I thought breakouts were for teenagers!

How can it be? Are we treating wrinkles and zits at the same time? Seriously, I thought Benzoyl Peroxide was for teenagers! Yep, the struggle is real! And, the struggle comes in many shapes and forms… from overly clogged pores to tiny bumps on the forehead, to T-Zone breakouts, to those horrible “chin area” under-grounders… to that random bump that appears out of nowhere and refuses to make an exit. Well, my friends… unless you are one of the lucky ones, this is a skin issue for many of us… ranging in ages from our teens all the way into menopause! Oh yay!! So, this means we will be using anti-aging and anti-acne treatments at the same time? Hey, I feel ya! Along with mild rosacea, I treat breakouts and wrinkles too. I really thought that at 52 I could have ditched the blemish cream… but, not so much. So let’s discuss these annoying blemishes, some of their causes, and what may help to get rid of them.

The Causes-

  1. Diet –

First and foremost, let’s talk about your diet. I am a firm believer that what you put in your body, will be reflected on the exterior. So, are you eating a clean, healthy diet and drinking a lot of water… and by clean, I mean, fresh vegetables, lean sources of protein, healthy fats, such as avocado, and complex carbs, like sweet potatoes… or are you reaching for more processed foods… things that come in a bag or a box… sugar filled, refined foods?  And what about alcohol… The second half of that sermon is the definition of an inflammatory diet, that is not friendly to your system… and will tell you so, by showing up in two places… the scales and your face. Sorry… I hate to deliver the bad news, but it’s true. A clean diet can do everything for a clean face! So, try eliminating the junk, guzzling water… and see what happens. In some cases, staying away from dairy and gluten can be a game changer as well.

2. Hormones…

Dear Lord, those hormones… I have SO many clients that are mad at their hormones. Well, they are a blessing and a curse. Your hormones are going to fluctuate for a long time… so, let’s accept it and work around them the best that we can! From the time you start your cycle until the time that you reach “the change”, they are going to take you for a ride. Hormonal breakouts usually present themselves around the chin area. They will come and go as your hormones stabilize. Your cycle, birth control, pregnancy and the road towards menopause can cause flare-ups… simply because your hormones are in flux… however, they will stabilize. I explain to clients that this is more systemic than topical. As an Aesthetician, I can help to a point, but in extreme situations, I usually refer to a Dermatologist. For example, if the breakouts become extremely cystic, deep and painful. Hang in there… I promise, this too shall pass!

3. Stress –

No one is stressed… right? It’s almost the American way, unfortunately. As if we didn’t know, stress is another cause and a biggy! And guess what?? Stress breakouts go right back to our fun little friends… hormones. Yep, and this is why. When you are stressed, you have an organ called the adrenal gland that makes the stress hormone, cortisol, and it is secreted into the body to help the body deal with stress. A little bit of testosterone is leaked out with it, which drives the oil glands to produce excess oil. And with that… you have stress breakouts! Uuuuugh. If I had the blanket answer to curtailing stress, I would gladly share it… but until then, there are many things that can be done topically that can help… we will get there in a minute.

4. Products –

Those dang info-mercials… What are you putting on your face? This means skincare products and makeup. This is where a good consultation with an expert comes in handy. There are so many overly-marketed products available that are terribly comedogenic.(pore-clogging) That goes for the makeup that you are wearing as well. Enough of this can cause breakouts quickly. On the same subject… you know when your makeup is old… so toss it! … and those makeup brushes… they are like little bacteria gatherers! They need to be cleaned regularly. In contrast, there are a lot of products that we may think are the answer to our acne, but they are doing nothing other than stripping the face of its oils, and in return, the skin naturally wants to overcompensate by producing more oil… hence, breakouts. That can be like a vicious cycle! So, having an Aesthetician or Dermatologist look at your skin and help you find the correct balance for your specific skin type and situation can be the problem solver!

Helpful Treatments-

Before I discuss treatments, I am just assuming that you are washing your face EVERY night before you go to bed! That is “skincare 101”!! If you are not… first of all, don’t tell me, and secondly, there are a myriad of reasons why you should… including blemishes, increased pore size and accelerated skin aging. Maybe that will spur the horse! Ok… that’s that! Now, let’s chat about treatments.

  1. Salicylic acid is one of the most popular treatments. It is a beta-hydroxy acid. It works by exfoliating, unclogging pores and drying some of the oil production. Depending on your situation, it can be used all over the face or just as a spot treatment. Moderation is key because it can be drying.
  2. Benzoyl Peroxide works by actually killing the acne bacteria. It can also be very drying, so I highly recommend spot treating with this one.
  3. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid, which helps acne and wrinkles with its exfoliating ability to remove dead skin cells on the surface. This treatment is widely popular because it can help with breakouts, clogged pores and improve the texture of the skin. Again, don’t go gangbusters with it… for the sake of creating any sensitivities in the skin. Remember… moderation.
  4. Retin A or a derivative of it, known as Retinol, is Vitamin A in a prescription form. Topical retinoids are extremely effective for acne, due to their resurfacing abilities… and in addition.. they are well known for their anti-aging abilities, because of their collagen building properties, which leads to skin that is plumper and shows less fine lines. Yet again, this is a product that needs to be used with caution, because if used incorrectly, it can be too harsh for sensitive skin. Refer to my post (Retin A The Real Story) for more information on using Retin A safely and most effectively.

Breakouts… they happen to the vast majority of us, and they do not discriminate. No matter your age, race or gender, at some point you may have to deal with them. What I can tell you is that they usually come in phases. There will be certain times in life when they will hang around… and before you know it, you will be in a gloriously “clear faced stage”. Some lucky folks rarely deal with this skin issue and don’t understand what an ordeal it can be for those who have tried everything to escape this dilemma. There are plenty of reasons why they appear and just as many treatments to help. But to answer the resounding question… Nope… breakouts are not just for teenagers. If you are like me, you are applying your eye cream and blemish cream simultaneously. Hey, look at it on the bright side… maybe it’s a sign of youth! Now… go wash your face, and I’ll see ya right back here next week! Xx, Mary  

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