Skin Condition 101
Keeping Acne + Breakouts At Bay
By Janell Hickman
Tip 1: Switch Up Your Mask
Despite new developments about a new COVID-19 vaccine, the daily practice of wearing a mask in public isn’t going away anytime soon. Which also means, mask acne (aka maskne) has also become a new normal.
“Heat and humidity can also lead to acne, causing us to actually proliferate oil,” explains Heyday Skincare Educator Glenise Gomez. “Bacteria doesn’t live in places where there's a lot of oxygen. That's what occurs when we have facial acne, or in this case, maskne. We’re creating an environment where sweat, sebum, and bacteria can thrive.”
When possible, opt for a disposable mask or get into the habit of washing your mask daily. Reconsider between uses, storing your cleaned mask in a clean, sealed container like Tupperware or a plastic bag.
Tip 2: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This one is a bit harder for oily skin types to wrap their heads around, but hydration is a major factor when it comes to mitigating breakouts. Here’s why: your skin is constantly undergoing an osmosis process, where nutrients are entering in, and ideally where toxins are exiting out.
“Hydration is extremely important for that osmosis factor because cells need to be hydrated for metabolism to occur,” explains Gomez. “If cell walls are dry or dehydrated, there's no process for elements to exit or enter that cell membrane. It's imperative that the skin is hydrated with any condition, but definitely acne,” she adds.
Another reason hydration matters? Pore-clearing extractions completed during your Heyday facials. “If the skin is not hydrated when we're extracting, we won't have that pliability, and that cell wall will be a little more susceptible to damage,” explains Gomez. “That’s when post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation becomes a concern...it's important for the skin to be absolutely hydrated.”
Tip 3: Keep Pillowcases + Skincare Tools Clean
Remember, dirt, oil, and bacteria play a major role in current and lingering breakouts. Habits like forgetting to swap out your pillowcases, repeatedly using the same washcloth, or not properly cleaning your skincare tools, might be to blame.
Think of it like taking a step backward. You spent time cleansing and treating your face, only to put it on the same pillowcase. It's kind of like returning to a crime scene—you are contaminating everything all over again. “You want to eliminate that by using a clean pillowcase every other night, and by sanitizing the surfaces that you use, like your cell phone screen,” adds Gomez.
Tip 4: Strike A Balance with Exfoliation
When it comes to exfoliation, Gomez admits that clients are either overdoing it or skipping it altogether. That’s why it’s important to resist the urge of self-diagnosis—as it often leads to your skin getting worse.
Over-exfoliation is a no-go for a few reasons: it strips your moisture barrier and acid mantle, and disturbs your skin’s natural microbiome. When you remove all of these “healthy” surface layers, it causes the skin to be more susceptible to infection, specifically bacterial infections.
Acne isn’t caused by “dirty” skin. Over-cleansing or over-exfoliating can actually increase breakouts because it will trigger your skin to produce more oil.
As a defense mechanism, your skin starts producing more oil to hydrate the surface and replenish the microbiome. If you are too harsh with a mechanical exfoliant and are literally scrubbing your skin, you can cause inflammation, trigger a breakout, or further accelerate your current condition. See where this is going?
However, skipping exfoliation means that there is an excess of dead skin cells and oils because the cells aren’t breaking up for proliferation. Imagine, almost like a traffic jam, everything is stuck. “This causes an internal impaction,” adds Gomez. “When you aren’t exfoliating at all, you can actually exacerbate the condition.
Tip 5: SPF Is Imperative
According to Gomez, clients with acne often deal with inflammation because their moisture barrier has been depleted in some way (i.e. over exfoliation, over-cleansing, etc.), and likely hyperpigmentation pending their ethnic background.
“SPF is imperative with acne clients,” explains Gomez. “It minimizes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and can contain healing mineral elements like zinc and copper.”
We tend to put sunscreen on the back-burner during the cooler months, but it’s super important that every single Fitzpatrick type (from light to dark) uses SPF daily. Beyond some of its minerals having multipurpose benefits, it can help minimize acne, especially the inflammatory kind.
Our Top Picks For Fighting Acne
An Antiseptic Toner
Gomez loves to sub in this hydrating mist as a lightweight moisturizer as needed. It also kills breakout-causing bacteria that lives on your phone or is lurking beneath your mask.
A Light Exfoliant
Gently polish away dead skin cells with this enzyme-meets-hydroxy acid powder exfoliant activated by a little water. Work into your routine 2-3x per week to see visible results
A Versatile Moisturizer
Soothe red, irritated skin with this yogurt-based moisturizer designed to fight inflammation. It also features willow bark extract, a known antibacterial (and source of salicylic acid) to keep things calm.
Curb your desire to pick (or worse, pop) current blemishes. These super-smart patches target pimples at their core with a blend of salicylic acid, sodium hyaluronate, and licorice root extract.
An Easy-Going Gel Cleanser
Perfect for most skin types, but designed for oily ones, this foaming, gel cleanser removes dirt and grime without stripping the skin. A win-win for all.
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