Pesky pimples or sudden breakouts are the most often cited reasons for not participating in Makeup Free Mondays. So, we turned to the pros (AKA Dr. Wechsler and Dr. Gerstner, two of Manhattan’s most sought-after dermatologists) to help us clear our skin for a fresh face for all Makeup Free Mondays ahead!
First of all, what causes us to have less than picture perfect skin?
At the root of virtually all acne is stress and inflammation. Stress turns on inflammatory pathways that result in breakouts. Genetics, menstruation, a new medication, the occasional irritating cosmetic can also contribute to acne, but stress is by far the most influential factor. Stressed or not, pimples appear when pores get clogged with skin cells that haven’t sloughed off the way they should. The dead cells on your skin’s surface get sticky, lining the follicle and clogging it up.
How can we prevent breakouts so we look better than ever (for Makeup Free Mondays, of course)?
– Minimize stress.
– Exfoliate, but don’t overdue it. Overtreating and overscrubing can cause irritation and inflammation, triggering a cascade of local stress-response events that can lead to dryness and breakouts.
– For the same reason, choose gentle, non-comedogenic products. Overtreating the skin with harsh products can cause irritation and inflammation that can lead to breakouts and other skin conditions.
– Wash your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week in hot water so you’re not sleeping on bacteria.
– Wash your makeup brushes frequently. Suds them with shampoo, rinse and hang with the bristles pointing down to dry.
What should we do if we have blackheads?
Blackheads are caused by clogged pores. A daily face wash with benzoyl peroxide to kill the bacteria is helpful. Use this after your daily cleanser. A good one is Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask ($7.99). You can also spot treat an area with a salicylic acid formula, like Vishy Normaderm Anti-Blemish Treatment Cream ($18).
What about red pimples?
Called pustules, these start as red dots, but turn into inflamed lesions with white pus-filled centers. These are caused when the skin produces too many pimple causing oils, setting the stage for a clogged pore. A daily three-step cleansing/toner/moisturizer plan will help keep skin under control. Try Clinique Acne Solutions Clear Skin System Kit ($32.50). The toner will help exfoliate the skin so that those sticky cells don’t clog the pores. Women can also consider birth-control pills to help regulate hormones and reduce the level of testosterone production, which triggers acne.
How should we deal with clogged and enlarged pores?
Clogged pores come from oil containing products or from the over production of sebum. To prevent them, try exfoliating glycolic peels. To treat them, try a form of topical Vitamin A (like Retin-A, Differin) or an in office treatment of microdermabrasion. Sometimes, though, pores look clogged, but rather they are just large pores. To shrink pores, try Fraxel (a laser treatment available at a doctor’s office).
Any other added pointers or tips?
No matter how tempting it is to squash, squeeze, or pick at pimples, don’t to avoid scarring, marks and more inflammation. Your nails are sharp and have bacteria under them, so you risk damaging skin’s deeper layers and creating new pimples right next to the one you’re picking. You can do something: apply a warm compress on a blemish to loosen the thick oily plug of sebum. Then take two clean cotton swabs, place one on each side of the pimple, and apply gentle, even inward pressure. If something comes out, pat the spot dry and put on a treatment. If not, leave it alone – it’s not ready to budge.