Did you know there’s a whole lot more to getting clear than merely using the right products? Here’s helpful information from Alissa Chasen, the owner of POREspective, to getting your breakouts under control.
Acne is caused by a bunch of different factors. If you are genetically pre-conditioned to acne, you have too many dead skin cells inside your pores (and there are 10,000 of them on your face alone!). These dead skin cells can’t get released from the pore through natural exfoliation, so you’re left with a plug that will show itself in 2-3 months.
If you’re suffering from the second type of acne (what I call “self-inflicted”), you’ve been a product junkie for too long, getting sucked into the marketing ploys of brands sold at drugstores, department stores and (yep) Proactiv.
Regardless of how the plug got in there, you now have a time bomb waiting to go off, and it might eruptly gently or with a vengeance. What can set it off and turn it into a big, painful cyst? Increased oil production, a drop in estrogen (typically 2-7 days before your menstrual cycle), and consuming cow’s milk, iodides or peanuts are just few things that can set it off.
The bottom line is, acne is just like maintaining your weight. You don’t go on a diet and start exercising like crazy, then go back to eating anything you like or hit the snooze button instead of going to the gym once you’ve lost a few pounds. Acne is the same way. It requires constant care and discipline, keeping your pores clear and preventing new plugs from forming. At POREspective, we’ve got you covered!
Begin with the Right Cleanser.
Bar soap and many foaming cleansers have high pH balances with harsh ingredients that strip the water out of the skin. And what you wash with is the first step in your acne care routine. Why? Because if you wash with a foaming cleanser or soap that is too drying, it pulls all the water out of the skin and makes your skin both dry AND broken out! Choose cleansers that avoid the harsh ingredient, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). These are better choices since they won’t rob the skin of much-needed water.
Remember: less lather = less drying. Try POREspective’s Clearing Wash, a cleanser and acne treatment in one step.
Avoid Acne Products That Contain SD Alcohol 40 (Unless You’re Oily).
Many people like the “clean” and “tight” feeling associated with using alcohol on the skin, but this ingredient will strip the skin of water. Trying to dry up acne can backfire, since irritated, acne-prone skin leads to more breakouts. Toners without alcohol are important for keeping the skin cells moist with water. POREspective’s Purifying Toner works to control bacteria without over-drying the skin.
Choose Exfoliation Methods Wisely
Washcloths, buff puffs and the Clarisonic brush exfoliate well, but I have a serious concern about how to keep these items clean (and do your really want to put something that isn’t clean against your face, day after day?). Aggressive scrubbing in attempt to “scrub away” the acne merely aggravates the problem by irritating the skin and moving bacteria around. And apricot- and nut-based facial scrubs have sharp edges that lacerate the skin, causing pigmentation (red and dark spots).
My exfoliation prescription: an alcohol-free acid serum (see our collection of serums with Mandelic and Salicylic) applied to the skin every other morning for 2-4 weeks, then every morning thereafter if your skin tolerates it. On the opposite mornings, give your skin a break from exfoliation by using an oil-free moisturizer to nourish and hydrate the skin. Wearing a serum in the morning also protects your skin from the elements and pollution, acting as a bullet-proof shield. (Just remember to follow with an approved sunscreen to protect the skin from further damage.)
Unless you have dry skin or rosacea, I recommend using a gentle facial scrub like POREspective’s Daily Scrub. The rationale for this one-two punch of exfoliation is that using an exfoliating serum will dissolve the skin cells while a physical exfoliant like a scrub will lift off the skin cells. They each work by a different mechanism, but both are very beneficial for the health and clearance of acne-prone skin.
In addition to daily exfoliation, use the professional acne peel kit at home every 2-4 weeks.
Take Advantage of Nighttime to Turn Your Acne Around.
It’s easy to get lazy about washing your makeup off at night, but to keep skin in top condition it is essential that you cleanse thoroughly every night. Removal of dirt, oil, and makeup followed by a buffer to prevent moisture loss and a treatment to prevent future acne is essential for encouraging long-term healing of your skin. This restoration occurs fast and furiously at night while you sleep, so don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to get clear!
Use a Moisturizer That Hydrates without Pore-clogging Oils.
Many people with acne will skip using a moisturizer, thinking that they don’t need one or are afraid it will break them out further. Using an oil-free lotion moisturizer will keep the surface cells hydrated with water, but won’t clog the pores. Try POREspective’s Daily Moisturizer, which is a must-have for all acne types!
Don’t Pick at Your Acne.
We know it’s tempting, but you can make acne much worse when you try to get rid of it by picking and pushing. What you’re really doing is pushing the plug and bacteria deeper into the skin, resulting in lingering dark spots and more breakouts. A better option is regular acne treatments with someone who knows how to do medical extractions, where your pores are cleaned out completely and correctly, without the fear of a post-treatment flare-up.
Avoid Dairy Products Made from Cow’s Milk.
You may have heard that greasy food and chocolate causes acne, but more often it’s really the dairy in your diet that makes “unseen acne” (the acne migrating from the pore over 2-3 months) “seen.” Try cutting out soft cheese and cow’s milk products (including Greek yogurt) for a week or a month, and see if your acne flare-ups go away! Also try POREspective’s Overnight Treatment for a quick clearance of whiteheads and pustules. See our collection of acne products.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes Weekly.
Bacteria and oil can build up on your cosmetic brushes, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Using a mild cleanser that you would trust on your face (that’s where the brushes are touching, right?) and a little cold water, carefully wash out your brushes and rinse thoroughly. Daily Wash is a client favorite for a morning cleanser and makeup brush cleaner. After washing, flatten the bristles to prevent tangling, and lay them on a clean towel overnight to dry.
Change Pillowcases 2-3 Times Per Week (and Flip Them over in Between).
For acne-prone skin, bacteria, oil, and hair products buildup on pillowcases and are reintroduced to your skin the following night. Invest in a nice stack of pillowcases and make sure you wash them with a fragrance-free detergent without fabric softener or dryer sheets.
Take Zinc Monomethionine.
Small-scale studies indicate that zinc monomethionine (a specific form of zinc) contain acne-fighting ingredients by reducing the production of sebum and inflammation inside the pores, while accelerating the repair process. Think of it as a natural antibiotic, without the antibiotic resistance! We suggest taking up to three 30 mg tablets every day with meals to avoid stomach upset.
Only Trust Your Skin with POREspective Acne Control Products.
Which products are right for your skin? Check out our six acne types.