Here at MDC, we love calling upon top beauty pros to share advice on everything from hair, makeup and skin care. Today, we are thrilled to have Los Angeles-based skincare expert Stacy Cox sound off on a skin issue that has many of us up in arms: acne.
In the 15 years of working as a skincare therapist, I’ve come to an important realization about acne: It’s smarter than the average bear. It’s one part psychic, one part ruthless enemy once it gets on a roll. It has patterns and waves that will consistently keep in step with you if you allow it to. So the question becomes: How do we break these patterns and get acne on the defensive instead of allowing it to be the aggressor in our lives? A great way to start is to understand the various reasons acne invades our skin. Get ready for some Acne 101!
There are two major players and two minor players in the acne game that we’ll be discussing today. Take notes as they could make all the difference in your blemish battle!
● STRESS: Stress plays a powerful role in our physical and mental health. It has the ability to negatively impact our appearance as well as our self confidence. Stress has an innate ability to make "besties" with our hormones in times of distress and wreak havoc on our complexion.
● HORMONES/MENSTRUAL CYCLE: As our bodies prepare to ovulate each month, every woman will have a hormone fluctuation of varying degrees. That said, a shift in hormones will inevitably have an impact on our skin's clarity or lack thereof. It's not magic each month — it's genetics at play.
● SLEEPING AND EATING: Although not direct causes of acne, if left unchecked, these two things can indirectly fuel your problematic skin to new acneic heights. Lack of sleep and eating a high-calorie, fried-food-filled diet will put a certain amount of stress on your body, forcing it to work overtime to digest processed food and pushing it to stay awake when you need to lay low. All you’re doing is placing more stress on your internal ecosystem.
Talk to a Pro. Make an appointment to see a dermatologist for a consultation. It's likely they can begin to identify the root of your acne and prescribe you a prescription to help promote your skin-cell turnover and regulate your hormones so your acne can get under control. You can also go the Eastern route and work with an acupuncturist and/or herbalist with experience in treating acne. Sometimes getting our bodies back into harmony can quell some of the congestion in your skin.
Yoga/Meditation. Yoga won't cure acne, but attending classes consistently will help address the angst and stress levels that can cause your unwanted blemishes. When you actively begin to manage your stress, breakouts typically start to get under control. Go for the trickle-down effect. This also applies with daily meditation, which is another way to get yourself into a good head space and gain control over your stress.
Be Self-Aware. As you ebb closer to your period each month or see a potentially stressful event on the horizon, make a conscious effort to defuse the stress instead of allowing it to escalate. Ask yourself key questions like, "What does this stressful situation mean to me?"
Be Good to Yourself. Whether it means getting a monthly massage or mani/pedi, taking more walks in the week leading up to your period, indulging in a warm bath from time to time or maybe just lighting candles around your home. Taking care of yourself can be helpful in breaking the stress patterns in your body. Learn how to relax and treat yourself — doctor’s orders!
Equip Yourself With the Right Skin Care. This one’s a no-brainer, but I feel it’s crucial for me to stress the importance of using products specifically tailored to your needs. Educate yourself on the key ingredients and solutions that will best fight acne and make them a part of your regular skincare routine. Not sure what these key ingredients are? Get the lowdown here.
What is your plan of attack for keeping acne at bay? Sound off in the comments below.
About the Author: Stacy Cox is a Los Angeles-based esthetician and owner of day spa Pampered People in Studio City, California.