Acne: ingredients that work
Are you slightly fed up with the excessive fads that have been circulating regarding ingredients? I know that due to the rise of social media handles like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, we are seeing an increased emergence of trends regarding skincare that may look appealing, but don't necessarily work and are at worst - harmful to the skin. This can be especially disheartening for patients with legitimate skin conditions, diseases and concerns.
So let's take a look at some ingredients that have been clinically and scientifically proven to work for a specific skin condition like Acne.
Acne skin care
First and foremost I deeply feel for you if you are going through the stages of Acne, Acne is a debilitating skin condition that can greatly affect ones sense of pride, confidence and self-esteem - so I feel it is very important for this to be covered. Please know that Acne can present at many different stages of life and that adult-onset Acne is on the rise, particularly in female patients, especially during changes in oral contraceptives. Acne can also present during Menopause and other change of life circumstances. Acne most commonly starts during the teenage years as we undergo hormonal change and become accustom to the influence of Androgenic and Oestrogenic hormones. This process can be quite difficult for some patients to navigate so talking to your Dermal Clinician or Nurse as to which path is best for you is the perfect start!
Salicylic Acid for acne
Salicylic acid is a part of the Beta Hydroxy Acid family, also known as BHA. BHA is the only member of this family unlike Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) that include Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Citric and more. The key differences between these two families and the reason why BHA's and more suitable for Acne patients is due Salicylic Acid's ability to actively penetrate congested pores/hair follicles. BHA's can penetrate the acne lesion to reduce pus, remove oxidised sebum (oil) and cellular debris. Another great feature of BHA's is that they are very anti-inflammatory and can work to actively control inflammation at the site of the breakout.
Cosmedix Clarity serum is an excellent introductory cosmeceutical for treating mild forms of acne, it contains both Salicylic Acid and Retinol, helping to purify and renew congested skin.Aspect BHA Purifying gel possesses a thicker gel-based texture, this gel is best used neat on acne breakouts at night-time, remember to keep your skin moisturised and protected from the sun following this product application!
Niacinamide (B3) for acne
Topical skin vitamin B3 was formally recognised for its cell energising and oil-regulating properties but this is no more! A lot of attention has been paid to B3's ability to regulate sebum production, upregulate cellular energy, increase our ceramide production for a healthy barrier and finally reduce inflammation and redness within the skin and reduce pigment transference throughout he skin layers. These are all important functions when considering Acne, as it is important to support and not over-weaken the barrier function of the acne breakout whilst treating inflammation and excessive sebum. Furthermore, being able to control inflammation and pigment is very important when considering Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIHP) and Acne scarring. I always recommend B3 to my Acne patients, however it is best used as an adjunctive product/ingredient and not by itself in severe acne cases, if you are noticing the start of acne try using a B3 formula to give you an excellent head start on your Acne routine!
B3 can be utilised in the morning (depending on percentage) and in the evening following your Vitamin A to assist with calming the skin.
PCA Clearskin is another lighter gel-based texture and provides 4% Niacinamide, it serves as an excellent lightweight moisturiser if you like to stick to the 1 step.
This a wonderfully gentle introduction into B3 serums, often touted as the 'Berocca of B's', Dr Aspect Multi B Plus assists with providing cellular energy, brightening, controlling oil production and calming the skin.
This potent serum, only available in clinic after a consultation with a Skin Therapist, targets stubborn breakouts and provides intense anti-inflammatory, barrier-restoring, oil-controlling and finally, pigment reducing properties with 22% Niacinamide.
Vitamin A/Retinoids for acne
Vitamin A is our great cell regulator, and one of the first cosmeceuticals I recommend to my patients! It assist to regulate the flow of our sebum and regulate our cellular build-up/debris so that the skin can more efficiently desquamate (self-exfoliate) this build-up of cells. Vitamin A also assists with ensuring that our skin is producing better quality sebum that is less sticky and less likely to be entrapped in our pores and cause further Acne. In addition to this Vitamin A assists with the shift and reduction of pigment residing in the upper skin layers which is perfect for preventing further PIHP. Another wonderful side effect of Vitamin A is that it is incredibly anti-aging, it has the ability to upregulate our skins cellular turnover allowing for fresher and healthier skin to reside on the surface - now who doesn't want that?
Osmosis MD Clarify serum targets acne affected skin, it assists with clearing acne breakouts, oil-production, surface congestion, calming inflammation and finally strengthening the epidermal and dermal skin barrier!
The PCA Intensive Clarity Treatment helps to alleviate excess inflammation present in acne breakouts, controlling oil production, reduced hyperpigmentation, assists cellular turnover and constricts pores.
Treatments for acne
Salicylic Acid Peels - At VCI we use professional concentrations of Salicylic Acid to deliver anywhere from a gentle anti-inflammatory to a more intensified concentration of active Salicylic Acid, to treat oily skin and Acne breakouts - in a controlled clinical environment.
TheraClear - TheraClear is an IPL that is suitable for all skin types! This is particularly exciting for people with darker skin, who previously struggled to treat their acne with peels. It selectively targets and destroys P. Acnes bacteria to allow your skin a better chance to heal Acne breakouts and reduce active infection and subsequent PIHP.
LED - LED is the true holy grail of skin treatments, it is so diverse and can treat a wide-range of skin conditions including Acne. At VCI we can customise an LED session to suit the type of acne presentation whilst considering the health and quality of your skin. LED is an essential for preventing PIHP and the dreaded post acne scarring. If you don't know where to start, LED is the perfect place.
*Please note: that in general and specifically now, when considering active cosmeceuticals to treat Acne, it is important to be religious with your Sunscreen application, SPF will be your best friend now that you are exciting and improving the turnover of your skin cells and exposing them to acids that can make skin more sun-sensitive and especially if you have been prescribed oral or topical acne medication in the past! Although I will always recommend a Zinc-based (physical) SPF for acne patients due to its calming and anti-inflammatory properties, it is important to choose a Sunscreen you will enjoy and continually use daily.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog about Ingredients that work, it is so important to find out what will best suit your skin type and condition prior to starting on active cosmeceuticals, so book in with one of our Dermal Clinicians today to begin your journey to better skin.
Need help with acne scars? Check out our acne scarring serum guide here.
Written by Alara Wierzbinski, Skin Therapist
A qualified Dermal Clinician who is incredibly passionate about taking a holistic and patient-centric approach to advanced skin therapies, skin and skin conditions. Alara is well versed in the nuances of why people seek cosmetic skin treatments and pays great respect to beauty being more than just skin deep.