Our favourite dermatologist Dr. Levashni Naidoo gives us her 9 steps to a clear skin
I’ve been an acne sufferer since adolescence and, before I became a dermatologist, managing my skin was frustrating. I wished I could speak to someone who had successfully navigated the break-out chapter of their life.
My experience as an acne-prone teenager was fairly typical:
My skin felt oily and I thought it would help if I cleansed more frequently and vigorously. I was wary of moisturiser, as it made the oiliness of my T-zone worse. I had a phobia of sunscreen – I could almost feel the onset of a new acne flare-up when I was forced to apply the tacky substance to my face.
In desperation, I tried a number of natural home remedies one after the other and then together. As I stood despondently in front of my bathroom mirror watching my spots change from a strawberry tone to fire-engine red, I wished I could speak to someone who could give me good advice.
Now, as an adult woman who is still acne-prone, I wish I could tell my younger self to breathe, stop picking, step away from the mirror and follow these simple steps…
Step 1: Always be gentle
Cleanse gently twice daily. Aggressive scrubbing may seem like the right thing to do and may feel comforting psychologically, but an aggressive cleansing routine stimulates your sebum (oil-producing) glands to produce more oil.
Step 2: Treat your acne
Acne is a complex inflammatory process. It is not only about overproduction of sebum (skin oil); the composition of that sebum is also the cause of blackheads and whiteheads – the building blocks for pimples and acne nodules. You need to use a skin treatment with ingredients that regulate the amount of sebum produced as well as the quality of the sebum. This helps prevent pores becoming blocked – the cause of the vicious cycle of blackheads, whiteheads and pimples.
I recommend treatment like Bioderma’s Sébium Global. Ingredients like zinc gluconate regulate sebum production, and patented SeboRestore Complex improves the quality of sebum, preventing it becoming thicker and clogging up your pores. Salicylic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids chemically exfoliate the skin gently, improving skin texture and clarity.
Le Beauty Club also recommends:
For moderate to moderate acne: Noreva Exfoliac Acnomega 100
For sensitive skin prone to acne: Noreva Actipur 3in1 Corrective Anti-Imperfection Care, Bioderma Sébium Sensitive Soothing Anti-Blemish Care
Step 3: Yes, you can (and must) moisturise acne-prone skin
I’ve found in my practice that people with acne commonly fear moisturiser. My aim is to get my patients to change their mindset. Instead of trying to dry out their skin by every means possible, they need to become comfortable with using a moisturiser.
Oily skin can become very dehydrated, especially if you strip away its protective barrier film, which prevents water loss. This can cause the skin to produce more oil to stop this water loss. So the answer is to use an oil-free moisturiser. This keeps skin comfortable and helps with skin hydration.
Le Beauty Club recommends:
Bioderma Sébium Mat Control
‘Remember acne is an inflammatory process. The skin needs to be rehabilitated… time is necessary for improvement.
Realistically, it will take up to two to three months to see a marked improvement’
Step 4: Sun Protection is essential!
Sun protection is an important part of your acne care. You may notice that when your acne heals, there is darker pigmentation on the area. And this post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may last a great deal longer than the acne itself.
Protection from ultraviolet, infrared and visible light helps prevent this pigmentation becoming worse. And on affected skin, it will help with a speedier return to your original complexion.
It’s important to remember that most treatment options for acne increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight – another reason sunscreen is a vital component of any complete skin care regime if you are serious about improving the appearance of your acne.
Newer sunscreens are formulated with microparticle technology so they do not have a thick and greasy texture, they are absorbed rapidly and leave a nice matte finish.
Sunscreens I love from the Bioderma range for acne-prone skin include Bioderma’s Photoderm Aquafluide with a dry-touch finish, which has beautiful mattifying properties, and Bioderma’s Photoderm Nude Touch – a mineral-based sunscreen for those sensitive to chemical filters. Photoderm Nude Touch has an evolutionary liquid-to-powder finish, leaving your skin with an elegant finish.
Le Beauty Club also recommends:
Noreva Exfoliac Matifying Suncare Fluid SPF 50+
Step 5: Don’t pick at your pimples
Despite what you may see on social media or television, there isn’t a right way to pop a pimple. Popping, pinching or squeezing carries the risk of driving the inflammatory process deeper into your skin and leaving scarring of a permanent nature. Try to resist the temptation. Use a treatment instead.
Step 6: Avoid heavy make-up
In the myriad-filtered world we live in, asking someone with acne to leave home without a long-lasting foundation seems like stripping them of a layer that shelters them from enquiring glances.
The truth is, as comforting as a heavier make-up cover may feel, occlusion (pore-blocking) of any sort may make your acne worse. Rather use a concealer on areas that bother you more, and use a lighter, breathable foundation over the rest of your face.
Le Beauty Club tip: Using clean hands or brush, pat on the concealer and build up the coverage where you want it.
Step 7: Watch Your Diet
Numerous studies have been conducted on diet and acne, and while there isn’t an association with any particular food group, the association between a high gylcaemic index diet and acne has been confirmed. So, as with most things in life, an exercise in moderation does show benefits.
Step 8: There Is No Quick Fix!
In moments of desperation, we are more prone to trying or believing any remedy that is shared with us or that we read about, no matter how weird (applying toothpaste to your acne is never a good idea).
Remember, acne is an inflammatory process. The skin needs to be rehabilitated medically – either topically (with a treatment cream) and or orally, depending on its severity.
And, as the term rehabilitation implies, time is necessary for improvement. Realistically, it will take up to two to three months to see a marked improvement in any safe, effective acne programme.
Step 9: There is always hope – even for the most challenging acne cases
I frequently see challenging acne cases. Whether you’re a teenager anxious about the departure from smooth skin or an adult frustrated by breakouts you have come to feel is your lot, don’t despair!
There is always something that may be altered in terms of the actual ingredient or delivery of ingredients that may help you on your path to smoother skin!
Here’s wishing you happy skin days,