There are a lot of acne remedies and anti-acne skin care regimens available to us nowadays thanks to extensive research, social media influencers, and the World Wide Web. Almost everything can be answered in Google and it takes seconds to find the answer to “acne remedy” or “how to heal acne.”
You might find answers like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, Accutane, honey, baking soda, aloe Vera, and a lot more. You might also hear about blue light acne light therapy. But, does it really work for your skin?
To better equip yourself in your skincare journey, it is important to know the facts.
It is important to do your own research and understand how acne develops for you to be able to address it properly. It is still best to consult a dermatologist so that you can talk to a professional about your skin condition and all possible factors that need to be taken into account before trying products or remedies in banishing acne.
You have to remember that every person has different skin type and what worked for others may not work for you. But that doesn’t mean NOTHING will ever help you get rid of acne.
So, let us get to know more about the skin, how acne develops, and how blue light and other remedies can work to heal it.
A Closer Look at Your Skin
The skin is your first line of defense against infection and it is the largest organ in the body. It consists of 3 layers: epidermis, dermis and the subcutaneous layer.
The skin that you see is part of the epidermis. This is a thin layer where new skin cells develop to shed off eventually and what makes your body waterproof. In about a month, the new skin cells will reach the top part to eventually flake off.
The dermis is the layer where your hair grows, where you produce sweat and oil, and it is where the nerve endings are located to help you sense things. This is where the blood vessels are found to nourish your skin too. Sweat is released through ducts in the skin to help cool you off and to get rid of wastes your body doesn’t need. Oil or sebum is pushed out through the pore to provide moisture and keep your skin healthy. Overproduction of oil leads to clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads and pimples.
The fatty layer or subcutaneous layer helps you regulate body temperature. It also ensures that your dermis is attached to your muscles and bones. The blood vessels in this layer are slightly bigger than those found in the dermis and it goes to the rest of your body.
The skin is home to a thousand species of bacteria that keeps each other in check. They all play a role in health and is unique per individual especially on areas like in between toes and fingers as well as the umbilical cord stump. Any disruption to the skin’s ecosystem may cause over-proliferation of certain bacteria that may lead to acne or other skin infections.
How Does Acne Develop
Having acne feels like dealing with an invasion. Suddenly, your face is occupied by these unsightly bumps and would refuse to leave you alone no matter what you do.
If it is possible to scrape it off your skin, we are sure you would have done so but of course, that is not how you get rid of acne.
So, how did it develop in the first place?
What we know is that it starts with a plug that is formed in the pores. Normally, dead skin cells will naturally shed off but because of overproduction of oil, the dead skin becomes sticky and gets trapped in the pores.
Sometimes, the plug is not necessarily inflamed and if it is formed deep in the skin, it is not oxidized. That’s what we call a whitehead. If the pore is opened and the plug gets oxidized and is superficial, it blackens and results to what we call a blackhead.
When bacteria, like P. acnes, gets trapped in the pore, it multiplies and causes an infection along with the pore plug. The infected pore becomes inflamed and leads to what we know as a pimple. Depending on how extensive the infection is, it may result in papules, pustules, nodular acne or cystic acne.
Pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are all forms of acne. To know more about the different types of acne, read our other blog post dedicated to this topic here.
There is no single cause of acne. It is often a combination of different things or multiple factors. Here are the common causes of acne:
Eighty percent of acne is thought to be the result of genetics. So, if your parents or family had them, most likely, you will too.
Most acne develops during puberty because of hormonal changes. Hormones affect physical changes in the body and overdrive the skin’s oil production that leads to the development of acne. Acne can also happen to women nearing or during their menstruation because of hormonal changes. Women can have acne in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and some even up to their 50’s too. Acne can also occur during pregnancy where hormone levels are high.
The bacteria Propionibacterium acnes is also often associated with acne breakouts. Bacteria often infects the pore, causing it to become inflamed and sometimes, painful.
Foods high in sugar are often associated with exacerbation of acne. Fried foods are often a culprit to getting a breakout too. Milk is also thought to cause acne due to the hormones present in most milk or dairy products. Skin experts suggest switching to Almond milk to prevent getting acne.
One of the important factors that block the pore is dead skin. It is important to exfoliate regularly to prevent dead skin from clogging the pores and contributing to acne formation.
Classic acne solutions
What you need to remember is that there is no “one-size fits all” remedy to cure acne. Although we would have liked for a single, effective solution to get rid of these unsightly bumps, to date there is no known solution yet.
Most facial washes for acne would have the ingredient salicylic acid. It works to dissolve or unclog pores to prevent developing acne. This has a soothing effect since it is closely related to the drug aspirin. But the downside is it has to be used regularly because once you stop using it, pores will get clogged again and you will develop new zits again. It also doesn’t kill the acne causing bacteria, it just takes care of the dead skin that might clog the pores.
This ingredient is also a popular choice for acne remedies. You can get benzoyl peroxide facial washes, creams, cleansing pads or acne gels. It kills acne-causing bacteria, dries the skin up, and may peel or exfoliate the skin. It works best in conjunction with oral antibiotics. The downside is it can leave the skin feeling dry, red and flaky. It may also bleach dark-colored garments and even the hair. Like salicylic acid, stopping the use of benzoyl peroxide will lead to new breakouts.
This derivative of vitamin A is effective for mild to moderately severe acne. It works to remove dead skin and prevent keratinization of skin cells. It can take up to 6 weeks to see results and it may increase sensitivity to the sun. Most users report flaring of acne in the first week and may experience redness, swelling and worsening of eczema. Wear sunscreen to reduce sunburn.
Most dermatologists would recommend oral antibiotics especially for moderate to severe acne. In cases like this, the infection is deep in the skin and topical creams and gels won’t be able to do much improvement. Especially if you have cystic acne, it is best to talk to a skin expert to prevent developing acne scars. Most people would develop antibiotic resistance that’s why this is not a popular option for most acne sufferers.
Some women who get hormonal acne are prescribed with pills to help regulate their hormone levels. Depending on how their body responds to it, it may help reduce acne breakouts although there are some who experience worsening of acne. It is best to talk to your doctor regarding birth-control pills if this is an option for your case.
When all else fails, this is the last resort. When acne sufferers do not respond to topical creams, anti-acne skincare regimen, and oral antibiotics, they are usually prescribed with Accutane. This should be discussed with your healthcare provider since this is going to be a rigid acne treatment.
Accutane works to lessen oil production that may make the skin severely dry. This medicine is only prescribed to those who have severe nodular acne.
Accutane can cause severe, life-threatening birth defects so women of child-bearing age should be on a primary and secondary birth control. It can also cause scarring if mixed with dermabrasion, laser skin treatment or waxing. For more details, it is best to talk to your health provider.
Wrong practices that aggravate acne
We all want to get rid of acne, fast and easy but sadly there is no purging it magically overnight. Okay, maybe some people get great results when using products that promise to banish acne “overnight” but most of us don’t.
We tend to make the matter worse by doing the following:
Washing too aggressively
We used to think that acne is caused by not washing our skin enough or that it is caused by dirt. We end up buying rotary brushes and scrubbing our skin till we get that squeaky-clean feeling not knowing that we are doing more harm than good.
Excessive washing, especially with harsh and drying facial scrubs, hurt our skin and might cause skin irritation. Be gentle, your skin is not a surface that needs to be polished like a shoe.
Neglecting to Moisturize
A common misconception of acne sufferers is that they do not need to use a moisturizer because they have too much oil already. Wrong. Sometimes, oiliness can be brought about by too much washing or drying of the skin. The body thinks it is not producing enough oil so it compensates and produces more oil than necessary to relieve skin dryness.
It is important to use non-comedogenic moisturizers or gel-based or water-based moisturizers if you have acne-prone skin. It helps balance the moisture content of your skin and it may prevent too much oiliness.
Picking the Skin
Some people get that satisfaction when popping pimples. We get it, it feels great to get those suckers out of your face. Especially when you have that metal pore extraction tool you can get in drugstores, it is satisfying to get rid of acne.
However, it often leads to a more serious problem. You might pop a pimple and spread the acne-causing bacteria, leading to a new zit or the pore may get infected, or you may pop an acne that is way too deep in your skin that it might lead to an acne scar. Laugh at yourself because we know you may have had done it or thinking of doing it.
But with all sincerity, please be kind to your skin. Dealing with acne is bad enough, you do not need to have acne scars to constantly remind you of a pimply past.
Trying too many products at once
Blame it on the internet. With so many information available to us nowadays, we are swamped with a lot of ideas on how to tackle acne. We buy products after products that promise to banish acne and use it all at once or one after another in a period of 1 to 2 days.
The result? Nothing, if not worsening of acne.
Again, talk to your dermatologist if you have no idea what works for what. Some acne medications can be combined, like oral antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide. But let’s say you are on Accutane, adding another anti-acne regimen might be too much for your skin.
If you want to experiment on your skin, give the product at least 3-4 weeks to work on you. At this time, you can use the product and check how well it affects your skin in normal days, on days that you are ovulating or if you have your menstruation.
See if it makes your acne worse in about a month before switching products. Sometimes, we just need to give it time for it to work.
In relation to trying too many products at once, being impatient is also another problem that aggravates acne. Again, we need to give ourselves time to heal. Notice that if you have a cut in your skin, that it doesn’t heal overnight. Let’s expect the same for acne.
It will heal, just give it time and avoid anything that will make it worse.
Are you expecting your body will heal if you binge on junk food? What nutrient will you get out of that? Although most experts would say that diet has little to no effect on acne, you will not expect your skin to heal if you are not eating healthily.
You have to think that what you put in your body will reflect on your skin and health. So go on, munch on those fruits and vegetables. Eat lean meat and enjoy your salmon too.
Not thinking much about Hydration
It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, again, water. Not beer, not soda, not champagne, not coffee but just plain and tasteless water. You might think this is overrated but have you actively measured how much water you drink in a day?
It might surprise you that it may be less than what our body requires. So go, water-up. Your skin and body need it to flush out the toxins. Surely, you will notice how much hydrated your skin will feel after.
Skin-friendly approach by means of Blue Light
Most people hate applying topical acne products because it either stings, make you more prone to getting a sunburn, makes your skin excessively dry or makes you look red. Some also make your skin peel off and makes it impossible for you to apply makeup flawlessly.
As for oral antibiotics, it can lead to yeast infections or make you susceptible to developing resistance to the medicine.
Dealing with acne is really a pain but thankfully, we now have a solution to make acne-healing more tolerable. The answer? Blue light therapy.
We know, you might think this is another gimmick to give you false hopes and that we are out here just to profit from your skin woes. But hear us out.
Blue light therapy has been used in dermatologist’s clinics all over the world to help banish acne. (1) With a series of usage, blue light can help kill acne-causing bacteria without having to apply harsh topical creams or toners that may leave a burning, stinging sensation to the skin or take oral antibiotics that may do more harm than good to the body.
Blue Light Therapy
So what is in blue light therapy that can help banish acne? And why can’t we just use a regular blue bulb or blue Christmas lights or blue fluorescent lamps?
Just because a bulb is blue doesn’t mean that it emits the same therapeutic wavelength needed to help kill acne-causing bacteria. It has to be in the wavelength 405nm - 420nm, the same wavelength used in derm clinics and medspas, for it to work against acne-causing bacteria.
When the skin is exposed to blue light, the light penetrates the skin and target the bacteria, causing it to self-destruct. It has to be used consistently for it to successfully eliminate the cause of infection.
Is it UV-free?
Aside from using the correct form of blue light, you also have to consider about UV emission. Make sure that the Blue Light you are using is UV-free to prevent premature aging, photosensitivity, and skin cancer. Trophy Skin is using custom-made LED bulbs that are proven to be safe, effective and does not emit harmful UV light.
Is it effective?
This is a tricky question because we do not want to mislead you or give false hopes that this is 100 percent the answer to your prayers. Blue Light Therapy is effective for mild to moderate acne. Again, what it does is eliminate the acne-causing bacteria to help heal acne as well as prevent new ones to crop up.
We recommend that you use it daily for at least 5 minutes to help kill P. acnes bacteria. In 3 to 4 weeks, you should be able to see improvements in your skin.
Remember, you may need more time to be able to see positive improvements as each of us have different skin. Be patient and allot at least 5 minutes daily to treat your acne.
Can I combine it with other acne medication?
You may use other acne medications in conjunction with blue light therapy however, it is best to talk to your dermatologist first. If you are on Accutane, we do not recommend using Blue Light because it may make your skin more sensitive and overly dry.
Follow these steps in using your Blue Light Therapy lamp:
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser before using the LED lamp.
- Do not put moisturizers or any skin care product on your skin prior to using the blue light.
- Position the LED panel 4 to 6 inches away from the area you are treating.
- Use the provided goggles to protect your eyes.
- Press the “on” button.
- Stay still for 5 minutes and let the light do its work. It will automatically shut off after 5 minutes.
- You can apply your favorite serum or moisturizer immediately after the light treatment.
- Wait at least 30 minutes before applying topical acne medications.
In-office versus at-home use
Like we mentioned earlier, you cannot just use any random blue light to banish your acne. You have to consider the wavelength of the light as well as the power that it has to actually make a difference in your skin.
In-office light therapies are usually more powerful because they have large panels and uses a combination of lights that is otherwise absent in most at-home devices. However, even though it is very effective in treating acne, it can be costly too.
Professional Light Therapy treatments usually cost around $190 to $290 per session and for it to be effective, it has to be done at least twice a week for 8 weeks and once a month after that. That is more than $3000 worth of investment that has to be maintained, otherwise, you will be back at square one.
I don’t have megabucks!!!
Let’s be honest. It is ridiculous to shell out that much on a treatment that may or may not work on you. Instead of clearing acne, new zits may break out from the stress this costly treatment can cause!
So, to help out an average Jane or Joe, at-home devices are developed to make this treatment more affordable.
Things to consider in the success of blue light therapy
The market is flooded with many at-home blue light therapy devices. You can google it and get lost in the sea of available apparatus that promises to heal acne. So, how do you choose which one to get?
Hand-held or hands-free?
Consider the convenience to use the blue light device. Do you have the patience to hold the device for 5 to 10 minutes per area? What if you have a full blown acne that covers not just your forehead but your cheeks and chin too?
Getting a hands-free device is more convenient to use. All you need is turn the device on and sit comfortably. Trophy Skin’s BlueMD Anti Acne Blue Light LED Lamp has a 5-minute auto shut off timer that lets you do blue light treatment easily! It has a flexible gooseneck that can be bent in many positions. You can use it while sitting on a chair or lying on the bed.
Frequency of use
In-office light therapy devices are bigger and stronger that’s why you can just have it done once or twice a week for a period of time. But for you to banish acne for good, you have to use your at-home blue light device regularly.
Do not expect your zit to die with just one treatment. After all, it took a few days for it to develop. Set your expectations right. This is not magic but a tool that will help you manage your acne over a period of time.
To successfully manage mild to moderate acne, use the BlueMD 5 minutes per day, daily. You may also use it twice a day if you like. In 3 to 4 weeks use, you will notice that you will have fewer breakouts and that existing ones heal faster.
Type of acne
Again, blue light therapy is intended to help with mild to moderate acne. It can also suppress the formation of new zits.
If you are suffering from nodular or cystic acne, it is best to consult your dermatologist. Cystic acne is usually deeper in the skin, damaging the skin tissue surrounding it. Do not attempt to pick your skin because it has the higher chance of developing a pitting scar.
Cystic acne usually requires a more intense acne medication and treatment regimen. Do not hesitate to sit down with your doctor and discuss how best to address it.
Is Blue Light Therapy worth the time and money?
Blue Light Therapy is an exciting way to manage acne without having to resort to antibiotics or using harsh chemicals that are uncomfortable to the skin. It is safe to use and it works great to minimize the formation of new breakouts.
If you cannot shell out $3000 or more in professional treatments, getting your own at-home device is a good investment to make. BlueMD from Trophy Skin is under $300 and you have a 1-year limited warranty to make sure that you get the most out of your investment.
You can use it daily. You can even share it with your family since the LED panel doesn’t need to touch your skin. You will not worry about cross-contamination or spread infection. We also offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you do not see any improvement in your skin condition.
However, not everyone is a candidate for blue light treatment. Again, it is important to discuss with your dermatologist if you can use blue light therapy. If you are on medication that makes you photosensitive or if you have epilepsy, SLE or lupus, or if you are pregnant, you cannot use blue light therapy.
Again, blue light therapy is an exciting way to banish acne and save your skin from life-long damage that acne can cause. Take advantage of our 30-day money back guarantee and free shipping in the US.