How to identify and treat acne prone skin

Did you know, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for acne prone skin? Despite the common misconception that acne is the sheer result of an ineffective skincare regime, there is far more to identifying a blemish-prone skin type in order to find a solution (or a way of controlling the severity of breakouts).

Various factors can contribute towards the production of blemishes, but here are the three most common signs to look for if you’re struggling to treat your skin.

1. Hormones

Identification: By now, we’ve all discovered that hormones can play a huge impact upon our skin; it’s not a coincidence that when ‘that time of the month’ comes around, a cluster of blemishes appear, and that’s because the adjustment in oestrogen and progesterone levels creates an imbalance in the skin.

A few tell-tale signs will help you identify if you are experiencing hormonal acne; if you are experiencing breakouts once a month (or at regular intervals), the spots are most commonly in the chin and jawline region, and you are far beyond the teen period (most commonly in your 20s), you probably fall into this category. 

Treatment: For females, birth control can help to regulate the production of both hormones, which will help to lessen the chance of acne breakouts. Sadly, testing a birth control which doesn’t work for your body may have the reverse effect and in fact heighten the imbalance of hormones and increase breakouts. From my personal experience, the implant had this effect on my skin and caused a huge acne breakout which was an on-going struggle for 1 year+, but I’ve finally found a pill which keeps the breakouts to a minimum. My biggest piece of advice would be to see it through and try every form of birth control until you’ve ruled all options out.

Another thing to consider is stress levels, as our hormones react to stress and therefore, acne can arise at any point in the month if your emotions aren’t controlled enough. I’m definitely guilty of this, so I think it’s important to find stress outlets e.g. reading a book or doing some yoga.

2. A dairy intolerance

Identification: I think this is perhaps one of the most overlooked forms of acne. Technically, we are all dairy intolerant, but some people are hugely effected by dairy. If you haven’t already identified yourself to have a dairy intolerance, but experience a flare up after eating something with dairy included e.g. chocolate, ice cream, cheese etc. you can likely put yourself into this category. 

Treatment: A good way of testing this is consuming a form of dairy and waiting for 2-3 hours; within this period of time, a reaction will usually take place and you’ll witness a breakout. If you do notice this, sadly, the only solution is to reduce or remove the intake of dairy from your diet.

3. Excess bacteria

Identification: The most common factor we’re led to believe within the beauty industry which contributes towards blemishes is excess bacteria clogging the pores. Chances are, if neither of the points above are providing a solution, the issue lies within your skincare regime. 

The most common cause of bacteria induced blemishes is not knowing how to effectively cleanse and exfoliate the skin, which allows dead skin cells to sink into the pores and clog them with dirt. 

Treatment: The two top tips I always follow (and believe everyone should) are…

  1. Double cleanse – a technique which usually involves using an oil or butter based cleansing balm (I love The Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleansing Butter) to remove makeup and grime away. Follow with a foaming/regular cleanser to wash away any oily residue and remaining dirt. 
  2. Use a scrubby exfoliator, roughly 2-3 times a week to buff away skin cells (try 1-2 times a week if you have extremely dry skin, as exfoliating too regularly can strip natural oils). You can also introduce beta-hydroxy and alpha-hydroxy acids to your regime, which help to strip the skin of excess oils (not the good ones), or include a spin brush for a more thorough cleansing experience.

Once you’ve perfected those steps, you can concentrate on your moisturising regime. My main pointers would be to avoid anything oil-based if you are prone to excess oils, but not to underestimate the power of a good moisturiser. Your skin might look oily, but there is a huge difference between excess oil on the surface and maintaining moisture levels beneath the surface. 

3a. Cystic acne

Identification: Another form of acne commonly discussed is cystic acne, which falls into the category of excess bacteria. It quite simply involves the spreading of dirt across the skin which leads to more breakouts, so if you’ve picked a blemish and then touched another area of the face, the pores in this region will likely become ‘infected’. Cystic acne is very distinct as the blemishes are vary raised, sore and often lie beneath the skin for a long period of time. Due to these factors, I think this is definitely one of the most painful forms of acne.

Treatment: My initial advice would be to follow all of the above cleansing techniques to treat the bacteria at the source but most importantly, as tempting it might be, DON’T pick your blemishes, as you’ll only regret it in the morning.

Of course, other factors can increase the chances of breakouts, such as eating unhealthy foods and not drinking enough water, but I think we’ve all learned by now that what we put into our body is what we’re going to witness on the outside.

Was this article helpful? Let me know if you have any questions below!

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