Here at MDC, we would love to think that we have all the answers for you. However, there are certain issues that require the insight of a pro. Today we asked skincare guru Stacy Cox to give us the rundown on all things acne. Take it away, Stacy!
One in five American adults suffer from varying levels of acne, and trust me, the psychological toll is no less significant. Skincare experts report that many people underestimate the self-consciousness and social stigma related to acne. You're probably saying to yourself, "Great, not only do I need to find a cure for my acne, but it looks like I could also use a few therapy sessions to let go of the insecurities that come with it!” Well, allow me to share some nitty gritty facts and information about acne that will get you to a more enlightened and informed place.
Diet: Get this … Acne is much less of a problem in non-Westernized societies, where refined carbohydrates and sugar are consumed in much lower amounts. Solid evidence exists that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates are one of the primary causes of acne. I'm not saying to immediately toss the bag of chocolate kisses into your office desk drawer. Rather, try indulging in moderation.
Stress: Recent studies substantiate the hypothesis that stress can aggravate acne. One study involving college students found a connection between acne flare-ups and stress from final exams. Not much of a shocker, right?
Genetics & Slow Skin-Cell Turn-Over: Average epidermis (top layer of skin) is normally about 14 layers thick but someone dealing with acne can have upwards of 17, 20, even 30 layers of dead skin piling up on their face. So you become like a human clogged pipe and it seems like you might need the equivalent of liquid Drano to purge and free up the impactions (so to speak).
Sugars and Grains: This is probably the single most important step you can take to improve your skin health. If you can eliminate all sugars and grains for a few weeks, there is a major likelihood you will notice rapid improvement in your complexion. Try giving your skin a little detox!
Water: Drink plenty of fresh, pure water every day. Hydrating your body facilitates cell growth and regeneration, elimination of wastes, and sloughing away dead skin cells. Hydration will also improve your skin tone. Try to drink the recommended amount of eight glasses of water a day (eight ounces each).
Exercise: Getting plenty of high-intensity exercise helps your body flush out toxins, including those in your skin's pores. Plus, exercise is vitally important to all other aspects of your health. If you happen to have access to an infrared sauna, this can be helpful, because the more you sweat, the more you flush unwanted debris and contaminants out of your pores. This is why I'm always singing the praises of hot yoga because it detoxes, elevates your cardio and encourages you to de-stress and relax.
Sleep: Did you know that a good night's sleep can decrease your stress and lead to clearer skin? Your body's time for healing and rebuilding is at night while you sleep, and this applies to your skin. Sleep is also required for good energy and mood.
Vitamin D: While, too much sun is clearly a non-no, I recommend getting 20 minutes of sunshine a day (with sunscreen). This important nutrient is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune response, and most people are deficient in it. Without adequate vitamin D, your body cannot control infection, in your skin or elsewhere. Exposing yourself to appropriate amounts of sunshine is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels.
Exfoliate & Mask Weekly: Exfoliate once or twice a week using a gentle scrub. This helps loosen up some of those dead layers of skin from your face that are holding the acne down and inward! Then, try an oil-absorbing mask to further draw out and dry up the blemishes.
Product Recommendations: SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub, Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque
Spot Treat: Keep a handy product on hand that will zap your zit while you’re on the go. Enlist the help of tea-tree-infused products like The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil.
What are your methods 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.