All About Blackheads plus Tips for Adult Acne - acne

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All About Blackheads plus Tips for Adult Acne

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All About Blackheads plus Tips for Adult Acne

What is a blackhead exactly?  And why are they black?  Is it dirt?

No.  It’s not dirt.  If you have blackheads, it does not mean you have a dirty face.

Blackheads do not mean you have a dirty face.  Blackheads are dark because of oxidized oil and dead cells.  Find out all about it on the Acne Whisperer Blog.


Exactly what is a blackhead?

A blackhead is an impaction made up of various oils and waxes made by your skin, mixed with skin cells that have died and have dislodged from the very top layer of your epidermis.  The same top layer that makes up the surface of your skin lines your pores as well. 

Just about every pore has a blackhead, some larger, some smaller, depending on the oil production level of the oil gland attached to that pore, and the level of dead skin cell production.  As we age, we produce less oil and more dead skin cells.

Now, over time (not much), these two main substances, oil and dead skin cells, oxidize and change color.  The oil gets yellow and the dead skin cells get a darker version of whatever color they were according to the melanin levels set forth by your DNA.  It’s actually the same mechanism as what happens when you leave a peeled apple out; the same chemical reaction.  This is why they have a “black” top - - the longer they’re around, the darker they get.  So you see, their dark tips have nothing whatsoever to do with dirt.  At.  All.

Sun exposure can make blackheads darker!  Read about it on the Acne Whisperer Blog


A blackhead is scientifically called a Comedone.  Some say Comedo.  This is the root of the term “Non-Comedogenic”, which means “won’t cause Comedones”, ie, won’t cause blackheads.  But what’s the connection between comedones and breakouts?

Why do we get blackheads?  Do they have a purpose?

Believe it or not, blackheads actually have to be there. 

You see, the oil of your skin is acidic.  With your skin having a lower pH, bacteria that fall from the air can’t survive - it's one of the ways your skin protects your body.  The oil and dead skin cell mix that make up blackheads allows your skin to always have a little oil staying around, making up a big part of the protective outer layer of your skin.  More of this mix accumulates in the t-zone area in order to protect your eyes, nose and mouth.

The high pH of harsh cleansers cause the skin to over-produce oil.  Find out more on the Acne Whisperer Blog.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. The high pH of harsh cleansers cause the skin to need to rebalance itself, which it does by over-producing oil.  Your skin wants to remain acidic. 

This is huge, because old school logic has always had it that oil overproduction had to do with dryness, which meant all you had to do was apply moisturizer after cleansing.  And yet excess oil was still a problem. 

Rather, the issue is not loss of moisture, it’s loss of acidity level!  The solution, besides using a more gentle cleanser, is to use a slightly acidic toner after cleansing, and only then apply lotion.

Apricot scrubs can cause blackheads, breakouts and irritation!  Find out more on the Acne Whisperer Blog.

 The wrong kind of scrub can also prompt the skin to overproduce oil as a way of protecting it from being over-scratched.  It’s like the skin is trying to cause the grains to slide over it rather than scratch it. 

With these two factors (which sometimes can occur at the same time, as in the case of the most popular brands of apricot scrub which have very harsh detergents along with the crushed apricot pits), there not only will be more blackhead material produced in response to all of this, but the slight inflammation that’s inevitable occurs, which actually results in further darkening of the whole mix!  Why?  In addition to oxidation, which as stated above is what causes the darkening of the oil and dead skin cells, spilling additional skin pigment into areas of damage is one of the ways your skin works to repair itself.  Talk about insult to injury! 

So you see, the black "head" is actually oil plus dead skin cells hitting the air and turning dark brown, plus additional pigment when the skin needs to protect itself. 

The dark parts of blackheads are not dirt!  Find out more on the Acne Whisperer Blog.


How can we get rid of them?

As you can see, blackheads do need to be there, but they don't have to be so noticeable.  The best way to control them is to make sure the pH of your skin isn't thrown off by harsh cleansers and there isn't too much scrubbing.  The best way to prevent them from becoming too dark is to include properly formulated, broad-spectrum multi-vitamin antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in your skin care routine.

Above all, hydration is required to keep blackheads from over-accumulating.

RULE OF THUMB: The more hydrated your skin is, the more pliable it is.  The more pliable your skin is, the less it holds on to the oil that makes blackheads. Every blemish starts out as a microscopic blackhead.

Antioxidant Serums for Blackheads?  Find out more on the Acne Whisperer Blog.


How?  The lining of your pore will collect substances that signal the body to come to your skin’s rescue when it thinks this lining is getting too bothered.  The oxidation and irritation that occur from harsh products actually creates more irritation.  To quote Gregory House, MD, “The body is smart, but it’s also stupid.”  Irritation leads to inflammation, creating swelling, redness and warmth.  With enough of these three, if the swelling from all this gets bad enough, and oxygen runs out of the pore, it will create the perfect air-free, warm environment acne bacteria absolutely love.  Most of the time, however, enough oxygen does get inside, which leaves us with just a nice, painful “undergrounder”.  Officially named a “papule”, this bugger will not go away until the inflammation is cooled off and the fluid creating the swelling is absorbed back into the body.

Now, this describes all acne formation no matter what the person’s age.  What is relevant to adults aged 30s, 40s and 50s is the fact that the chance of pore clogging from anti-aging products making all this much, much worse, isextremely high.  With fluctuations in oil production due to life changes, and various forms of stress, the chances that a blackhead will give way to a full-blown breakout go way up.  If this sounds like you, we can easily do something about this!

Eval by Email Online Skincare Consultation, virtual skin care coaching for adult acne.

Your acne problem has a source, and clearing your skin requires finding that source and either eliminating it or healing it.  You can start that right now by filling out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation Form created specially for ages Gen-Y to Baby Boom!



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What do masks do? Part 2



Last week I talked about a few of the types of masks used in clearing Adult Acne to calm, soothe, heal and purify.  Having gone over Clay and Gel Masks, this week I’m concluding Mask Madness Month with an overview of Cream and Exfoliating Masks, as well as some of the other types of masks you may have come across.

Some of these other masks are quite fun to use. There are masks that are packaged in thin sheets with holes for eyes, nose and mouth, and are placed onto the face and wet with water to adhere to the skin, and then removed after 15-20 minutes.  These masks provide super hydration and plumping, and are often a part of a professional facial, although I’ve seen places where they’re sold for home use as well.  In addition, there are firming masks, usually made of things like aloe and egg white, that tighten the skin temporarily, reducing wrinkles and sagging for a night on the town. 

A favorite of mine, that happens to be professional only, is a type called an Alginate Mask, which is applied in a super-thick, gooey consistency, dries like rubber, and then lifted off in one piece.  Cool, huh ?  Given this description, you can see why it would be very difficult if not impossible to apply this mask by yourself.  I use this to calm the skin after extractions, or when I want deep penetration of special treatment serums.

So, what about the Cream and Exfoliating types of masks I mentioned that are more typically used at home like the Clay and Gel masks I spoke of last week?  

Let’s see what they’re all about.

Exfoliating Mask
I must confess – I have never used a honey mask that peels off, nor have I ever used one on my clients.  But I do use quite extensively an exfoliating gel mask that can be rubbed off by a method known in the Esthetics world as a “Gommage” technique.  Say, Go-Mah-jjjjj…. Reminiscent of rubber cement, this mask can be left on until just barely dried, then gently rubbed off into the sink before rinsing off the remainder, in order to manually exfoliate the skin (sometimes this kind of mask comes in a cream or clay consistency rather than a gel).  The cool part is that this type of mask usually contains fruit enzymes that break apart the proteins of dead skin cells, removing far more of them than you would with a grainy scrub alone.  The greatest thing about it is that, having been turned into what is essentially a gentle scrub by being rubbed off, this type of mask exfoliates twice – once by dissolving dead skin cells, and then by scrubbing them away.  It is for this reason that a more sensitive skin can still benefit from this enzyme action without having to rub the mask off.  Just rinsing is fine.

Product Spotlight :
Daniela’s BHA/Enzyme Peel

This is a very special mask.  It contains enzymes from Pomegranate and Pumpkin, two protein dissolvers that are a bit stronger than the usual Papaya and Pineapple found in most enzyme exfoliating products on the market, and Betaine Salicylate, the kinder, gentler form of Salicylic Acid derived from Sugar Beet.  I have the vast majority of my Adult Acne clients using this right before either the Zinc and Sulphur Mask or the Purifying Comfort Mask, depending on the type of acne they have.


Cream Mask
Considering what Cream Masks look and feel like, it’s natural to wonder what the difference is between a cream mask and just taking a thick moisturizer and slapping it in huge amounts all over the face and leaving it on in the same way. There is indeed a substantial difference – their respective delivery systems. Cream masks contain ingredients that ensure the skin is saturated and covered completely, in order to quickly deliver hydrating, soothing and smoothing properties in a short amount of time for rapid relief.  Moisturizing lotions and creams for daily use have delivery systems designed to work over time, with ingredients that allow for more even and comfortable spread-ability for ease of application.  It can happen that a moisturizer (such as this one sold in my web store) is formulated to be applied thinly for daily moisturizer and liberally for a hydrating mask. But most moisturizers either dehydrate the skin when applied this way (if there are too many of a class of ingredients that mix oil and water together, called Emulsifiers), or would be wasteful because their delivery systems do not allow for the saturation needed for a treatment mask.  So, if your skin is especially parched, has dry patches, or just needs some relief from general dryness on a weekly basis, a designated Cream Mask is the way to go.

Product Spotlight : 
Daniela’s Moisture Infusion Cream Mask

This mask feels and smells so good I’m obsessed with it.  While I don’t recommend it for skin suffering from acne issues, which I realize is strange considering my specialty, I do have several clients who have dry skin and love this mask.  The skin type that needs this mask the most is missing valuable lipids either because of genetic inability to produce enough of them, or are lost to a punishing environment.  This is skin that needs lubrication, reinforcement and softening.  It contains such gems as lipid-rich Shea Butter, calming Green Tea, and skin-strengthening Chinese licorice.



As you can see, there are many different types of masks to choose from, each of them with their own amazing benefits and qualities, lending a most helpful hand to the clearing of Adult Acne.  Now you can see why I’m so crazy about them and why I insist that all my clients use at least one!

If the descriptions of the masks I just talked about here are not enough to get you going, please contact me for more individualized attention. 

If you’re ready to go for it, you’ll receive a special gift for your purchase ofmask from now until April 1st, 2015; a fan mask brush and a try-me size of my powerful Salicylic Acid spot treatment, along with a Dixie cup so that you can master the Ice Therapy Spot Treatment technique I talked about a few weeks ago.  If you have drier or more sensitive skin, you’ll receive a try-me size of a hydrating booster instead.





How to Prevent Butt Breakouts !

I’ve been telling you for a long time now, dear readers, that body breakouts are usually caused by friction and/or pressure.  Ill-fitting clothes, sitting for long periods, textured fabric rubbing against sweaty skin, long term exercise with no skin protection.  How much more is this true of butt breakouts??



There are actually two issues with breakouts on the behind, as well as the backs of the thighs.  


One is the aforementioned pressure and friction from sitting for long periods. The other is pore clogging from dryer sheet residue and body lotions (or worse, body butters).  It’s admittedly hard to prevent the sitting for long periods thing when you’re at a job that requires it.  But does it really require that you don’t get up and walk around for a minute or two every hour?  We’re beginning to find out how unhealthy sitting for long stretches at a time is for our bodies in general. We need to move around, so get up and get moving !


Friction and Pressure

It may seem like there should be no friction on your bum when sitting for long periods, but textured fabrics, ill-fitting clothes and uneven surfaces can actually create friction as you sit, fidget, get up and walk around, and sit in a moving vehicle.  It’s also important to keep in mind that the type of fabric you’re sitting on for all those hours can make a difference.  


Satin or polyester can trap heat and moisture like Saran Wrap, mesh and lace can be like sitting on gravel, and thong underwear leaves your skin at the mercy of whatever fabric your skirts or pants are made of.  Smooth 100% cotton that covers everything is best. 


To absorb excess moisture, soothe inflammation and prevent the ravages of friction and pressure on your skin, my FerroRosa FrictionFix® has become a favorite must-have for hundreds of women this last year!




Pore Clogging

Contrary to what many blogs and websites say about body breakout and ingrown hair issues, it’s very possible that a body lotion is the last thing you need on your nether regions.  We have enough moisture there under normal circumstances. More importantly, too many body lotions (and especially body butters) are pore clogging, which causes more problems than almost anything.  I’m not saying no one gets dry skin down there, but the likelihood that someone who is really dry suffers from regular breakouts is not very high.  In the case of dehydration, not letting the skin dry out from harsh body washes and alcohol-heavy ingrown hair remedies is really how we keep skin from needing any kind of lotion. 


As for dryer sheets and fabric softeners, they work by leaving a film on all your laundry so the fabrics slide past each other instead of sticking together to create static, which happens to also make clothes softer.  However, this film is quite pore clogging.  Many body breakouts start to clear up almost immediately after stopping dryer sheets, fabric softeners and pore clogging body products.

Having said alllll that, breakouts on the backs of the thighs that are prickly as well as pimply can extend upward to the lower part of the behind, and there are lotions that address that kind of problem.  Which leads me to say…



Let’s Not Forget KP!

KP = KeratosisPilaris.  The skin cell dying process gone haywire.  When skin cells mature and start to die, they move up to the surface of your skin to become the layer of dead skin cells that make up the protective barrier that protects your body.   Granules of protein start to accumulate inside skin cells, making them suffocate.  After a while, dying cells get flat as they get pushed up to the surface by new cells growing from the bottom layer.  Now, at the beginning of this process, the cells look kind of prickly.   Eventually the cells smooth out and flatten as they move up.

However, in a case of Keratosis Pilaris, too many protein granules make the cellstoo prickly, so pores get a little clogged and irritated with all of this, and oils and dead skin cells can't come up to the surface of the skin the way they're supposed to.  This is why the skin is not only bumpy, but also quite dry.




The Solution?

The solution to both KP and body breakouts is exfoliation from both inside pores and on the skin's surface with BHA and/or AHA, a non-clogging, hydrating and exfoliating moisturizer for the KP, and exfoliating spa gloves with a non-drying body wash.  For more severe breakouts, a Benzoyl Peroxide washcan work better, just watch your towels - BPO can bleach fabric.

Love what you see here and are dying to get started?  Pin any of the photos above, email the pin from your board to skin911@daniela.com , and receive a code for 10% off your order !




October Product Spotlight: BHA/Enzyme Surface Peel


Jump into your fall skincare routine with the "BHA/Enzyme Surface Peel" for Adult Acne and breakouts. Made with pumpkin and pomegranate enzymes, this product is perfect for October!





Corporate Acne and Stress: Part 1

"How Can I Stress Less About Work?" (Part 1 & Part 2), talked about managing the stress that many of my clients ask me about, as the economy has produced a new kind of work force that is full of women under pressure. The subject of workplace stress is especially pertinent to my business. As a specialist in Adult Acne, I get quite a few clients coming in to see me because of the stress caused by their jobs.

Contrary to what conventional wisdom would hold, since the economy blew up in 2008 not one person has come to me for a facial to feel better or to prepare the skin to look better for an interview. Everyone who has come to me for help with Adult Acne is typically working a 9-5 job. So why did my business as an Acne Specialist boom after the 2008 recession?

What makes this recession different from all others are the layoffs that created a smaller workforce doing double-to-triple the work. This is what has affected the average client who has come through my door in the last 4-5 years. As middle management with MBA's were laid off, those working under them got promoted from within, at very little above their previous salary. Having no real experience in leadership or management, these (usually) women are under tremendous pressure to turn out numbers like their predecessors while supervising former colleagues.

The result?

Days on end of terrified supervisors behaving badly, creating an environment where if someone willing and able to do the work of more than one person wants to keep her job, she'd better comply. She may be more valuable than the supervisor, but she's not irreplaceable. She wants to flee or fight back, but she can't. As valuable as she is, she can still lose her job. And with companies enjoying this new found money-saving work force doing more work at less pay, why should they hire anyone else? No wonder there are little-to-no job openings. So! The worker has to keep her fight or flight response inside and take that stress home.



This "conflict stress" is different than "worry stress" or even "rushing-to-get-something-done stress." Why? The conflict stress from fight or flight responses produces constant adrenaline rushes, which affects women in different ways than men. 



As women, we produce testosterone in our adrenal glands, and every time we have a rush of adrenaline there is also a corresponding rush of testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that is responsible for the presence of oil in the skin. 

Simply put: every time you have an adrenaline rush, you also get an oil rush!

If a skincare and/or make-up routine is dehydrating or clogging in any way, this excess oil will become stuck, which will create inflammation inside pores and then lead to swelling, redness, and pain.

Since the pores are getting irritated in a completely different way, the acne also has to be treated in a different way.


Skincare Q&A: Salvaging Your Skin From Body Acne & Keratosis Pilaris

As an online esthetician, I spend much of my time answering questions about adult acneingrown hair problems, rosacea, or general skin sensitivities. So! I thought that I would feature a skincare Q&A on my blog to address some of these issues.

There are some questions that are sent to me via email or through ChickRx, a site where anyone can ask questions that relate to various lifestyle topics and experts (like myself) can offer valuable advice or suggestions. 

If you have any questions that you would like to ask (or have featured on the blog), please don't hesitate to speak out in the comments below! If you would rather have a question be answered privately, I am always available by email. :)

This week's Skincare Q&A features concerns about body acne breakouts and treating Keratosis Pilaris (KP).


***

"Is there a way to get rid of acne on the back of my arms?"


Believe it or not, it's not actually acne.

It's a condition known as Keratosis Pilaris.

What happens is, during the normal stages where your skin cells mature and start to die, they move up to the surface of your skin to become the layer of dead skin cells that make up the protective barrier that protects your body from all sorts of nasties.  This is one of the purposes of your skin.  The way this happens is there are granules of protein that start to accumulate in the cells, making them suffocate and then get flat, as the cells get so full of this protein, that's all there is to them.  As they're filling up with protein, the cells look kind of prickly.   Eventually the cells smooth out and flatten.

In a case of Keratosis Pilaris, or KP, this process goes kind of haywire.  Too many protein granules make the cells too prickly, the pores get a little clogged with this, and oils and dead skin cells can't come up to the surface of the skin the way they're supposed to.  This is why the skin is not only bumpy, but also quite dry.

The answer is exfoliation from inside pores and on the skin's surface, plus non-clogging moisturizers featuring ingredients called Ceramides.  Exfoliating spa gloves with a salicylic acid body wash is a great start, followed by a hydrating, non-clogging, exfoliating body lotion.

***


"I suffer from Keratosis Pilaris and have black spots all over my legs. I use Amlactin, coconut oil, and a sugar scrub, but there's no effect."


You're definitely on the right track as far as moisturizing and exfoliating.  The problem is, any effort at exfoliating is being counteracted by the pore clogging nature of the coconut oil and two of the ingredients in the Amlactin, one of which blocks pores (doesn't clog, but blocks) and other other which is low enough on the list not to be a problem in itself, but irritates in the presence of the lactic acid which is the main ingredient.

There are two aspects of KP that have to be addressed in order to combat it.  One is the accumulation of dead skin cells inside pores which are abnormally prickly, and the other is the lack of ceramides produced in the skin which would normally add to the softening function of the skin's natural barrier.  

This means exfoliation has to come from inside the pores as well as outside, which is why Amlactin is recommended, but the lotion used has to be better formulated.  Moisture would also have to come in the form of replenishing missing ceramides, which the Amlactin lotion does not have. This might mean getting a pricier lotion, but it's well worth it.  One that I recommend that was created specially for this condition is this body lotion. It has glycolic acid to get further into pores to exfoliate, plus ample moisturizers to replenish what your skin isn't making enough of.

Additional exfoliation and prevention of dryness can come in the form of exfoliating body gloves, and making sure your body wash is not too fragranced (that often results in dryness), and is not meant to leave you squeaky clean. One for dry skin is a good idea.  Using the body gloves alternating between up and down motions and circular motions will also coax trapped hairs out from underneath the top layer of dead skin cells.

Make sure, of course, that you do not pick at your skin, as tempting as it may be. Dark marks usually come from this, though not always. Even just plain inflammation that comes with KP can cause these black spots.

***

"Why do I get pimples on my back?"


There are three possibilities for this.
  • A sudden increases in oil production in your skin from hormonal changes like new birth control, stress or period, resulting in impactions when this oil mixes with dead skin cells to make blackheads, which then can get inflamed and result in breakouts.
  • An already oily skin being newly introduced to pore clogging materials from products such as hair conditioner or styling product, body lotion or fabric softener, creating impactions.
  • Pores getting inflamed by new pressure and/or friction from sitting back in a chair or working out.  One thing I've learned in 17 years in the skincare business - skin hates being bothered.
Not to worry, there are a few things you can do :

1) All types of fabric softener, sheets or liquid, can leave a pore clogging film on the body.  Use rubber dryer balls instead.  It also doesn't hurt to make sure laundry detergent is fragrance free.

2) Be aware of your hair conditioner.  Much of the time rinse-out hair conditioner has pore clogging ingredients that wash down your back and shoulders, and can also get onto the skin from your pillows and sheets, which cause impactions leading to breakouts.  If you're experiencing a back breakout, switching your hair conditioner to a salon brand can sometimes solve the problem.

3) Take a quick shower before working out, and make sure you shower thoroughly right after working out !  Do not drive home without showering after a workout - the moisture and salts from your sweat will irritate skin as your shirt creates friction against the skin causing further breakouts.

4) Wash with an exfoliating, medicated body wash using a pair of exfoliating body spa gloves, massaging your skin with gentle, circular motions.  After drying off, follow every other night with a not too thin but not too thick layer of 5% Benzoyl Peroxide, let dry.  Be aware that BPO can bleach clothes and sheets, so it's a good idea to wear a white t-shirt to bed, and necessitatessunscreen.

5) If you need to moisturize, a really good choice is Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, even though it says it's for face, which I don't recommend since it's quite heavy, but it's perfect for acne prone body skin because it is not pore clogging.  Apply every other night when you don't apply BPO. 

6) For sunscreen, a good choice is a non-clogging, hydrating SPF face lotion from a salon, as it's the safest way to make sure you don't end up re-clogging your skin.  It might be pricier, but it'll be worth it.  Hydrating, broad-spectrum SPF lotions that are also non-clogging are really hard to find.

7) Make sure you don't wear anything that doesn't fit properly whether snug or loose, or that doesn't scratch or cause a lot of friction.  Be mindful of bra straps, shoulder straps and leaning back into a chair for much of the day.



Every body acne condition is different, so if you'd like more guidance beyond all the advice in this post, please feel free to contact me directly or to ask a question in the comments section 



Skincare Q&A: Salvaging Your Skin From Body Acne & Keratosis Pilaris

As an online esthetician, I spend much of my time answering questions about adult acneingrown hair problems, rosacea, or general skin sensitivities. So! I thought that I would feature a skincare Q&A on my blog to address some of these issues.

There are some questions that are sent to me via email or through ChickRx, a site where anyone can ask questions that relate to various lifestyle topics and experts (like myself) can offer valuable advice or suggestions. 

If you have any questions that you would like to ask (or have featured on the blog), please don't hesitate to speak out in the comments below! If you would rather have a question be answered privately, I am always available by email. :)

This week's Skincare Q&A features concerns about body acne breakouts and treating Keratosis Pilaris (KP).


***

"Is there a way to get rid of acne on the back of my arms?"


Believe it or not, it's not actually acne.

It's a condition known as Keratosis Pilaris.

What happens is, during the normal stages where your skin cells mature and start to die, they move up to the surface of your skin to become the layer of dead skin cells that make up the protective barrier that protects your body from all sorts of nasties.  This is one of the purposes of your skin.  The way this happens is there are granules of protein that start to accumulate in the cells, making them suffocate and then get flat, as the cells get so full of this protein, that's all there is to them.  As they're filling up with protein, the cells look kind of prickly.   Eventually the cells smooth out and flatten.

In a case of Keratosis Pilaris, or KP, this process goes kind of haywire.  Too many protein granules make the cells too prickly, the pores get a little clogged with this, and oils and dead skin cells can't come up to the surface of the skin the way they're supposed to.  This is why the skin is not only bumpy, but also quite dry.

The answer is exfoliation from inside pores and on the skin's surface, plus non-clogging moisturizers featuring ingredients called Ceramides.  Exfoliating spa gloves with a salicylic acid body wash is a great start, followed by a hydrating, non-clogging, exfoliating body lotion.

***


"I suffer from Keratosis Pilaris and have black spots all over my legs. I use Amlactin, coconut oil, and a sugar scrub, but there's no effect."


You're definitely on the right track as far as moisturizing and exfoliating.  The problem is, any effort at exfoliating is being counteracted by the pore clogging nature of the coconut oil and two of the ingredients in the Amlactin, one of which blocks pores (doesn't clog, but blocks) and other other which is low enough on the list not to be a problem in itself, but irritates in the presence of the lactic acid which is the main ingredient.

There are two aspects of KP that have to be addressed in order to combat it.  One is the accumulation of dead skin cells inside pores which are abnormally prickly, and the other is the lack of ceramides produced in the skin which would normally add to the softening function of the skin's natural barrier.  

This means exfoliation has to come from inside the pores as well as outside, which is why Amlactin is recommended, but the lotion used has to be better formulated.  Moisture would also have to come in the form of replenishing missing ceramides, which the Amlactin lotion does not have. This might mean getting a pricier lotion, but it's well worth it.  One that I recommend that was created specially for this condition is this body lotion. It has glycolic acid to get further into pores to exfoliate, plus ample moisturizers to replenish what your skin isn't making enough of.

Additional exfoliation and prevention of dryness can come in the form of exfoliating body gloves, and making sure your body wash is not too fragranced (that often results in dryness), and is not meant to leave you squeaky clean. One for dry skin is a good idea.  Using the body gloves alternating between up and down motions and circular motions will also coax trapped hairs out from underneath the top layer of dead skin cells.

Make sure, of course, that you do not pick at your skin, as tempting as it may be. Dark marks usually come from this, though not always. Even just plain inflammation that comes with KP can cause these black spots.

***

"Why do I get pimples on my back?"


There are three possibilities for this.
  • A sudden increases in oil production in your skin from hormonal changes like new birth control, stress or period, resulting in impactions when this oil mixes with dead skin cells to make blackheads, which then can get inflamed and result in breakouts.
  • An already oily skin being newly introduced to pore clogging materials from products such as hair conditioner or styling product, body lotion or fabric softener, creating impactions.
  • Pores getting inflamed by new pressure and/or friction from sitting back in a chair or working out.  One thing I've learned in 17 years in the skincare business - skin hates being bothered.
Not to worry, there are a few things you can do :

1) All types of fabric softener, sheets or liquid, can leave a pore clogging film on the body.  Use rubber dryer balls instead.  It also doesn't hurt to make sure laundry detergent is fragrance free.

2) Be aware of your hair conditioner.  Much of the time rinse-out hair conditioner has pore clogging ingredients that wash down your back and shoulders, and can also get onto the skin from your pillows and sheets, which cause impactions leading to breakouts.  If you're experiencing a back breakout, switching your hair conditioner to a salon brand can sometimes solve the problem.

3) Take a quick shower before working out, and make sure you shower thoroughly right after working out !  Do not drive home without showering after a workout - the moisture and salts from your sweat will irritate skin as your shirt creates friction against the skin causing further breakouts.

4) Wash with an exfoliating, medicated body wash using a pair of exfoliating body spa gloves, massaging your skin with gentle, circular motions.  After drying off, follow every other night with a not too thin but not too thick layer of 5% Benzoyl Peroxide, let dry.  Be aware that BPO can bleach clothes and sheets, so it's a good idea to wear a white t-shirt to bed, and necessitatessunscreen.

5) If you need to moisturize, a really good choice is Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, even though it says it's for face, which I don't recommend since it's quite heavy, but it's perfect for acne prone body skin because it is not pore clogging.  Apply every other night when you don't apply BPO. 

6) For sunscreen, a good choice is a non-clogging, hydrating SPF face lotion from a salon, as it's the safest way to make sure you don't end up re-clogging your skin.  It might be pricier, but it'll be worth it.  Hydrating, broad-spectrum SPF lotions that are also non-clogging are really hard to find.

7) Make sure you don't wear anything that doesn't fit properly whether snug or loose, or that doesn't scratch or cause a lot of friction.  Be mindful of bra straps, shoulder straps and leaning back into a chair for much of the day.



Every body acne condition is different, so if you'd like more guidance beyond all the advice in this post, please feel free to contact me directly or to ask a question in the comments section below.




Approaching Anti-Aging Without The Quackery!


Many of you know that my specialty is Adult Acne but, most notably, I focus much of my practice on providing anti-aging products suitable for acne-prone skin. Although my expertise is chiefly in acne formation and treatment, I do know something about the aging process as well. 

A while back, on the rare occasion that I was idly watching The Dr. Oz Show, an audience member asked Dr. Oz about sagging skin and what can be done about it.


Holding up the skin are bands of proteins called Elastin that also give it bounce. Dr. Oz stated that the Elastin underneath the skin's surface breaks down and that with the usage of your face muscles, this elastin breakdown causes deep wrinkles that are essentially creases in the skin.  While this is partly (and simplistically) true of expression lines, he didn't make this distinction when he regaled the audience with his solution.

Dr. Oz suggested tweaking the diet to include certain foods with Vitamin E (no harm, but no real effect on lines and wrinkles) and the skin-repairing compound Lycopene, which is found in tomatoes (meh, but so far no real harm done). 

And then.  In addition to the dietary changes, Dr. Oz suggested, get this, facial exercises!


Source: Flickr

Like, blowing out, sucking in, and making all sorts of facial expressions.  And noises.

Apparently, as if by magic, the facial exercises would combat the effects of deteriorating Elastin proteins by building up the muscles of the face, to do what, plump them all out? 

Sorry, Dr. Oz, but combatting aging or sagging skin doesn’t quite work that way...

Elastin and Collagen are the two main proteins within the deeper layers of the skin that essentially hold it up. These proteins break down a little bit over time due to natural aging, but they don't break down by much (i.e. you'd look a little older but there would be very little difference between your face and your butt, to give a point of reference). 

What destroys both of these proteins is damage caused by stress and poor lifestyle choices, but mostly they are deteriorated by sun damage.  I'm sure you've heard this statistic before, 85-90% of all skin aging is sun damage, or what we call "photo aging".

Facial muscle use has nothing to do with sagging skin, and exercise will not help. Expression lines, which are hereditary and worsened by, you guessed it, sun damage, do have a connection to muscle use but that doesn't mean muscle exercises will reverse this.  Dietary changes or additions will help somewhat, but if your anti-aging defenses are only coming from food intake, it won’t be enough to combat, prevent, or repair skin damage to any real measurable degree.  Even the famous Pericone anti-aging diet advocates sunscreen use.

Having said that, it is true that your skin needs the proper nutrition to counteract the effects natural deterioration or environmental damage, based on the inflammation theory of aging - a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods can help combat the aging effects of inflammation from inside. In terms of skin care, this nutrition for your skin can come in the form of high-potency antioxidants that are applied topically in the form of a serum twice daily. 

I cannot stress enough that antioxidant serums must be formulated properly and with plenty of care from the manufacturer to stabilize the vitamins so that they won't break down once the serum comes out of the bottle and hits the air.

Such a serum also needs to be accompanied by daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen.  This is actually where ingested nutrition plays a role -- effectively formulated sunscreen allows the skin to be shielded from exposure, and to rest so it can begin to repair itself. Eating antioxidant-rich superfoods allows the body to help facilitate this self-repair.

In addition, the new Peptide technology enhances antioxidant support like nothing else. Products formulated with peptides repair damage and strengthen the skin's surface -- allowing the skin to literally rebuild itself!  What's more, these amazing products can also help repair pigmentation issues and rebuild skin damaged by acne breakouts.

Finally, regular exfoliation allows the skin to exchange damaged skin cells for fresh, new cells and then the skin can build back its lost Elastin and Collagen proteins that hold the skin up and keep its shape.

Oh, and did I mention sunscreen??  ;)

Your morning SPF moisturizer MUST be at least SPF15. It should be hydratingnon-cloggingcomfortable, and, most importantly: something you can easily re-apply throughout the day.

For the best products to combat premature aging caused by sun damage and stress that won't break out adult acne-prone skin, I have options for many skin types in my webstore.

Love this post?  Please share!



Dealing With Acne Scarring & Hyperpigmentation

Since I specialize in adult acne, just about all of my clients, all of whom are in their late 20s all the way up to mid 50s, suffer from the lasting effects of pigmentation issues from healing acne blemishes, commonly called "scarring". 


So how can you get rid of the scarring on your face from acne?  Well, we first have to be specific on what we mean by "scarring".

There's scarring where the skin collapses after a cost has healed, which are called "pock marks" in lay vernacular, but are known professionally as "rolling scars" and "boxcar scars" depending on their shape. There are pores with openings that got so stretched out that they look like large, empty holes, which are called "ice-pick scars".   These can be addressed by chemical peels in conjunction with AHAs in home care, and microdermabrasion.

And then there is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. 

Many people refer to hyperpigmentation as acne scars, but they're really just small, massive tans that result from the skin dealing with trauma. They are also referred to as "dark marks".

Hyperpigmentation occurs by the exact same mechanism as when the sun damages your skin. In essence, the pores, which have been irritated by infection and the picking of blemishes and blackheads, have created intense tans as part of the healing process. If left to go away by themselves, these dark marks would take as long to go away as a really dark tan.

In order to combat your hyper-pigmentation, three things need to become a part of your skincare routine:

1. Exfoliation inside and outside pores using an AHA mix appropriate for oily skin or for dry skin, or Salicylic Acid to get rid of cells that are darkened by pigment. 
2. Topical antioxidants to help skin heal and to keep pigment from spilling into cells so easily, either in the form of a serum with multi-vitamins or non-letter vitaminantioxidants, or a lotion with highly potent Vitamin C. 
3. Prevention of further damage by using sunscreen AT ALL TIMES.  Sunscreen must be non-pore-clogging so breakouts don't recur. Remember: sun exposure without protection will make the marks darker.

For individual help in getting rid of your particular "dark mark" problem, please fill out my Eval by Email® Online Skin Care Consultation form specially designed for Gen-Xers to Baby Boomers.  So many factors go into the formation of pigmentation issues, it's nice not to have to fly blind and self-diagnose. :)
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