Worldwide, over 600 million people are affected by acne. Though the condition most commonly occurs in adolescence during puberty, some adults continue to be plagued by it well into their 30s, 40s, and 50s. And sometimes it’s quite a surprise to find that you’re suddenly seeing breakouts in your older years. One thing’s for sure, managing it can be a challenge no matter what age you are.
There’s a lot of advice out there on what to do if you have acne-prone skin. If you have a severe case, a visit to the dermatologist might be necessary. A dermatologist can provide a variety of treatments if you have severe acne including internal medication, antibiotics, topical treatments, and procedures like extractions and peels.
Whether you need professional treatment or have a mild to moderate case, a major part of managing acne and oily skin involves your skincare routine and your lifestyle. This guide is meant to be a one-stop read on what causes this unsightly condition and how you can deal with it using a natural skincare routine for acne-prone and oily skin.
What Is Acne?
Let’s start with the basics. Acne occurs when the pores in your skin get clogged. Your pores are the gaps or holes in your skin where hair follicles push through the surface. Pores can get clogged with dead skin cell material, especially when there’s an overabundance of oil, or sebum, produced by the cells. The oil acts as a “glue” for the dead skin cells to stick together and then they can easily block the opening of the pore. Bacteria can also build up in the pores. As this happens, your body responds with inflammation.
The blemishes that form are blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples. Blackheads are dark in color because the clogged pore is open and the debris clogging it is exposed to air. Whiteheads are closed because they’re covered with skin, and their debris is deeper beneath the surface. Pimples are usually red bumps that are filled with pus. Another symptom of acne is scarring, which can be caused by abnormal healing of the blemish.
What Causes Acne?
The not-so-great news is that genetics is the number one factor when it comes to acne. Studies show it’s about 80% controlled by hereditary factors. There isn’t a gene that causes it, but if your parents struggled with acne, you’re more likely to also. This could either be due to an inefficient immune system or a hormone condition that was passed on to you.
Hormones, specifically hormones known as androgens, or sex hormones, play the biggest role in the amount of oil produced by your skin cells. An imbalance in these hormones can cause the overproduction of sebum. Also, your innate immune response to an infection caused by the acne-specific bacteria Propionibacterium acnes could turn into chronic inflammation if it’s not working properly. Some people with long-term acne may have an excessive amount of this particular bacteria, making the problem even worse.
Environmental factors also play a role. Diet has been identified in studies to be related to acne. Research shows that a diet high in refined carbohydrates is associated with the condition. Elevated stress levels have also been linked to acne. If you take certain medications for other conditions, acne could be a side effect of those drugs. Another factor is the climate you live in. In hotter, more humid areas where bacteria can thrive, acne is more likely to be an issue.
During summer, skin that’s prone to acne may experience more breakouts due to sweating and more dirt building up from being outside more often. Sunscreen can aggravate acne if it contains oils. Exposure to sunlight is not considered a factor in acne, however.
How Can I Manage Acne and Oily Skin?
Now that you know all about acne, you probably want to know what you can do about it. As I mentioned above, there are procedures, treatments, and medications offered by dermatologists to deal with long-term acne. If you have a severe condition, these will be worth looking into.
There are also over-the-counter topical treatments you can use. These contain ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, retinol, and retinoids. These chemicals are considered safe, but they can also cause even more irritation and inflammation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
If you prefer a more natural approach, there are many other things you can do that don’t involve expensive treatments or harsh chemicals that will help reduce oil and breakouts. Making some small changes in your skincare routine can lead to significant improvements in the state of your acne-prone skin. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Eat Less Sugar
Since studies show that refined carbs likely contribute to acne flare-ups, reducing or eliminating them can help. Sugar is known to be linked to inflammation and suppressing your immune system.
2. Wash Your Face Twice a Day (Not More)
Keeping a routine of washing your face once in the morning and once at night can help to reduce dirt and debris that clog pores and decrease bacteria that can cause infection. But more is not better. Washing more often can result in irritation and inflammation.
3. Start a Natural Skincare Routine
This is where we come in! At Nurture My Body, we have developed products with oily and acne-prone skin in mind. Gentle but effective organic ingredients like tea tree oil, green tea, burdock, jojoba oil, chamomile, and aloe vera give your skin what it needs to keep pores clean, calm inflammation, reduce oil production, and soothe redness and irritation. A great place to start is our Acne Skincare Set.
4. Don’t Skip the Moisturizer
This might sound counterintuitive but using a moisturizer will help balance your skin’s oil production. If you don’t use one and your skin becomes dry, your cells will tend to make more oil to compensate. Not only that, but the right moisturizer will help soothe irritated skin too. Jojoba oil is especially good as a hydrator for acne-prone skin because it’s very similar to the sebum produced by our skin cells. Our Ultra Light Day Cream is an excellent option.
5. Use Non-comedogenic Makeup
If you wear makeup, avoiding heavy oil-based products is a must for oily and acne-prone skin. Look for labels that say “non-comedogenic,” “won’t clog pores,” or “oil-free.” All-natural mineral makeup is a great choice. It’s also important to avoid sleeping with makeup still on your face.
6. Avoid Popping or Picking Pimples
It might be tempting to pop pimples and whiteheads, but by doing so you create a wound in your skin that is then more vulnerable to infection. It’s best to keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.
7. Wear Mineral Sunscreen
Sunscreen is necessary to prevent damage to your skin by the sun, but sun lotions containing oil or harsh chemicals can cause problems for already oily or irritated skin. But mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide may actually help to control a slick, shiny complexion by absorbing some of the oil.
8. Blot Your Face as Needed
Keep some blotting sheets handy and use them whenever you start to shine. It’s a gentle way to remove oil without overwashing and drying out your face, which sets your skin up for increased oil production.
Acne and oily skin can be quite a nuisance and can make us feel less confident and content with ourselves. But if you have the right tools in your belt, you can go about life without as much of the stress and worry. Following this guide will help you manage your oily complexion and reduce the frequency of breakouts at any age. Get your confidence back and get back to enjoying life!