If you have acne prone skin like me and you value every bit of tip you can get your hands to on how to stay pimple free and blemish free, here are some advice from Proactiv dermatologist Dr. Laura Savage on how to take care of your skin. Hopefully, these will help you on your acne journey as well.
Tip #1 – Cleanse gently and wisely
While deep cleansing sounds desirable to purify oily blemish-prone skin, over-washing and harsh cleansers can do more damage than good – by stripping away the protective barrier, skin is left dry and vulnerable to bacteria. Avoid using soap too – the high pH of soap will dry the skin and cause a compensatory surge in oil production, leaving skin in a confused state with an undesirable combination of dry and greasy patches. Choose a cleanser containing helpful anti-inflammatory ingredients such as salicylic acid to help soothe inflamed pimples, and gently massage over the entire face and neck for at least 60 seconds (to allow any active ingredients to take effect).
Avoid cleaners and toners containing harsh alcohol-based astringents and ingredients such as witch hazel, which typically cause a sting on application and make the skin appear red. Small flaking patches might indicate you’re over cleansing, so ease back and then gradually increase the frequency of use as your skin adjusts and gets used to the product.
I was guilty of over washing at some point. I have this mistaken notion that I can wipe off all my pimples if I wash my face more than usual and use astringents that sting. I could not have been more wrong. To this day, I still regret that decision because it has left permanent scarring on my face.
Tip #2 – Make salicylic acid your star ingredient
Salicylic acid is one of the most effective non-prescription ingredients that prevents breakout. It is a great choice of exfoliant for those with spot-prone and oily skin too since it targets pimples by sloughing away dead skin cells that clog pores and lead to breakouts. Onen of its secret magic too is, it minimizes pore visibility.
I am a great fan of salicylic acid. You can never go wrong with acne medications that have salicylic in them like Proactiv!
Tip #3 – Moisturize!
A common misconception is that moisturizing is bad for oily skin prone to breakouts. It’s true that many creams and lotions contain ingredients that can block pores and make breakouts worse, so never put a product designed for your body near your face. Look for products labelled ‘non-comedogenic’, which is a fancy way of saying they don’t contain ingredients that block pores and lead to the formation of blackheads and whiteheads.
Hydrating the skin with an oil-free moisturizer will not only counteract the drying effect of many spot treatments, but also loosen the pore-blocking sebum (skin debris and grease) leading to clearer and healthier skin.
I used to avoid putting moisturizer on my face because I have oily skin. I feel like I am adding more grease on my face every time I put them on. Turns out, I was using the wrong kind of face moisturizer. In acne prone skin, mositurizers can actually help the healing process.
Tip #4 – Give it time and be optimistic
Sometimes your skin can take a while to adjust to new products or active ingredients. Direct your attention away from the guide on the bottle and focus only on your skin. If you experience signs of irritation or over-drying, try reducing the application to every other day (or even less often) for a couple of weeks before gradually increasing back to daily.
Remember that it can take 4-6 weeks for breakouts to diminish, so you need to persevere with a new product for at least this long (and ideally a bit longer) before really deciding whether it is doing the trick and clearing your skin.
I am the queen of impatience! The reason why my acne took time to cure was because I kept changing products every two weeks especially when I don’t see immediate improvements. After a long serious talk with a dermatologist, I decided to stick it out and exhibit the patient of a saint. Treating acne can be a good training in virtue as well.:)
Tip #5 – Keep your hands off!
As tempting and satisfying as it is, squeezing a pimple really is the worst thing you can do so keep your hands off! Pressure on an inflamed pimple will push the contents of the grease gland (oil, bacteria and dead skin cells) into the surrounding healthy skin which causes damage and more inflammation. Squeezing can lead to a temporary darkening of the skin (so called ‘post-inflammatory pigmentation’) that can take weeks, even months to settle, and scarring, which can be permanent and difficult to treat – not cool. If you really find it difficult to resist squeezing, try applying a warm compress instead to the pimple for 5 minutes to reduce any swelling and then apply a small amount of salicylic acid-based product.
Who couldn’t resist popping a zit on her face? Me! And I have always bore the brunt of that silly decision. Believe me when I say that it takes every bit of self control for me not to do that especially when I see and feel a throbbing pimple on my face. Over the years though, I have come to appreciate the wisdom behind this advise. I sure would not want to end up with a face full of “tiny craters.”
Tip #6 – Review your make up choices and clean your brushes
It’s a fact that as breakouts worsen, the more we try to conceal them by putting on more make-up than usual. For pimple-prone skin, it is essential that we choose the right cosmetic and clean the applicators we use regularly to prevent future breakouts. Mineral-based make up products are a good option as they contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and silica that mop up excess oil without blocking pores. Also, switch to a concealer that contains a blemish-fighting ingredient such as salicylic acid to not only reduce the visibility of blemishes but also help reduce the size.
Like in the case of not washing your face daily, make-up brushes can also accumulate a layer of pore-clogging product, dirt and bacteria – your skin’s worst enemies. So, aim to cleanse your brushes at least once a week using baby shampoo or a professional brush cleaner to keep them in tip top condition.
I am not a heavy make-up user. In fact, I can do way with it everyday, But, when it is necessary for me to wear one, I make sure that the brushes and sponges I’ll use are clean and the make-up products I’ll apply are acne friendly, since my face is sensitive to make-up.
Tip #7 – Review your diet
For many years, the jury was out as to whether there was a link between diet and breakouts – the hard evidence was simply lacking. But then over the years, dermatologists have seen a correlation between the hormones in cow’s milk and oil production that promote and cause breakouts. Similarly, foods with a high glycemic index can cause a spike in blood sugars, causing a rise in hormone levels and sending grease glands into an oily overdrive. Try reducing cow’s milk intake to just 1-2 servings per day (or choose an unsweetened alternative like almond milk), and cut out fatty foods high in omega-6 fatty acids and refined sugars (generally found in all the foods you know are bad for you!) Even if your skin doesn’t dramatically improve, your waistline will!
I am diabetic and my usual gauge if I have too much sugar in my body is the presence and abscence of a skin breakout. My diabetologist says, too much sugar can cause inflammation and formation of cystic pimples is one example. Trust me when I say that it is better to lay off from the sugar than to cure a cystic breakout.
Tip #8 – Use a good skincare routine like Proactiv+
Proactiv+ 3 Step Clear Skin System has Smart Target technology that delivers acne-fighting formulation directly into the pores. It is formulated to address blemishes PLUS it helps deliver benefits such as improved skin texture and clarity, and brighter, radiant, and smoother skin.
The 3-step system starts with a Smoothing Exfoliator which removes excess dirt and other impurities. The exfoliator is applied on damp skin and rinsed with warm water after two minutes. The second step is called the Pore Targeting treatment where the lotion is applied all over the face for full absorption. This stops the acne at the source because it delivers blemish-fighting ingredient directly into the pore. The final process of the Proactiv+ 3 Step Clear Skin System is the application of the Complexion Perfect Hydrator. This moisturizer will reduce redness and will help brighten the skin as it works to lighten acne marks.
I have tried Proactiv+ and it really works. If you have been searching all this time for an effective acne medication treatment, I recommend you try Proactiv+ today and discover for yourself the wonders it can to for your skin.
About Dr. Laura Savage:
Dr. Savage studied Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where she also obtained an honours degree in pathology. She trained as a Dermatologist within the Yorkshire Deanery. This included three-and-a-half years of research investigating the use of biological therapy in psoriatic disease culminating in the award of a PhD degree.
Here’s Dr. Savage taking about the importance of sticking with a skin routine to get rid of blemishes.