An important part of knowing how to deal with acne is knowing what causes it. Here, we explain what acne is, what causes it, and how we’re dealing with all sorts of breakouts right now in isolation.
What is Acne?
Acne is essentially any type of congestion in the skin. It occurs when excess sebum (oil produced from the sebaceous glands) blocks the pores and then becomes a blackhead or whitehead. From there, it can develop into swollen, tender inflammations, pimples, or nodules (deeper lumps below the skin’s surface that are infected, inflamed, and often tender). There are many different types of acne and it most commonly appears on the face but you can also experience it on your body; on the back, shoulders, neck chest, buttocks, and upper arms.
What causes Acne?
There are myriad causes of acne and it can affect all skin types at different ages and life stages. Firstly, there’s the most obvious cause: excess oil, dirt and grime. Not cleansing your skin twice daily, not washing your hands, and frequently touching your face (and squeezing your pimples) will pretty much guarantee a breakout. Then there are contributing factors that we can’t necessarily control like genetics (thanks Mum and Dad) and times of emotional stress and anxiety (looking at you COVID-19). Hormonal acne is particularly common; periods of hormonal change like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and even menopause can cause breakouts and persistent acneic inflammation.
How to get rid of Acne?
Truly effective acne treatment can be a case of trial and error and there’s not always a fast fix. If you’re experiencing breakouts then we would normally recommend a consultation with an experienced dermal therapist to assess your skin and your lifestyle in order to custom prescribe the most effective course of action. But right now, with our skin clinics closed due to COVID-19, that’s just not possible. So, we put a call out to our skinstitut team and asked them to share their best breakout-busting tips.
Sophie relies on Retinol to clear things up:
“Like so many people right now, I’ve found self-isolation a bit challenging on a few levels,” she admits. “And so has my skin; it’s generally pretty good but I’ve noticed that stress can cause flare ups. As soon as I see one, I reach for the Retinol. It’s a powerful form of Vitamin A that helps to retexturize the skin’s surface and encourage repair at a cellular level. It really calms down the inflammation while having an exfoliating effect.”
Zoe recommends a tried-and-trusted spot treatment:
“When I start to notice a breakout forming, I like to try and stop it from growing and multiplying,” she shares. “So I do my normal night-time routine—cleanse, serum, moisturiser—and then a take a cotton tip and dab on a little Glycolic Cleanser 12%. I leave that for a minute and then over the top, I dab on a little Laser Aid. I find it’s a really effective combo to quickly calm the skin and stop a pimple from multiplying.”
Sarah has learnt how to deal with breakouts the hard way:
“In the past, I thought the answer was to really dry out the breakout so I became an obsessive over-cleanser and stopped using moisturiser,” she shares. “It actually made the problem worse and my skin was peeling, dry, and angry. Now I keep my skin hydrated with a spritz of Multi-Active Mist a few times a day and I’ve found Moisture Defence – Oily Skin is a super-light moisturiser that doesn’t make my skin oily or shiny.’“