The beauty market place is saturated with lotions, potions and treatments that promise to banish spots, reduce oil production, eradicate scarring & leave your skin blemish free and flawless. It can be very hard to know who to trust, especially if you’ve tried products or procedures in the past that haven’t lived up to your expectations.
There are all sorts of levels of acne, from people suffering with a few spots to much higher-grades which need dermatological intervention; whatever stage though, acne can have an enormous impact on self-confidence. In a recent survey from The British Skin Foundation 28% of people surveyed admitted to suffering from acne at some stage, of those, 39% admitted to not knowing how to handle it. In my time as an Aesthetician I have seen countless cases of acne at all levels and have helped many people. There are a lot of options and treatments available that you may just not be aware of, so I wanted to write this post to show you key ingredients to look out for in skincare and treatment options that really work!
At home – key ingredients for acne/oily skin:
Glycolic acid – brightens skin and helps to remove dead skin cells to effectively exfoliate and allow for greater penetration of other key products
Salicylic acid – this acid is lipid (oil) soluble meaning that it can pass through the surface oils of the skin. This makes it an excellent product to reduce blackheads, congestion and oil production
Hyaluronic acid – this is already a naturally occurring molecule within the skin which gradually depletes as we age, it is incredibly hydrating as it can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water! Due to its small molecular weight it can penetrate deep down into the skin giving long lasting hydration without any oil
Dead sea mud – great for helping to reduce oil production but also contains 21 natural minerals which simultaneously detoxify, re-balance & hydrate the skin
Vitamin A/Retinol – this is a potent product but can help hugely to reduce acne scarring and increase cell turnover. The highest level you can purchase without a prescription is 1% which will cause some dryness, flaking and peeling but you will increase your tolerance gradually
Avoid: creamy moisturisers as they are generally a mix of oil and water that sit on the top of the skin and clog pores
Avoid: heavy make up! I understand that sometimes it is easier to use layers of make up to hide the problem, but this only worsens the condition by clogging pores and not letting the skin breath
Top tips: keep your skin clean!! Using a cleanser that contains at least 1 of the above ingredients every morning and every night + using an exfoliator, ideally once daily, is key to stopping spots forming
Cut the crap!
A lot of high street brands will claim to have some of the above in them as customers become more aware of these ingredients. However, they have such low levels in them that they are not an active dosage and will have no real visible effect. If you’re buying on the high street always check the label and do your research on the activeness of the product.
I am a huge advocate of Cosmeceutical grade skincare which can be found in Aesthetic clinics. This is not just because they have higher levels of these key ingredients, but you will also find practitioners that can give you sound advice and monitor your progress. I am also aware that some of these products may be out of some people’s budgets, but you can find a lot of clinics that offer free or low-cost consultations, so I think it never hurts to go and get some advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Treatment options – keeping skin clean:
I know I may be biased as I work for HydraFacial but as a practitioner it was always my first point of call for anyone suffering with acne prone skin.
It has a 6-stage process to effectively clean pores & reduce acne causing bacteria while simultaneously hydrating the skin and leaving it feeling fresh and glowing. My issue with so many acne treatments is that they only focus on drying out the skin to stop the sebum production. This can leave clients with dry, cracked painful skin…not the answer in my book! Something such as HydraFacial is a perfect place to start to help to create a healthy skin, spot free skin. The average price of a HydraFacial is around £120.
Other options include peels, which can involve some downtime as the outer layers of the skin will generally shed, this will depend on the strength of the peel. Cost is between £80-£200+ depending on provider and brand.
If these are out of your price range, then your next best bet would be Microdermabrasion which uses a high-powered vacuum to shoot crystals onto the skin surface and cause an exfoliation. It’s quite a drying treatment but I’ve seen people who have had good results from it and the treatments are a little more cost effective, ranging from around £50-£100.
If you are suffering with acne scarring, then you will need something more aggressive such a resurfacing treatment. The best treatment option for you will vary with the severity of scarring, however the treatment most commonly used is medical needling. Some people may know this more commonly as Dermaroller however this technique is now outdated, medical needling pens are now more widely used. These treatments cost around £100-£150 per session and will endure some redness and peeling following the treatment but are a fantastic option for mild scarring issues.
If your scarring is quite pitted or more severe then laser ablation is a better option as the combination of the ablation with heat will cause more of a tightening effect. If you think of a piece of bacon in a frying pan, as you add heat it contracts and shrinks which is basically what happens to the skin when we do these treatments (gross analogy I know but it gets the point across).
There are so many machines out there now it would take me hours to list them all but from a personal stand point I have found Erbium Yag lasers are very effective and safe although they do incur more downtime than medical needling would.
If you have very severe ice pick scarring, then I would suggest going to see a dermatologist or a doctor as they can offer more aggressive treatments such as deep chemical peels and CO2 laser treatments which work on a much deeper level of the skin so should rightly be performed by a doctor. Prices will range from location, to clinic, to equipment used so it’s hard to give a rough price. However, I would as always recommend doing your research. Try looking at www.consultingroom.com (as linked to in the above treatments) to find out more information on treatments and clinics offering them close to you. Going to an aesthetic clinic where they have the tools to treat you correctly and give the best advice is always the best option!
The main thing to remember with acne is to not to let it get you down. There are so many people that suffer with this so there’s no need to feel alone. If you are feeling depressed at all about it, seek help from your doctor and as I suggested above, go and find a reputable clinic where they can talk you through your options because there really is so much that can be done.
If you have any questions or would like any suggestions on clinics in your area feel free to contact me.
Thank you for reading