According to a 2015 study from the British Association of Dermatologists, ‘acne is (…) the eighth most prevalent disease worldwide, with numbers rising, especially amongst teenagers and young adults. Even before the newly common ‘mascne’ took over the world, estimates suggest that a whopping 90% of people worldwide have struggled with acne at some point in their life.
While acne is considered a skin disease, studies have shown that the condition can have a big impact on the mental wellbeing of people affected. And, having struggled with hormonal acne myself for over a decade, I would definitely agree with that statement. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to filter through the large number of grand promises from skincare brands and recommendations from self-proclaimed skincare experts online, and find a solution to the issue.
While I’m by no means a dermatologist, a decade of battling with this skin condition teaches you one thing or another. So here’s my personal list of do’s and don’ts to deal with acne. And don’t worry, it doesn’t include the typical ‘drink more water’ and ‘take off your makeup at night’ recommendations (even though you should do both). Let’s get right into it!
DO look outside of the box - your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong, listen to it and try out different things. Acne doesn’t always mean that your skin is problematic or sick, sometimes it’s your body’s way of indicating a hormonal imbalance, a skincare product intolerance, an inflammation caused by foods or extreme stress and sleep deprivation. Try reducing exterior stress factors, getting your healthy eight hours of sleep, working out and eating as healthily as you can. You can also try cutting out different foods for a while (like dairy products, different meats and snacks that include vast amounts of sugar) to see how your body reacts, though be sure to check with a doctor or nutritionist to ensure you’re still getting the nutrients you need.
DON’T touch the pimples, as tempting as it might be. An easy way to avoid touching the affected areas is by putting on a transparent pimple patch, for instance, it’ll function as a physical boundary and combat the pimple from within.
Going along with our previous point, DO disinfect your phone regularly and change your bed sheets often, as they both get in contact with your face very often and can harbour acne-causing bacteria.
DON‘T plaster on makeup, as tempting as it might be. I know that - depending on your skin’s state - it might be very tempting to try and cover it up as best as you can, but your skin needs to breathe and regenerate. So try to keep your foundation, concealer and powder use to a minimum. And if you do apply your glamorous full-face of makeup, make sure to do it with clean makeup tools (brushes, sponges and so on).
DO consult a specialist if you’re still getting nowhere. I’d even recommend seeing more than one dermatologist, just to get different opinions and make sure you find the best treatment for yourself. Every dermatologist has their way of diagnosing and it can take more than one appointment to find somebody whose way of working corresponds with what you need.
DON’T exclusively listen to what others say, including your dermatologist. Sure, it’s important to get a professional opinion, but make sure to conduct your own research as well. Especially if you’re considering going onto a stronger treatment or are recommended to take the contraceptive pill, which many might suggest as a solution. Make sure you weigh up the options before taking such a big decision. While medication may help your acne pass, it can have an impact on your body in the long run and simply replace one issue with another.
DO get a full-body checkup, even blood tests for hormone levels. Depending on which tests you do, they might not all be reimbursed by your health insurance but, at least, you might find the cause of the issue rather than conceal it.
DON’T compare yourself to others. I know how hard that can be, but especially when your skin condition is taking a toll on your mental health, it’s important to not compare yourself to the airbrushed faces that you see on social media.
DO choose your skincare wisely. Get used to reading up on skincare ingredients and basing your purchasing choices on the ingredients rather than packaging, hype or promises by the brand.
Last but not least, DO be gentle to your skin. While your skin is not exactly playing into your cards right now, it’s important to be nice to it. So stay clear of harsh exfoliators and abrasive products in general - they might lead to even more inflammation, pimples and stress. Remember that it will get better, you’ve got this!