Acne is generally thought to be a teenagers dilemma. However, teens aren’t the only ones who are plagued by this physical issue. I know this from personal experience. At the age of 28 years old, I was affected by adult-onset acne. I wish I could say it was easy pinning down the culprit of my acne but honestly, there were various contributing factors such as: mental health (i.e., stress), physical well-being (living a sedentary lifestyle), and improper product usage (i.e., over exfoliation, high-ph cleansers). What cleared my adult acne may not work for you, but addressing these 3 key factors may help you on your road to recovery.
Have you noticed that when you’re in a stressful situation your acne seems to get worse? There have been many studies that show acne is worse during stressful times. A study from Stanford University noted that students had flared up during their stressful exam periods compared to other times. Research shows that there’s a link between chronic stress and the worsening of the disease. And, stress significantly slows wound healing (Chiu et al., 2003). Therefore, to speed up the recovery of your acne you need to reduce your level of stress whether it’s practicing meditation or taking up yoga. Exercise activities produce endorphins; they are feel good hormones, our own painkillers, that can help reduces stress (Blumenthal et al., 2003; Scheve, 2009).
Your skin is a reflection of your inner health especially your digestive health. One simple trick to help your digestive is to drink warm water; that is similar to your body temperature of 37 C. Warm water stimulates the digestive glands to function optimally. It helps the body get rid of excess stomach acids and neutralizes digestive juices and regulates your bowel movement, getting rid of waste material from your body (Patel et al., 2015). When your digestive system is clear you will have beautiful and clear skin. You should drink a glass of warm water in the morning before having any food.
Be educated and selective on the products you’re putting on your face. It is important to understand that not all chemicals are bad. just as not all ‘natural’ products are better or safer.
Our skin pH is between 4-6.5 (Barel et al., 2011). So. it’s not advisable to use an alkaline cleanser because it will dry your skin out and dry skin is a breeding ground for bacteria. Our normal flora prefers an acidic environment (Barel et al., 2011).
Plant extracts contain hundreds of different compounds (Sasidharan et al., 2011) and can be very active, so they can harm your skin also, if use incorrectly. Everyone skin is different, something that works for others might not work for you. Listen to your skin. Don’t change your routine frequently especially when you have acne. Give the products time to work, give it at least 4 weeks. Our skin takes about 28 days to turn over (Barel et al., 2011).
There are no miracle products that can heal your acne skin overnight. Select a gentle cleanser with the same ph as your skin, choose enzymes instead of harsh chemicals or abrasive exfoliants. It’s your face for goodness sake, not your kitchen floor. You don’t need to scrub the daylight out of it. Feed your skin the right food, choose products that are high in anti-inflammation, soothing, hydrating, wound healing ingredients like centella and niacinamide. Studies have shown that acne skin lacks linoleic acid (Prottey et al., 1976) which is abundant in sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, and borage seed oils. Furthermore, research has shown that applying linolenic acid over microcomedones helps to reduce their size and severity (Letawe et al., 2008).
Work with your skin, nurture it, don’t force it into liking the next big product that some famous blogger is raving about.
Take Away Message
With the help of proper product usage, addressing mental and physical health, your skin should balance itself out. During your road to recovery, you and your skin’s patience is of upmost importance. Take it from my experience, it doesn’t take much to disrupt the balance of your skin. Yet, it can take a long time to recover from it.
It’s most important to know and understand that you should not let acne define you. This is the time you need to surround yourself with loved ones and good friends who know won’t make you feel worse about yourself. We are easily given compliments on our skin when it’s great and it can be our shining armor against the world. But, just because you have a zit or two or even an explosion of it, you have to know yourself and know that with good or bad skin, you are still you. Be positive, don’t fixate, and surround yourself with loved ones who will guide you through your journey with acne. Because in the end it all starts with you and remember, be healthy, be happy, and most importantly be YOU.
Barel, A. O., Paye, M., & Maibach, H. I. (2001). Handbook of cosmetic science and technology. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Blumenthal, J. A., Fredrikson, M., Kuhn, C. M., Ulmer, R. L., Walsh-Riddle, M., & Appelbaum, M. (1990). Aerobic exercise reduces levels of cardiovascular and sympathoadrenal responses to mental stress in subjects without prior evidence of myocardial ischemia. The American Journal of Cardiology, 65(1), 93-98.
Chiu, A., Chon, S. Y., & Kimball, A. B. (2003). The Response of Skin Disease to Stress. Archives of Dermatology, 139(7).
Letawe, Boone, and Pierard. “Digital Image Analysis of the Effect of Topically Applied Linoleic Acid on Acne Microcomedones.” Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 23, no. 2 (1998): 56-58.
Patel, S., Patel, J., & Patel, M.,& Sen, D.J. (2015) Say yes to warm for the removal of harm: amazing wonders of two stages of water. European Jouranl of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research, 2(4), 444-460. EUROPEAN
Prottey, C., Hartop, P., Black, J., & Mccormack, J. (1976). The repair of impaired epidermal barrier function in rats by the cutaneous application of linoleic acid. British Journal of Dermatology, 94(1), 13-21.
Sasidharan, S., Chen, Y., Saravanan, D., Sundram, K., & Latha, L. (2010). Extraction, Isolation And Characterization Of Bioactive Compounds From Plants’ Extracts. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(1).
Scheve, T. (2009). Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/endorphins.html