I’m not talking about the basic acids AHA, BHA. I’m talking maximum strength niacinamide, zinc, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulphur and adapalene – you know, the works.
Why am I still getting blemishes despite using so many anti-acne ingredients daily?!
Because you are only playing defence against acne as they appear, but not getting the upper hand of prevention. Something is still continually encouraging acne formation, which is why your acne is never quite managed despite the works.
There could be a lot of factors contributing to acne formation, but we’ll highlight 3 main ones that you can (easily) do something about.
They say God is in the details. It is common for anti-blemish products, even spot treatments, to also contain acnegenic ingredients (yes they are different from comedogenic ingredients) behind the spotlight of anti-acne actives.
Why would anyone add acnegenic ingredients to anti-acne products?
Because they are functional ingredients necessary to impart structure, consistency and/or certain properties (e.g sun protection or fragrance). This is why they are widespread across most products, not just anti-blemish ones. Some examples of acnegenic functional ingredients are – ethylhexyl palmitate, isopropyl myristate, cetyl/cetearyl alcohol, sorbitan olivate and behentrimonium methosulfate.
To this point, I’d like to emphasize skin’s individuality. Every skin is unique and reacts differently to ingredients, which includes both functionals and actives. You might not have a problem with cetyl alcohol, but break out with niacinamide, which often aggravates acne despite its reputation as a skin superhero.
Skin is big part of our immune system. Any type of cleansing tools/brushes/fabric/wipe and hot water has the potential to stimulate our inflammatory system (and sebum production). Acne is not a skin surface condition – no amount of aggressive deep cleansing or scrubbing removes or prevents it.
Often, these ‘tools’ inadvertently promote excessive abrasion/scrubbing, which end up causing irritation and inflammation, while also spreading unwanted microbes to other uninfected areas.
What is the best thing to use for cleansing? 60 seconds of your conscious attention with your fingers and a good cleanser.
The relationship between types of food and acne has not been conclusively proven, probably because this is difficult to objectively quantify, compounded by the diversity of our digestive landscape.
However, certain foods promote acne in certain people, and identifying them is worthwhile if you are not showing progress with eliminating acnegenic ingredients or pro-inflammation tools.
Dairy and refined sugar are conventional, although culprits can also include healthy foods such as soy, berries, fermented products (e.g yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir) and biotin-rich foods (e.g. almonds, eggs, sweet potatoes, salmon).
Like ingredients, blemish-causing acne is personal and different for different individuals. Eliminate one food type/group at a time for about 3-5 days, and observe how your skin is behaving. Of course, you still can continue to eat any ‘trigger foods’ identified. With this awareness, you can limit your intake if necessary.
Treating persistent acne can be a long, frustrating road. Many of our clients come to us initially confused about why the whole works is not improving their blemish situation, so I hope this has been helpful!
Using more is not the answer, but using the right products for you.