The Definitive DIY Guide To Stop Acne Breakouts: Part 1
Here is a DIY acne regimen that you can follow at home and it doesn’t require any fancy products or prescriptions. Follow the tips in this article for 2 weeks and don’t cut any corners. Begin to see an improvement within two weeks of your start date, and within a month you will be able to assess the level of improvement including a decrease in the number of breakouts, less redness and inflammation.
In this guide, I am not suggesting any specific brands of products, instead I am suggesting the ingredients to look for and avoid when you purchase your cleanser, toner and moisturizers. You can find all of the suggested ingredients can be found in products available in the skin care aisle of your local pharmacy.
Before we begin let’s review what causes acne. A little background will help explain why the steps in this guide produce results. That makes doing the work a whole lot easier.
So, what causes acne? There are a number of factors that cause acne.No matter the factor, all acne is the result of clogged pores, usually due to an over production of sebum (oil). Sebum is the oil your skin produces and it has a very important role. This oil hydrates your skin and protects it against atmospheric insults like sun damage, particulate matter and carbon monoxide. So, it’s a key part of a healthy body, but if your body produces excess oil, the result can lead to acne.
Generally, hormonal acne occurs when testosterone levels are out of whack. Elevated levels of testosterone are known to increase oil production. This overproduction of oil combined with skin cells leads to a blockage of the pore where a white head or blackhead forms. When pores get clogged, bacteria multiply, inflammation occurs and the appearance changes from a blackhead to what we know as a zit. Yuck!
So, we have three characteristics to consider when treating acne.
1) Oil production
2) Clogged pores
Oil Production is really the linchpin for acne breakouts. That’s why most acne protocols focus on controlling the production of oil. Less oil reduces clogging and stops breakouts before they begin. But managing oil production is tricky business. Often times in an effort to reduce oil production the skin can become dry and when that happens your body responds to counteract the dryness by producing even more oil.
This only makes matters worse. Our DIY for acne is designed with this in mind. Follow the steps and product recommendations for a balanced approach that will reduce production of oil without stripping your skin of essential nutrients.
Pores clog when oil combines with dead skin cells, sweat and dirt and then it can’t get passed the hair follicle to reach the skins surface. Over time bacteria accumulates in this subcutaneous prison and becomes infected. The resulting infection is acne.
Keeping your pores clean and clear of dirt and debris is a critical step in controlling outbreaks. All of us at one time or another have been guilty of picking or squeezing at pimples and blackheads. You see it, so why not remove it? Here is why you don’t want to pick and squeeze your face no matter how satisfying it may seem at the moment.
When you pick at your acne or squeeze blackheads you are spreading acne causing bacteria all over your face creating a perfect environment for more breakouts. Picking acne also leads to the dreaded scarring that remains long after your acne condition is under control. Don’t pick!
There is good bacteria and bad bacteria on our skin constantly. Our bodies have a system to manage both types of bacteria so it stays balanced. P-acne is the most common bacteria associated with acne breakouts. While some of us produce more than others, everyone lives with it.
A common protocol that dermatologist turn two is Combination Therapy. This consists of a topical prescription medication, like retinol, and an oral antibiotic to help keep bacteria under control. I suggest, nonprescription methods of dealing with bacteria that reduce the transfer of these bacteria cells to other parts of your face and body.
Before you start I recommend buying all the products you need and that you post this guide on your bathroom mirror as a reminder of what you will do next. When shopping for your products remember to check the back label and look for ingredients recommended and avoid ingredients that inflame or irritate the skin.
Essential tools for your DIY kit.
Cleanser- If you suffer from acne you have sensitive skin. Keeping your skin clean is critical as it washes away bacteria, dirt, dead cells and excess oil all of which cause breakouts. You want a cleanser that is gentle, non abrasive and alcohol free. Look for a cleanser that matches your skin type. If your skin is dry, oily or combination. Try to avoid cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These ingredients can be effective, but they can also dry the skin. Start out simple and watch how your skin reacts to your new products. You can always adjust and add helpful ingredients to your regimen next time.
To maintain moisture look for ingredients like lanolin, petrolatum or mineral oil.
This one is a little controversial. Some doctors find toners to be aggressive, stripping away at the skin and leaving it dry. Toner helps restore your skin to its natural ph level and can help in reducing breakouts. When shopping you want avoid astringents which are harsher and usually contain alcohol. Instead choose a toner made with natural ingredients like flowers steeped in water. Rosewater is my personal favorite.
A lightweight moisturizer will prevent your skin from dehydrating. You want a moisturizer that is “noncomedogenic” which means it doesn’t clog pores. For oily skin I recommend a facial sunscreen that contains a lightweight moisturizer. Most spf products that are not water based contain a moisturizer.
If you prefer to use separate products. That’s fine, keep with the light moisturizer and add a water based spf product that is at least 30 proof.
Buy a clay or charcoal masque for use once or twice a week. Masques are great because they decongest pores, lift impurities and oils, and exfoliate the skin. They are fun to apply and leave your skin feeling smooth and squeaky clean. Be sure not to over use your masque because it can dry out the skin.
Acne Skin Care Basics
Control bacteria by reducing the transfer of bacteria. Here are a few simple rules:
Make sure you use a clean towel when you wash your face. Avoid using sponges and washcloths.
Change your pillow case at least two times a week.
If you have been working out always rinse or wash your face immediately after.
Twice-daily-routine- Wash your face every night! Use your fingertips and gently rub a small amount of cleanser into your skin. Rinse with warm water and a clean towel and pat dry.
Use the same process when you wake up in the morning. If you wake up and your skin feels dry you can always rinse your face with warm water and skip the cleanser.
Follow these rules for a month and you are sure to see improvement. The level of improvement will depend on the severity of your acne and other factors. If these tips don’t yield the result you seek, my next article will cover the next steps and more advanced methods to help you take control of your acne problem.