Acne is an aggravating condition suffered by 80% of teenage women and 90% teenage males. Triggered by hormonal changes, the numbers diminish in adults as hormones level out to 12% in adult women and 3% in adult males. Notice that teenage acne in males is higher but settles down to a number considerable lower than women as adults. This is due in part to the fact that testosterone levels spike in teen males then tend to level out a bit, but in women there are more erratic hormonal changes that continue through their adult lives.
Acne is actually a disease that can range from Grade I acne: mild comedones (blackheads and clogged pores) to moderate Grades II and III: which include papules, pustules and a few nodules to Grade IV: which also includes cysts and acne scaring (from collapsed of tissue underneath the skin’s surface). Severe acne requires medical treatment but there is a lot one can do to minimize mild to moderate breakouts.
Common treatments of the past focused on drying out the skin, removing sebum and killing acne causing (p-acne) bacteria by using harsh ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, solvent alcohols and over drying sulfate based cleansers. Today researchers have found that these aggressive treatments may actually aggravate one of the main pathogenic factors that cause acne: namely inflammation.
If your problem skin includes red, inflamed blemishes you need to focus on calming the skin first. Calming inflammation means cutting the chain of events that ignites blemishes and leads to staining and scaring of the skin. This also lessens the time that flare-ups last and allows skin to stay clearer longer. One should remember that reducing inflammation is part of a complete problem skin program which should also consider things like stress reduction and diet modification.
Acne researchers have linked three enzymes to acne related inflammation.
I. 5-Alpha Reductase: This enzyme is responsible for creating a type of testosterone which makes “sticky” sebum (oil) in the pores of acne-prone skin. This sebum mixes with dead skin cells which then contributes to clogged pores. Once the trapped sebum is cut off from bacteria limiting oxygen, a perfect environment is created for acne bacteria to proliferate.
II. Lipase: This enzyme is released in pores by acne bacteria which then changes sebum into free fatty acids, the kind that acne bacteria loves to eat. As microbes increase, the skin signals an inflammation response which brings in white blood cells to to fight off bacteria. You’ll see this as red, sore inflamed blemishes.
III. Hyaluronidase: This enzyme is released to thin out the skin and allow white blood cells to rush into the infected area more easily. Hyaluronic Acid (which supports, plumps and gives volume to the skin) is broken down by this enzyme. Unfortunately, once the blemish has healed, the tissue doesn’t always go back to it’s original heathy state. The result can be a caving in of the skin, creating an acne scare or leaving a pigmentation stain.
It is now believed that the best way to treat these conditions is to inhibit these enzymes and their influence on problem skin. Using a calming approach to acne can change the face of your acne prone skin.
NEW! 5 HERO INGREDIENTS FOR INFLAMED, ACNE-PRONE SKIN
If you take steps to find and incorporate these ingredients into your skin care program you will help break the chain of events that contribute to acne breakouts.
BETAINE SALICYLATE: Treating acne-prone skin with salicylic acid has become quite popular. Salicylic Acid is a BHA that works kind of like AHA’s to clear the pores, but Salicylic is more anti-bacterial than glycolic and other alpha hydroxy acids. This special version of salicylic acid is even better because it is attached to sugar beet extract. This makes the salicylic acid gentler on the skin and provides time-released exfoliation and pore clearing properties even after the ingredient has been washed off the skin.
[Check out our AHA/BHA Clarifying Mousse.]
CHINESE LICORICE EXTRACT: This ultra soothing version of licorice extract has been shown to decrease the lipase enzyme which is linked to the inflammation cascade created in acne-prone skin. Inflamed blemishes heal much faster, with less of a post breakout mark.
[Look for Clear Skin Solution as a gentle spot treatment.]
AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND TEA TREE OILS: This patented blend of Tea Tree Oils helps neutralize p-acne bacteria without the irritation & redness typically associated with other tree tree oils. Look for 4-Terpineol & New Zealand Tea Tree Oil on the label.
[You’ll find this in Elizabeth Renee Esthetics’ Clear Comfort Masque]
MEADOWSWEET: This fragrant flower extract boosts skin’s natural defenses, helping to maintain a healthy flora on the skin’s surface and in the pores. Researchers are using this botanical extract to limit inflamed acne lesions. Results of the study appear in the April edition of International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Researchers found that applying a 1% solution of meadowsweet extract to skins cells increased the production of an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin by 130%. This is important because excess bacterial growth coupled with a rise in inflammation characterize acne outbreaks.
[At Elizabeth Renee Esthetics, our clients find Meadowsweet Toner a “must have” part of a program to effectively reduce inflamed blemishes.]
SEAWHIP: This ocean derived extract is a super anti-inflammatory ingredient. We feel it is unsurpassed as a calming skin care ingredient. This soft coral, found in the Caribbean, provides potent natural anti-inflammatory properties that have been studied and found to inhibit up to 90% of the enzyme phospholipase. This gives an almost instant calming effect to the skin.
[You can find this ingredient in Seawhip Soothing Lotion as well as in Tranquility Serum by Elizabeth Renee Esthetics.]
So, next time you are breaking out consider a gentler approach to treating your problem skin.