Left: Sheetal Rawal, scientist (human genetics) & founder of Apsara Skin Care
By: Sheetal Rawal
Acne is a challenging skin care issue and often takes a toll on emotions as much as the skin. Many people write to me about how uncomfortable they feel to face the world while being conscious that their skin is not clear. Unfortunately, this tends to start a cycle where the stress about acne worsens it. How? Stress is known to cause an overproduction of cortisol, which has been linked to an overproduction of sebum by the skin’s sebaceous glands. This excess sebum clogs the pores. Clogged pores are susceptible to a bacterial infection which is externally seen as acne.
The reasons for acne are many and stress can be one of the major ones. I always emphasize on using a daily skin care routine to help your skin heal and find its balance. This skin care routine should be made with natural ingredients that can work with your skin to help in recovery, rather than anything too harsh that can further cause the skin to become imbalanced and caught in a habit of overproducing oil to compensate for the challenge it faces due to the application of harsh ingredients. Acne treatment might be a challenge that is made even more daunting by adopting the wrong approach of quick, topical application of harsh ingredients at a very high percentage.
The emotional toll acne takes can cause many to try different acne treatment methods in a short span, or worse yet at the same time. Skin feels over-burdened and might not know how and what to respond to. All these factors together make acne treatment harder than it should be.
I never tire of saying that natural and time-tested ingredients like turmeric, neem, jojoba, clove, geranium, etc. can work wonders to calm, pacify and balance your skin. So that is phenomenal when it comes to choosing a successful and natural approach in getting clear and radiant skin. A natural form of salicylic acid when used correctly can be a great option in successful acne treatment. This ingredient can appear as “willow bark extract” on the label. Similarly, sulfur (a natural element found on Earth) is FDA approved to treat acne. It is best however for these ingredients to be present in their natural form (as much as possible) and at a percentage that is not threatening to the skin.
Given that you have chosen the right skin care routine, there are many other practices that can support the recovery of your skin. These are simple and free. Many of these can take some discipline and cultivation of new habits, but it is worth the effort. This article discusses some top myths associated with acne. Let's get into the top habits that can become important allies in successful acne treatment.
"My skin is definitely a lot better than it has been in the past. So I can come on here and show my face to the world without any makeup on my face and not feel like I need to hide..."
1. Change Your Pillow Covers Every Night
Why? Simply because you do not want the acne-causing bacteria to travel all over your face while you sleep. This daily chore can be reduced to every other night by flipping over your pillow. That is simple. You can keep 4 or 5 fresh pillowcases ready to change every other night. Keep them handy so they are accessible. Like atop your bedside table or in the drawer of your nightstand.
2. Use a Fresh Hand Towel to Dry Your Skin
You must have guessed the reason behind this. It is because you do not want to spread acne-causing bacteria across your skin. To aid the process keep a few small hand towels handy in your bathroom to make switching easy.
3. Pat Dry Your Skin
Never drag your towel over your skin: This one is very important. It definitely prevents the spread of infection. It is also a gentle way to dry your skin. Even when acne is no longer a concern, this manner of drying your skin keeps friction and tugging at bay. So you are not promoting sagging and redness of skin.
4. Never Ever Use Hot Water to Wash:
No matter how tempting it might be, it is one of the most aggressive things you can do to your skin in general.
When acne is in the picture, it is absolutely not advisable. If you are trying to aim for longterm acne treatment, washing with lukewarm water is a practice that will be an ally. When the skin is hit with hot water, pores open up, beneficial oils are dissolved, and inflammation is made worse. Skin’s defenses are now very high and it can respond by pumping out massive amounts of oil to protect itself. I am sure you know where this is leading. You are right! Acne has every reason to worsen.
If you need a remedy to fade acne, watch this video to learn how to make a turmeric and rice flour face mask. Enjoy and please subscribe to my YouTube channel!
5. Do Not Cleanse/Wash Your Skin More Than Twice a Day
Oiliness often (not always) accompanies acne. That leads to the notion that if somehow the oil is reduced, acne will go away. By washing too many times you are washing off the oils superficially, not from deep within the pores where acne arises. Additionally washing too often with harsh cleansers (most in the market) can lead to the very same issue of skin pumping out oils to defend itself, worsening acne. While your daily acne routine is working to balance out your skin you can use a clean tissue to blot any excess oils from your skin instead of running to the tap.
6. Please Try Not to Obsess Over Your Skin
My apologies in advance to everyone who thinks this tip might be coming from a lack of compassion. That is not so. From experience, I realize that acne is such a trying skin care issue that people going through it can get very impatient and tired. Obsession arises out of a desire for an overnight acne treatment option. And the marketplace does not help. Advertisements of acne treatments with results that are way too good to be true are commonplace. So naturally, in a desire to achieve clear skin, people do too much at the same time. Or they switch from one acne treatment to another in quick succession. More often than not, these acne treatment methods or products are harsh to the skin. This overload of harsh chemicals only serves to imbalance the skin further. So having a consistent skin care routine and sticking with it is far superior to doing too much. Allow your skin to breathe and it will thank you. I have learned this after years of experience and observation.
7. Do Not Let Stress Get Out of Hand
This one ties into the fact that stress causes an overproduction of sebum by the skin’s oil-producing glands, which can cause or worsen acne. Meditation, deep breathing etc are all valid ways of stress reduction.
8. Do Not Eat It If You Think It Worsens Your Acne
For a long time, science held that there was no obvious relationship between one’s diet and acne. However, it looks like that assumption is changing. I recently read a scientific study that made a possible link between the consumption of whey protein (as a muscle building supplement) and worsening of acne. Many people say eating nuts makes their acne worse. Others complain of chocolate being the trigger. I say if you notice a food worsening or causing acne, stay away from it.
9. Do Not Touch Your Skin (Never Ever Pick at It)
Seriously! As a teenager, I heard this all the time and I intuitively knew there was something to it. But I could not
resist going at my skin. I would try to pop that zit or squeeze out a blackhead in an attempt to clean out my skin. Each time this went badly. The spot would become more visible and red; it took it days longer to heal. Plus this could spread infection and push clogged material deeper into the pores. I know for many this habit is difficult to break away from. But so are all habits that are unwholesome. It is simply how the mind works. In the end, the right actions prevail in being truly rewarding. So, do not touch your skin unless you are doing so to apply your daily routine.
10. Do Not Get Frequent Facials
This ties into the point above. Acne prone skin is already very tender and inflamed. Frequent touching and prolonged massaging can easily be counterproductive. Especially if the esthetician does not score a 100% on their deep understanding of acne and their level of skilled expertise. In addition, they might use a new set of products that your skin is not used to. The results can be pretty heartbreaking and demoralizing. Assuming that you have found the right esthetician, it is best to take your own set of products to a facial appointment. That way you eliminate the chances of an unpleasant experience.
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Go natural. It is good karma!