Beauty Buzz presents this special report on tips to clear acne and help to ease acne-prone skin, featuring Carbon Theory and other brands I have grown to trust, recently and over the years.
Acne is the most common and documented skin condition in human history, and as a sufferer of acne for over 3 decades, I am here to offer some help and advice, for anyone who suffers from acne-prone skin.
Acne is a condition that can manifest itself in many ways on the skin, it can be painful and uncomfortable; acne can also cause anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and shame, as a sufferer of acne it can often seem like there is no help in sight.
I know firsthand how difficult it can be to present yourself in public, when all you can see are the various breakouts on your face, it can be a very debilitating experience.
Luckily, since this condition has existed for a very long time, we have multiple options at our disposal to help treat it.
There are many varying options to treat your skin and many different schools of thought, on the best ways, to treat said skin. This multitude of ideas, concepts and products can be easily overwhelming for anyone trying to sort out, the best options for themselves.
I am, a lifelong acne sufferer and regardless of how religiously I care for my skin, I still get blemishes that upset me when I see them on my skin. So, the reality is that I can relate to your discomfort, to your feeling self-conscious because of your breakouts, I’ve been there and it still happens to me now.
One of my biggest frustrations is the scarring that the acne has caused me over the years, so I have been thinking long and hard over the best way to present my thoughts and experiences with acne-fighting and acne-clearing technologies and cosmetic formulations.
Over the last 3 plus decades, I have picked up many thoughts, tried many products and have many suggestions to share with you, that I wish I could have shared with my younger-self, to save my skin texture even more.
Let’s Bust a Myth To Start
The prime myth that needs to burst, the no-moisturizer myth. If I could imprint this notion on to you, I would, because it’s one of the building blocks of healthy skin. Moisture is essential for vibrant and healthy skin, hydration helps to keep the skin elastic and supple, able to function and heal properly.
This no-moisture myth exists mainly, in my opinion, since most people who suffer from acne tend to have oilier skin types. This means that their sebaceous glands produce more oil than necessary, since oilier skin types also tend to have larger pores, it is easier for dirt and debris to get lodged into those larger pores and get sealed in with the continuous release of oils on the skin.
These clogged pores in turn lead to potential breakouts and since most people who have oily skin are afraid of being oily, they often avoid moisturizing altogether, which then pushes the skin to produce even higher levels of oil, to try and lock in the moisture it desperately craves.
This cycle can make it easy to lock oneself into a dehydrating skin cycle where the skin constantly produces more oil to try and counter the constant dehydration it is facing.
A Tea Tree Oil Moisturizing Option
Carbon Theory has made such a splash on the market with its wide variety of acne-fighting skincare products, since it has launched in Canada, this past year.
A standout product for me is the Breakout Facial Moisturizer, which features Tea Tree Oil and Vitamin E, this fresh feeling moisturizer will help to nourish the skin as its dis-inflammatory ingredients help to appease any redness on the skin.
The Breakout Facial Moisturizer is a great solution for adding the needed moisture back to your skin without feeling heavy on the skin, plus its format is so easy to pop in a bag and take with you, perfect for the on-the-go lifestyle.
A CeraVe Solution
A tried and true favorite of mine is the Salicylic Acid Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin by CeraVe, this lotion can be used on the face and body, features a high percentage of Salicilyc Acid (3%) which helps to clean out the pores. The addition of 3 different Ceramides, helps to rebuild and repair the skin’s moisture barrier, this also adds to the soothing properties of this moisturizer and lastly; it contains Hyaluronic Acid, which is a key ingredient to help the skin retain the water and stay properly hydrated.
The Salicylic Acid Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin by CeraVe is super affordable, comes in a large container and lasts me a minimum of 6 months, this is an excellent product to help to treat any acne-prone skin.
Peace Out’s More Chill Approach
Peace Out is a company that specializes in products for acne-prone skin, and they deliver many products that can help to soothe, cleanse, and clear the skin with continued use. The Daily Repairing Moisturizer by Peace Out is another excellent moisturizer for anyone who gets breakouts.
The Peace Out Daily Repairing Moisturizer features Ceramides, as well as Willow Bark Extract, which is a natural form of an exfoliating acid to clear out the skin. You will also find Niacinamide, which is known to be an anti-aging ingredient that helps to reduce the appearance of the pores. This cream also features Bakuchiol, which is the latest darling in the skincare world, a mushroom derived extract that apparently works in similar ways to Retinoids with its anti-aging potential.
Beware of Sun Damage
Sun damage can worsen acne scars and further degenerate the collagen in your skin, especially in any area where the skin was burst, damaged, or has bled. These small scars can deepen and create long-term pock-marks on the skin.
Which is why the use of sunscreen is so important, even during the winter to help and protect any potentially damaged skin.
Neutrogena’s New Classic
A sunscreen that I always love and recommend is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50, this super affordable sunscreen is super hydrating with a great concentration of Hyaluronic Acid in it, it feels lovely and lightweight on the skin and does not leave a white cast at all.
Pictured above is the SPF 30 version, both are valid in winter, as the sun is much weaker, however, don’t neglect to wear it, it really does protect the skin.
Blue Lizard’s Aussie Charm
Another sunscreen that I completely loved this year is the Blue Lizard Sheer Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+, this Australian-based sunscreen is wonderful, and it blends into the skin well and has never made me breakout in any way.
The Blue Lizard Sheer Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ is once again, easy to use, affordable and it will keep your skin safe from unnecessary sun damage.
Cleansing and Treating the Skin
One of the most important steps for anyone suffering from breakouts of any type, is the cleansing step during the day. Since people with acne tend to produce more sebum and oil on the surface of the skin, which in turn can seal any dirt or impurities in the pores and potentially cause breakouts, this in turn means that cleaning the skin becomes a truly primordial step.
There are 3 primary ingredients that we often use to treat blemishes and breakouts, Salicylic Acid, a deep exfoliant acid, Benzol Peroxide a chemical compound that helps to clear out acne and Tea Tree Oil, derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree from New South Wales, Australia. Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil that helps to dry out blemishes and has disinfecting and purifying properties, it is a natural astringent as well and can feel a little drying on the skin.
The Inkey List’s Solution To Clear Skin
An annual favorite is The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which obviously features Salicylic Acid, as well as Zinc Compound, which has anti-inflammatory properties, to relieve the swelling of the skin and Allantoin, which is a wonderful ingredient to soothe the skin.
The Inkey List’s Salicylic Acid Cleanser is an inexpensive darling, that your skin will love as it cleanses deeply without stripping the skin or leaving it feeling dry or irritated, post-wash.
Carbon Theory’s Charcoal Cleansing Experience
Carbon Theory is a company based out of the UK. I recently tried their cleanser, the Charcoal & Tea Tree Oil Breakout Facial Cleansing Wash and fell in love with it.
The Charcoal & Tea Tree Oil Breakout Facial Cleansing Wash by Carbon Theory is a powerful cleanser that truly cleanses the skin deeply, it does have a very strong Tea Tree Oil presence, so anyone who has a harder time with essential oils may want to stay away, however I can’t recommend it enough.
CeraVe To The Rescue Yet Again!
CeraVe is one of my favorite companies to recommend for the skin, they are always affordable, their formulas can always be counted on, in part since their formulas are always dermatologist-approved and recommended by many doctors and professionals, out in the field.
The CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser is another wonderful cleanser for anyone with acne-prone skin. This gentle, yet effective cleanser features Niacinamide and Ceramides to repair and heal the skin as well as 4% of Benzyl Peroxide to really come and treat those breakouts and clear them out.
Maximum Strength Foaming Wash
Another great Benzol Peroxide-based cleanser is the Acne Foaming Wash by PanOxyl which has 10% Benzol Paroxide, at maximum strength. This foaming cleanser will dislodge any dirt or oil, stubbornly stuck in your pores and help your skin get clearer with prolonged use.
I also recommend having a cleanser like the PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash on-hand for whenever breakouts decide to flare up. An easy-to-use cleanser that will fight the breakout for you! Just add water, rinse and repeat!
Carbon Theory’s Serum
There are several products that I highly recommend for the treatment of your blemishes themselves, one is by Carbon Theory again, the Charcoal, Tea Tree Oil & Vitamin E Overnight Detox Serum. This serum features a combination of different oils and extracts to help to treat your skin. The reality to treat acne is that you need to dry out the blemish, which means that many of the treatments are more drying by nature, which is why the moisture is essential, yet again.
That being said, the Charcoal, Tea Tree Oil & Vitamin E Overnight Detox Serum by Carbon Theory is an excellent choice to help you control the level of sebum your skin produces and it helps to calm and sooth the redness on the skin.
COSRX & The Magic of Centella
My second treatment is a South-Korean find, the Centella Blemish Cream by COSRX. The Centella Blemish Cream by COSRX is instantly soothing, as it is made primarily with Centella Asiatica, a wonder ingredient in Asian skincare, it helps to sooth any irritation and protect the skin from damage.
I have been using the Centella Blemish Cream from COSRX for several years now and I always have one on hand in case I have an emergency. This is a product that I find many uses for, as it can help relax any irritation really quickly and the Centella Asiatica is such an excellent anti-inflammatory ingredient, it does wonders for soothing and appeasing my skin.
A Succinct Treatment I Love
Thirdly, let me recommend the Succinic Acid Treatment by The Inkey List. This green-colored treatment goes directly on any blemishes and it not only helps to diminish the severity of the inflammation under the skin, it will also help to clear away the discoloration that comes once the blemish has left.
This is a great option to help you fight active blemishes and also to fade any post-inflmmatory redness on the skin. The Succinic Acid Treament is another brilliant skincare gem by The Inkey List, I’m on my 3rd tube so far.
The Retinoid Path Towards Clearer Skin
Another option to treat acne, blemishes, pore size, scarring and pigmentation, is the continued and prolonged use of products from the Retinoid family.
Retinoids do not work with either Salicylic Acid, nor Benzol Peroxide-based products. You will have to use this family alone. Also, please note that Retinoids take time to work on the skin and can cause periods of purging on the skin, pushing breakouts to the surface and drying out the skin.
For the most powerful types of Retinoids, you will want a prescription from your dermatologist to begin using this type of cream. However, from the Retinoid family comes Retinol, which is approved for over the counter sale.
Retinol, works wonders on the skin and I love this active ingredient, my entire night-time regimen is built around Retinol products actually. Retinol is proven to increase collagen production in the skin, which in turn helps to plump up the skin, minimizing and softening scarring, fine lines and wrinkles, it also treats acne and breakouts and gently, sloughs away, dead skin cells.
Peace Out’s Stick Option
Though I don’t want to repeat myself, this smart solution is so easy to spread on the skin, the Retinol comes in a Squalane base, which is a very nourishing oil for the skin. This incredible product is both gentle and super efficient, this product literally fights all the skin conditions you don’t want; acne, scarring, uneven pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, diminishes pores, is anti-cancer causing, why aren’t you already using the Retinol Face Stick by Peace Out?
A Serum For My List
The Inkey List has one of my favorite Retinol serums on the market today, their newly launched, SuperSolutions Scar, Mark and Wrinkle Solution 1% Retinol Serum is such a wonderfully, easy serum to spread on your skin.
The creamy serum consistency of the SuperSolutions Scar, Mark and Wrinkle Solution 1% Retinol Serum of The Inkey List absorbs quickly on the skin and is packed with 1% of concentrated Retinol to help smooth away scarring, discolorations and promote healthier, glowing skin.
A true complexion fighter and enhancer, long-term use of Retinol-based products always manages to brighten up the skin and helps the skin appear fresher and more youthful. So not only will The Inkey List’s SuperSolutions Scar, Mark and Wrinkle Solution 1% Retinol Serum help you clear out your acne, it will keep your skin looking younger for much longer!
Laser Options For Your Skin
Acne can lead to scarring, especially if we damage our skin by popping zits, or forcing zits to burst, all of these types of actions typically break the skin and cause deep damage to the skin; which leads to depressions in the skin and this leads to scarring of the underlying tissue of the skin.
Other blemishes can leave serious, deep discolorations on the skin that stay on the surface of the skin for lengthy, periods of time and removing them is a long process.
Luckily, I have tried several laser procedures that have greatly helped my skin to heal from its acne scarring and discoloration.
Though there exist many places with similar or varying technologies, I highly recommend the staff at Access Medica, located in Kirkland, this clinic has an amazing team, and the laser technician is delightful and very knowledgeable and attentive in her treatments.
The Genesis Of My Skin
I spoke at length, prior about the Genesis Laser; however, to give a refresh, the Genesis Laser is a non-invasive laser procedure that uses gentler lasers to heat up the dermis of the skin and help promote collagen production, which always dissipates as we age.
This boost, improves glow, appearance of the pores, fine lines, and wrinkles, it helps to brighten up discolorations and helps to fight breakouts and blemishes equally.
The Genesis Laser typically has no downtime, you leave the clinic cuter than when you arrived for your appointment, making it a sought-after treatment.
A Halo Glow Unlike Any Other
The second laser I tried was the Halo by Sciton Laser, this is a laser that burns the epidermis, the top layer of the skin and promotes a regrowth of the skin. The skin appears more radiant, much clearer, the tone more even, the pores are smaller, and the skin is much smoother. This laser builds the collagen production under your skin for a period of several months.
Halo Laser is a great choice for brightening up the complexion, it gives such an incredible glow to the skin.
Downtime lasts about 5 days, your skin slowly peels away and exposes new, radiant and flawless skin, what a rush of endorphins when the new skin is revealed.
ProFactional Results For Smoother Skin
The latest laser I just recently tried is the ProFactional Laser, which is an ablative type of laser. This laser pokes tiny holes in your skin, this trauma on your skin, then slowly heals and helps to reveal fresher, younger skin as the collagen and the elastin fibers are hyper-stimulated to repair the damaged skin.
The plus side of this laser treatment is that after the first 12-24 hour period, I could gently begin washing my skin, to rinse away any dried blood. Once you have done the treatment, you must keep your skin moist with a protective gel, to avoid drying out the skin, this promotes the healing process.
The downside is that you feel a little gooey for the first couple of days until your skin sheds away to revel the newer skin. The skin from that point on is very sun-sensitive, so I use the highest SPF I have on hand always.
The crevasses and deeper pock-marks on my cheeks have visibly diminished, they are not completely gone, however I have noticed that the grooves are less deep on the surface of the skin. The overall texture of my skin has so greatly improved, I receive compliments daily on the quality of my skin.
My skin also has more of a glass look to it, it also glows as though I am wearing some soft, non-frosted, highlighting powder. My pores are diminished and I have noticed that my post-inflammatory marks have almost all faded as well.
Now I will definitely be doing another ProFractional Laser in the new year, I look forward to seeing how much more refined I can make the top layer of my skin, especially around the cheek area.
The ProFractional Laser is a wonderful investment in your face that has minimal pain and very little downtime, post-procedure. The amazing benefits to the skin build for a period of 3 months and your skin will literally de-age before your very eyes.
By far, one of my favorite treatments for the face ever, I think this laser could benefit so many people, not only those with acne scarring, though it helps out deep acne sufferers, such as myself, extremely efficiently.
I cannot recommend this treatment enough, if you have scarring and you are sitting on the fence, don’t wait any longer, smoother skin is simply a few treatments away.
Well worth the trip to Kirkland, the amazing team from Access Medica will surpass your expectations and help you achieve your desired skin texture.
A Word To The Wise
Bear in mind, with all of my many suggestions, though they come from a place of personal experience, please note that I am not a medically trained, dermatologist who can truly help you, should your case of acne be much more severe.
For some acne will be a small, occasional annoyance, whereas for others it may be a source of constant discomfort, ridicule and pain. If you fall into the latter category and that the inflammation is multi-layered or extremely painful, do not wait, please see a dermatologist as quickly as you can.
And to anyone who suffers from more seasonal, hormonal, or occasional bouts of acne, I do hope that these suggestions hopefully can be of service to you, help you clear out any flare-ups and help you to manage them in the future.
So to sum it up, cleanse, treat, hydrate and protect the skin from the sun, if you can follow these 4 steps and be truly constant with them, I suspect you will see your skin clear up quite quickly.
Until next time dear readers, stay beautiful!
Lead image courtesy of Carbon Theory.
Montreal nightlife royalty and Mother of the legendary House of Pride. Master makeup artist and beauty guru extraordinaire, Jackie shares tips and tricks, knowledge and know-how to introduce you to the best Montreal beauty secrets.