Get rid of blemishes. Easier said than done, right? Breaking out is more than just an annoyance—and you’re certainly not vain for being concerned about them. Acne is a skin condition that can have a real impact on the appearance of your skin not to mention your self-confidence. Pimples can manifest in many ways, from red, inflamed blemishes or tiny blackheads on your nose.
There is a mistaken assumption that the main cause of breakouts is poor hygiene, and it is often used to shame acne sufferers. However, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that around 50 million Americans suffer from acne every year, so it’d be an error to assume all of these people are just not washing their faces often enough. Even celebrities that can afford expensive care still end up with the odd blemish on their skin.
Acne is usually initially caused by physiology and genetics rather than lifestyle, but poor skincare practices can exacerbate breakouts. If you’re patient, you can improve the look of your complexion by committing to a great skincare routine and some healthy habits.
Where Blemishes Come From
In order to get rid of blemishes, it’s important to first understand their real causes. The basic process of blemish formation is quite simple. A blemish shows up when the pore or hair follicle becomes clogged with a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that haven’t been shed properly. The P. acnes bacteria, which is usually already present on the skin, then infects the clogged pore, leading to swelling, redness, and pain. It’s easier for the acne bacteria to survive on the skin and infect it when it is already a little bit compromised, either due to dehydration or lack of pH balance. When bacteria don’t come into play, the clogged pore doesn’t get inflamed. Instead, it remains a blackhead if it’s open to the air or a whitehead if it’s a little under the skin.
The underlying causes of excess sebum production are complex. They are often hormonal since oil production in the skin is associated with androgen hormones. This is why acne tends to start at puberty when hormone levels in the body start changing. Acne can also be a side-effect of certain medications that influence hormones, or a sign of some sort of endocrine disorder.
Now that we know how breakouts happen in the first place, let’s get to how to manage or prevent them:
Cleanse Gently, but Thoroughly
Poor hygiene might not be the only cause of acne, but good hygiene definitely helps. By cleansing the skin regularly you can remove surface oils and bacteria, which are the two main factors that cause blemishes to appear: oils by clogging the pores, and bacteria by infecting them.
Unfortunately, those with acne often end up overdoing it in a way that harms their skin and makes things worse. They use strong, sulfate-based cleansers or soaps that totally strip their skin of moisture and throw its acidity off balance. This ends up irritating the skin and making it even more prone to inflammation.
This is why using a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser is so important. Any of our cleansers at IMAGE Skincare will do the trick, but the CLEAR CELL salicylic gel cleanser is an excellent choice, especially for those with oily skin. This gentle cleanser is formulated to reduce the appearance of blemishes in a few different ways. First, it cleanses the skin of impurities without compromising its barrier functions. Secondly, it contains 2% salicylic acid, a gentle exfoliant that helps to prevent the dead skin buildup that clogs the pores in the first place. It also features neem leaf extract and tea tree oil, both of which help ease the appearance of redness and other visible signs of irritation.
If you have dry or sensitive skin with the occasional pimple, this cleanser might be best as a special treatment. Use it once a week or just as you feel a breakout coming on. To benefit from the exfoliating properties of this cleanser, it is important to massage it into the skin for at least one minute.
Keep Skin Balanced and Quenched
It might not seem obvious, but keeping the skin well-hydrated is a very important part of keeping acne at bay. When your skin is well-moisturized it can act as a better barrier against all kinds of icky aggressors. On the other hand, when the skin is dehydrated it is easier for the acne bacteria to penetrate and infect it. Because the skin is weaker when it’s dehydrated, it has a harder time fending off that bacteria so inflammation is more likely.
The thing is, not all moisturizers will work for those with acne-prone skin. When you’re dealing with breakouts, it’s important to choose a moisturizing product free of any ingredients that might exacerbate your acne, which are also known as comedogenic ingredients.
Our VITAL C hydrating anti-aging serum is a great moisturizer for those with oily and acne-prone skin because it is extremely nourishing but with a light texture that won’t look greasy or clog pores. It contains super-humectant hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that absorbs water to hydrate and soften the skin. It also contains other ingredients that help acne-prone skin, including Centella Asiatica which helps soothe, and vitamin C which lightens the appearance of post-acne marks.
Get the Occasional “Deep Clean” Tune-Up
While regular cleansing and mild exfoliation are important, you should give your skin the occasional deep treatment, especially if your pores are looking congested with blackheads.
The CLEAR CELL medicated acne masque works in a few ways to cleanse and renew the skin. First, it targets clogged pores with a mixture of salicylic and glycolic acids. The two acids work together to reduce the dead skin cell buildup that clogs pores. It also includes kaolin, a gentle white clay that purifies and mattifies the skin by absorbing excess oil.
Keeping the skin in good shape with cleansing and moisturizing is by far the most important part of preventing breakouts, but focusing on eliminating bacteria in the first place can be extremely useful when you’re dealing with more severe acne.
Our CLEAR CELL medicated acne lotion utilizes benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide works by inhibiting the acne bacteria on the surface of the skin, and it’s extremely effective both for prevention and as a spot treatment.
On its own, benzoyl peroxide is very powerful but it can be harsh, which is why we made sure to formulate it gently, with a nourishing peptide complex and skin-soothing botanical extracts. This way, it fights acne while keeping the skin strong and supple.
Use SPF That Doesn’t Clog Pores
Your daily sunscreen is one of the most important products in your skincare regimen. It helps protect the skin from skin cancer and sunburn while minimizing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and photoaging. For those with acne-prone skin, sunscreen can help to stop the sun from darkening the look of post-acne scars.
Finding a sunscreen that won’t clog your pores isn’t always easy, but our PREVENTION+ daily matte moisturizer does the trick. This oil-free sunscreen has a smooth velvet finish thanks to a micro-sponge technology that absorbs the shiny sebum that the skin produces. It doesn’t smudge or budge, does not cause breakouts, and it looks great under makeup. It is also formulated with an antioxidant complex to give an anti-aging boost to the skin.
Drop Bad Habits
A good skincare routine is important for keeping blemishes away, but the rest of your lifestyle also influences the health of your skin. Your skin is the largest organ, and it can be influenced by what goes on inside your body. You can help it along by just staying healthy. Practicing good habits, like eating a nutritious diet that is rich in green veggies and healthy fats, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will have many health benefits that might also be reflected in your skin. Some people find that very specific food is an issue, though specific dietary triggers are highly individualized.
Another thing that can help is to keep all items that come into contact with your skin clean, which can include your pillowcases, phone screen, headphones, and makeup brushes. Additionally, you want to be fastidious about washing your hands and not touching or picking at your skin. Staying away from unnecessary irritants is another way to keep your skin fortified. One common irritant is hot water, so make sure to shower in lukewarm water instead.