The year is 2002, you have a party to attend in a few weeks and you have been dealing with acne for months. Being unbelievably fed up is an understatement. Your best friend suggests going tanning or laying in the sun to dry up your acne. The thought of getting a little tan is enticing too. Having a little color may conceal the acne too! Your friend has been tanning for a week and it’s helping her….. until it doesn’t anymore.
In theory this method makes sense right? The suns ultra violet rays can dry the skin. So if you are dealing with acne, you must have oily skin, therefore the sun will dry up the acne. It may feel like the sun is doing something to your acne for maybe a week or so, but this is actually the complete opposite and actually very dangerous.
The sun doesn’t actually dry out sebum (oil) on your skin. It dries the actual skin. As a result to the skin being dry, your oil glands will then produce more oil as a response to the dryness. Picture a little army of oil coming out with a vengeance trying to protect and hydrate the skin that is in need. “We must attack the dryness! Come on troops hydrate on the double!” As a result of the oily army’s attempt to protect and secret, this then produces more breakouts and deep rooted clogged pores.
Getting down to the basics. Acne is not all created equal, and each different type of acne should NOT be treated the same. The most common types are cystic acne which is typically hormonal, very red, inflamed and painful. Acne due to oily skin and acne due to dry skin (which is more common than you’d think). Adding UV light to inflamed painful acne is only going to inflame it more. Adding UV light to dry skin that has acne will only make it more dry and create more of a breeding ground for acne. Adding UV light to oily skin that has acne will only dry out the very surface of the skin, making it almost impossible for the oil to secret properly. Therefore creating more oil as your oil glands are trying to produce more since it is unable to secret thoroughly.
Now that we know what the UV rays can do to acne in the beginning stages of “trying to dry it up’. Let’s talk the aftermath.
Picture this, you fall on the pavement, scrape your knee. It bleeds, and scabs over. You treat it, maybe with ointment and a bandaid. You keep it covered so that it can heal properly, since there is brand new skin underneath that scab. We want to protect it so that it doesn’t scar. So lets circle back to your face. The scab on your knee is the breakout on your face. It is healing skin that has been inflamed, irritated, and perhaps picked at (hopefully not). If the skin isn’t protected against the UV rays you can develop Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) and /or increased scarring. Acne prone/broken out skin is healing skin, combining healing skin to UV rays is a recipe for sun damage, which is even harder to remove than the acne itself.
Here are a few solutions to help treat the acne and keep it safe at the same time.
Facials: Getting facials on a regular basis (4-6 weeks apart) can help reduce the amount of breakouts that pop up. Facials help to kill acne causing bacteria and soothes the skin from irritation that comes with painful acne. Extractions during a medical facial are extremely important. The bacteria that is lodged in the pores won’t just “come out” and you can’t just “scrub or wash it away”. It physically needs to be removed just the right way.
Peels: Chemical peels are a great way to help kill bacteria from acne, break down the thick dead layer of skin on the surface of the epidermis, and target acne scars and hyperpigmentation (PIH). Deep set clogged pores can not be removed with a chemical peel as it works from the inside layers out. A facial like I stated above would be the best option to start.
Microneedling and Laser: These minimally invasive treatments are fantastic for helping to eliminate acne scars, PIH, and redness (broken capillaries and broken blood vessels). However if your acne is still active, meaning if your acne is still bacteria filled and inflamed, these methods will have to be put on hold until the acne is under control.
Lastly, finding yourself a highly skilled Medical Esthetician that is well versed in acne is huge. Like I stated above, acne is not all created equal. So treating it should be customized.
There was a time where doing at home beauty treatments were all the rage, putting toothpaste on a blemish was the “go-to” and reading Cosmo was a great way to find beauty hacks. Well its a new day my dear, and beauty is at the hand of the esthetician. One hand has all your customized treatments ready to take charge. The other hand is holding yours during this confusing time. We are here to help you all along the way of your skincare journey. Whatever your journey may be, we got your back.