Acne and Oily Skin
How does hydration, or more specifically dehydration really impact oily, acne prone skin? As counter intuitive as it sounds, the more water you feed your oily, acne prone skin, the less oil it needs to produce.
Our skin naturally produces sebum- an oily, waxy substance created to protect and lubricate the skin. This production is dependent on many external and internal factors such as hormones and weather, genetics, and individual skin conditions. We need this oil, however, often when we cleanse the oils from our skin, especially with harsh foaming cleansers, we strip the vital protective lipid barrier which holds water within the skin and protects it from microorganisms. Over time, if that lipid barrier is broken down, it leaves the natural water in your skin exposed to heat and humidity, which leaches it straight out- a process known as trans epidermal water loss, or TEWL. What we are left with is not only a hyper production of oil, but also a lack of water. Our skin requires water, but it can’t create it on its own, so the moment it is lacking, it starts to make its own moisture- Cue oily, uncomfortable skin.
The first thing I do with a client who is suffering from persistent acne is check their homecare routine. They’re generally using harsh foaming cleansers, alcohol-based toners, and nothing to moisturise or protect their skin- because to them, their skin is already too oily, do they don’t want to feed it further. The combination of harsh surfactants and alcohol strips the water and oil from the skin, often causing destruction to the acid mantle and causing inflammation, redness and irritation. They’re then furthering this irritation by depriving the skin of the water it needs, and further triggering the skin’s oil production. When the acidic lipid barrier is compromised, it allows bacteria to thrive more easily within the skin. Now that we’ve created the perfect environment for pustules to develop, we treat them with peroxides, which will initially kill bacteria, but damage skin over time. This is due to an alkaline solution being applied to our naturally acidic skin- this process creates a neutralised environment- perfect for bacteria to thrive. The peroxides also damage cell membranes, which can lead to scarring and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and further breakdown of the acid mantle.
Basically, it’s a vicious cycle.
For a compromised, acne prone skin, we need to strip back to the basics. A gentle cleanser, a gentle, hydrating toner to balance the pH and restore the barrier function, a hydrating moisturiser to restore the water and plump and relieve tight skin, B vitamins to restore the barrier function and an oil free SPF top help protect inflamed, healing skin from further stress and scarring. Once we reduce the inflammation within the skin, we can look at actives such as Vitamin A and salicylic acid to reduce the oil plugs and target acne causing bacteria. Sadly, there is no real way of preventing hormonal acne, but we can reduce severity and ensure we maintain overall skin health and integrity to allow it to deal as well as it can with breakouts and heal a lot more effectively.
For more information on dehydration or oily skin, we offer consultations to discuss individual, tailored homecare and clinical treatment options.
|PCA Clarity treatment with 2% salicylic acid and 0.5% retinol.|
|Aspect Dr’s Multi B Plus reduces inflammation and restores barrier functions with a combination of B vitamins and calming botanicals.|
|Cosmedix’s Benefit Balance toner hydrates while providing antioxidant protection and restoring pH balance.|