For so many years I thought that having adult acne prone skin was my fault.
The beauty industry tells us that after the age of 25 we should start doing our anti-aging routine and that breakouts and pimples are for teenagers who treat their skin with alcohol-heavy treatments and scrub their pimples away with apricot scrubs.
The truth is - some people are more prone to acne than others, and breakouts might not stop after puberty.
One study written by French scientists concluded that acne persists in 41% of adult women.
Having acne prone skin means that you have a chronic skin condition and you have to learn how to identify triggers and manage them. We can't change our genetics but we can improve the appearance of our skin.
A good skincare routine is the ‘front line’ way to target acne prone skin. If your skin is "acneic," (i.e. prone to acne), a consistent skincare routine should become a daily habit for you.
Using the wrong skincare products or ingredients can irritate your skin or cause new flare-ups and there are some other factors which might be contributing to your breakouts (and no we're not talking about hormones!). Read this guide to find out more about the scientific findings!
#1 When Effective Skincare Means Clearer Skin
1 Step: Build an effective routine
Keep it simple, the less steps you can incorporate the easier it is to maintain a consistent skincare routine. I have managed to cut it down to 4-steps (sometimes 3!) with the System Akvile cleanse-exfoliate-target-moisturize mantra.
Using the right cleanser for acne prone skin dissolves skin impurities and excess sebum without compromising the skin’s barrier. If your skin feels tight and dry after cleansing your face, you're probably using the wrong one.
Acid exfoliant helps to slough dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and even the texture of your skin. Acids, like AHA, BHA or Azelaic Acid, are good anti-aging agents too and help to fight post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. I want glowy skin because I don’t like wearing a lot of makeup, so, for me my skin has to look healthy.
Finding a non-drying and non irritating spot treatment sounds easier that it is. Many spot treatments dry out your pimples and leave nasty post-inflammatory patches (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) on the skin which are really difficult to treat. There's a reason why we swear by the ingredient called Ictasol which has anti-inflammatory, anti seborrheic and antibacterial properties.
Not getting enough moisture can also take a toll on your skin. You need to invest in well balanced nourishing cream which rejuvenates your skin and protects it from pollution.
2 Step: Consistency is the most effective treatment for acne prone skin
Consistency is key - getting a new skincare product every week and hoping that each new one will be THAT quick-miracle-fix for your skin, will not work. Our skin just does not work like this. Understanding the purpose and the function of each product and taking a good look at your entire skincare regime is the way to go to finally get your acneic skin under control.
3 Step: Learn more about the science behind your skincare products
Learning what is in your products, which ones work together and how they benefit your skin is an important part of developing an effective skincare routine.
Some products can be misleading and have ingredients that damage your skin, you need to understand the ingredients in order to avoid these.
Read the ingredient list on each of your products and research the effects they can have. If you find something that is not on the official list of cosmetic ingredients then there’s a chance that it may not be great for you or your skin. Remember, keeping a fact-based approach is important, don’t let trends and empty promises mislead you.
#2 How stress makes your acne-prone skin worse
Our thoughts and feelings influence the majority of our actions and when we're stressed, our body can often be affected along with our mind. In this sense, the way we think and feel can also have an impact on our skin.
Mindfulness, happiness, confidence and stress are all interlinked and often appear cyclically in our lives e.g. stress = bad skin = lack of confidence = stress = bad skin etc. and alternatively mindfulness = happiness = good skin = confidence = mindfulness and so on (I could literally be here repeating myself forever).
When you are feeling stressed your body can release cortisol into your body which affects your gut health. This in turn can play havoc with your hormones, which as we know tends not to end well for your skin.
Just like how negative emotions affect your skin badly, positive ones can improve it. When we are feeling happy and relaxed we are able to sleep, eat and, ultimately, think in a healthier manner. This means our skin is able to repair and renew itself a lot easier. If you want some tips on how to decrease stress check this out.
#3 Body confidence and acne-prone skin
So, that sounds a bit vague, right? Let’s explain a little…
Regular exercise is a great way to de-stress and reduce the negativity we may feel in our daily lives, and it’s 100% natural. Unfortunately the skin-body connection is not yet established very clearly. However, feeling stronger in our bodies helps us to feel stronger in our mind. This means that one or two spots no longer seems too much of an issue.
Just like our skin and mind, our body is unique - it’s dictated by a combination of diet, exercise, and other factors such as sleep and genetics. As a result, it’s not a given that your skin will automatically stop breaking out when you become more physically active - but it may help.
# 4 Are you actually what you eat?
We can all agree that a healthy and balanced diet has some impact on our skin as well as on the overall health of our body & mind.
I don’t appreciate it when people tell me what to eat and what not to eat, but with every new blemish I ask myself - should I be looking deeper into my eating habits?
Some people can eat anything all day long and still have skin like a newborn baby (I am imagining a lot of frustrated eye rolling at this statement).
When it comes to nutrition there is no one-size-fits all. Listen to your body and keep trying until you find the right nutrition for you. Don’t substitute anyone else’s judgement for your own. You know yourself best.
No single food causes breakouts or effectively treats them, but I’m sure you’ll agree that certain foods can potentially worsen the situation (greasy foods vs. veggies?). Personally, I don’t believe that we can cure all our skin’s problems with nutrition alone but I’m sure we can influence it a little.
Feel free to let us know what your experiences have been with these methods. Do any of these things help reduce your pimples?
Acne vulgaris in women: prevalence across the life span. - Perkins et al.
What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. - D.M. Davis, , & J.A. Hayes
Gut: The inside story of our body's most underrated organ. - G. Enders, J. Enders, & D. Shaw
Hazardous Ingredients in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products and Health Concern: A Review - R. Siti Zulaikha, S.I. Sharifah Norkhadijah, S.M. Praveena http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.phr.20150501.02.html#Sec3.2
Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety - E. Anderson and G.Shivakumar
“Mood Enhancement Persists For Up To 12 Hours Following Aerobic Exercise.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise - Sibold, S. Jeremy, and Kathy Berg.