If you’re keeping up a regular cleansing regimen and you’re still having breakouts, the problem could be under your skin — hormones.
How does acne start?
At the root of it all, acne starts when pores are clogged from the buildup of dead skin cells, dirt and excess sebum (oil). This blockage can be cleared off with regular cleansing. But what turns this blockage into acne is bacteria called propionibacterium acnes, otherwise known as p.acnes.
P.acnes grows deep in our pores, thriving in a low-oxygen environment, using sebum as its “food”. When pores are clear and sebum production is normal, p.acnes resides naturally within our skin, not wreaking havoc. But when pores are clogged and sebum production is excessive, p.acnes has the perfect environment to multiply and cause acne.
So how do hormones come into play?
There’s a reason why you’re more prone to acne during that time of the month or when you’re feeling stressed. The body produces more hormones during these periods, which increase sebum production, and in turn encourages the growth of p.acnes in pores. While we can’t do a whole lot to regulate our hormones during a natural menstrual cycle, we can improve our lifestyles to manage stress better. For example, take time out to exercise or meditate to take your mind away from your stress factors.
Shouldn’t I cleanse more to help clear out p.acnes?
When we see a breakout, our first instinct is to increase our cleansing efforts. More cleansing = cleaner skin = less acne, right? Wrong. Over-cleansing strips our skin of its natural oils, causing our already overactive glands to produce even more oil — setting up a negative cycle of oil production, worsening acne.
So, what can I do?
Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t cleanse at all. Start with an oil-free, deep-cleansing facial wash that includes acne-busting ingredients like salicylic acid, herbal clay or thymol. And follow-up with a lightweight, oil-control moisturizer — one that doesn’t clog pores — to keep skin hydrated and slow down oil production.
While you may be tempted to cover up red spots with makeup, refrain from doing so, as makeup will clog pores further.