Blemished skin Beauty Tips

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Teenagers suffer the most, but spots and pimples can affect the skin at any age. Whether you suffer from the odd tiny pimple or regular spots, there are two things to remember: first, blemished skin always appears worse to the sufferer than to anyone else, and second, excellent products and treatments are available so that any blips and blemishes can be zapped out of existence in no time.

What are the different types of blemished skin?
Blemishes can range from blackheads on the T-zone to one or two spots on the chin to several spots all over the face.
  • Blackheads are caused by sebum blocking the hair follicle that oxidizes on exposure to the air.
  • Whiteheads are tender, red blemishes that develop raised, white centres. They occur when excess sebum blocks a hair follicle which causes the sebaceous gland to become inflamed.
  • Cysts are painful, red, fluid-filled lumps under the skin. They persist for several weeks and are more likely than other types of blemishes to lead to scarring.

What causes blemished skin?
Increased sebum production is, to a great extent, caused by hormonal imbalance which is often why spots are often triggered by the onset of puberty or during pregnancy. Temporarily blemished skin can be the result of overloading your body with pollutants such as alcohol, coffee, tea and the chemicals found in tobacco smoke and failing to supply it with essential nutrients. Add to this stress - which can increase the production of some hormones that affect the sebaceous glands - a lack of fresh air, exercise, sunshine and sleep and it's not surprising it shows on your face.

Balance skin from within
Eating a balanced diet and, if necessary, taking appropriate supplements, is a vital part of creating a healthy complexion. Bear in mind that it takes a good three weeks for newly formed cells to reach the skin's surface, so it takes time for lasting results to show. Vitamins A, C and E, selenium and zinc are essential antioxidants that help to enhance collagen repair and generally promote skin healing. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) can also have a positive effect on skin as they form a barrier that prevents moisture loss that helps combat dryness, fine lines and wrinkles.

What to avoid if you have blemished skin
Blemished skin needs special care. Sometimes, less is more. Avoid:

  • Overwashing It can actually make spots worse as it strips away facial oils, stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce even more sebum.
  • Oil-based products They can lead to breakouts.
  • Aggressive scrubbing This will only make the problem worse.
  • Switching products Trying too many new things doesn't give anything a chance to work. Introduce one new product at a time, giving each at least three weeks to take effect.
  • Soap-containing detergents They will strip the skin of its natural acid mantle, disturbing the acid pH that protects the skin from harmful bacteria, including the type that can cause certain forms of spots.
  • Squeezing or picking spots This increases your risk of bruising, discolouring or even scarring the skin.
  • Sun exposure The sun can temporarily dry out blemishes and a light tan certainly makes you feel more attractive. However, sunscreen is still essential and you should weigh the short-lived pros against the long-term cons (an increased risk of premature skin ageing and skin cancer).

The best skincare routine for blemished skin
Blemished skin needs to be kept clean and moisturised like any other skin type. The key is to choose the right products.

  • Look for a pH-balanced cleansing bar or medicated cleanser that won't disrupt the skin's acidity. Rinse with warm, not hot, water.
  • Follow up with a mild toner (too much alcohol may cause irritation and drying), preferably with antibacterial properties. Toner works to restore the skin's natural acid layer that kills bacteria and protects the skin from breakouts.
  • Don't be shy about moisturising. Oily, blemished skin still needs hydration. Look for products that are non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic. Those that contain silica and polymers lift oil away from the skin.
  • Consider an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) product to break up dirt and oil and ensure the continual renewal of the skin's surface cells. Using a product with Retin-A at night will aid the exfoliation process.
  • Look for products containing benzoyl peroxide to treat pus-filled pimples. Products with salicylic acid or glycolic acid effectively unclog blackheads and whiteheads by drying and peeling the skin.