After a decade of battling breakouts and another helping clients battle adult acne, I've found that the best weapon against blemishes is oil. Yes, you read that right: Oil.
Precisely what many of us presume causes acne, actually prevents and treats it. Often, this recommendation is met with a gasp and a look of shock, but after a few deep breaths my adult acne clients brace themselves and oil up. Fortunately, time and time again, I have seen them return with clearer skin and an even clearer smile. One client was so happy with her results that she brought me flowers at her follow-up appointment.
While using oil benefits teenage breakouts, it is especially good for adult acne. This is because it helps to treat many skin problems that occur as our skin matures, such as sun damage, pigmentation, fine lines and loss of tone. So many of my clients over thirty are relieved when they learn they can address pimples while preventing wrinkles, ending the daunting dilemma between treating their acne or aging.
Conventional acne solutions involve harsh, drying acids, peels and astringents that lead to dehydrated, devitalized and sensitized skin. Using nourishing natural facial oils actually feeds, protects and supports our skin tissue, helping to restore its balance and ward off pimples while promoting moisture and hydration. Still don't believe in the power of oil? Read on for the reasoning behind why oil is the ace-in-the-hole against adult breakouts.
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No doubt, you've heard this one before, but it bears repeating. While it's tempting to pop whiteheads and blackheads, overzealous picking can lead to scars and marks on your skin (and remember aging skin takes longer to regenerate, so those tell-tale, picked over marks are likely to hang around for weeks or even months). "Popping also spreads bacteria from your fingers to your skin, causing even more pimples to form," warns New York-based dermatologist Craig Austin, M.D. More from YouBeauty.com: Your Best Body Skin Guide How to Wear Makeup When You Exercise QUIZ: Is Your Body Skin Healthy?
Teenage acne accumulates around the oily T-zone area (forehead, nose and chin) so alcohol-based astringents are a teen's treatment of choice. In contrast, adult acne clusters along the jawline (which isn't typically oily), so you'll want to stay away from that bottle of Sea Breeze. "Skin generally becomes drier as we age, so harsh exfoliating and drying ingredients found in most acne medications are far too aggressive," says Fusco. She recommends using a salicylic acid-based cleanser and to avoid irritation, to keep your product numbers low. "You wouldn't want to use a face wash for oily skin and then layer an anti-aging medication that deeply exfoliates over top," Fusco adds. Flickr photo by Perfecto Insecto
Breakouts caused by makeup are so common there's even a name for it -- acne cosmetica. If you're suffering from spots, Linwood, New Jersey-based dermatologist Coyle Connolly, M.D. suggests opting for a non-comedogenic, mineral-based makeup line like Jane Iredale. "These products are oil-free, so they don't exacerbate acne but offer full coverage," Connolly says. And be sure to wash makeup brushes each week to rid them of acne-causing bacteria, recommends Jennifer Peterson, M.D., a dermatologist in Houston, Texas. Fancy cleaners aren't necessary: A mixture of water and baby shampoo will do the trick. Flickr photo by SashaW
Slathering on a thick, creamy sunscreen may seem counterintuitive, but Peterson stresses that sun protection needs to be an important part of your daily skincare regimen to help prevent both acne and wrinkles. "The sun's rays break down collagen, causing lines to form," she explains. "They also dry out your skin, which prompts the sebaceous glands to overcompensate by pumping out more pore-clogging oils and causing breakouts." He recommends using a lightweight formula designed for acne-prone skin. More from YouBeauty.com: Your Best Body Skin Guide How to Wear Makeup When You Exercise QUIZ: Is Your Body Skin Healthy? Flickr photo by Robert S. Donovan
Oil Banishes Blocked Pores
Problem: Many think that surface oil leads to clogged pores, when in fact, dehydration does. When this occurs, our skin's natural oil cannot secrete easily and lubricate its surface. Instead, it becomes thick and hardened and gets lodged in our pores, creating corks of dried out sebum.
Solution: Using a plant-derived oil -- like olive oil -- helps to restore moisture and prevent pore congestion. A hydrating serum, such as Pure + Simple's Algae Serum is another tool in the acne-fighting arsenal, thwarting off pesky pimples along with fine lines.
Oil Packs Some Skin Protection
Problem: Dehydrated skin cell can give way to tiny microscopic cracks in the skin tissue, leaving our complexions vulnerable to bacterial penetration that can lead to acne.
Solution: Skin cells that are plump with hydration help create a taut, impermeable barrier function. Oils such as evening primrose and borage are rich in fatty acids that nourish the skin and strengthen its immunity. The side effect of glowing rejuvenation ain't bad either.
Oil Regulates Rogue Sebum
Problem: Stripping increases sebum production as our skin attempts to maintain proper protection and moisture. This is why many acne sufferers actually incite their own excess oil secretion by using skincare that dries out and depletes the skin. Unfortunately, this has them running even faster for strong astringents and mattifying products that simply exacerbate this problem even further.
Solution: Replenish with oil such as jojoba, which has a similar consistency to our own sebum, to stop this vicious cycle. With this, avoid over-washing and opt for a gentle, all-natural, face cleanser.
Oil Tempers Angry Breakouts
Problem: Inflammation is another major component in acne. Red, blistering breakouts need comforting, soothing ingredients to diminish swelling and heat.
Solution: Two of the best beauty ingredients for this are coconut and camellia oil. These oils protect and calm irritation, including that of blemish redness. Along with these two oils, calming plant essences such as turmeric, chamomile and lavender are excellent as they are all antiseptics and anti-inflammatories.
Oil Helps to Stop Scarring
Problem: Just as important as overcoming acne is getting rid of the evidence. Dry, dehydrated skin scars more easily and also has more difficulty healing.
Solution: Oils such as seabuckthorn berry and rosehip oil replenish the skin as well as contain high amounts of vitamin C. This antioxidant is excellent for helping to fade pigmentation and scarring. However, rosehip oil can be too stimulating for acne-prone skinm so it should only be used on alternating days to avoid triggering breakouts.
There are a plethora of face oils available at cosmetic counters, health food stores or even your local grocer. I recommend looking for oils that are organic, cold-pressed and free of chemical preservatives such as parabens. My personal faves are: Holistic Vanity's Regenerating Seabuckthorn Berry Oil, Dr. Hauschka's Normalizing Day Oil and Pure + Simple's Pure Skin Face Oil.
With a nurturing approach, we can be acne-free and have a regime we can feel good about long-term. So reach for an oil in the name of clear, hydrated, healthy skin. Still shy to add this slippery solution to your beauty routine? Tell me why.
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