When you have oily skin and acne, you might not always be happy with your appearance. Unfortunately, we aren’t in charge of the skin types we inherit, and we are faced daily with environmental factors like smog, smoking, menopause, and illness that can directly affect our skin.
What Causes Acne?
No one factor causes acne. Acne occurs when sebaceous (oil) glands attached to the hair follicles are stimulated at the time of puberty or due to other hormonal changes.
Sebum (oil) is a natural substance that lubricates and protects the skin. Associated with increased oil production is a change in the manner in which the skin cells mature, predisposing them to plug the follicular pore.
The plug can appear as a whitehead if it is covered by a thin layer of skin, or if exposed to the air, the darker exposed portion of the plug is called a "blackhead." The plugged hair follicle gradually enlarges, producing a bump.
As the follicle enlarges, the wall may rupture, allowing irritating substances and normal skin bacteria access into the deeper layers of the skin, ultimately producing inflammation. Inflammation near the skin's surface produces a pustule; deeper inflammation results in a papule (pimple); if the inflammation is deeper still, it forms a cyst.
Things that you didn't know cause acne:
- Heredity (Genes)
- Pressure (Helmets, collars, suspenders, etc.)
- Drugs (Prednisone, Orasone, Liquid Pred)
- Occupations (Construction, Refineries, City smog)
- Cosmetics (comedogenic products)
So... what options do I have?
The Power Of Vitamin C
If you’ve ever searched for skin care products before, chances are that you’ve run into products containing Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a popular skin care product and for good reason – it really works!
There are many benefits that come along with Vitamin C, but in terms of your skin, Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. In return, this helps to aide in the regeneration process, which then further helps to repair skin cells that have been previously damaged.
But the benefits of Vitamin C aren’t limited to anti-aging properties – it can also help to reduce acne. How?
People who suffer from acne are known to have a different quality of sebum (natural oil) within the skin.
These changes within the sebum promote free radical damage, which can then lead to inflammation, or acne. But by targeting free radical damage (as discussed above), Vitamin C can also help to combat against inflammation and breakouts.
Amazingly, Vitamin C can also help to boost the production of collagen and elastin, and prevent skin discoloration like dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
What’s the best way to use Vitamin C on your skin?
When purchasing Vitamin C for your skin, you will find different forms available: serums, creams, and toners. For the best results, look for a serum that contains L-ascorbic acid. This is the best way to ensure that the Vitamin C within the serum effectively penetrates deep down into the skin.
It’s also important to note that Vitamin C works best when combined with other antioxidants. If you can find a serum that includes each Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, that will be your best chance at combating acne and oily skin. You can learn more about what to look for in Vitamin C serums here.
The Importance of a Good Moisturizer
When it comes to acne, it is the oil on and within our skin that causes clogged pores and that brings dead skin cells and bacteria to the surface, thereby creating acne and breakouts.
It’s a common misconception, however, that people with oily skin need to “dry” it out to prevent acne. Rather, the opposite is true and what they really need to do is add more water and moisture to their skin.
Let’s elaborate: Proper cellular metabolism is dependent on proper hydration. See, our skin is constantly undergoing a series of biochemical reactions, and should do so at a specific rate. But when there isn’t enough moisture within the skin, the cells do not release evenly. Instead, they release as sheets. When this happens, pores become clogged and acne is the result.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that all skin types, no matter how oily or dry, require proper moisturization to prevent this from happening. Just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean that you don’t need additional moisture. It just means that you will probably need more water than you will oil.
What to look for in a Moisturizer for acne:
If you are looking for a moisturizer to cure oily skin and acne, you want to look for the following ingredients:
- Salicylic Acid
- Hyaluronic Acid
Salicylic Acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid that is found in many moisturizers and is used to help open pores and treat pimples.
Salicylic acid has the potential to seep deep into your skin, dissolving debris that can clog your pores. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the redness of pimples and dissolve of them more quickly. As an added bonus, it works as an exfoliant, which also helps to unclog pores.
While Salicylic Acid can help with all types of acne, it’s most effective on blackheads and whiteheads.
Glycerin is a plant based oil and an all natural product that has a variety of benefits for the skin. Not only can it reduce inflammation and discoloration, but it also acts as a natural moisturizer.
By increasing the amount of water that your skin absorbs from the air, Glycerin can help to add hydration and health to your skin. At the same time that it promotes water intake, it also helps to prevent water loss and maintain a water balance within the skin at an intracellular level.
All of this contributes to less greasy, hydrated, and well nourished skin.
Hyaluronic acid is a type of humectant, or substance that absorbs water. This type of acid is something that our body naturally produces and is often referred to as the “lubricant molecule”. Like Salicylic Acid and Glycerin, Hyaluronic acid helps to hydrate your skin by attracting water to, and holding water within it.
While the acid doesn’t play a direct role in clearing up acne, it can help to keep your skin in balance, which therefore naturally helps to reduce acne breakouts.
Don’t forget about water!
When focusing on what type of moisturizer to buy, don’t forget about water in the process. Water itself is an excellent moisturizer.
A splash of water on the face a few times a day can work wonders in preventing dryness, keeping your skin bright, and reducing the potential for acne breakouts by adding selenium, magnesium, and other natural minerals to your skin.
Finding the right Moisturizer
When selecting a moisturizer, you want to make sure you choose the right type for your skin. Just because a product works well for your best friend, doesn’t mean it will work well for you because you don’t have the same skin types.
Individuals who have oily skin and suffer from frequent breakouts are best suited to moisturizing serums and oil free products. Avoid products that contain ingredients like oil, alcohol, and petrolatum, as these are likely to enhance breakouts.
Rather, search for ingredients as those listed above like Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, and Hyaluronic acid, and then look for additional ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide and Adapalene, which can help to take some of the oils out of your skin.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when applying moisturizers to their skin is that they apply them to dry skin. Moisturizers are most effective when the skin is damp, as dampness helps to absorb the moisture and seal it in.
For the best results, wash your face thoroughly, and then apply moisturizer while it is still damp.
And don’t forget the patch test! Once you think you’ve found the perfect moisturizer, don’t forget to do a patch test. Sometimes we have can have allergic reactions to ingredients we didn’t even know we were allergic to.
Always try the product on a small area of your neck before rubbing it all over your face to ensure that there are no products that may cause excess irritation. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. In such a case, avoid moisturizers with parabens, fragrances, or essential oils.
Another common mistake that people make when moisturizing is rubbing it in too hard. Moisturizers don’t need to be scrubbed into the skin, they need to be massaged gently.
A gentle massage can help to increase blood circulation and can aid in absorption, but scrubbing too hard can lead to over-exfoliation, which in turn leads to inflammation. Even worse, over-exfoliation can leave you vulnerable to infections, and can further increase inflammation and irritation.
You can find more tips about applying moisturiser here.
Other Acne Treatments to Consider:
Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals. It also works as an anti-inflammatory that boosts the immune system and promotes the regeneration of cells. Properties such as these are specifically helpful in fighting against acne properties like nodules, papules, cysts, pustules, and even scars.
One of the best things about Vitamin E is that it is fat-soluble, which means that it absorbs into the skin quickly. As a result, it leads to faster healing. But in addition to healing acne, Vitamin E can also boost the production of collagen and elastin within the skin, helping to boost elasticity and keep your skin youthful.
You can learn more about Vitamin E and the powerful effects it has on skin here.
Aloe Vera is a type of plant that provides a natural solution for acne. The gel from Aloe Vera is typically used to soothe burns and irritations, but some people also use to it clear blemishes.
Not only does Aloe Vera help to hydrate the skin, but it also helps to heal it from the inside out. It holds a variety of anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties that are all beneficial for cleansing wounds and healing skin.
When applied topically, it can also be used to soothe breakouts. Aloe Vera gel can be found in many acne treatments, or can be applied separately on it its own.
Retinol (Vitamin A)
Retinol is a popular ingredient used in anti-aging formulas, but it can also be used to treat acne. Vitamin A can aid in acne reduction in a variety of ways by promoting faster cellular turnover, by decreasing oil production, and by exfoliating the skin. They are also anti-inflammatory and help to reduce inflammation (which is what acne is).
If you intend to use Retinol for acne, it’s recommended that you speak to a dermatologist first. Retinol can be irritating for sensitive skin, but a dermatologist can help to select the right concentration for your skin needs.
With the right treatment, Retinoids can not only help to prevent acne, but can also help to prevent post-acne problems like hyperpigmentation.
Additional Tips for Dealing with Acne:
There are a variety of products on the market that can help you to cure acne breakouts, but dealing with acne starts with prevention. Here are some tips that can help you to prevent breakouts in the first place:
- Don’t over wash – Many people are under the false belief that acne is a result of a dirty face. We’ve learned over the course of this article that this isn’t true, but this false rumor often causes people to over wash their skin. Yes, washing is important, but you shouldn’t wash your face more than twice a day. Over-washing can create dryness which can then further aggravate pimples.
- Keep your hair clean – When hair is dirty and oily, it can carry those excess oils into your skin. Keeping your hair clean can help to prevent acne from occurring, especially along the hairline.
- Avoid harsh hair products – When you spray your hair with hairspray and other harsh products, some of that spray also ends up on the face. This can lead to clogged pores, which then leads to breakouts.
- DO NOT pop your pimples – Yes, it can be tempting, but refrain from popping your pimples. Pimple popping can lead to inflammation and even scarring, and can cause breakouts to look even worse.
- Tailor your diet – Research shows that there may be a link between acne and what you eat. According to the professionals, foods high on the glycemic index can worsen breakouts. Foods on this list tend to be high in sugar and carbohydrates and include things like cake, cookies, and dairy products.
At Home Acne Treatments to Try:
Made by Neutrogena, this lotion and moisturizer contains the active ingredient of Salicylic Acid which sinks deep down into your skin to open pores and treat pimples.
The formula is oil free, and is therefore targeted towards those who have oily, acne prone skin. Rapid Clear Acne Defense is lightweight and safe for everyday use.
RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Made by Paula’s Choice, this nourishing serum contains a variety of acne fighting ingredients including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, and Coenzyme Q10.
This combination of ingredients works together to combat free radical damage, while at the same time restoring balance to the skin to fight against acne and prevent signs of aging. The product is fragrance free and safe for all skin combinations.
Created by Kona Skin Care, this product contains everything you need to successfully combat against acne and breakouts.
This product is completely natural and contains a variety of acne fighting ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Hyaluronic Acid.
Created from a soluble form of Vitamin C L-ascorbic acid known as Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, this solution can help to calm inflammation, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and promote collagen production. And while the Vitamin C is fighting to do this, the addition of Vitamin E is simultaneously protecting from UV damage and locking in the moisture necessary to combat acne.
Hawaiian Vitamin C Serum is paraben free, fragrance free, and free of artificial colors, and is considered safe for all skin types.
In conclusion, there are lots of things that you can do to improve your acne. You can feel good about yourself again – it just takes the right combination of ingredients and a little bit of work. With a good, all natural products like Hawaiian Vitamin C Serum, you don’t have to fight acne alone. But the answer lies in your hands – are you willing to do what it takes to feel good about yourself again?