A Dermal Therapist's Top 5 Tips For Acne Management
Dealing with acne? Trust us you aren't the only one! Acne affects up to 85% of Australians aged 15-24 years old at some point in their lifetime (Skin Health Institute, 2017). It is one of the most common skin concerns with almost everyone between the ages of puberty and adulthood experiencing acne. It can affect all skin types across all areas of the body like the neck, back and shoulders leading to decreased confidence and self-consciousness. With so many products and treatments on offer, it can be difficult to know how to best treat your acne. Keep reading as we break down the top 5 tips from an experienced and highly trained therapist who treats acne on a daily basis.
1. Skincare: For Treatment and Prevention
When it comes to the best skincare products, patience is key! Make sure to give the product time to work by introducing 1 to 2 new ingredients at a time. By doing this, you can monitor your skin's reaction to the product and avoid overloading your skin. Here are some ingredients to try:
- Niacinamide: helpful for inflammatory acne as it regulates oil control and may assist with lightening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Salicylic Acid: unclogs pores and eases inflammation as it dissolves the intracellular glue in order to exfoliate the skin
- Zinc: anti-inflammatory and healing for wounds
- Vitamin A/Retinol: increases cellular turnover and reduces oil production, allowing for improvement post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- AHAs (lactic or glycolic) and Chemical Exfoliants (papaya/bromelain): exfoliates the skin, reduce pigmentation and decrease clogged pores
Always choose mild, non-comedogenic products for sensitive skin including all skincare, moisturisers, makeup and sunscreen.
Maintaining good hygiene plays a significant role in preventing breakouts and acne. This includes ensuring that you wash your face twice daily, especially after any exercise. Bacteria can spread from your hands to your face so always wash your hands before touching your face. On the topic of touching your face, don't touch, pick or pop pimples as this can spread the infection and create scarring!
Acne-prone skin is highly sensitive so avoid unnecessarily scrubbing your skin with manual exfoliants such as granules as this can aggravate any active pimples. Other ways that bacteria spreads include your phone and other products that come into regular contact with your face such as your pillowcase, masks and hats. These items should be regularly washed and sanitised.
3. Treatments To Clear, Decongest and Exfoliate The Skin
Treatments are great for re-texturising the skin through exfoliation which as a result assists with acne scarring, excess oil and the appearance of pores. A great treatment to consider is the Carbon Facial or the China Doll Facial!
How does a Carbon Facial work?
Carbon facials utilize a Q-Switched laser mechanism as well as liquid or crème carbon applied to the face. Energy is absorbed by the carbon shattering it into particles. As the carbon is blasted off the area, it takes away dead epidermal cells, contaminants, and oil with it. This process delivers instant exfoliation, deep cleansing and purification of pores. The sensation of a carbon facial can feel like prickles/tingles with slight warmth, both during and after the treatment.
The long pulse of the laser delivers a heating sweep, stimulating the collagen in the skin for long-term skin tightening before using the shattering sweep to vaporise the carbon cream. This results in a reduction in pore size, reduced oil and a porcelain smooth finish, which earns this service the title of China Doll Facial.
Why should I consider this treatment?
Acne and acne scarring are treated using a carbon crème which attracts the laser, then targeted laser energy heats the skin up, and acne-causing bacteria is eliminated. This promotes cellular turnover and reveals fresher, clearer skin whilst reducing the severity of active acne. The treatment is quick and painless with visible results even after the first session. It is recommended by a clinician that a series of treatments are spaced out a week apart for the best results. Other benefits include improving dull and uneven skin tone, shrinking pores and balancing oily skin.
4. Treatments For Active Acne and Future Breakout Prevention
IPL Acne Management Programs
An intense pulsed light uses a series of different coloured lights over a range of wavelengths onto the surface of the skin, producing a single white flash of light. IPL can specifically and rapidly dry up acne by targeting and killing the bacteria deep in the skin. This destroys the bacteria that causes acne and aids in reducing future breakouts by targeting the sebaceous glands, stopping them from producing too much sebum or oil. This treatment is only for active pustules/acne and will not work for congestion/blackheads.
- Slows the overall production of oil that leads to acne
- Dramatically reducing pimples
- Treats inflammation
- Minimises the appearance of pores.
- Reduces redness/tenderness and any pigmentation around active acne (as well as acne scars and post-inflammatory pigmentation caused by acne)
LED Blue Light Therapy
What is LED?
Light-emitting Diode: a light base treatment that uses specific wavelengths to target specific layers of the skin to treat a various range of skin conditions, including acne.
LED treatments are non-invasive and are great for mild to moderate acne that uses light to prevent future breakouts by specifically targeting and killing acne-causing bacteria. LED light therapy machines work by normalising the sebaceous activity and can be used to both treat active acne and control future breakouts. A therapist will most likely recommend a series of 3-6 sessions over a 4-6 week period depending on your skin type.
- Can be used to treat shoulders, neck etc
- Only a 15-30 min treatment
- Results are noticeable within 2-4 weeks and sometimes even sooner
- Studies have shown up to 65% improvement (with a series of sessions)
- Safe, gentle and painless
- No recovery/downtime
- Works excellently with most other acne remedies
5. Diet, Supplements and Lifestyle
Whilst this is not an overnight fix, studies have suggested that consistent long-term use can help prevent and heal acne over time
- Zinc supplements for wound healing
- Fish oil (Omega fatty acids) help with hydration and inflammation
- Avoid stress when possible
- Avoid stimulants such as sugar, dairy and processed foods but these are unique from person to person
- Exercise is great for detoxifying the skin
Don't despair! There are so many ways to treat acne that you can find what works for you and your particular skin. Everyone's skin is different so what works for someone else may not be the best option for you. Instead of picking one thing off this list, try a multi-pronged approach and simultaneously complete a few!
There is no one size fits all as “acne is a multi-factorial condition so addressing a number of factors are the best approach. Combining in-clinic treatments with skincare, diet and lifestyle factors will enable you to reach your skin goals quickly. Working with a professional to guide you through the process is a great way to develop a tailored treatment plan and avoid getting overwhelmed with information." - Elise Andrews, Dermal Educator at The Global Beauty Group