puberty and can often last throughout your teenage years, it’s one that adults aren’t exempt from, either – and adult acne, which can have a range of causes, is on the rise.
Acne is a skin condition that arises when the pores become clogged with dead skin cells, preventing the oil produced by the sebaceous glands – tiny glands found near the surface of the skin – to lubricate the hair and skin from being efficiently expelled and distributed as it normally would be.
In acne, the sebaceous glands begin to produce excessive amounts of the oily substance, known as sebum, which mixes with dead skin cells and forms a plug in the follicle and causes a bulge in the form of a whitehead – or, if the follicle is open to the skin, a blackhead. These are then contaminated by the bacteria that can naturally be found on the skin, exacerbating the issue and resulting in painful pustules, papules and cysts.
We asked the experts at clearskinregime.com to give us the lowdown on what really causes acne, as well as some of the best high-end products with which to treat it.
Causes of acne
The root cause is commonly a hormonal imbalance and is often triggered by increased levels of testosterone during puberty.
However, over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a growing number of adults reporting acne outbreaks as a result of wearing masks. Known as ‘maskne’, it’s a result of the trapped humidity that comes from breathing and sweating whilst you have one on, creating a condition that is the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria Propionibacterium and causing inflammation, and triggering the formulation of spots and pimples.
Whilst it’s true that getting control of acne sometimes can be difficult, the good news is that it’s not impossible. Compounds such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and adapalene are some that have been shown to be highly effective in controlling acne, and can help set sufferers off on the path towards achieving the clear and unblemished skin they crave.
Thank you and goodbye: A strategy for success
As they say, beauty starts from within, and your initial port of call when looking to treat and cure acne is your diet. A diet that is high in processed foods and simple sugars, as well as dairy, is likely to exacerbate the problem, so seek out whole foods and make sure to add a broad range of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and wholegrains to your meals each day.
Supplements such as Omega 3 – which can be found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel – and turmeric can help to fight inflammation and reduce the intensity of outbreaks, while berries and colourful vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants which can help to further ease them.
Supplements like Vitamin A and zinc have also been shown to be effective as part of a more holistic approach to treating acne, so consider adding them to your daily regime, too.
Products to consider adding to your skincare routine
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Face Wash
This cleanser contains benzoyl peroxide as its main ingredient and helps to soothe the inflammation caused by acne in an effective and gentle manner whilst hydrating the skin with added glycerin to prevent dryness, itchiness and general discomfort.
AcneFree Blackhead Removing Scrub with Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment
Comprising charcoal and two percent salicylic acid to provide a powerful combo against pimples and zits, this gentle scrub will help to gently slough away dead skin cells to exfoliate skin and prevent the clogging of pores.
AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide
Oil dissolving elements that penetrate deep inside the pores, unclogging them and preventing further buildup, make this a powerful potion in the fight against acne. Those with mild acne can expect to see the results for themselves after just 24 hours of use.
Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner
This natural formula works to curb oil production and inflammation while closing the pores post-cleanse to prevent clogging. Suitable for those with sensitive skin types as well as oily and acne-prone skin, simply apply to a cotton pad and swipe over the skin after washing your face and before applying your night cream.
Mario Badescu Drying Mask
This mask contains calamine, sulphur, and cucumber extract to soothe and cool inflamed skin, control excess oil production, and draw out impurities. A great mask to apply two or three times a week to boost your skincare regime – leave for approximately 20 minutes, or longer during a particularly bad outbreak, then remove gently with a warm face cloth.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Peel Off Face Mask
As the name suggests, this mask does not require you to rinse it off with water. It’s a gentle yet effective face mask containing a combination of glycolic acid and lactic acid to target the pimples and minimise redness. It also contains pomegranate and soy complex, which helps in exfoliating the skin and will leave it looking visibly more radiant.
PMD Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device
A handy device that promises an enhanced cleansing experience, the PMD Clean Smart device vibrates at a rate of 7,000 vibrations per minute and allows you to get deep down into the pores to remove dead skin cells and impurities, leaving skin feeling fresher and cleaner than ever. Gentle and hypoallergenic, it’s suitable for all skin-types and because it’s made from silicon, is even suitable for use in the shower.