Our skin changes so much each and every day. From the products we use to the weather, everything can trigger problem issues for our skin. Acne has definitely been one skin concern I’ve personally had to deal with as I got older and the more I paid attention to what I was using, eating, etc to my body, the easier it became to get it under control. I’m excited to have Dr. Clay who is a board-certified dermatologist answer top questions on what you need to know about acne and how it can be prevented. Scroll down to to see her answers to top asked questions about acne.
What exactly is acne and who does it generally affect?
Dr.Clay: Acne is a very common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles and pores get plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Bacteria on the skin can also get into these areas leading to inflammation. Acne can be caused by many things such as hormonal changes, increased oil production, friction, and build-up of cosmetic products (conditioners, and heavy oil/liquid-based makeup). The best cleansers are gentle ones, that do not disrupt the skin barrier. In terms of medicated washes, benzoyl peroxide is my favorite for brown skin.
There are also various environmental factors that can cause acne breakouts during the fall and winter for women of color. The winter subjects our skin to harsh elements and low temperatures. The combined effect of these environmental factors causes an imbalance that can lead to acne or eczema breakouts. Depending on your skin type, you might have to change which skincare products you use during the colder months.
What Products/Ingredients Should Be Avoided
Dr.Clay: I always recommend avoiding abrasive mechanical exfoliants such as scrubbing beads or walnut particles which can scratch the skin and make inflammation and dark spots worse. If you have sensitive skin you may want to avoid using too many acid-based products all at once and alternate washing the skin with gentle cleansers. Also avoid black soap, alcohol-based toners, witch hazel, Neosporin, apple cider vinegar, toothpaste, and lemon juice.
Daily Skincare Tips to Prevent Acne
Dr.Clay: Recently, a handful of patients are experiencing “Maskne” which is caused by face masks that are drying out the skin from friction and accumulating bacteria around the mouth, ultimately causing acne to flare up. I tell my patients that it is super important, now more than ever, to deeply cleanse the facial skin without over stripping the stratum corneum and to keep your face moisturized to reduce friction between the skin and mask. I recommend using a gentle cleanser like the Dove White Beauty Bar. With its signature 1⁄4 moisturizing cream and DEFI technology, Dove Beauty Bar is clinically proven suitable for acne-prone skin since it replenishes stearic acid back into the skin, without stripping its natural oils, leaving skin soft, smooth, and fresh. Many people are surprised to hear that you can use a bar cleanser like the Beauty Bar as a facial cleanser!
You can incorporate this gentle skincare cleansing routine by also remembering to wash your cloth masks often. I also suggest using an over the counter product with benzoyl peroxide and adapalene to help reduce breakouts.
Diet Changes/Foods That Cause Acne
Dr.Clay: If you suffer from acne, cut down the consumption of dairy products. Studies have shown that the hormones in milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products may contribute to acne or breakouts. Try switching to soy milk or almond milk and supplement with calcium and vitamin D. Foods that have high sugar content may also worsen acne so be sure to cut out the sweets if you notice they are making your acne worse.
What are some easy things in our daily life we could do to help prevent acne such as getting good sleep, changing bed sheets, SPF, soaps used, etc?
Dr.Clay: Lack of sleep and stress can affect the skin in various ways. Patients will always tell me they feel that stress has contributed to new-onset acne or worsening of existing acne. That’s why I recommend them to make sure they’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep every day and engaging in activities that aid with stress relief; such as yoga, meditation, or even kickboxing! Sunscreen use is essential on a daily basis for everyone, especially someone with acne. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 will minimize post-acne discoloration and blemishes. As always, if you are having trouble getting your acne under control with these tips please consult with a board-certified dermatologist.