The Truth about Acne, Part II
With a better idea as to how to outsmart our genes, we can move on to the trickier cause of acne—life. Stress and personal care products can, and will, cause acne flare-ups. In other words, unless you intend to live your life in your apartment avoiding all human contact and never allowing anything to come in contact with your skin, you are likely to encounter acne triggers on a daily basis.
When it comes to triggers, stress is the nastiest offender. We live in a dog-eat-dog world and chronic stress is as normal a part of our daily lives as breathing. Like a chain of dominos, it sends our adrenal glands into super-drive, boosting our sebum production and setting the stage for that uninvited guest, acne. I wish I could suggest a surefire way to prevent stress, but the truth is—it’s impossible. Something will always cause worry or anxiety in our lives and instead of pretending they aren’t there, its better to face our stressors head on.
The best defense against a stress trigger is a healthy lifestyle. If you think I am about to launch into a diatribe about cutting out all the junk, you’re wrong. I would never ask that you eat only healthy food, because that demand would set you up for failure. You can indulge yourself in this extra large, double cheese world, just as long as the good you consume surpasses the bad. It’s easier than you might think to add a vegetable. If you want that burger, have it with a salad instead of fries. Put frozen banana and Greek yogurt puree over your brownie instead of ice cream. The added dose of vitamins and antioxidants will send a pulse of nutrition directly throughout your body and that alone will do a great deal to keep the acne away. Another quick way to head off the stress monster is mind-body synchronization. As cliché as it sounds, deep breathing, yoga, or even a short jog in the park do will wonders not only for your skin, but also for your overall well-being. And, if it hasn’t already been made it crystal clear, the two are intimately connected.
As if genes and lifestyle aren’t enough, the products you choose to use on your skin may be the biggest offenders of all. Some of the most common “healthy” products are actually loaded with ingredients that cause or exacerbate acne. Here are some of the monsters to look out for. Lanolin is a common moisturizing agent, but being a fatty oil derived from sheep’s wool, it quickly coats the skin and blocks the pores. Artificial fragrance and dyes are the most frequently overlooked culprits. Found last on the ingredient list, these little devils ravage the face causing irritation and sensitivity. The end result is a swift boost in the production of protective sebum and you know where that leads.
Artificial fragrance and color in skin care products will bring you no benefit. If acne and oily skin are your primary concern, you want to look for products that contain salicylic acid. This power player works fast to reduce swelling and redness, de-clog pores and minimize breakouts. In terms of multi-purpose, that single ingredient takes the cake. There is also a belief that people with oily skin do not need to moisturize and that could not be further from the truth. Water and oil are two completely different things and a balance of both is necessary for optimal skin health.
When it comes to acne, there is rarely a single cause. To successfully treat, clear and prevent breakouts, the cascade of events leading to their development must be controlled. A healthy lifestyle, regular facials and great home-care routine are the only way to keep the spots at bay.
These are just a few basics about the monster we call acne. The better you understand it, the more valuable you will be to your clients.
Get more of Nathan’s advice in The Truth About Acne, Part I!