What causes skin impurities?
Before we delve into the best products to improve acne-prone skin, let’s start with some scientific background behind those pimples. Once you understand the main causes behind breakouts, it will be easier to prevent and treat them, I promise you!
The scientific name for pimples is “comedones” and they are the result of dead skin cells and skin oils clogging pores. The two main processes responsible for their formation are unbalanced renewal of the outermost layer of the skin and increased sebum production.
A comedo can be open or closed by skin, solo-standing, or appear in clusters. Not all comedones are a sign of acne; some of them are just the result of lifestyle habits (e.g., diet) and hormonal changes (e.g., PMS). In fact, there is no acne without sebum hyperproduction, but sebum hyperproduction can occur without acne.
When discussing what causes acne, there are more factors to consider. Alongside increased sebum production and cells build-up of dead skin cells, other primary causes are bacterial growth and inflammation. Moreover, there are also many secondary triggers that play a significant role in the development of acne. For example, increased hormonal activity (e.g., puberty, pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome), stress, and medications.
Stress can affect your skin in various ways. For acne, stress indirectly makes the skin produce more oil. This extra oil is like food for bacteria, particularly one called Propionibacterium acnes. According to many studies, this bacterium is involved in the development of acne, and when it multiplies excessively, it can cause inflammation. Your body's immune system attempts to combat this inflammation, leading to the redness you see around pimples.
What types of skin impurities exist?
We have explored the main causes of pimples, but we still need to differentiate all types of impurities to be able to treat them. Let´s take a look at the most common ones you can experience:
- Open comedones are commonly called “blackheads”. Since they are not covered by skin, the mix of dead cells and sebum stuck in pores is exposed to air. The black color of the tip is the result of the oxidation of lipids, which are part of the sebum composition.
- Closed comedones are generally known as “whiteheads.” Unlike blackheads, these ones are covered by skin, which is why the edge appears white or yellowish.
- Acne, as mentioned before, is the result of an inflammatory process of the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. Besides whiteheads and blackheads, it is characterized by reddish papule, cysts, and pustules.
How to treat skin impurities
First things first: To prevent impurities from appearing in the first place you need to start with a good cleanser. You should always cleanse at the end of the day, even if you don´t wear makeup, to remove all the excess sebum your skin naturally produces and any dirt and pollutants from the environment. Our Daily Foaming Cleanser is formulated with 100% natural cleansing actives and cucumber water, which makes it very gentle on the skin. And if needed, you can use it after our Cleansing Balm as part of a double-cleansing ritual. Paring these two cleansing products will definitely help you get away with skin blemishes. Read all about why you should start double cleansing here.
Even if you do your best to try preventing breakouts, there are so many causes behind them that sometimes they just pop up, usually just in time for a very important occasion. How annoying, right? To make skin impurities go away faster, there are two main ingredient categories that you can introduce to your skincare routine:
- Keratolytic agents: These are actives that progressively get rid of the hyperkeratinization of the follicle and purify pores. The most commonly used one to deal with breakouts is salicylic acid, a BHA which is not only an effective exfoliant, but also improves cell renewal and acts as a sebum regulator. If you are intrigued by this multi-power active, you should give our Skin Perfector 2% BHA a try.
- Oil-secretions controlling agents: These are actives that have a sebum-regulating action, meaning they help reduce the amount of sebum produced that could potentially clog pores. Zinc salts are especially effective at this. You can find Zinc PCA in our Pore Minimizing Serum, which also contains salicylic acid for extra pore purification.
Since you have made it to the very end of this long and dense blog post, you deserve some extra tips and tricks to prevent breakouts! Head to our last blog post for more Dos & Dont's.
- Blackhead vs. whitehead vs. pimple: what’s the difference? - Reviewed by C. Richa, MD, written by L. Zielinsk (2021)
- What is acne and why do I have pimples? - Pediatric Dermatology Vol. 32 (2015)
- Comedone Formation: Etiology, Clinical Presentation, and Treatment - Cunliffe, William J et al. Clinics in dermatology vol. 22,5, (2004)
- Neuroendocrinology and neurobiology of sebaceous glands - Clayton, Richard W et al. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society (2020)
- The association between stress and acne among female - Zari S. and Alrahmani D., (2017).
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