For years I was frustrated and embarrassed by adult acne. After all the years of struggling to find a solution I was determined to turn the page on my acne problems. Dermatologists offered me prescriptions some of which I tried and others which didn’t suit me in my current life stage. So I decided to do what so many other women of my generation have done before me…find the answer on the internet. I would love to tell you that I found all of the answers to my years of frustration in a matter of minutes, but that wouldn’t be true. I CAN tell you that age 33, at long last, my skin is acne free.
In the past I would look for a product or a solution to ‘fix’ my acne. This approach gave me plenty of products to choose from, but not much insight into why they were ultimately unsuccessful for me personally. Instead of sifting through products, reading reviews, and hoping to hear content that I felt reflected my struggles, I decided to learn more about acne and its causes. This approach sent me down the rabbit hole of information, and believe me there is boundless amounts of data and theories. But, it made me realize that there are more options than I knew, and that the solutions I have been trying may actually be contributing to what I like to call the ‘Acne Cycle.’
There are many factors that contribute to why conditions in your skin are ripe for acne breakouts. You may have heard that certain types of foods or lack of exercise can cause breakouts, and they may in fact contribute to the cause. You seldom hear, for example, that your skin has a microbiome containing healthy bacteria (just like your intestines) and that pH levels are important to consider. It made me wonder if the information that I had been basing my decisions upon for the last 25 years was flawed, or at least incomplete.
If you remove all of the marketing hype, celebrity endorsements, testimonials from friends as well as strangers (easier said than done) you are left with some pretty simple facts.
Fact 1 – Acne is caused when your hair follicles become clogged and plugged with oil and dead skin cells.
Fact 2 – Once a pore is clogged, inflammation and swelling sets in. Tissue becomes red and more visible.
Fact 3 – The more inflamed and irritated the tissue is, the more acne prone it becomes.
Fact 4 – Acne heals slowly. By the time one pimple heals, another can arise close by.
If I am to be honest with myself I must admit that these facts were NOT new to me. However, I would lose sight of them when choosing how I would treat my acne. As an example, lets take a look at exfoliation and how my choices were negatively affecting my skin.
If acne is caused by dead skin cells and sebum (oil) clogging hair follicles, exfoliation is an important part of your solution. Some exfoliate with an abrasive cleanser or use harsh scrubs thinking they are doing their skin a favor getting rid of dead skin cells and removing excess oils. The harsh nature of this type of exfoliating actually causes more inflammation and irritation to the tissue, which in turn makes it more susceptible to breakouts.
I used a sugar based exfoliation cleanser and I would routinely scrub my face thinking that the more I did, the better my chances or removing my acne. Little did I know I was prolonging redness, and increasing the odds of more pimples.
The more research I did the more I realized the importance of skin health. If I took steps to ‘heal my skin’ rather than ‘remove my acne’ perhaps I would have a better result. So thats what I set out to do. To rethink my approach all these years and see if I could finally clear up my adult acne. As you can probably tell by the title of this post, I was successful in my little experiment. These are the steps I followed.
Step 1. Daily Probiotic. Most people think of probiotics for your gut or immune system. Probiotics can also help achieve a balance of beneficial bacteria for your skin. Normal life can negatively affect the balance of bacteria on your skin, and by replenishing helpful flora, your skin can benefit immensely. This is the probiotic I used but I imagine any good quality probiotic would do the trick.
Step 2. A non abrasive Exfoliating Cleanser used morning and evening. This step help remove excess oils and dead skin cells without irritating your skin further. Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid are ingredients that get the exfoliation done without scraping or scrubbing the tissue further. You can find exfoliating cleansers that offer nourishing and anti inflammatory properties, I chose the one with the ingredients I liked the most.
Step 3. Niacinamide Serum. Otherwise known as Vitamin B3, niacinamide has a few unique properties that are beneficial to acne as well as the healing of irritated or damaged tissue. Niacinamide controls and regulates the Sebum (oil) production of your skin. This reduces oil production and combined with regular exfoliation reduces pimples from forming. And when breakouts do occur, rather than your skin going haywire and producing all sorts of sebum, production remains constant and stops the disruptive cycle of acne.
Niacinamide Serum also helps the natural renewal processes of your skin. Healthy Cell turnover does many things to repair our skin, but none more important to me than healing the damaged tissue caused by acne more rapidly. Niacinamide helps to nourish and repair the skin while stopping acne. Many other ingredients dry out the skin or kill off ALL bacteria in hopes of reducing acne. Niacinamide gives you the best of the healing without any damaging side effects like Benzoyl Peroxide.
Once I began treating my skin daily with these 3 steps it was only a matter of a couple weeks until my adult acne started to subside. Each day it seemed as though my skin was becoming more clear and residual discoloration from old trouble areas soon faded too. I have been using this routine for a little over 8 months and for the past 7 months I have been breakout free. I DO still get the occasional pimple during my time of the month, but its gone in a day or two.
I truly believe that by altering my perspective to repairing the health of my skin, rather than removing my acne I used products I would have otherwise over looked. For me, this approach worked. I hope that it works for you as well, my guess is that it will.