Updated January, 2020
I've learned over the years in my practice as an Esthetician that acne is not a one size fits all battle. Sometimes it's a multi-faceted demon that has to be attacked from different angles, and other times it's a swift, straightforward ordeal. Whether the breakouts you battle is mild, severe or somewhere in between, there is a solution. Keep reading and you'll find out why acne rears its ugly head and how to overcome it accordingly.
So, why do we break out? There are numerous possible reasons:
Stress is a contributing factor to breakouts that should not be overlooked.When we're stressed, our cortisol levels rise, which can directly affect the skin, causing a pimple or two, or perhaps more. Stress-induced breakouts can come in different forms- from tiny flesh colored bumps to the standalone pesky pimple we often attempt to pick (which we shouldn't as that leads to scarring).
Whether it's the time of the month for women or fluctuating hormones for non-menstrual reasons, acne can occur from the rise of androgens or the drop in estrogen.
Blame it on your great great grandmother Mabel, chronic acne is commonly attributed to genetics. However, lay discouragement to the side-- it is possible to keep breakouts under control in spite of heredity.
Some may say that food causing acne is a myth. Well, I'm in my experience, that is au contraire.
It is a proven fact that dairy can cause or exacerbate breakouts. In fact, when dairy is avoided, many acne sufferers have testified an improvement in their skin. Another possible culprit behind acne is a favorite beverage among children-- fruit punch. In fact, according to Celebrity Esthetician Renee Rouleau, acidic drinks such as fruit punch can cause breakouts on the cheeks.
The reality is, we are what we eat. What goes on internally reflects externally. If you consume a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as green leafy vegetables, antioxidant-laden fruits, and good fats, you're bound to see an improvement in your skin that will exude radiance.
There are different types of breakouts that each necessitate a specific solution:
Cystic acne is an under-the-surface bump that can be extremely difficult to tackle. If you struggle with moderate to severe cystic acne or inflamed, aggressive breakouts, consult your dermatologist for a complete treatment protocol. It may be advantageous to invest in an at-home blue light device as part of your total treatment plan. It emits a specific wavelength range of high-intensity blue light to kill the bacteria that causes acne (such as p.acnes).
Whiteheads & Blackheads
Also known as comedones, whiteheads and blackheads are a nuisance to deal with. Blackheads are commonly found on the nose and chin, while whiteheads occur anywhere randomly on the face. For these type of blemishes, they can be addressed with products containing Salicylic Acid. Blackheads develop from a buildup of dirt, oil debris in the pores, and Salicylic Acid helps de-clog those pores and reduce excessive oil production. Whiteheads can simply be spot-treated with a spot treatment containing Salicylic Acid. If you have severe blackheads and/or whiteheads, I highly recommend you seek a Licensed Esthetician at a reputable spa or salon and have them professionally extracted.
If you've exhausted all topical treatments and are still struggling with breakouts, you may want to look into tackling it from a medical standpoint. Consult with a dermatologist and he or she may feel it is best to put you on antibiotics, birth control pills, Accutane or any type of prescription-strength treatment.
Bumpy Non-Inflamed Breakouts
For those flesh-colored bumps, help banish them with an at-home microdermabrasion system and alternate that with Salicylic Acid treatments.
With these solutions, you'll be on the road to breaking up with your breakouts for good- regardless of your age, gender, genetics, hormones or stress level.
Post updated for 2019.