What helps bad acne? Why am I breaking out so bad? What’s causing my acne? Quick get me the strongest treatment for acne now. I need it. My skin’s in a gigantic pickle – give me everything you’ve got.
Bad acne that won’t go away does not just impact your skin life, it impacts your life. I get that. Bad acne is enormously emotional. And when us humans have an overwhelm of emotions we don’t always make the best decisions. Damn you limbic system.
If you’ve been searching for the strongest acne treatment available. Stop right now and read this.
If your skin’s on a see-saw of oily to dry-sensitive-flaky to oily. Stop right now and read this.
If you’ve been following anti-acne advice with zilch to show for it. Stop right now and read this.
What you’re very soon going to discover is 5 extremely likely reasons why your bad acne won’t go away. Are you making them? Let’s go find out my friend…
Psst! These are not quick anti-acne fixes – they require your loving care and commitment.
Bad Acne Mistake #1; Believing Your Acne’s Only Going to be Fixed with Skincare
This is huge. And when I say huge I mean gigantic. The size of your dream wardrobe. The proportions only a Willy Wonka sized chocolate cake could be. The speed hot sand makes you run to cool water at.
The impact of diet on your skin can be a tough one to see.
Diet does not (in most cases) make an instant change to your skin.
Think of your skin like a computer.
When your computers brand new it has lots of head space. A clear memory. Lots of places to store stuff. It’s in A* health.
Then you get busy using it. You save files. You install new programs. You download your latest need-to-watch-now Netflix series (Dirty John? You? Sex Education? Mad Men?).
And as you enjoy your new computer, it adapts. Diverts energy to new places. Starts dividing up its memory. Regulating a bazillion different processes to make sure you can enjoy Netflix uninterrupted. No buffering. No stuttering. No un-planned for cliff-hangers.
You still see your computer as being in A* health.
Truth is behind the scenes it’s adapting, coping, transforming.
After a warranty length of use. Computer says no.
This, my friend, is just like your skin.
Diet habits can take years to make bad acne. At which point – it’s hard to tell what you did that triggered it. And it’s usually not one thing – but a combination of things playing off of each other.
Acne caused by diet habits can also be the hardest to resolve – not because it can’t be done, but because it’s easy to change your diet for a week and think – hey I’m seeing no difference, this obviously isn’t working.
Just like diet changes took years to show on your skin, a positive diet change can take the same chunk of time but in reverse (!)
Psst! And it’s not as black and white as cutting out junk food – some healthy looking foods can be enormously aggravating for bad acne. Grab my free 1-page cheat-sheet of acne yes, no and sometimes foods by clicking here or below to see what I mean.
Bad Acne Mistake #2; Using The Strongest Treatment for Acne
Having searched for the strongest treatment for acne before today is A-OK and 1000% understandable. You have bad acne, it makes sense that something equally as kick-ass but in the opposite direction should help you get rid.
Thing is – your skin isn’t that simple. It doesn’t understand that plus 1 minus 1 should equal zero and acne free.
Your skin’s not basic maths but your skin is much more like fine art. If you dig deep enough there’s rules to why it’s doing what it’s doing – but following a simple formula often won’t work.
Acne is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
Here’s the must know; irritation causes inflammation.
And the icing on the cake; the strongest treatments for acne can cause a Vesuvius sized dolloping of irritation.
They can also cause you;
- Significant skin barrier disruption
- Tight and uncomfortable feeling skin
- Dry flaky patches
- Pro-ageing oxidation
- A complete change in your skin’s microflora – wiping out all kinds of good bacteria
Bottom line: A lot of things which can make bad acne worse.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 4 March 2019
In the beginning, the strongest treatments for acne lure you in. Acne’s in your skin’s boxing ring and aggressive treatments against acne promise to box acne out. And they can appear to help in the short term but with the not upfront consequence of long term skin damage.
Imagine the strongest treatments for acne like crash dieting. Not sustainable and with long term sugar addiction side effects.
Short term gain for new and long term skin issues.
I personally put benzoyl peroxide treatments for acne into this category. Benzoyl peroxide is significantly drying to your skin. It is also significantly damaging to your skin and skin barrier.
Benzoyl peroxide works like this – by making oxidants which can kill off bacteria in your pores.
Oxidants are pro-ageing and pro-damaging actives. They’re why all the good skincare you use contains anti-oxidants. If you’re looking for alternatives to these – I can help you find them in the acne clinic.
Bad Acne Mistake #3; Not Wearing Sunscreen
Crazy fact. The sun is an oxidant. It can turn your white T’s yellow. It can fade your favourite pair of stone wash jeans. It can cause your skin wrinkles. Sun spots. Darker acne scars and more.
Enormously un-known fact: sunshine can give you spots.
Which is shocking because most people think sunshine can help get rid of spots.
The science; your skin’s sebum – the oily stuff – contains an ingredient known as squalene.
Squalene is magnificently vulnerable to oxidation.
Wearing sunscreen helps stop this. It’s like deploying an oxidant catching parachute to your face. Oxidants come charging down, oxidants bounce back into oblivion.
Psst! The best sunscreens for acne prone skin are mineral based i.e. they’re sensitive skin friendly and one of the key ingredients in them – zinc oxide can also help decrease sticky sebum production.
Bad Acne Mistake #4; Over Cleansing Your Skin
Imagine you have a new, shiny, sparkly and non-stick kitchen pan. Adulting alert (!) You love it so much you’re making sure you take extra tender loving care of it. You don’t want that sparkle to fade. You’re rinsing it, washing it and buffing it.
Then suddenly – burn on strikes.
You’re wanting that sparkle back asap. You reach for the scouring pad. That’ll sort it fast.
You scrub, scrub, scrub. But instead of getting just the sparkle back – you get scratch marks too!
This, my friend, is like over-cleansing your skin.
You wash, wash, wash. But instead of just getting rid of excess skin oil, you’re also;
- Harming your skin barrier
- Causing irritation
- Upsetting your skin’s pH
- Making it easier for acne bacteria to stick around
- And harder for good skin bacteria to stay stuck
Proof; Acne bacteria thrive when your skin’s pH level is above healthy i.e. above that 5.5 mark. All It takes is cleansing your face with water to instantly and dramatically raise your skin pH for up to 6 hours after washing.
Bottom line; over cleansing your skin can be just as bad for acne as not cleansing your skin at all.
Bad Acne Mistake #5; Not Focusing on Hydration
I mean your skin’s oily so why would you? It’s all about firefighting that oil slick. Hose it down. Be gone oily skin.
And you are right.
The fact your skin’s oily is a major cause and aggravator of your acne. Oily sebum is vulnerable to squalene oxidation and can cause dead skin to clog up pores like long hair does a plug hole.
But the fact your skin’s oily doesn’t automatically mean it’s hydrated.
Think of your oily skin like it’s playing poker. Your skin doesn’t want you to know it’s hand. Inside it’s bluffing you. Your skin wants you to think it doesn’t need hydrating. So it’s pumping out the oil. Hoping you don’t see it’s ‘tell’.
We got you oily, combination skin.
A key cause of acne as a skin disease is a condition called follicular hyperkeratosis i.e. abnormal thickening of skin inside your pores – and this skin doesn’t shed away like it normally would. Instead it blocks up pores.
The full 360 is coming…
Your skin uses enzymes to exfoliate itself. Enzymes exfoliate your skin optimally at their best pH. Aka they can only be living their best life when your skin’s perfectly and healthily hydrated.
See how this works?
Bottom line: Find hydrating skincare which works for your acne prone skin and you’re very likely to discover not only does your skin get less oily, but your acne gets better too.
There you have it my friend. 5 acne mistakes most people don’t know they’re making. I can speak as someone who has made the whole set of 5 before. Which were you most surprised by? Come chat acne with me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.