Getting Nerdie With The Skin Nerd: The Best Skincare For Acne-Prone Skin

The Skin NerdHow in the name of all that is good is it June already?

June makes us aware of the presence of the glorious Summer – how blimmin’ fantastic is it that it is bright when we’re all leaving for work?

June is also Acne Awareness Month and I feel it is my duty as The Skin Nerd to help you become aware of the prevalence of acne.

It is estimated that 9.4% of the world suffer from acne. That’s a heck of a lot of people. Why do we need to be made aware of acne?

Well, it’s due to the stigma and misconceptions that surround it. Acne isn’t just something that afflicts you when you’re a teenager and many suffer from it long into adulthood.

It can be something that “goes away on its own” after your teenage years due to a calming of the androgens (sex hormones) that regulate your sebaceous glands, the things that pump out your sebum.

It can also be something that hangs on past your adolescence like your adoration for Steps, and it also can crop up in your thirties seemingly out of nowhere even if you never had it in your teenage years.

What are the different types of acne?

Everything that is a spot of some sort, blackheads, the tiny bumps that you may get on your forehead, whiteheads, cysts, technically is acne.

They are separated into grades, with grade 1 often being referred to as flat acne or non-inflammatory acne. Grade 1 means blackheads and they are caused by too much oil production within the skin.

Acne can be something that hangs on past your adolescence like your adoration for Steps

Grade 2 means closed comedones, where the pore has become completely blocked, otherwise known as whiteheads. It is here that we may seem some redness and rise.

Grade 3 acne is when the pore becomes infected – this is when we see larger, redder and more painful spots.

With grade 3 acne, sometimes the walls of the pore will collapse and thus an area is infected rather than a single pore. Seeing as spots are now deeper into the skin, scarring becomes more of a possibility.

Grade 4 acne is the most severe form of acne, characterised by nodules and/or cysts. Acne cysts are bigger and go deeper into the skin than other spots.

They are very inflamed and they may make facial movement painful or difficult. The skin on top of cysts is often shiny and smooth.

acne-skincare
Image via Ashley Benson on Instagram

Nodules are like cysts but they do not contain any pus or fluids. Grade 4 is where we would see the most scarring.

As aestheticians (ie. people like me, those who work with cosmeceutical skincare but aren’t in the medical field, the people in your local salon), we advise those with grade 3 and 4 acne to speak to a medical professional, as this severity often requires medication of some form to get to the root of the problem.

We can additionally recommend skincare for you alongside the advice of your GP if you have grade 3 or 4 acne.

Why do people get acne?

There are so many reasons that you could have acne. It may be due to hormonal fluctuations such as those that happen during pregnancy, during the menopause or just in your own cycle.

Sometimes it happens as the skin is dehydrated and it rushes to produce more sebum to rehydrate itself and in its haste, it makes too much which leads to spots.

Some of our clients have found that their acne was occurring due to food intolerances. At The Skin Nerd online skin consultancy, we ask clients to keep a skin diary – they always look at us like we’re entirely bananas but it is an effective way of keeping track of when your skin breaks out and what it could be related to.

1 in 10 of us suffers from it in some way, shape or form – it’s time we become aware of how we talk about it and how it can affect a person’s self-confidence and life.

Many find that they break out when they’re stressed, as our cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise, paving the way for our sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum.

Others find that they will have a fresh crop of whiteheads when it is a week before they’re due their period.

The best skincare for acne

I thoroughly believe in the power of a consultation that assesses all aspect of your skin, your lifestyle and all of the factors that may be contributing to your spots. This is the best route and will help you the most.

However, there are some key tips I can give that apply to most people and their skin.

You need a cleanser that will mop up excess oil without leaving the skin dehydrated due to intense astringency.

Face washes are usually best for this, rather than an oil-based cleanser or a cream cleanser.

Avene Cleanser affordable skincare IndulgeMe.ie

If you suffer from blackheads and mild acne such as closed comedones, the Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel (€14.99, boots.ie) would work well for you as it contains monolaurin to help control oil production and zinc gluconate to soothe the spots.

At €14.99, it is a fab affordable option for those who just don’t know where to start.

For those who need a bit more help with clearing out the pores, IMAGE Clear Cell Clarifying Gel Cleanser (€35, skinshop.ie) is phenomenal and is only available with a consultation.

This is a strongly active one due to the high amount of salicylic acid in it, so has to be used alongside an alternate cleanser (which could of course be the Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel, if one was so inclined).

Salicylic acid is not only an exfoliant, meaning that it helps the skin to shed the very dead skin cells that clog in the pore to cause spots, but it can also get into the pore to clear out the plug of sebum and dead skin cells.

Many find that probiotic skincare really helps with their acne and some studies show that topical probiotics, as they colonise the skin’s own microbiome made up of lots of different naturally-occuring bacterias, strengthen the skin’s barrier function and help it to regulate the growth of acne bacteria.

Gallinee Facial Foaming Cleanser
Gallinee Facial Foaming Cleanser

Gallinee and Biofresh Yoghurt of Bulgaria are both full probiotic skincare ranges that I personally adore – Gallinee have a Foaming Facial Cleanser (£13.90, gallinee.com) and Biofresh have a Probiotic Cleansing Milk (€19, meagherspharmacy.ie).

Make sure to hydrate with an oil-free serum… I’m going to say specifically hyaluronic acid as it is humectant, meaning it pulls water from its surroundings.

Hydration is often overlooked when it comes to acne but a lot of acne ingredients can be a little drying so we do need to give the moisture back to the skin.

Acne can leave scars on the skin, both textural and pigmented (aka the reddish, purplish or brownish marks left by spots).

Wear a mattifying sunscreen everrrryday to help the skin not to pigment.

If you have had acne that is now gone, you can use an exfoliant to speed up the skin’s own exfoliation process and help to even out the texture, such as Derm Acte by Academie’s Restorative Exfoliating Night Cream (€65, academiebeaute.com), which is a creamy but not heavy product full of salicylic acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid.

If you have severe textural scarring, I believe microneedling would be the best route for you – speak to local salons about having it done, if it is something you’re interested in.

This is by no means the definitive guide for dealing with acne and its after effects but it is somewhere to start.

By talking about acne and what we have to do for it, such as taking medication, taking daily supplements and/or having a vigorous skincare regime, we start to slowly break the stigma surrounding it.

1 in 10 of us suffers from it in some way, shape or form – it’s time we become aware of how we talk about it and how it can affect a person’s self-confidence and life.

Jennifer Rock is the founder of The Skin Nerd online skin consultancy and online cosmeceutical skincare store. If you’re interested in having a consultation with one of her expert Nerdettes, click here for more information.

You can follow Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@theskinnerd).