Out, spot, out
Growing older also demands growing wiser — especially when adult acne strikes. mary lim outlines several strategies to keep the skin zit-free
social media nearly had us fooled. Kendall Jenner very nearly stole the thunder at this year’s Golden Globes red carpet not for her dress but with the acne on her cheeks and chin. The Internet had a field day as followers chose to diss (or defend) the catwalk princess. She would have none of that, and subsequently called on others to “never let that sh** stop you!”
Singer-songwriter Lorde has also taken to Instagram to share about her struggle with acne. “Do you wash your face? It’s like, yes, I wash my face, I’m just genetically cursed,” she laughed.
Other famous faces who have publicly flaunted their zit-hit miens include Chrissy Teigen, who garnered more than 16,000 likes with her “period skin”, and Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, who tried “everything” to improve acne until she learnt it was related to her polycystic ovary syndrome.
No matter how these personalities and influencers try to upsell on self-acceptance and confidence, regular folks such as you and I are apt to remain skeptical. It is one thing to battle
pimples during puberty; it is another to spend most of your adulthood caked in concealer. Females have been handed the shorter end of the stick — adult acne is more common in women than men, so goes a report in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. The same study also reveals that breakouts appear on the lower third of the face, jawline and neck, suggesting that they are due to hormonal fluctuations.
Save for the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, changes in a woman’s hormone levels have much to do with stress. CRH (short for corticotropin-releasing hormone), which is triggered by stress, binds to receptors in sebaceous glands and sends sebum production soaring, causing inflammation and resulting in pimples. So you might want to increase those visits to the gym — exercise releases endorphins that can help increase feelings of relaxation.
The products we use to improve our skin can sometimes have the opposite effect. Steer clear of comedogenic ingredients (some common examples include laureth-23, cocoa butter and oleth-3) as these can clog pores, and fragranced formulas. If you use makeup regularly, go for lighter coverage and apply with a gentle hand. If makeup causes itchiness, ditch it. Pay attention to cleansing as well; check that your cleanser contains ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help rid impurities and inhibit the formation of blemishes.
A diet heavy on refined carbs such as processed foods and white rice can cause spikes in your blood sugar, leading to excessive insulin in the blood. This stimulates the production of pore-clogging cells and increase activity in oil glands. Eat more of foods like whole grains, fresh vegetables and lean protein instead. Include foods or supplements with probiotics, as good bacteria promote gut health and cut acne development.
If acne persists despite consistent use of overthe-counter topical treatments, consult a dermatologist. Clinics such as Cambridge Therapeutics offers various treatments to help patients deal with acne and related concerns, such as inflammation, sebum production and scarring. The Neogen Plasma Acne Treatment uses plasma technology to tackle even conditions such as eczema and pigmentation.
Plasma energy has a sterilising effect so it destroys bacteria and impedes its growth in skin. This can improve inflammation (and the redness that accompanies it). And by working from the deep dermis layers, it promotes more effective healing and skin regeneration. As such, skin’s ability to absorb ingredients becomes boosted, which further enhances the benefits of topical treatments.
The treatment does not use laser so it’s gentler on skin that’s more sensitive or prone to redness. Better yet, it also does not require oral medication, such as antibiotics, which is usually prescribed to treat severe acne.
Another treatment available at the Cambridge Medical Group is its Innovative Korean Acne Treatment Solution. Through the technique of electrothermolysis, an insulated mosquito needle is inserted into skin to target sebaceous glands where the acne occurs. This method supposedly helps minimise recurrence and downtime, and is recommended also for scar removal.
If you are OK with laser, consider Pico + Hexa MLA. The Pico laser not only offers lightning-fast but also ultra-short (one trillionth of a second, to be exact!) pulses. The other component is the Hexa Microlens Array Technology, lauded for focusing light energy up to 15 times more in each dot for better precision and results.
How it works: When used together, they create tiny “bubbles” under the skin that lift depressed acne scars upwards to the surface. Skin becomes smoother as a result. As this technique does not hurt the surrounding cells, recovery is supposedly quicker at typically two days. It is also considered less painful than, say, CO2 laser and subcision.
A session can be completed in under 10 minutes, during which a topical anaesthetic cream is applied to keep your skin comfortable. After that, a cooling mask is done to accelerate healing. Scabs usually form one or two days after but should fall off naturally within seven days.
Reality bites but behind every cloud lies a silver lining. Those with acne-prone skin are likely to not only live but also look younger for longer than those with perfect skin.
A study by the King’s College London analysed skin samples from more than 1,200 female twins and showed that people with acne usually have longer telomeres, which cause them to age more slowly. Telomeres are the caps found on the tips of chromosomes, which serve to protect cells against deterioration. Over time, telomeres can become shortened and eventually break down to bring about cell death and hasten ageing.
Now that’s something even grown-ups will appreciate.
Behind this cloud lies a silver lining: Those with acne-prone skin are likely to live and look younger for longer