Spots, pimples, blemishes – no doubt you’ll be familiar with what having a spot or two is like. Unfortunately, when it comes to breakouts, these aren’t solely confined to our hormonal teenage years, many adults still suffer from spots. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re powerless against them. Whether it’s one blemish that decides to spring from nowhere or a breakout all over your face, there are some immediate steps you can take to help maintain a clear complexion. Bear in mind, acne is a bit more complex, and if you’re affected by it, you should consult your doctor or a dermatologist. Here are my top tips to help keep blemishes at bay….
Ensure you cleanse thoroughly, twice a day, to remove excess oil, makeup, sunscreen and dead skin cells, which all contribute to clogged pores and create the perfect conditions for spots to occur. A big no-no is over washing or over scrubbing your face, as you don’t want to strip skin of essential oils, and cause rebound over-production of oil. Gently gently is the approach. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser are some great options. Oilier skin types might require a little more oomph, so something like NeoStrata Clarifying Cleanser or Eucerin Facial Skin Dermopurifyer Cleansing Gel will work to decongest pores, improve skin texture and won’t leave skin feeling tight.
If spots and breakouts are a recurring problem for your skin, it makes sense to introduce some well-known spot fighting ingredients to your skincare routine for long term benefits. Those proven to be beneficial in treating breakouts include…
• Salicylic Acid, a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) is oil-soluble, meaning it has the ability to penetrate deep into the pores to remove dead cells and sebum. By keeping the pores clear of debris, breakouts are less likely to occur. It also has anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties, so it reduces inflammation and reduces the chance of further breakouts. I like best-selling Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, it also comes in a lotion and gel formula. Available from Irish website cloud10beauty.com
• Normally associated with treating Rosacea, Azelaic Acid inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria, helping to keep your skin clear and breakout free. It also works as an exfoliator to reduce the build-up of dead skin cells and has excellent anti-inflammatory properties which will help reduce redness. Another bonus is that it lightens any hyperpigmentation (those dreaded acne scars) by targeting and breaking down the pigment that creates them. Budget buy Garden of Wisdom Azelaic Acid 10% Serum gives great results, available from victoriahealth.com
• Benzoyl Peroxide is an effective over-the-counter ingredient for treating mild to moderate acne. When applied to the skin, it works by reducing the amount of acne causing bacteria, removes excess oil, and exfoliates dead skin cells. It can be especially helpful for the red, sore, inflamed bumps. You’ll find it in strengths ranging from 2.5% up to 10%, the difference is that the higher percentages run the risk of irritating or drying out the skin too much. While everyone’s spot situation is different, in general, I advise to stick within the 3 to 5% range.
• The use of a retinoid product (Vitamin A) will not only deliver some serious anti-ageing benefits like targeting fine lines and wrinkles and improving the appearance of uneven skin tone and texture but it will also help unclog pores and reduce the formation of spots. The new La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum, is a great entry level into retinol use, and also suitable for sensitive skin types. It combines 0.3% retinol with soothing Vitamin B3 (aka niacinamide) and hydrating glycerin. Available in selected pharmacies nationwide. And remember, always use an SPF in the morning, as retinol may increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun
If spots do pop up and make an impromptu appearance, zap them with some of these rapid spot treatment products to take the inflammation down and help heal. Murad Blemish Control Rapid Relief Spot Treatment is a spot treatment gel formulated with a hefty 2% salicylic acid, plus oat extract to soothe, nourish and reduce redness and blemish size in just four hours! available from cloud10beauty.com. My Clarins Clear Out Targeted Blemish Treatment available in selected pharmacies and department stores nationwide, dries up and visibly reduces the appearance of blemishes while at the same time soothes and relieves the affected area. And good old Sudocrem, normally associated with nappy rash, when applied directly to spots, a small amount can reduce both size and redness and help clear skin quickly, available in pharmacies nationwide.
Keep things Clean
Makeup brushes, wash cloths, pillows, sheets, phones, the list goes on. Take your bed sheets for example, how often are you cleaning them? Every night you have a build-up of sweat, dust mites, bacteria and dead skin cells. Need I say more? And as for phones, a recent study in the UK found that mobile phones carry ten times more bacteria than a public toilet seat, meaning your smartphone is a big source of skin contamination and can lead to skin problems. Lastly, as tempting as it might be, avoid picking or popping pimples with your fingers, it can cause scarring and spread bacteria which can lead to more breakouts. Cleanliness and good hygiene habits are key when it comes to skin health and breakouts.