It’s the tried and true line for many skin care brands, ‘having blemishes on your face can really knock your confidence’. The line might be a bit tired, but the sentiment is valid. We all feel more confident on ‘good skin days’ and less so on ‘bad skin days’. If you’re skin has blemishes, it’s important to remember that no one notices them as much as you. But if your skin is prone to blemishes, reddening, whiteheads, blackheads or dark spots, and you want to take action, our simple guide is full of tips, tricks and home remedies to help you get to know your skin – and achieve a beautiful healthy glow.
What might cause a blemish, and how to treat them
A good place to start is understanding what might cause a blemish. Identifying what your skin complaint is and understanding what might be the cause is vital to finding the most effective solutions for you.
Blackheads and whiteheads
Blackheads and Whiteheads are a really common skin complaint. They are usually caused by blocked pores. There are a few things that might be causing your pores to get blocked up. It could be hormonal. Menstrual cycles, pregnancy and puberty can all trigger an overproduction of oil from your sebaceous glands. This oil can then mingle with dead skin cells, make-up residue, dirt or bacteria to form a plug in your pores – the result is whiteheads and or blackheads.
When treating blackheads and whiteheads, making sure you keep your skin clean is an essential first step. Make a good alkaline cleanser part of your daily skin care routine – as well as removing excess dirt and oil, the added alkaline will help improve blood flow to your face, and give your skin a healthy glow. Other great ingredients to look out for are lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Avoid cleaners that contain laureth sulfate as they can negatively affect the PH level in your skin, which will actually promote the production of oil.
Exfoliating is also great for removing dead skin cells. Use them twice a week but avoid using them during a bad break out and don’t be tempted to overdo it, you don’t want to irritate the skin or spread bacteria. You can buy exfoliating scrubs, gels and creams over the counter at most beauty and drug stores, or you can make your own. A quick recipe for whipping up at home is simply to mix a tsp of cane or granulated sugar with a few drops of water and another drop or two of lavender oil to help reduce any redness.
Steaming your skin is a great way to open up your pores. After washing, cleansing and patting your skin dry with a soft towel, fill a large bowl with boiling water, place a towel over your head and angle your face over the bowl. Let your skin absorb the steam for about 10 minutes, then rinse with cool water and moisturize. You can even add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to the bowl for a spa like experience. For the best results, steam your face one a week.
Even on your best skin day, dark spots can really get you down. There are lots of reasons why you might have darkening or hyperpigmentation on your skin. The most common is over exposure to sun, but it might also be acne scarring or melasma (a really common skin condition that results in the over production of melanin).
The best defence against dark spots, or at least keeping them in check, is sun screen. Skin care experts recommend wearing at least SPF 15 every day, especially if you are going to be outdoors. Just because it’s not hot out, it doesn’t mean that harmful UV rays aren’t hitting your skin. Re-apply sun screen every couple of hours and, if possible, stay out of the sun at the hottest point of the day.
Try adding products that contain retinoids to your daily skincare routine. Retinoids work to even out your skin tone and give you a healthy glow by encouraging the generation of new skin cells.
If your dark spots are really persistent, you can try prescription creams that contain hydroquinone. These creams can lighten skin spots and slow down the production of melanin. If you think further treatment is required, a dermatologist might recommend a chemical peal or microdermabrasion.
Redness and rosacea
Redness in your skin is often the result of rosacea. Rosacea is characterised by inflammation and flushing of the skin on the face, usually on the nose, cheeks and forehead. When you have rosacea there are a few potential triggers to look out for. Spicy food, stress, alcohol, hot baths and showers, medication and even some skin care products might be the causing your rosacea to flare. The best thing you can do, is pay attention to your skin, find what might be triggering your flushes by process of elimination. Maybe cut out spice for a few week, then try alcohol and so on.
Whilst there is no real cure for rosacea and redness, we do know that people who have it often have a defective moisture barrier in their facial skin as well as higher than normal transepidermal water loss. Both of these factors can contribute to the skin's irritability and susceptibility to irritation, so get a good moisturiser (one with a high PH level for increased oxygen levels and water absorption) and maybe try some lavender or lavender tea tree oil –as they help with inflammation and work to calm the skin. But most importantly, remember that your skin is beautiful.