If you're looking into treating acne, I can relate. My own struggles with acne are one of the reasons why I became a skincare professional, and why I'm so passionate about helping others not only treat acne but learn how to manage it and love their skin.
Healing acne is a journey
Backstory: At the age of 12 I remember getting my first few pimples. Since then, I have had acne-prone skin, and to this day am still healing, managing, and treating acne.
I grew up trying every product and oral contraceptive on the market. I began to over-exfoliate, over-cleanse, and aggressively pick my face in high school, because I believed that I could “kill” the acne by drying up my skin.
I was cleansing whenever my face sweat or felt dirty. I never understood why I was breaking out 24/7, meanwhile, my friends had one or two breakouts that were easily covered up. In post secondary, my skin was at its worst, with external and internal factors playing a huge role.
My skin barrier was quite compromised, as it was always dull, flaky, and red, no matter how many “moisturizing masks” or “acne be gone” products I used. I tried every brand I could at Sephora and Shoppers that my friends would recommend, because they said it works great! Little did I know, these products only worked for their skin concerns.
Hundreds of dollars later, I thought I would try the highest hormonal oral contraceptive pill to clear up my acne. The doctor warned me it would “get worse before it gets better”. He was right. I broke out, retained fluid, had an emotional roller coaster on a daily basis, and felt like I lost control of myself.
Fast forward eight months, my skin definitely improved; however, I had to get off the dose due to all of the side effects. Once I discontinued the OCP, my acne came back! It was beyond frustrating and discouraging at this point. I was lucky enough to be able to cover up the redness, but I could always see the texture, bumps, and scars. I stayed off OCPs for approximately half a year, which helped balance my hormones and settle the acne flare ups.
Then, I started learning more about treating acne
Jumping ahead to the past two years, I began trying medical grade skin care, and using medical treatments to see results in my skin. After being patient, I have noticeably different skin, smoother texture, less scarring, less blemishes, and less sun damage.
I still manage acne-prone and sensitive skin everyday, just in different ways.
What I wish I could tell my younger self about managing acne
Knowing what I know now, I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to give herself a break. Give herself some love. Growing up with acne was tough, it felt like a never ending battle, but accepting my skin rather than fighting my skin has been my biggest breakthrough in the past 10 years.
How I manage acne
Now, what have I learned? How do I manage acne?
Having a healthy skin barrier is key
For starters, I have learned that your skin barrier is EVERYTHING. Having a healthy skin barrier is key. Having a compromised skin barrier makes it tough for your skin to fight off free radicals and my biggest issue: acne.
But what is causing your skin barrier to be compromised? Things like over washing, exposure to toxic chemicals, detergents, and over-exfoliating with harsh scrubs. Our lifestyle, such as smoking, lack of exercise, diet, sleep and stress levels, can all cause skin barrier damage. For myself, damage mainly came from stripping my skin of its natural oils with harsh cleansers and scrubs.
Find an acne healing routine that works for you
Finding the right skin care routine for your specific concerns is so important.
In present time, I try to lessen and improve acne with a few steps; exfoliate, reduce acne bacteria, control sebum production, and repair skin tone and texture
Acne-prone skin is typically caused by dead skin cells in the pores. Salicylic acid and lactic acid are well known for removing cell build-up and destroying acne bacteria.
Reduce acne bacteria
Use a skin cleanser or serum that has natural anti-bacterial ingredients.
Control sebum production
Sebum build-up triggers our body's inflammatory response. It is important to keep skin moisturized to balance sebum production. If skin dries out due to washing, over-exfoliating, or harsh chemicals, it will produce more sebum to compensate.
Repair texture and tone
Acne can leave post-inflammatory discolouration and scarring, so it's important to repair your skin tone and texture. For myself, chemical peels and microneedling with proper home care have improved my texture.
Prevent future damage
Lastly, prevention and protection from damage and inflammation is very important. Inflammation is a cause and a result of acne. It is essential to block UV rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains ingredients to help calm and maintain skin’s moisture balance.
My personal tips for managing and treating acne
Awareness of sugar content in foods and drinks (avoiding high sugar foods/drinks has made a big difference)
Understanding the gut, mind, skin connection matters; I try to be conscious about what I apply to my skin and what my eating habits consist of
Stress management (therapy, journaling, daily exercise)
Quality sleep (I aim for 7-8 hours of sleep, no phone for 30-60 minutes before bed)
OCP (oral contraceptive pill - post OCP took a long time to balance/regulate hormones, and I had to purge before it got better due to the influx and lack of certain hormones)
Washing bed sheets and silk pillow cases often
Wash clothes, using single use wash clothes or washing clothes regularly
Medical grade skin care (Alumier carries an acne prone line that I was able to modify for my skin concerns at an affordable price)
Microneedling (in between these appointments I aim to get a peel or HydraFacial to keep my skin barrier clean and healthy)
Acknowledging and loving my skin (being patient is a huge piece in healing acne)
If you're interested in learning more about how to manage your skin concerns, book a free consultation with one of our skin care specialists! Our medical aesthetics clinic in Kelowna, BC offers not only expert advice, but professional skin treatments and medical grade skin care products to help you along your journey to healthier, happier skin.