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What does the word breakout mean to you?

Ok you look in the mirror and to your horror you have breakout!

Breakout is a word that can mean very different things to different people depending on how their skin breaks out. Breakouts can be either pimples, congestion, acne , blackheads, whiteheads or red flaky irritation. By telling a beauty consultant “I have breakout” without a further questioning you could be given a myriad of solutions possibly not right for your problem. It is important to learn what it is your skin does, so you can ask the right questions and therefore receive the right answers,  products or treatments.

If you get red flaky irritation, which can also have little white heads, this is generally a sign of a fragile skin that has been overstimulated. Active products, products that you may be intolerant to, waxing, stress, over stimulated skins can break out this way. The worse thing you can do is, treat it like acne. This skin needs healing, calming and strengthening. Products that are often found in sensitive skin ranges are the ones to consider. The little whiteheads are from an auto-immune response and not excess oil and bacteria. It is common to see the whitehead rash when exposed to fumes from paint or pollution. This form of breakout is rarely permanent, so there is no need to have an entire range of skin care for the problem. What I suggest is to either have a facial treatment to calm the skin or invest in products like serums or masks to treat the occasional need.

Congestion can look like little  pink pinheads on the skin or can be little lumps that are the same colour as the skin. The first congestion condition is often due to insufficient hydration. One of the mistakes people make trying to treat this, is to exfoliate and then clay mask, this sadly can exacerbate the condition. When the skin becomes dehydrated it becomes very tight and natural oil can get trapped within the skins pores instead of moving naturally to the skin’s surface. To get the skin to release and to be less tight you need to hydrate. If you find fighting dehydration is a constant battle, try adding a serum to your routine or if it is more lifestyle induced ,use a moisture mask. The congestion that causes  little lumps(which do not look so little with a magnifying glass) are due to a stimulant causing excess oil production and the skin being fine so the oil becomes trapped. An internal culprit is androgen, as it can stiffen oil so it will not flow properly and as a result causes congestion. The second internal culprit is testosterone, which can stimulate oil production, which for some people means congestion others it is just oily skin. External culprits can be product that is too rich for your skin or over exfoliating. The rich product is self explanatory, however it does not always mean the product is inferior, it may just not be a good match for you. Over exfoliating on the other hand is very common and it can make the skin vulnerable and resistant. When the skin becomes resistant it blocks anything being absorbed or being expelled.

Blackheads are a point of contention in the industry. It is generally accepted that blackheads are oil trapped in the pores that then oxidises and changes colour to the undesirable black. There are some researchers questioning this theory and propose that it could be a pigmentation of sorts, the jury is still out on this point. The most common antidote to blackheads is to exfoliate and clean. I should also mention that one thing that blackheads are not, is dirt. If you have blackheads then you need to ensure you keep a good balance between removing (cleaning and exfoliating ) and adding (hydrating, hydration is adding water not oil). It takes the two steps to control blackheads, first to clean and breakdown the blackend bit of the oil and then to help the oil flow again the skin needs to be well hydrated.

Acne or pimples, I can hear you all screaming as I write this. Acne seems to know when not to turn up and appear anyway. There are so many misconceptions regarding acne. Firstly it is not reserved for teenagers. Teenage acne is directly related to hormones and compounded in some cases with bad diets. Adult acne can be hormonal stimulated from estrogens, testosterone and/or androgen. These hormones can be stimulated by so many factors from ovaries/testis to menopause, contraceptive pills, diet and excessive exercise and of course stress to list a few. According to the Chinese, where the acne is found on the skin, is an indicator of internal problems from teeth, to asthma, to a big lunch! If you only get a pimple now and then my advice is to have a product that fights individual pimples. What you need to be careful of doing, is treating the whole face for what may only be on the chin. Some people then avoid using their moisturiser over the area, I highly recommend to continue using your moisturiser because then skin needs to stay healthy and be moist to heal properly. If the acne is a bigger issue than a few pimples here and there, then I recommend to seek some professional advice. For the unlucky few who this represents another warning is not to over treat with different treatment paths, allow the one treatment time to work before seeking another. In regards to scarring,  I suggest not starting to address this until you have the acne under control, not necessarily gone, just under control. Think carefully before deciding on which treatments are right for you. There are prescription medications which have their place however may cause dryness and irritation and/or depression. When used correctly, for the right person, they can be very effective. It frustrates me as a professional how many jump into medications without looking at basic skin care routine and diet and investigating medical issues (acne can be a symptom). When treating adult acne there are two steps for improvement. One is to relieve the inflammation caused at the base of the epidermis (usually caused by stress) which narrows the neck of the pore creating a well for oil and bacteria build up causing a pimple. Secondly is to minimise oil production and bacteria build up within the pore. Adult acne rarely gets the result with products that are targeted for teenagers as they do not combat the inflammation issues. Treating acne is very specific to each individuals issues, my best advice is  to contact me with your particular skin  concerns and I can help you.

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