cause and prevention blemish

Cause & Prevention

Whether you’re prone to occasional breakouts or everlasting flare-ups, the key to keeping blemishes at bay is understanding how they are formed in the first place.

So, what exactly are blemishes? Simply put, a blemish is a clogged pore caused by three circumstances: excess sebum, the build-up of dead skins cells and the accumulation of acne-causing bacteria, propionibacterium (P. acnes). In theory, getting rid of just one of these circumstances should help to treat blemish-prone skin. But the best treatment comes from targeting all three.

Excess sebum

Excess sebum is what causes an oily, greasy complexion. It happens when the sebaceous glands go into overdrive, producing more natural oils than the skin requires. This is quite often the result of hormonal changes, and is most common during puberty, before the peak of the menstrual cycle and in premenopausal women. The trouble starts when the excess sebum starts to clog pores rather than flowing freely onto the skin’s surface. This marks the birth of a pimple and it can happen weeks before you actually notice a blemish appearing.

Our experts recommend…

Although excess sebum is usually down to an individual’s hormone levels, there are still steps you can take to improve an oily complexion with your skincare. Dioic acid has been shown to reduce the production of sebum at a cellular level, and cinnamon helps to reduce the presence of insulin, one of the key hormones responsible for sebum creation. With regular application, both actives can effectively combat shine and oiliness from the very first application and beyond.

Dead skin cells

Your skin renews itself every 30-40 days. But when excess sebum is trapped inside the pore, dead skin cells can get stuck in all that extra oil, creating an airtight blockage within the pore. At this point, oxygen can no longer flow freely through the pore, which means that bacteria – the infamous P. acnes – begin to thrive.

Our experts recommend…

The best way to target the build-up of dead skin cells is to exfoliate regularly. But it’s not always a wise move to reach for the facial scrub. Using abrasive materials, such as exfoliating beads and facial brushes, can aggravate blemishes and cause further inflammation. Instead, use a chemical exfoliant such as salicylic acid. This beta hydroxy acid (BHA) works by breaking down the ‘glue’ that binds dead skin cells together, allowing them to shed naturally. Even better, it penetrates deep within the skin to clear dead skin cells and sebum from the inside of the pore as well as from the surface of the skin.

A blemish is a clogged pore caused by three circumstances: excess sebum, the build-up of dead skins cells and the accumulation of acne-causing bacteria.

Acne-causing bacteria (P. acnes)

In a normal, healthy complexion, P. acnes live happily on the skin without causing a problem. This is because oxygen from the air keeps them at relatively low levels. But in the midst of an air-tight, oil-filled pore, P. acnes begin to rapidly multiply. As they increase, they begin to feed on the excess sebum, converting it into irritating free fatty acids. These acids are what triggers the body’s immune system and consequently the red, sore inflammation that we refer to as blemishes.

Our experts recommend…

Reducing P. acnes on the skin can significantly lower the risk of a breakout. Look out for antibacterial actives such as lauric acid, tea tree oil and cinnamon extract. They work by destroying P. acnes and inhibiting their growth. Alternatively, you can increase the levels of good bacteria on the skin using prebiotics and probiotics. This allows the skin to regain its natural balance, as the good bacteria overpowers the bad, keeping P. acnes at bay.