Thursday, February 5, 2009

Myths About Acne Revealed And Debunked

What's In The Past, Is Not The Future For Acne Sufferers

As a teenager growing up I never experienced a problem with acne. And most of my friends didn't either, yet there were some kids we would see with horrific cases of acne that not only destroyed their complexion but their self esteem as well. We were always under the mistaken belief they were drinking too much soda, or they had really oily skin, or ate all the greasy foods they got their hands on. This was the consensus, at least at that time. But what was strange is that I ate Big Macs and french fries and drank gallons of Dr. Pepper through my teen years and I still never got acne. However, if I got an occasional pimple once in awhile, I remember my mom commenting, "you need to quit eating the junk and stay off the soda pop."

Makeup was a big factor for getting the blame for acne breakouts. In part this was true, but not for the reasons you may think. Not any one ingredient was causing it, yet this was plausible theory as we went into the 80's and 90's. Makeup became the scape goat for our acne woes. But if we think about it, if makeup was a key factor, then why did some kids have acne on their backs also? So now the plot thickens and makeup is no longer the culprit as once thought.

Now I did have some friends with quite severe acne and I remember their treatments back in the 70's, and they amounted to tetracycline, cyclosporine, and sun lamp treatments since many doctors back then believed sun was an excellent healer of the skin and face. The oral antibiotic was for treating the bacterial side internally with the use of topical cyclosporine convinced they needed to bombard the skin with this questionable topical aid. We have learned so much more since then and finally got some answers and safer ways to treat it for this generation of our kids. Plus I am not a big fan of pumping our bodies full of antibiotics unnecessarily. This is why we see more and more mutated strains of bacteria that are getting tougher to kill due to prophylactic treatments with these drugs. Unfortunately, for those of us subjected to the old fallacies, you can imagine not only what damage the acne did but the added bonus of sun lamp exposure to their already delicate skin, and they weren't near as safe as the lamps used today, if you consider any tanning safe.

For instance: Acne is not entirely related to oily skin as was once thought. Even those with dry skin can be afflicted with acne or the occasional pimple. However, those with oily skin struggled more due to an excessive production in sebum, which when the pore got blocked the bacteria had a endless supply of food to live on and in many cases got extremely cystic causing severe damage to the skin cells.

To give you the actual causes of acne, the facts are as follows:

Acne is caused by a buildup of sebum in the pore that is not functioning properly. Then it gets clogged and the usually harmless bacteria which is naturally occurring in your skins' pores begins to multiply, which are called Propionibacterium Acnes. The bacteria take its' food source from this sebum buildup, not from any ingredient applied to your face as was once thought, yet some still blame it on this today. They are sadly misinformed.

As the pore remains clogged the bacteria multiply which in turn releases chemical substances, which then causes inflammation, which then gives birth to the latest pimple on your face. If not tended to, the acne can grow to become cystic.

What To Do To Help Skin Become Restored

Getting and keeping the pore unclogged is the important factor. There are natural ways to tend to your acne which have shown to be quite effective.

Allantoin is a great holistic herbal extract from Comfrey which aids in skin cell proliferation throughout the day.

Another great extract is Jojoba oil. However, Jojoba oil is not a true oil but a wax esther and it will inhibit the over production of the bacteria and help to naturally replace and dissolve the sebum plugging our pores due to its' affinity to our own skin.

Rice powder gives an additional soothing skin cooling element to the face and is known in Ayurveda as a holistic curative treatment for skin ulcerations and inflamed or bleeding pimples. It is also considered to be an emollient for the skin. It can be used as a very gentle facial scrub in its raw form and is excellent for delicate skin types. You can locate Rice flour in your local grocery coop or an Asian market and along with its fine texture, you will notice a slight feel of grit. This is what helps to exfoliate the skin while giving soothing relief to distressed skin. Also, not to be confused with modified rice powder found in cosmetics as this is the more refined, sterilized form of rice flour.

The use of Kaolin Clay whether in dry form in mineral makeup or in the form of distilled water and kaolin clay mixed to form a mask, can help to draw out the toxins excreted by the bacteria within the skin cells helping to dry up the pimples.

Zinc Oxide, also a natural anti-bacterial and astringent, reduces inflammation and also assists with skin repair by calming irritation. There are many other herbal extracts and essential oils known to be beneficial in the fight against acne but they are too many to list here. Others are Tea Tree Oil and Neem oil for example and they have been shown to do wonders for all skin types.

Things To Watch Out For

Now there are other ways to help you fight the onset of acne by following a few simple facts. There are many components which contribute to acne and most of which were once believed to cause it are now debunked through better research and holistic medicine becoming more popular as alternative treatments.

Aggravating Factors: Things like hairsprays, types of creams, gels, hair conditioners, heavy oils, synthetic chemical-laden cosmetics and certain waxes are what contribute to acne by further clogging pores. Also utilizing heavier applications of your mineral makeup or by over buffing it into the skin can cause future problems for skin in the way of acne. Or using a dirty brush consistently, can cause acneic conditions by blocking pores with dirt and debris by collecting skin cells and sebum from the face, and then being redeposited.

Tip: wait to cleanse your face after showering to make sure you remove any pore clogging ingredients from your face that may have been left there after rinsing your conditioner out of your hair since this can be a strong contributing factor to causing acne.

Body postures: such as resting face in hands, wearing hats, eye glasses, masks and headbands that are blocking air flow especially after prolonged sweating or high humidity, keeping the damp fabric against your skin are a huge factor in contributing to acne.

A product that is typically non-occlusive like certain types of mineral makeup, will give you better control over your acne problem by controlling perspiration on the face while allowing your skin to breathe.

Myths: like eating chocolate, drinking soda, eating greasy foods, dirty skin, once believed to be a cause of acne, are now found to be unrelated. Eating the bad stuff may be bad for the waistline, but it is not a factor in causing acne. Only acne causing bacteria can create the skin ruptures of acne and not other forms of bacteria unrelated to acne such as those found in dirt or other sources. Blocked pores, with an over production of sebum are the problem for acne prone skin types.

Other Factors: Hormonal changes in men and women are what contribute greatly to the problem by causing an overabundance of sebum giving that oily shine to the face. Testosterone in both men and women can be a leading culprit. Women during a menstrual cycle can have severe outbreaks. This is why hormonal teens struggle with acne as well.

Accumulation of dead skin cells can create a problem by blocking pores, so make sure you gently exfoliate your skin daily through gentle holistic means or micro fiber washcloths. Again, Allantoin is an excellent natural preventative against cell build up when applied daily and can be found in our mineral makeup.

Certain drugs like lithium or barbiturates are known to play a role in the long list of acne causes.

Unfortunately, you may simply be plagued with acne due to hereditary factors and there is nothing you can do to change that except practice good skin care treatments and keep any makeup you choose clean and light.

Also, over use of acne treatments, too much scrubbing of the skin and over cleansing will exacerbate the problem and cause further inflammation. Despite what you may think, over-cleansing your skin will not help clear up acne since it has been explained earlier it is not related to dirty skin.

When the glands are working correctly, sebum is what keeps the collagen in your face healthy, and naturally keeps the skin moisturized. When afflicted with acne it can damage collagen cells and the skin will begin to thin, causing the scarring we see on those afflicted with severe cases.

Do It The Right Way

Care And Treatment: To prevent further inflammation do not pick the acne, squeeze or pop it, this can further damage the cells that produce your natural sebum. If you see a single pimple popping up on otherwise healthy skin, don't attack it as though life as you know it is now over, this will only help it get worse. Treat it gently with a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide and watch it go bye bye! You can read more on the benefits of using Hydrogen Peroxide here. Or the use of our Evening Rose Veil works exceptionally well for helping with acne outbreaks.

Over buffing mineral makeup, especially those with irritants like Bismuth Oxychloride and Mica, then grinding the ingredients into the skin, will further clog pores, increase bacterial growth, and aggravate already tender skin. This is why in some cases, not all mineral makeup (not being created equal) will help with clearing up your acne but will actually aid acne in continuing to flourish. It may help conceal it, but it won't help it heal.

To avoid hurting your skin further, use botanical poultices, clay facial masks for gentle extraction of pore clogging sebum. If you have acne on your back, you may need help from a friend or loved one to assist you with a treatment regimen.

Also keep your pillow cases fresh since sebum and bacteria can build up on the sheets and be deposited back onto your skin while sleeping. Also if you should drool, (ok, I know... yuck) on your pillow case at night and have your face buried in it, this will certainly lend insult to injury for your skins' acne problem.

Taking A Look At AHA's And BHA's

AHA creams are great for gentle exfoliation of your skin, especially one with Salicylic Acid which is a BHA. These will aid in reduction of acne and keep bacterial growth to a minimum.

However, there are divided camps on the use of Beta Hydroxy Acids due to their ability to penetrate deep into the pores breaking through the oily barrier which helps to break apart sebum buildup and unclog the pore. However, with this ability can bring perhaps some concerns for it aging the skin despite the benefit to it helping to clear up acne. Salicylic Acid in a way is systemic. It continues to work deep inside the skin which is why it can cause damage to the cell renewal process. Using this ingredient on a consistent basis may be less desirable.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids on the other hand exfoliate surface cells and are far more gentle to sensitive skin..except in the case of Glycolic Acid which is a derivative of sugar cane. This is typically found in higher levels of 10% and this is where ones' skin experiences the burning or stinging sensation. Although this works well for therapeutic treatment of acne it is also a stress factor on skins delicate mantle. Repeated use of this concentration works on acne but will create an ongoing inflammation (redness) of the skin. We want to calm and soothe our acne not create more damage. A daily use of a blend of fruit acids in lower concentrations can have similar benefits through a cumulative effect without the irritation. Just remember, when using AHA or BHA products, you watch your sun exposure since your skin is more prone to burning.

If you must use these ingredients, try to limit them to once per week so skin can calm and heal in between. If skin is never allowed to calm and rejuvenate, your acne will actually never completely heal and your skin will always have a slightly pinkish tinge to it from irritation.

Best Case Scenario For Fighting Acne

People with acne should also not use commercial facial scrubs, and should only wash their face twice a day, maximum, unless doing so after extreme exercise, and even then, a simple rinsing of the skin with warm water may be all that is needed. Use all natural facial creams and cleansers without pore clogging ingredients with a Micro Fiber washcloth. We offer a waffle weave for aiding in gentle exfoliation of skin. Or for those with extremely sensitive skin we offer our velvet touch washcloth which is extremely gentle to fragile skin. These towels will exfoliate and buff skin to a lovely healthy shine without any irritation. The results are actually quite amazing.

Benzoyl Peroxide can be another great acne medication and works very well in concentrations as little as 2-5%. It creates oxygen within the skin so the Propionibacterium Acnes can not survive since the bacteria lives in an anaerobic environment and oxygen being aerobic, kills it. Again however, those with mature skin may not find it beneficial based on how dry it can make skin.

I prefer a gentle solution of hydrogen peroxide once in awhile after I wash. This can contribute greatly to healing acne or the occasional pimple and its concentration is perfect for doing it very gently, plus it oxygenates and then it is gone. While other peroxide treatments in ointment form tend to be systemic until washed off.

Also remember, you must moisturize even if you have oily skin since acne treatments will tend to cause severe dryness to the face creating an environment for more sebum to be produced.

Now this is the real kicker for some and might be difficult to believe; a pimple takes 3-6 weeks to form under the skin. You will not even know it is there until it pops up of its own accord over time. This is why our faces will get the occasional zit or several pimples here and there. It is all about timing and how and when the pimple began to form. One day of not cleaning our face, wearing a pore clogging makeup, perspiration under a headband left on too long. The pimple forming was created by something we missed or did to our skin several weeks back.

Please realize that the use of any acne treatment may result in a few more blemishes due to the cell proliferation which occurs in removing dead skin cells from the face, can take up to several weeks before you notice an improvement and can make it seem as though your acne is getting worse. A new organic skin care or acne regimen can cause a massive breakout due to the toxins within the pores are now being drawn out and the regeneration of new skin is occurring much more rapidly. These pimples were already there hiding under the skins surface, only now being exposed because of ingredient profiles which enhance the ruptures and then begin the healing process. So be patient and allow the new regimen of skin care time to help detox your skin and correct your acne problem. Be kind to your face with the proper skin care and preferably use products that will be gentle to already fragile skin.

Soon you will be making your way to healthier, brighter, more youthful looking skin with a better understanding of how to take care of acne prone skin like you'd see in those Noxzema commercials...remember those? Ahh...memories!

Wishing you continued skin health!

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