Why do we get acne?
Nobody really knows why some people suffer from acne, while others do not. One likely explanation is that acne comes about as a result of hormones called androgens, which increase in number once we reach puberty. Androgens swell oil glands in the skin and cause them to produce more sebum, which in turn, unfortunately, gives us spots. Acne comes in a number of different forms – from predominantly smaller spots such as blackheads and milia, through to pustules and cystic acne.
Acne can cause sufferers great distress. It is not only a physical affliction but a mental one as well. Those with acne can feel judged, feel that people are staring at them or even judging their cleanliness because of it. It can affect both personal and professional relationships and be a huge dent to self-confidence, with some people not even wanting to leave the house on, particularly bad days. However, acne does not have to be the death knell to our social lives. There are many remedies available that are scientifically proven to help reduce and even eradicate acne.
Who gets acne?
Once we reach puberty, acne can affect anyone – from teens right through to people in their 30s and 40s. Some studies show that between 80 – 95% of adults aged 11-30 may be affected by acne at some point in their lives. Acne also seems to have a genetic component. If your parents had acne, you stand a greater chance of having acne too. Rather unfairly, it is more common in women than men, affecting up to 15% of males and 85% of females. This is thought to be a result of different hormones and hormonal responses in the body.
What can be done to reduce acne?
If you have acne, what can be done about it? There are far more solutions available today than there have ever been before, but treating acne still remains a matter of trial and error, at least to some degree – what works for one person may not work for another. Remember, if you are suffering from adult acne and nothing seems to help, there is a wide range of help at hand – via home treatments, salons, clinics and dermatologists. With all these options open to you, there is bound to be a treatment strategy that is perfect for you. It just takes time to find it, so you will need to maintain a great deal of patience. Whichever steps you decide to take, it’s important to give the treatment plan sufficient time to work before giving up on it and trying something else – also, try to keep a journal to record any visible improvements so you can start to identify a clearer path towards your own unique personal solution.
There is much debate about whether or not a change in diet can be beneficial in treating acne. Most experts conclude that acne is not caused by consuming certain foods, as was previously believed. However, a full and varied diet, full of the right vitamins and minerals will certainly help, as some studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies can play a role in the presence and prevalence of acne.
The best solution is to take a gentle approach – initially at least. No good will come from over-aggravating skin and spreading bacteria around. However, gently does not have to mean ineffective.
A great first step is to increase exfoliation. Rather than granular exfoliators, which can scratch and tear the skin, choose an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) such as Naturalia Sintesi’s Anti-Aging Complex, which contains 15% glycolic acid (and AHA) or BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) exfoliator. This is gentle but effective and can help to restore the balance of the skins’ acid mantle.
Look for non-comedogenic products which have been tested and are proven to not exacerbate spots and blemishes. Be stringent in your skincare, implementing a thorough cleanse, tone, serum and hydrate regimen, twice daily. Do not pick at or squeeze spots, however compelling it may be to do so. All this does (as you no doubt know) is inflame the spot itself, break its contents onto your skin, thereby spreading bacteria and increasing the potential of infection.
Look for skincare products which contain salicylic acid, zinc sulphite or low-level retinol such as retinyl palmate, which can reduce spots, soothe the skin and minimise the production of excess sebum, which all have a detrimental effect. Consult a skincare professional and have regular facials that use salon-strength products with ingredients known to effectively combat acne.
Vitamin C serums and gels are a great cosmeceutical step forward in treating acne. They come in many different forms and strengths – the most proven type of Vitamin C for fighting acne is sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It helps to prevent acne by acting as an antimicrobial and helping to prevent the oxidisation of sebum, which in turn reduces the likelihood of getting spots. It also has a gentle exfoliating action, which helps speed cellular turnover and regeneration, minimising the risk of blocked pores. If Vitamin C is being used, it is important that it is not used at the same time as a retinol treatment – we recommend you use Vitamin C during your morning routine and retinol in the evening. This is because they both perform optimally when applied at separate times – used together, this can increase photosensitivity (retinol alone can do this, so that is why it is always advised to use at night).
Retinols and Tretinoins are creams or gels that are derived from Vitamin A. They are available in a variety of strengths, from over-the-counter retinol creams through to prescription tretinoins and retinoids, which can be nurse-prescribed through clinics, or by a doctor or dermatologist. Your skin can take some time to get used to them, and they must be used only every few days, to begin with until your skin’s tolerance increases (overuse might result in peeling or flaking skin). They work by increasing cellular regeneration, which in turn helps to unclog pores by sweeping away dead skin cells which block pores and creating new ones. Retinols and tretinoins cause the skin to be hypersensitive to the sun, so they must be used at night, or in tandem with an SPF during the day.
Peels can be a great way to not only treat acne but also to reduce any lingering redness, hyperpigmentation and scarring that is leftover from an acne episode. Peels range from mild to moderate to strong, and some can require up to a week or two of post-treatment downtime. These are an extreme version of exfoliation and are normally performed at a salon or clinic by an experienced skincare expert. They frequently use high concentrations of acids such as mandelic acid, salicylic acid and glycolic and lactic acids (or a combination of these), all of which have acne-fighting and acne-preventative qualities.
LED & Laser
Blue LED is a great treatment for acne. Available in salons, often combined as part of a facial treatment that uses other acne-fighting ingredients, blue LED is known to kill the bacteria P.acnes and has been shown to have a positive effect on mild to moderate acne.
Laser treatments, including IPL (intense pulsed light), can show good results in treating acne scarring. Treatments range from those with mild discomfort and no downtime to those which are extremely uncomfortable and require a number of days behind closed doors. They work by removing the upper layers of your skin and encouraging new collagen to plump and revitalise the dermal layer. They are only suitable for treating mild active acne but are excellent for smoothing and removing old scars and scar tissue once the acne has been treated. Not all skin types are suitable for laser acne treatments, and the cost makes it prohibitive for many.
While some salons and clinics can offer extraction of blackheads, whiteheads and milia, excision of cystic acne needs to be performed by a dermatologist. Quite often, these procedures involve removing not just the contents of the spot or cyst, but also the cystic sac. These are medical-level treatments that should not be performed by anyone other than a medical professional. After extraction, Naturalia Sintesi’s beauty therapists will always apply Professional P Gel for its reparative action due to the presence of 1.3 Beta-glucan.
For extreme cases of acne, doctors can prescribe a range of solutions, from tablets to help regulate hormones, such as the contraceptive pill, to antibiotics, to isotretinoin (such as Accutane, which is incredibly powerful). While these measures are proven to reduce acne, they also come with potentially unpleasant side effects that may disincline some people from going down that route. If you are suffering from severe acne, it is always worth going and speaking to your doctor for advice.
The bad news is that acne does not have a ‘one size fits all’ solution. The good news is that thanks to science and technology, recent advancements mean that more people than ever before are able to deal with the problem quickly and easily. Skin scientists, like those at Naturalia Sintesi, are 100% dedicated to the constant development of new and effective products that harness the dual powers of nature and biotechnology to treat acne. Naturalia Sintesi’s Pufac AD3 treatment range for in-salon treatments, and the Pufac range and Anti-Aging Complex for home use, not only treat acne but rebalance the skin to create and maintain the ultimate skin health that you perhaps had only dreamed of having before. Nobody has to live with acne these days. There are solutions out there to minimise or even eradicate it from your life. Let the most beautiful you come out and be seen – visit our website to find out more.