Acne and blemish prone skins

Written by Rosie Sibley Verified by Sheena Spencer

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What is acne?

Acne and blemish prone skins bodytonic clinic SE16 London Canada Water Facial Treatment

Acne is a common skin condition that affects the majority of people at some stage in their life. Acne typically occurs on the face, back, and chest. Cases of acne can be very mild, such as blackheads or a few pimples, or in the most severe case, cystic breakouts, which are inflamed and hot to the touch and often scar the skin. There is more than one cause of acne, which is why the condition is so complex and difficult to treat; targeting more than one of these causes during treatment often provides the most effective results. This concludes that a better understanding of acne and your skin is the best way to help treat your acne.

What are the signs and symptoms of acne?

Acne symptoms are typically associated with teenagers who have oily skin or a lack of hygiene, as adolescence is when most people will have an introduction to this condition.

Hormone changes and imbalances affect the production of sebum in your skin, which is an oil produced by your skin to help retain water and reduce friction. Hormone changes and imbalances affect the production of sebum in your skin, leading to an overproduction of the oil, which can clog your pores and interact with bacteria, hence why it is common in your teenage years to struggle with acne. Research has shown a recent rise in adult acne, which 85% of women and 15% of men are said to suffer from. Adult acne refers to adults aged 25 and over, suffering with acne symptoms. As women approach the menopause, their symptoms of acne will start to possibly worsen. Due to its association with hormonal fluctuations, acne can affect anyone between the age of 13 and older.

Spots and pimples (breakout activity) is how you would diagnose acne and it is graded by the severity of the breakouts.
Breakout activity comes in many different shapes and sizes

  • Blackheads – small to medium blocked pores, normally with a black top. These are follicles filled with sebum, dead skin cells and dirt, they are open to the air and therefore have the black colour.
  • Whiteheads – similar to blackheads, but are normally white on the surface as they are sealed follicles with trapped sebum dead skin and bacteria inside.
  • Papules – small red bumps, which is generally inflammation around the follicle. There can be one or a few in a cluster.
  • Pustules – small to medium red bumps with a white head due to the bacteria in the follicle. Inflammation then occurs around the blockage causing pressure and normally some pain.
  • Nodules – large hard lumps under the skin, normally very painful but never come to a head. These will take along time to heal and can cause scarring
  • Cysts – very similar to a boil, large hard breakouts which will come to a head. Normally bleed if they burst. Takes a long time to heal and most likely causes deep scarring.
  • Milia – Hard white circular bump under the skin, normally around the eye area. This is oil trapped under the skin which cannot be extracted without a lancet being used.

What are the common causes of acne?

In simple terms, acne is a hair follicle that has become blocked or irritated, which in-turn causes spots on the skin. It is important to note that this skin condition has many aspects. Acne is difficult to treat because many factors can aggravate and worsen the condition.

Actions in the follicle:

Over production of sebum – oil that is naturally created by the skin can cause the follicle to become blocked and the skin to become oily. Certain factors such as climate can cause this oil to become excessive.
Clogged hair follicles – the overproduction of oil, together with dead skin cells can cause a blockage in the follicle.
Bacteria – naturally found on the skin and can be trapped within the follicle of these blockages, causing an infection in the skin.
Inflammation – caused by infection from bacteria.

Other factors affecting acne:

  • Stress – studies have found that the cells which create sebum have stress hormones and during stressful periods wounds do not heal as well, so the breakout would take longer to clear. Stress may also affect your hormonal balance. However, there is no clear reason why stress aggravates acne.
  • Hormonal changes – fluctuations in hormones are linked to acne breakout.
  • Androgens – testosterone being the main culprit (Elaise, 2016), Although all the following have a role to play: progesterone; oestrogen; insulin. Hormones produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are also linked.
  • Diet – many different food types have been linked to the inflammation in the skin.
  • Cosmetics – the use of the wrong skincare products and treatments

How is it diagnosed?

Acne has different grade levels to help better decipher the types and severity of breakouts that you have and therefore help the treatment path.

  • Grade 1: Blackheads, whiteheads and the occasional pustule confined to the face.
  • Grade 2: Blackheads, whiteheads, the occasional pustules and small cysts confined to the face.
  • Grade 3: Many blackheads, whiteheads, small and large inflammatory papules, pustules, and some cysts. More coverage but confined to the face.
  • Grade 4: Many bumps and widespread deep cysts and scarring, normally involving the face and the upper aspects of the back and chest.

What are the treatment options for acne?

There are many treatments for acne, ranging from strong prescription medication, herbal medication, laser and facial machines, and topical products and skincare.

At bodytonic we offer 2 facial treatment options: a Glycopeel and an Environ medical facial. Prior to each facial there will be a consultation time for you to discuss your skin goals and concerns.

Glycopeel is a glycolic and salicylic acid peel, good for the oilier, more inflamed acne skin types. This will be great for acne Grade levels 2, 3 and can also be used on Grade level 4.

For oily or combination acne, we commonly recommend our Glycolic Peel. Glycolic acid has a number of properties that make it very valuable in acne treatment. Evidence suggests that it can treat both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. Due to its small molecular size, glycolic acid easily passes through the skin’s barrier, allowing it to break down dead skin cells which can aid to unclog hair follicles and reduce inflammation. Using this product can also remove excess oils and impurities from the skin, promoting cell turnover which can improve skin texture for acne sufferers. Through the combination of glycolic acid, salicylic acid and pomegranate enzymes in our peel, acne scars can be reduced and acne lesions can heal through deep exfoliation. Exfoliation softens the skin, allowing your beauty therapist to use professional techniques and sometimes instruments to perform extractions within the acne treatment, leaving your skin clean and ready for personalised, expert skincare products.

Environ medical facials have high levels of Vitamin A & C. The facial is designed to push these products deeper into the skin and heal the skin from the base layers. This is good for the dryer, sensitive, more mature acne skins, normally Grade levels 1 and 2.

Environ facials are widely recommended for dry acne, or maintaining hydration and improving skin cell rejuvenation after an acne treatment. Where the glycolic peel is a great way to clear acne for most skin types, the Environ medical facial is an innovative way to support your skin’s barrier, in turn minimising breakouts and scarring in the long-term, when administered effectively on your skin. With acne, there is no one treatment that fits all, which is why we work with a range of Environ products, and from your consultation, are able to adapt our facials to your skin and lifestyle. Vitamin A is a key ingredient in many of Environ’s products and is well known for its acne fighting properties, as Vitamin A can regulate your skin’s ability to reduce inflammation, break down bonds of dead skin cells and regenerate new, healthier skin cells.

How long does the effect from the facial last?

Results of our facials last between 1-2 weeks. The breakout activity should calm for a few days post treatment and depending on the severity of the skin, clear skin could last 3-6 weeks. For quicker results, we recommend having 3-6 facials every 7-10 days, as this will help get the breakout activity under control. Your skincare expert will be able to provide you with tailored advice following each facial treatment.

What are the best ingredients for acne?

There are many ingredients that can help acne, strength levels and how they are used will depend on the severity of the acne, but the main ingredients to look for are:

  • Retinol, Vitamin A
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Alpha hydroxy acids
  • Salicylic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Glycolic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Adapalene
  • Tea tree

Certain ingredients will exfoliate the skin and unclog the pores. Some will fight the bacteria, others are calming and healing to reduce inflammation. A combination of these main ingredients, used in the right way, will give you the best results. Getting advice from an expert beauty therapist is key to achieving the best and quickest results.

Skincare products for acne at bodytonic clinic

Environ skincare at home
When your skincare regime doesn’t work and you feel like you want to start fresh, you can always count on bodytonic clinic’s beauty therapists to guide you to the best products in their professional opinion, whether they are sold in, or out of the clinic. As Environ is a specialist skincare brand it may be harder to purchase than your average skin range, however most Environ products are available in the clinic, or can be ordered especially for you per your request. Many of these products target acne and aim to provide long-term relief from breakouts. Environ products are mostly categorised by skin goals, offering a targeted regime to achieve them. The Focus Clarity Care + range are scientifically designed to combat acne and include ingredients such as tea tree, salicylic acid and lactic acid.

At bodytonic clinic, we have a range of supplements to benefit your skin. Skin Accumax is a supplement that includes Vitamin A, C, E and phytonutrients, which we regularly recommend to our acne prone patients. Skin Accumax works internally to clear your skin’s appearance all over your body, by starting deep within your epidermis layers. Both Vitamin A and C are known to reduce inflammation and scarring whilst supporting the function of the skin barrier, limiting the possibility of breakouts. Vitamin E assists in the healing of acne and acne scars, working towards a clear, pimple free complexion. We always recommend before trying supplements to confer with one of our beauty therapists, as they can use their expert training to offer advice on your skin type, as well as offering insights to certain habits or lifestyle factors that may be leading to your breakouts. This may mean that an entirely different product is needed to get that perfect, clear skin.

Sheet masks
We offer a variety of sheet masks in the clinic; as we all know these face masks can be a great, cost effective, pick-me-up for the skin. In regards to acne, it is always important to find the right ingredients for your condition; salycic acid, hyaluronic acid, retinol, Vitamin C and collagen are all staple ingredients to help combat acne, but getting the best advice from a beauty therapist should provide you with the best results.

Other treatment options and advice?

Get your GP’s or a dermatologist’s advice on different medications to be taken in extreme cases. A nutritionist can advise if you notice certain food types affecting the skin, as well as any vitamin or mineral deficiencies you may have. Medical aesthetic clinics have high powered laser and IPL machines that can help the effects of acne. Also, trained skincare professionals’ advice on products and their usage is key, as there are many products out there and knowing what to look for is very important.

Having regular facials is a great way to help acne sufferers as it will help you reach better looking and feeling skin quickly. Though the best way to get results is using the correct products with advanced ingredients on your skin daily, it is also useful to look internally at supplements and seek dietary advice. Tracking your hormone cycles will also be beneficial as you can pre-empt what your skin may be doing next.

Can acne be prevented?

Due to the complexity of acne, it is often difficult to treat as many different internal and external factors can contribute to, or aggravate your condition. Unfortunately, some people are more predisposed to this skin condition than others, for example, hormonal acne is often inherited. Nevertheless, environmental factors, nutrition, or even using the wrong skincare (alongside other components) either in collaboration, or individually can cause or worsen acne. Early education on acne is vital; it is important to know how to look after the skin, what improves skin health and what could be making your skin worse. But most importantly, removing the shame of acne allows us to open a discussion and learn more about its commonality and its remedies.

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