Despite the common perception that pimples, breakouts and acne are a result of dirty or uncleansed skin, adult acne is often caused because of excess sebum production and follicles becoming blocked with debris. Our skin is covered with tiny little hair follicles that are there to keep us warm; sebaceous glands lubricate the skin to stop it drying out by producing an oily substance called sebum, but when too much sebum is produced the follicles can become blocked. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells (or makeup/build-up) and both substances form a plug in the follicle. If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin it will bulge outwards, creating a whitehead - if the plugged follicle is open to the skin it creates a blackhead. Although not removing your makeup, SPF or cleanser properly can cause little pimples, for the majority of acne sufferers it's a much bigger issue that's harder to control than just using a simple spot treatment. So how can you ensure you're managing your acne in the best possible way?
1. Don’t Over Wash
Washing your face more than twice a day can irritate skin, over-stimulate oil production and dry out sensitive areas of the face. Don’t assume that more cleansing means less spots, because it doesn’t. I've seen so many cases of acne being caused because of doing too much, rather than too little.
2. Be Delicate
Avoid harsh scrubs that include almond or apricot kernels that can tear and irritate skin. Our face is extremely delicate, so using alcohol-filled toners and cleansers will only cause the skin to start producing more oil to compensate. This will only exacerbate the situation.
3. No Picking
Fiddling with spots will only cause further inflammation and cause bacteria to be driven into pores, making the situation worse. As soon as a little bacteria gets into the follicle it's game over; it's so easy to transfer bacteria around your face so keep your hands where we can see them!
4. Use The Right Makeup
It’s a ‘Catch 22’ situation as we want to conceal imperfections, but covering them often only makes them worse. Ensure you’re using ‘acne friendly’ makeup (i.e. oil-free and as natural as possible,) which will help to soothe the problem rather than aggravating it.
5. Clean Your Brushes
Something I repeat over and over, but dirty brushes will only transfer nasty bacteria onto your skin every time you use them. Make it a rule to clean your brushes thoroughly at least once a week to minimise the possibility of bacteria transference.
6. Take It Off
Removing your makeup before bed is the number one rule (and I don’t mean with a face wipe, which will barely touch the surface.) Invest in a cleansing balm or cream that will remove all impurities from the skin, ensuring it can replenish and work to repair itself as you sleep.
7. Eat Right
Fish oils help to keep skin supple, egg and avocado help to improve blood circulation and zinc is a natural immune system booster. Eating the right food will help to give your body and skin a fighting chance against those dreaded pimples. Do your research, make informed choices and invest in some supplements.
8. Stop Smoking
We all know it’s bad for us, but smoking plays a huge contributing factor in all types of acne. It prevents the cells and circulation from performing effectively, leading to all kinds of skin problems - acne is exacerbated by lack of effective cell turnover so that cigarette is only making it worse.
9. Don’t Stress
When we get stressed our body responds by flooding our blood with glucose, which in turn triggers excess oil production. It’s this that can mix with dead skin cells and bacteria to cause spots. Taking time out once a week to re-align may do wonders for more than your mental health.
10. Visit A Dermatologist
Seeking specialist advice ensures you’re not only using the correct products, but that your routine enables your skin to look its best. An expert will be able to recommend treatments and ongoing care to fundamentally solve or manage the problem. Unfortunately the NHS isn't set up to manage the ever growing adult acne issue, so opting for private care may have to be a serious option.
Have you ever suffered from adult acne? Do you have any additional top tips for managing breakouts?