Adult acne is a vi­cious cy­cle that’s of­ten swept un­der the rug. Not any­more. Li Ying Lim asks the ex­perts to clue us in once and for all.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

Break­ing the cy­cle of adult acne once and for all

The hideous truth of adult acne is a bit like an ur­ban myth. The causes are nu­mer­ous – hor­mones, stress, diet, life­style – and so­lu­tions range from rad­i­cal pro­ce­dures to sim­ple, wa­teronly cleans­ing. Is it any won­der that only a few can ad­dress this con­cern head on? “Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, eat­ing choco­lates or oily food does not cause or ag­gra­vate acne,” says Raj Gnaes­paran, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and co-founder of Clar­i­face Skin Re­ju­ve­na­tion Cen­tre in Bangsar. Dr. Ja­son Yip, res­i­dent der­ma­tol­o­gist at The DRx Clinic, agrees and delves even deeper: “The main cul­prit is usu­ally re­lated to hor­monal changes such as men­stru­a­tion and preg­nancy. Other rea­sons for hor­monal changes that lead to adult acne in­clude stress, lack of sleep, and poly­cys­tic ovar­ian syn­drome ( PCOS), which is a fe­male en­docrine dis­or­der.”


While oral pre­scrip­tions may be nec­es­sary to treat such con­di­tions, there are also other prime sus­pects at play. “While in some cases it may be true that stress and hor­monal im­bal­ance are the causes of acne, acne bac­te­ria would be the ma­jor con­trib­u­tor. So the mo­ment you no­tice an out­break, seek help im­me­di­ately,” ex­plains Gnaes­paran.

Make-up, as well as cer­tain sk­in­care prod­ucts, can ex­ac­er­bate the sit­u­a­tion. “Women of­ten use make-up to cover up acne and scars but this may be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Most cream-based make-up con­tain bis­muth oxy­chlo­ride and boron ni­trate, which have been proven to cause skin sen­si­tiv­ity and cys­tic acne,” he con­tin­ues. “Over-the-counter treat­ments aim to dry up

acne but leave be­hind dead skin cells. Th­ese can clog up the pores even fur­ther. The acne bac­te­ria, how­ever, still lies dor­mant and feeds on dead skin and sebum. As the pores are also clogged with white and black­heads, the acne gets fur­ther in­flamed, lead­ing to cys­tic acne. This is why most peo­ple may no­tice acne rec­cur­ring in the same spot over and over again.”

Even sun­screens can cause un­wanted blem­ishes by clog­ging up pores if the face is not cleansed prop­erly. Dr. Yip rec­om­mends this: “Phys­i­cal-block sun­screens that con­tain titanium diox­ide and zinc ox­ide of­fer the best pro­tec­tion and are suit­able for oily and sen­si­tive skin. As they do not get ab­sorbed into the skin, they do not cause al­ler­gies or clog pores. Al­co­hol or gel-based sun­screens are least likely to worsen acne.”


A good cleans­ing regime and clear un­der­stand­ing of what to feed your skin is im­per­a­tive for suf­fer­ers of adult acne. “It re­ally de­pends on the users’ pref­er­ence and what end-ben­e­fit she is look­ing to achieve,” says Janet Pardo, vice pres­i­dent of global prod­uct de­vel­op­ment at Clin­ique.

The nor­mal per­cep­tion is that the creamier the tex­ture of a prod­uct, the bet­ter it mois­turises. In terms of ef­fi­cacy, how­ever, Pardo has her doubts. “The ques­tion is, ef­fec­tive at what? It is cer­tainly more oc­clu­sive, which means it sits on the skin’s sur­face and may pre­vent mois­ture from es­cap­ing.” But it also sounds like a recipe for disas­ter with re­gard to oily skin. With a higher level of sebum pro­duc­tion, bac­te­ria is prone to spread faster.

“As a rule, I won’t rec­om­mend us­ing any oil,” says Peter Thomas Roth, founder of the epony­mous clin­i­cal sk­in­care line. Like­wise, Dr. Yip ad­vises us­ing any oil-free cleanser that con­tains gly­colic and sal­i­cylic acid. “Gel-based cleansers are fine, but not oil-based ones as they tend to be too oily for our weather and may cause break­outs.” Gnaes­paran how­ever, is still cau­tious of gel for­mu­las. “The molecule size and struc­ture of gel may cause fur­ther block­age to the pores,” he warns.


But don’t worry about adding an­other treat­ment to your al­ready crowded beauty regime just yet. Roth re­veals that the key in­gre­di­ents known to re­duce acne, such as gly­colic and sal­i­cylic acids, can also keep fine lines and wrin­kles at bay.

How­ever, to erad­i­cate the un­even­ness left over from acne-in­flamed skin, Dr. Yip be­lieves laser treat­ment is still the best – and pos­si­bly only – way to com­pletely erase left­over scars and shrink open pores. If you are not averse to slow and steady meth­ods, Roth has an­other so­lu­tion. “You can shrink pores tem­po­rar­ily.” He rec­om­mends us­ing his Max Com­plex­ion Cor­rec­tion Pads.

Other than that, pro­fes­sional ex­trac­tion is in­evitable. “When you visit your aes­theti­cian, you just have to ask her to go all the way and get all the im­pu­ri­ties out, no ex­cuses,” says Roth. “You have to clean it first be­fore shrink­ing it. Once you squeeze the black and white­heads out, the pores will get smaller.” “When our clients first start out with Clar­i­face Acne Fix Ther­apy, we usu­ally have them come back for a facial ev­ery two weeks. This fre­quency is dropped or ad­justed ac­cord­ingly de­pend­ing on the sever­ity of their acne con­di­tion,” says Gnaes­paran, who also stresses on the im­por­tance of a bal­anced diet and drink­ing plenty of wa­ter for the over­all health of the skin.

Thanks to sci­en­tific ad­vance­ment, there may be no short­age of ef­fec­tive sk­in­care so­lu­tions for a woman to choose from.

Nev­er­the­less, for the com­plex­ion to look ra­di­ant and for acne to dis­ap­pear for good, Roth is a firm be­liever of stay­ing on top of it. “You have to re­ally com­mit to a strict facial regime, and you just have to work harder than ev­ery­one else. The up­side is that you will nat­u­rally have less wrin­kles as you get older.”

“Clear, hy­drated, calm skin that func­tions unim­peded is skin in bal­ance. That’s healthy skin.” – Janet Pardo, vice pres­i­dent of global prod­uct de­vel­op­ment at Clin­ique

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