Ask An Esthetician: What Do Different Break Out Spots Mean? Should I Be Using A Glycolic?

Skin: Our largest organ, and also probably our biggest pain in the butt. Managing its temperamental, over-sensitive ways is pretty much a full-time gig, especially if your skin is a delicate Sensitive Sally like mine. Thankfully, we’ve got our new BFF, esthetician Jenna Kulp, to help us solve our skin woes. Jenna’s here to answer all of your troubling skin problems–to offer suggestions and solutions to your skincare needs. If you’ve got a question for Jenna, {encode=”[email protected]” title=”let us know”} and we’ll pass it along! And after the jump, check out her answers about acne and glycolic skincare products. Q: I’ve heard that getting acne on different parts of my face can mean different things. Like right now my chin is breaking out but my forehead is fine. What does that mean? Can you clear this up for me once and for all?

A: Your skin is a window to your body’s health. Going back to Chinese skin analysis, each part of the face is connected to an organ. Depending on where you’re seeing congestion and problems, you can assess what’s going on within your body — such as hormone imbalances, reproductive hardships, bad digestion, heart issues, liver and kidney problems or struggling lungs, and help yourself from the inside-out versus treating a breakout topically.

The traditional approach is to treat the face as an indicator of health or disease and is broken down by short term and long term conditions. Short term conditions include rashes, increased sensitivity, breakouts, dryness or dehydration, excess oil secretion or edema. Long term conditions include lines, pigmentation, scarring, genetic predisposition and facial feature structure. Typically, when you’re breaking out on your chin, there are three different areas that could be out of whack. If the breakout is right in the middle of your chin, it’s connected to the body’s process of elimination. Poor elimination and constipation could be the cause of the breakout. The right and left areas of your chin stemming from your outer corners of your lips to your chin are connected to the ovaries or testes. Most likely, there’s a disturbance in hormones causing that breakout.

*This information is not intended for a medical diagnosis, but merely to illustrate the Chinese approach.

Q: I’ve heard a lot about glycolics. What are they and what can they do for my complexion?

A: As a naturalist, glycolic acid and I have an off and on relationship because I see a lot of people who misuse it. Glycolic acid has the smallest amount of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and can be isolated from natural sources like sugar and pineapple. It has a very good capability of penetrating skin and can be found in concentrations of 1 percent up to doctor-grade 70 percent. When applied to the skin, it weakens the binding properties of the lipids that hold the skin cells together (mostly dead) thus exposing live skin cells underneath. It may be good for fine lines and wrinkles, acne scarring, pigmentation and a few other conditions. There’s a lot of controversy around using this product because some people use percentages that are way too harsh on their skin. I don’t use a lot of glycolics with clients, because I have other techniques for helping skin conditions, but I do know a lot of people who swear by them. The best way to go if you do want to try products with glycolic acid is to start out with a very small percentage and see if your skin can handle it and see how it reacts. After a week or two, re-assess what you’re using and what you want to get out of it. Always consult with a dermatologist or esthetician to be sure if your skin type is okay to use glycolics.

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