I had dealt with mild acne vulgaris in my teen years and since I turned 22, it settled on its own. However, acne made a come back to me a few years ago and then again, this summer when I was out and about constantly in heat. After one visit to the dermatologist and several antibiotics later, most of it has cleared while making me more conscious about what I use on my face and how I clean it off.
What is Acne Vulgaris: Acne has several forms but the most common type is acne vulgaris. White heads, blackheads, inflammed pores, clogged pores, cystic acne,papules, these are included in this term. Pimples, zits, blemishes, white heads, black heads, appear on skin when the skin is constantly shedding dead cells, and constantly producing oil (sebum) in pores. The bacteria on skin starts reproduction in that very pore and bam! the white cells rush to fight the infection, resulting in inflammation, painful swelling, redness and white pus.
Factors in acne:
So we have established the factors that are important in forming a pimple, now we will go over them one by one as to how we can manipulate those factors to prevent trouble:
- Pores: The skin is shedding dead cells and keratin through pores. Exfoliate to remove these dead cells so that there is less and less debris inside the pore. Next, thoroughly cleanse the pores. Find a cleanser that suits your skin, preferably with salicylic acid 2% for thorough cleansing of the pores. Salicylic acid helps remove the dead cells. When you are cleansing the face, take your time. Take full 60 seconds to gently massage the cleanser into the pores. Never leave your make up on before going to bed. Wash your face every day you come home after work. In summers, be extra careful. Cleanse twice daily. DO NOT USE makeup that clogs the pores. Too heavy foundation can sometimes lead to more blemishes, to hide which you will use more of the product. Use clay and mud masks to cleanse the dirt and oil from the pores (check review of my go-to clay mask by Freeman here). Baking soda has been my best friend in this regard. It thoroughly cleanses the pores and shrinks the red spots. Make a paste of gel toothpaste and baking soda, apply on wet face, massage for few seconds and leave until its dry. Wash with water and pat dry. Clean and smooth skin!
- Oil/Sebum: People with oily skin know how hard life can be. There are so many problems in their lives just because they have oily skin. Control the oil production on your face. If you wash your face and after 1 hour your face is greasy, your skin needs oil control. Check your diet. Are you eating fries or oily stuff too much or on daily basis? This can be one big cause behind white heads on your face. More oil = more trouble. Use clay or mud masks to control the oil. I have also observed the baking soda face exfoliate I mentioned above also helps in controlling oil on face. Use of a toner morning and night is also great for controlling oil on face (Check this post for an amazing DIY toner). Use a good face wash for oil control formula. Use oil-free moisturizer. Use light tinted moisturizer instead of heavy foundation for make up. Garnier’s BB cream (check out the review here) is a great oil-free tinted cream which provides good coverage without clogging the pores.
- Bacteria on skin: DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. I know the impulse is great, but you do not want to do that. Wash your make up brushes after every 3-4 days. Specially the foundation, blending and the contour brushes because these brushes touch your whole face. Use good anti bacterial face wash in morning.
The topic is so vast I can go on and on about what to do and what not to do but the more you care for your skin, the healthier it stays. Eat right, use right products and stick to a strict morning and night time routine. These three factors are most important to understand your acne, and once you treat all three of them at the same time, your skin will become more clean & clear.
Also read my Summertime care routine for oily skin here.