For many people, acne and accompanying oily skin can be a daunting and frustrating part of everyday skin care. Acne is also not just something that affects teens, either: adults can be equally prone. This can be attributed to a number of factors.
One of the primary functions of the skin is to help regulate temperature – and in a characteristically hot summertime climate like South Africa’s, heat and humidity play a role. Our bodies produce more sweat in response to heat, and part of that process also involves the sebaceous glands in the skin producing more oil and sebum, a waxy substance that acts as a natural coating and moisturiser for your skin.
Too much oil and sebum in your pores, however, can lead to pore blockage and dirt buildup, and is often a primary cause of acne. Acne is also not a surface condition: it is formed under the outer layer of skin and is actually part of the body’s natural biological processes. Each person’s unique metabolic pathways are affected by a variety of factors and may respond differently. This means that what may cause acne in one individual may not have the same effect on another person exposed to the same metabolic triggers.
Which is why there is no simple answer as to what causes acne, and there isn’t a single effective treatment protocol, either. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that lead to acne:
BACTERIA AND MICRO-ORGANISMS ON YOUR SKIN
One of the primary causes of acne is the over-production of oil within the skin. The oil glands are situated inside the hair follicle, and when excessive oil or sebum is secreted, the oil can oxidise, causing a literal blockage of the pore. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘plug’.
A white plug is known as a whitehead, and a brown or black plug is commonly called a blackhead. These are actually the same thing – the darkening is not caused by dirt, but by the oxidation of the oil in the pore.
When pore blockage occurs, inflammation or reddening of the surrounding tissue is a common side effect. This happens because of a build-up of certain types of skin bacteria. This bacteria occurs normally on the skin, and there are specific strains of bacteria that feed on sebum. So, as sebum levels increase, so do bacteria colonies, causing inflammation as a natural bodily response.
These bacterial colonies thrive under the surface of the skin and can’t be washed off or exfoliated. However, by maintaining clean skin and practicing regular exfoliation, you can largely prevent pore plugs and acne from forming. Another by-product of inflammation is the production of pus, which in turn increases the concentration of microbes and bacteria. Then, bacteria reproduces, and there is a localised outbreak of acne that progressively becomes more difficult to control.
In the case of severe acne, a medical practitioner may recommend a course of low-grade antibiotic to prevent further bacterial spread.
THE ROLE OF HORMONES
Testosterone, the so-called ‘male hormone’ present in all genders, plays a major role in acne formation. Most notably, it is associated with the over-stimulation of the skin’s oil glands. (This is why people who take anabolic steroids also commonly suffer from persistent acne.)
Testosterone also alters the skin cells that line hair follicles, making them stickier and more likely to clog pores.
Progesterone, a hormone produced within the ovaries, is also a common culprit. It’s been linked to increased body temperature along with more profuse sweating, leading to clogged pores. This build-up of sebum beneath the skin’s surface — along with dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria — commonly results in breakouts of acne before and during a women’s period, due to an increase in the body’s progesterone levels.
HOW EXFOLIATION CAN HELP
The rate at which your body sheds dead skin cells is largely genetically predetermined. However, even in cases where natural skin exfoliation is fairly rapid or regular, the process is sometimes not completed properly. When this happens, cells can cause pore blockage, leading to unexpected acne.
This is also not always predictable and can happen to anyone at various stages of their life. To minimise the risk of acne because of incomplete skin cell shedding, it’s good practice to mildly exfoliate your skin regularly – in addition to practising good skin hygiene.
YOUR CHOICE OF DIET CAN AGGRAVATE ACNE SYMPTOMS
Several key studies point to a correlation between acne and the consumption of milk, milk-based products, and meat. Globally speaking, cultures that consume chiefly plants and very little meat are far less prone to skin problems associated with oily, pimply skin and general acne. For someone who struggles with acne-prone skin, adopting a plant-based diet is an excellent lifestyle choice.
(For the record, we also take the position that a well-balanced, plant-based diet is not only healthier for everyone, but an ethical choice that we strongly encourage.)
Then, of course, there’s sugar, present in so many things we buy and eat – and it’s often hidden. Sugar consumption has conclusively been shown to contribute to inflammation, the suppression of the immune system, and so many more factors that are precursors to poor health and lifestyle-induced diseases. When your blood sugar spikes, it causes systemic inflammation throughout your body – which in turn prompts your body to manufacture more sebum.
And, as we now know, both inflammation and excess sebum can lead to the formation of acne.
The solution? A diet comprised of natural foods, as unprocessed as possible, and drinking lots of water. This not only helps your body to maintain optimum skin health, but positively impacts your energy levels, general well-being, and longevity.
By the way – we’re not saying you shouldn’t have the occasional treat day! Just keep in mind that making even seemingly small daily choices that become healthy habits can lead to wonderful outcomes over time.
THE DOWN TO EARTH ACNE STRATEGY
We’re all about good skincare – and we prefer doing things as naturally as possible. That’s why you won’t find harmful chemicals, artificial additives, or commercial fillers in our products; because we understand that your skin deserves only the best.
By following a good daily skincare regimen, you’re already minimising the likelihood of acne-causing sebum or bacteria in your pores, while keeping your skin, fresh, supple, and rejuvenated at any age.
REFRESH CLEANSER AND REFRESH MOISTURISER
The Refresh Skincare range is made up of clarifying facial skincare products, formulated with potent plant extracts that promote healthy and balanced skin.
For cleaner, toned skin, Refresh Cleanser is a foaming facial gel-cleanser that leaves your skin gently cleansed, clear of micro-irritants and dirt particles, and feeling soothed. To maintain your skin’s natural elasticity and provide protection against the elements, Refresh Moisturiser is a lightweight day and night facial moisturiser that gives you evenly moisturised skin throughout.
We’ve developed the Refresh Skincare range to be effective in conditioning combination skin as well as oily or acne-prone skin. These products gently nurture your skin while cleansing thoroughly and help keep your skin clarified.
Specifically with regard to acne, cosmetics or skincare products that contain salicylic acid at an optimal concentration level have demonstrated very positive results. Our Refresh Skincare Products are synergistically blended with salicylic acid in addition to other proven antimicrobial and healing ingredients. Together, these offer a superb level of skincare:
- Salicylic acid has a mild, gently exfoliating effect on the skin.
- Aloe vera is soothing, which is helpful for acne-prone skin that can be very tender.
- Inulin is a prebiotic that can help restore the delicate balance between good and harmful bacteria.
- Tea tree oil, Lavender, and Rosemary oils all offer natural anti-bacterial protection.
- Calendula possesses amazing wound healing abilities.
- Echinacea is an infection fighting powerhouse – its antimicrobial properties soothe skin irritation and prevent the growth and spread of acne-causing bacteria.
- Bulbinella stimulates cell renewal.
- Allantoin has great wound healing properties, which is helpful as acne is often associated with irritated, scratched, or broken skin.
A PERSPECTIVE: WHY YOU SHOULD USE A MOISTURISER ON OILY SKIN
Why would you use a moisturiser on already-oily skin? At Down to Earth, we’ve formulated our products to take factors like acne and oily skin into account. We also understand that many people with oily skin conditions may feel like a moisturiser makes their skin even oilier – and might lead to pimples or acne breakouts. However, there’s no need to worry about this. Our Refresh Moisturiser is formulated with non-comedogenic oils, which actually help keep dry skin supple and oily skin acne-free. Why? Simply because non-comedogenic oils don’t clog pores.
This allows your skin to breathe while remaining hydrated, and also keeps it free from breakouts. In addition to being non-comedogenic, Refresh Moisturiser also contains ingredients that soothe skin, help stimulate cell renewal, and balance natural skin oil production. When used consistently, Refresh Moisturiser actually helps to minimise the conditions that so often lead to breakouts.
CLEAR SKIN GEL
Down to Earth Clear Skin Gel is a soothing and purifying antimicrobial gel used to care for skin irritations, abrasions, bacterial and fungal infections, and other skin conditions. It contains a powerful blend of aloe vera, tea tree, calendula and echinacea. Clear Skin Gel is designed to act as a treatment product and can be applied to the affected area as frequently as needed. It provides two immediate benefits – it effectively soothes acne breakouts, while reducing inflammation and preventing further infection.
Having a product on hand to immediately treat acne breakouts isn’t just a practical skincare measure, either – it’s also a confidence booster when you need it most.
Looking after your skin is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. By reducing skin damage, maintaining the skin’s natural balance, and minimising conditions that lead to acne, you’ll reap the lifelong benefits of healthy, vibrant skin.
To find out more about the all-natural Down to Earth skincare range, simply contact us for more information.