All about acne

Acne is not your fault.  It is not caused by what you eat or what you put on your skin but is instead by an inherent “sticky skin”* quality or hormonally induced swelling that causes your pores to hang on to debris.

While it is true that what you eat and what you put on your skin can trigger or worsen acne problems, you will note that people without this “sticky-skin”* quality can use just about anything on their complexions without incident and likewise seem to be able to eat all they want without breakouts.  Drats.  The problem of acne occurs only when the proclivity to it exists. 

This seemingly conflicted information is why it is so difficult to self-diagnose ones skin and to navigate through all the skincare treatment products that are on the market.  Even ones own best attempt at making something at home from all “natural” ingredients can be a misstep; what is good for one skin may be a clogging detriment for others.

In an effort to cure acne or prevent it from occurring in the first place, it is helpful to understand the physiology of the skin.  Simply stated, the follicles/pores of the skin (with hair or not) are the ducts that transport underlying body fluids to the surface of the skin. The fluids are manufactured in glands and are released into the follicles to provide balance for the skin and immune protection for the body.

  • Perspiration is produced in the sweat glands to cool the body.  Perspiration is composed of water and hydration minerals.
  • Sebum (oil) is produced in the sebaceous glands to mix with the water and minerals in perspiration to create a pH-balanced coating on the skin, called the Acid Mantle. This acidity is the first line of defense for protection of the body from virus, disease and dehydration.

The skin is constantly shedding itself to make way for newly forming skin cells.  It sheds itself both horizontally across the surface of the skin but also vertically from within the follicles renewing the ducts on a monthly basis.  In our youth this takes around 28 days for new cells to work their way to the surface of the skin eventually shedding.  As we age this process takes longer and longer.

But when these dead skin cells stay stuck from either naturally “sticky-skin”* or swelling from excess hormones and are unable to shed themselves from within the follicle, the sebum becomes trapped with the dead cells and plugs are formed.  If oxygen is still able to get into the follicle, then the plugs become oxidized and form “blackheads” (the black is the oxidation). If the follicles become completely blocked and oxygen cannot get in below, then acne bacteria begins to grow.  “White heads” then form which are pools of dead skin cells & lymphocyte white blood cells trying to fight off the bacteria.  If the lymphocytes are unsuccessful then histamine is released in the skin to surround & trap the infection by causing swelling thereby enabling the lymph cells to fight harder.Formation of acnecanstockphoto6231870

Although this reddened stage is a result of the bodies own attempt to break down the clog and infection, if left untreated or if the body fails then cysts can form deep within the skin as the follicle walls break from the degenerative effects of infection.  Untreated tissue can die leaving scarring on the exterior and interior of the skin which will affect the skin’s ability to perform ifs functions long-term at the site.  And in the case of some people who have over-active immune systems this swelling and cyst formation can be significant enough to thrust acne into the category of a disease. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Phew.  That’s a lot to think about.

Understanding if you have the proclivity to acne then understanding how to take care of your skin goes a long way towards solving the problem.

Sticky skin note #2Immune system JPEG

If you answered yes to most of the questions in the above tests then your skin is prone to forming acne.  SKIN CARE INSTRUCTIONS TO AVOID ACNE in acne-prone skin types.

ONE:  Keep your skin clean.  Most of us know to wash our skin if it gets dirt on it but our skin needs washing at other times too.

  • Wash off your make-up. Make-up must get washed off within 12 hours of application or immediately after you perspire with it on.  The heat of the skin or the heat of the day can cause it to penetrate too deeply or “go bad”.  Sadly the more natural ingredients there are in make-up the more risk of rancidity while wearing it.  Make-up should stay on the surface of the skin NOT penetrate…skip the anti-aging, good-for-your-skin types that have ingredients that need to penetrate to be active.
  •  Wash away excess skin oils.  If you have “sticky skin”* with plenty of your own natural oils [sebum is naturally sticky] you may need to wash more often to remove the excess.  A big mistake is made, however, if one consistently removes ALL of the oil in their skin by using, for example, alcohol based tonics.  The total removal of your natural oil only makes the oil glands work harder to replace it thus creating excess oil.
  • Wash after work outs.  The minerals/salts in your perspiration can irritate the skin causing swelling of the follicles which in turn can aggravate the clogging process.
  • Wash after brushing or flossing your teeth.  Bacteria from your mouth can spread to your skin and cause break-outs.
  • Wash extra where your skin is rubbed by a hat or helmet or collar etc and wash the hat/helmet/collar regularly where it touches your skin!  Dirt and bacteria can build up in the fabric which aids in the clogging and infection process.
  • Wash your face twice a day as a regular life-long habit.  If your back or chest is troubled with acne then it also needs washing with the same regularity.

TWO: Avoid over stimulating your skin.

  • Avoid too much scrubbing on your skin.  This can trigger extra oil production, can trigger your immune process that creates swelling of your skins follicles and can spread bacteria if blemishes are present.
  • Avoid harsh cleansing ingredients; all sulfates and toners that list alcohol as the first ingredient.
  • Avoid bar soaps; the pH is too high and irritate your skin.  Additionally, the fats are clogging to the skin.
  • Avoid absent minded rubbing/touching your skin because this also can create triggers as above.
  • Avoid over-peeling your skin.  A mistake can be made by having professional deep or superficial peels too frequently on acne prone skin as this will stimulate the immune process and, in the case of an over-active immune system, can worsen acne.
  • Avoid lots of kissing for prolonged periods of time where bacteria from the mouth is spread to the face and where whiskers rubbing can over-stimulate the skin.  Wash and calm skin down afterwards.
  • Avoid shaving with a blade razor and use a rotary razor instead.  The blade can irritate the skin and spread acne bacteria.

THREE: Avoid eating foods and drinks or taking supplements that can trigger hormonal responses.

  • Avoid excessive amounts of any foods or beverages that stimulate adrenalin.  The adrenaline release can trigger acne.  These would include caffeinated or sugary drinks & foods – coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, candy,
  • Avoid any weight loss or energy boosting supplements for the same reasons even if they are “natural”.  The effect is still the same.
  • Avoid eating foods that you are allergic to because the histamine release causes swelling in the skin which can block follicles.
  • Avoid eating seaweed (sushi, salads, soups) and avoid taking any supplements that contain kelp or seaweed.  The high iodine content in marine foods is irritating to the acne prone skin and can cause swelling and blocking.  Avoid eating shell-fish.
  • Recreation drugs, birth control pills/injections/patches, steroidal drugs can all aggravate or create acne.  There many other medications that may be prescribed by a doctor also that can have this effect; but one would never want to discontinue medical treatment for the sake of acne avoidance.  Special acne treatment can be provided in this case.

FOUR:  Avoid using personal care products that clog your skin.  If an ingredient is irritating to the follicle or penetrates too deeply it can cause acne.

  • Hair products that contain artificial fragrance (irritates the follicles which causes swelling), dyes (will clog/irritate the skin), PVPs and all gelling agents (will clog pores – plant-based gels OK), most conditioning ingredients (will clog pores).  When washing and rinsing your hair residue slides down onto the face/chest/back.  Additionally if you perspire, the moisture will cause it to “melt” and slide down.  I have an approved product list for my clients.
  • Fabric softening agents can clog pores.  Avoid using these on items that your skin touches.
  • Laundry detergent with dyes or fragrance for the same reason above; they can irritate and clog pores.
  • Tooth care products can contain acne causing ingredients.  Avoid any sulfates, tartar control and most of the whitening ingredients.  These will commonly cause chin and around-the-mouth break outs.  Be sure to cleanse your skin after flossing your teeth as bacteria from your mouth can spread to the face.
  • Cosmetic and skincare ingredients: irritants: Sodium lauryl & laureth sulphate, algae extract, carrageenan, colloidal sulfur, dioctyl succinate, disodium monoloeamindo PEG 2-sulfoncuccinate, red dyes, salt/sodium, carageen, colloidal sulfur, iodine.
  • Cosmetics and skincare ingredients: hydrocarbons: Petroleum Distillate, Petrolatum, mineral Oil light , isoparaffin C9-11 , Isoparaffin C13-16.
  • Cosmetic and skincare ingredients:  fatty acids and esters/ethers/fatty alcohols derived from acids:  Oleic acid,  Oleyl alcoholDecyl oleate, Isodecyl oleate, Oleth-2 2% in propylene glycol, octyl palmitate,  Stearyl alcohol, Stearyl heptanoate, Oleyl alcohol, Isostearyl alcohol, Octyl dodecanol, Stearic acid, Oleic acid, Isostearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, ceteareth 20, ethyoxylated palmitate, Butyl stearate, Isostearyl neopentanoate, Isodecyl isononanate 15-200,

    Isopropyl linoleate, Isopropyl myristate, i

    sopropyl palmitate, Isopropyl lanolate, 

    Isopropyl isostearate, 

    Di isopropyl adipate, myristyl lactate, PPG 2 myristyl propionate, Myristyl myristate, Myristyl propionate, Myreth 3 myristate,, PEG monostearate, PPG monostearate, Triethyl citrate, PPG 2 myristyl propionate, Myristyl myristate, Myristyl propionate, Myreth 3 myristate, PPG 15 stearyl ether, Isocetyl stearate, C12-C15 alcohols benzoate, BHA.

  • Cosmetic and skincare ingredients:  sugars: Methyl.glucose.sesquistearate, sorbitan oleate, wheat germ glyceride, xylene
  • Cosmetic and skincare ingredients:  fats and oils; Capric/caprylic triglyceride, Hydrogenated vegetable oil, Cocoa butter, Coconut butter, Coconut oil, Peanut oil, Hybrid safflower oil, Peach kernel oil, Grape seed oil,  mink oil, shark liver oil (squalene), cotton awws or cotton seed oil, wheat germ oil, avocado oil, olive oil, sesame oil, soy bean oil, sulfated castor oil, sulfated jojoba oil, corn oil, evening primrose oil, Essential oils of sandalwood, cajeput, benzoin, camphor, chamomile, calendula (used straight on the skin)
  • Cosmetic and skincare ingredients; Glycols/stearates Glyceryl stearate, Decaglyceryl decaoleate, Propylene glycol stearate, Propylene glycol decaprylate/dicaprate, Glycol stearate, Hexylene glycol, octyl stearate
  • Cosmetic and skincare ingredients; Lanolin & lanolin derivatives:  Lanolin, Lanolin Oil, Lanolin alcohol, Cholesterol, Lanolic acid,  Isopropyl lanolate, Hydrogenated lanolin, Acetylated lanolin alcohol, Laneth-5, Laneth-20, Laneth-10 acetate, ethyoxylated lanolin, solulan 16, PEG 16 lanolin
Download a printable copy of this ingredient list to take with you while shopping.  Click here….
For personal help clearing up your acne please consider a consultation with me.  I can help design a home-care product routine and provide treatments that can help clear up your acne.
Very warmly, Jane