FOUR out of five Irish people have to deal with dreaded skin condition acne – but an Irish skincare expert has shared her top tips to keep spots at bay.
The skin condition can have detrimental effects on the sufferer’s confidence and mental health.
Eavanna Breen, founder of Akina Beauty and Laser Clinic in Dublin, has been treating and helping acne sufferers for nearly 30 years.
And although there is no quick fixes or one-solution-fits-all approaches, the beauty expert believes there a various simple steps that can go a long way to helping ease the issue.
During Acne Awareness Month, Eavanna warned that there are a variety of triggers for the condition – one of the most common being a change in hormone levels causing the skin to produce excess oil.
Other common triggers are a build-up of dead skin cells, a mix of dead skin cells and oils building up in skin follicles, certain medications, and diet.
Eavanna believes that the best way to tackle acne is from several difference angles as every individual case is unique.
She stressed that what will work for one person may not the answer for another.
However, she has set out some expert steps to take that will give the best possible start to a successfully acne clearing.
STOP OVER EXFOLIATING
Our skin’s outer layer has an acid mantle that is made up of complex fluids and lipids (oils) that are secreted from the oil glands.
This layer acts as a protector of the underlying layers of the skin while the naturally occurring bacteria help to maintain healthy skin.
Eavanna explains: “When we exfoliate with harsh products or cleansers, we can upset that balance and take away some of the protection from the acid mantle. When your skin has an impaired acid mantle, it will be more vulnerable to damage, inflammation and acne.
“Acne sufferers often over-exfoliate or over-cleanse because they feel that their skin feels greasy, when in fact they can be doing more harm than good. It is crucial to get the balance right.
“A good oil cleanser is going to be the best option here for achieving a healthy lipid level. Without this, you cannot heal your acne.
“Overly ‘soapy’ or too-harsh cleansers often won’t allow this. The best oil cleanser I’ve ever come across is Skinmade’s Clean & Care oil and is brilliant for acne sufferers”.
CUT OUT REFINED SUGARS
Sugar causes spikes in insulin levels – a hormone considered to have a direct effect on oil production in the skin.
Eavanna details: “A natural process in the body known as glycation is where the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules known as advanced glycation end products or AGEs. The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs are produced in your body.”
“This is bad news because the body does not recognize AGEs as normal and will produce antibodies to fight them, which causes inflammation in the skin. Sugar is in all foods, even whole grains and vegetables turn to glucose when digested.
“The key here is to look at food labels for added sugar and avoid refined sugars. You should also keep the amounts of fruit you eat to a healthy balance with the rest of your food intake.”
EAT A LOW GLYCAEMIC INDEX (GI) DIET
The glycaemic index is the number given to carbohydrates based on how quickly they absorb into the bloodstream.
Eavanna said: “Foods with a high glycemic index will cause spikes in hormonal levels.
“Typically foods that are high GI are sugars and starches. Increased hormonal levels can cause inflammation in the skin, resulting in breakouts.”
CUT MILK (DAIRY) OUT OF YOUR DIET
Recent studies have shown that there is a direct link between those who regularly drink dairy milk and suffer from acne.
Eavanna commented: “For some acne sufferers however dairy has no impact on their acne. A simple way to tell if it is affecting you is to limit dairy for two weeks and see how your skin responds.
“Try alternatives like oat milk, rice milk or almond milk instead. You’ll really quickly get used to the taste switch. Even in tea.”
START USING RETINOID CREAM
Retinoids are products that are derived from Vitamin A, that can be used topically or orally to help deal with acne. Retinol is the basic form of vitamin A.
Retinoids help by regulating the build-up of dead skin cells.
Eavanna explains: “When you initially start to use Vitamin A, it is important to start with small doses to allow your skin to build up your Vitamin A receptors.
“As you increase your dose of vitamin A, you are also increasing your vitamin A receptors and allowing your skin to tolerate higher doses.
“Starting on a high dose of vitamin A will mean that you are more likely to have a retinoic reaction, which can cause redness, inflammation, dryness, breakouts and irritated skin.
“Taking Vitamin A orally can help to reduce the inflammation that is associated with acne.
“It will help with those sore pimples and pustules that are tender to touch. It can take time to see results with Vitamin A so persistence is the key.”
SEE A SKINCARE EXPERT
Eavanna said: “Seeing an expert skin therapist is the best course of action you can take to tackle your acne outbreak.
“They will work with you to find the perfect in-clinic treatments to get you to your optimum skin help and they will also ensure you are using the perfect products for your individual skin’s needs at home.”