Breakouts? I'll be posting my skincare tips for beautiful blemish-free skin this week.
No 1: Cleanse your skin morning and evening. Pick a gentle skin cleanser, such as Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser. Wet your face and massage the cleanser into your skin with your fingertips for a minute or so before rinsing and patting dry. No scrubbing, exfoliating, face brushes etc as these simply INCREASE inflammation!
This tip is particularly important if you are taking prescription treatment for acne. Many of these prescriptions (e.g. retinoids and benzoyl peroxide) have a drying effect on the skin so an extremely gentle cleanser is of paramount importance in helping you to tolerate your treatment without redness, peeling and irritation.
For those with very oily and congested skin, a cleanser containing glycolic or salicylic acid e.g. @SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age cleansing gel may be better suited as these products can help reduce excessive oiliness.
No 2: Anyone who has had breakouts has more than likely squeezed a spot before! Although squeezing pimples can make your skin look better in the short term, it can also force the contents even deeper into your skin, increasing inflammation.
Squeezing the odd pimple does not always cause scarring, but doing it a lot, and not leaving deeper pimples or nodules alone, almost certainly makes acne worse and increases the likelihood of scarring in the long term.
So, bottom line...don't do it yourself! One option is to have your blackheads professionally squeezed under strict hygienic conditions by a therapist who practices in a dermatology clinic or has been recommended by your dermatologist. Blackheads, or comedones to give them their correct name, are the precursor to all pimples so having these extracted in this way can help control breakouts in combination with the other measures I'll suggest later on.
No 3: My patients often tell me that their breakouts reduce in the sun. There is some truth in this. The sun's UV rays zap acne-causing bacteria, which is why acne spots may dry up temporarily on sunny holidays. Plus, pimples and red marks look less obvious when your skin is tanned. A few days later, however, redness, bumps and inflammation set in again and you're back to square one. What's more, spending too much time in the sun means your blemishes may end up healing with dark scars and spots which can be incredibly difficult to treat or disguise.
Beyond acne, UV light also causes free radical damage to the skin, which destroys collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles. UV rays can also damage the skin's DNA leading to skin cancer. Acne medication, such as isotretinoin (Roaccutane), tetracyclines and topical retinoids can also make you more sensitive to sunlight, causing your skin to burn faster than it normally would.
For all of these reasons, my advice is to stick to your acne skincare routine, and prescription treatment if appropriate, rather than relying on the sun
to control your breakouts. Protect your skin from UV rays to prevent permanent scarring and pigmentation.
Apply an SPF 30+ broad spectrum (UVA/ UVB) sun protection moisturiser to your face and other exposed sites 365 days a year before you leave the house. These don't have to be thick and sticky or leave greasy white marks like old-fashioned sunscreens did. Many products now available have the texture of a tinted moisturiser or primer so you can easily layer them under your make-up. Make sure that the label says that the product is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores and increase congestion.
My top picks are @janmariniskinresearchPhysical Protectant SPF 30 (tinted), @heliocareuk XF gel SPF 50 (lightly tinted) or 360 gel oil-free SPF 50 (tinted) and @eltamdskincare UV Clear SPF 46 (tinted and plain). Use @garnieruk Ambre Solaire Sensitive Advanced Face Mist SPF50 to top up throughout the day.
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