How to Keep Acne Under Control
Acne is always distressing. It ruins looks and depletes self-confidence. But the pitted scars it leaves will mar your face forever, and that's even more distressing. To minimize long term damage, it's vitally important that you keep your acne under control.
If you suffer from acne, you've no doubt encountered plenty of advice on how to get rid of it once and for all. In truth, however, there is no cure and you probably won’t be able to get rid of it completely until it’s run its course.
But there are ways to keep it under control and make it less noticeable to others.
Some Facts About Acne
Acne is marked by spots, pimples, pustules, blackheads, and whiteheads caused by hormonal imbalances.
An excess of androgenic (male) hormones prompts an increase in sebum production which blocks the follicular glands (pores). As a result, sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up to form "spots". When spots are spread over a large area—face, neck, shoulders, and back—the condition is referred to as "acne".
Hormonal changes that cause acne are triggered by puberty, pregnancy, the pill, menopause, menstruation, and stress.
Pubescent acne is properly called acne vulgaris. If the condition reoccurs later in life or extends beyond puberty, it’s called acne tarda.
Caring for Acne Prone Skin
Keep affected areas as clean as possible—but not with soap, since this only exacerbates the condition. Best is a mild, soap-free wash emulsion formulated for acne prone skin. Check product ingredients for tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide. These inhibit the growth of bacteria and thus the spread of acne.
Keeping acne at bay isn’t about drying out the skin.
Cleansers formulated to treat acne tend to strip the skin of its natural barrier. To compensate, it produces more sebum which causes more congested pores and more spots. Prevent this by applying an oil free moisturizer after cleansing.
If using toner, choose one for sensitive rather than oily skin; this has a less drying effect.
A clay mask applied once or twice a week will not only draw out impurities and minimize blackheads, it will leave your face feeling pampered—that can't be said for many acne remedies.
Never use facial scrubs. To exfoliate, apply a chemical peel with fruit acids once or twice a week.
Getting Medical Help
If nothing you do seems to help, visit a doctor who can prescribe a more effective treatment.
Anti Acne Medications
Medical treatments vary according to the severity of the condition, but you can expect your doctor to prescribe an anti acne medication like tretinoin, which is a synthetic form of vitamin A. Applied topically, it works as a chemical peel to open pores and disperse blockages.
A good option for women is the so-called "progesterone only pill" (better known as the "mini pill") which counteracts the hormonal imbalances that cause acne.
Alternative and Homemade Treatments
It’s a good idea to complement orthodox medicine with alternative and homemade treatments, especially during times when your skin seems stressed by chemical medications. Herbal remedies with sage, for example, are gentle and highly effective.
Makeup to Cover Acne
Even if you’ve managed to get your acne problem under control, you’ll always have a spot here or there. The only thing to do is cover it up with makeup until it’s gone.
Spots and acne are hard to disguise, but it can be done with the right cosmetics.
Medicated concealers may seem like a good idea, but they tend to be dry textured and leave the skin looking flaky. What you need is a dense, creamy product. Although such concealers are not medicated, they are usually noncomodogenic, meaning they won’t aggravate acne.
Always choose a shade that matches your complexion exactly—too light will highlight blemishes, and too dark won’t cover at all.
Apply with a concealer brush, then dab with translucent powder to leave a matte finish. For best results, your foundation should go on before your concealer.
Wash your concealer brush with a mild shampoo after every use to prevent the spread of bacteria. Brushes can take a while to dry completely, so you might want to invest in two or three, depending on how often you reapply throughout the day.
Neutralize redness with a green color corrector applied beneath your foundation. It won’t hide spots, but they will appear less inflamed, making them easier to cover with regular concealer.
Powder takes the oily shine off acne prone skin. Use a loose, noncomodogenic product applied with a cotton pad. This hygienically serves as a disposable applicator and actually works better on problem skin than a brush or powder puff.
Blotting papers are a godsend, especially for men. They leave the skin with no visible trace of powder and, because of their handy size, can be slipped into a trouser pocket and used throughout the day to counteract shininess.
Greasy hair can exacerbate acne.
If you are prone to breakouts on your forehead, shoulders, or the back of your neck, wear your hair short or in an up-swept style, and avoid bangs.
Alternatively, keep your hair squeaky clean by washing daily, although this can make greasiness worse.
The Dietary Myth
Science has proven that sweets and greasy foods like hamburger, fries, chocolate, and candy have no effect on acne; they neither improve nor worsen the condition. That shouldn’t, however, be an excuse to eat junk—a healthy diet is essential to well-being and always improves overall skin quality.
What You Should Never Do
Whatever you do to keep your acne at bay, don’t pick. Picking and squeezing result in scarring, which is far more difficult to get rid of than acne.
© 2014 Jayne Lancer
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