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Ask An Esthetician: I’m So Over My Acne! Plus, What Is Up With Bacne, Really?

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.

I’ve had clients that can’t figure out that taking a shower and changing their shirt and sports bra are necessary after a workout.

Q: I am 27 years old and have been battling acne since I was 10. I’ve been on every medication under the sun, and have been on Accutane twice. I’ve tried nearly every facewash and skin care regimen that promises to banish acne, with disappointing results. Needless to say, I am over it. I’m sick of having acne and waking up to a new blemish every morning. It’s ridiculous. I was wondering if Jenna has any advice for somebody like me? (Also, my father’s side of the family has a history of acne).

A: You are not the only one dear, but don’t get discouraged! Acne is hereditary so you may have to deal with it for the rest of your life so take it in stride. Sometimes less can be more and you might be over-drying or overdoing it with the skin care. If you’ve ever asked someone with perfect skin how they achieved it, they’ll almost never respond with some extensive skin care regimen. Usually it’s “oh, nothing really, I don’t use much on my skin.” For example, one of the girls here in the office rarely ever washes her face and sometimes just cleans it with random shampoo at the gym and she has blemish-free, perfect skin.

Your skin may just be out of whack from everything you’ve tried. I would suggest going back to square one and getting back to your natural roots. Getting off the products, drugs, heavy makeup or whatever for a couple weeks can really help you understand more about your skin. Figure out your natural skin type and take it from there; your skin may be dry and overproducing oil, or needing some serious inflammatory help. In the meantime, you can use a mild cleanser (like Eminence’s Lemon or Coconut Cleansers) and moisturizer (like their Guava and Bamboo Moisturizer) to make sure you are still doing a little something to battle the elements.

My advice: Stop the laundry list of skin care products for at least two weeks and really commit to the au natural route which will be your best bet. Afterwards, and like everyone, you’ll experience a breakout here and there but you can get your acne under control. When you do figure out what’s really going on and your skin type, commit to a basic regimen and stick it out for a least another few weeks to test if it works. Remember, with acne it will ALWAYS get worse before it gets better so give it time.

Q: What’s your advice for treating and/or preventing breakouts on the chest and back?

Let’s start with the basics with acne. (I’m keeping this short and sweet.) There is no definite answer to the question of “what causes acne,” but there are a variety of things that can be happening with your skin. Usually when a breakout happens it’s technically caused by the overproduction of sebum which gets trapped by dead skin cells in the pore. When bacteria gets inside of the blocked pore, it swells up and results in redness and pus. A big part of acne also has to do with fluctuating hormones, stress, genetics, how you take care of your body (as well as your skin), and a little part is hygiene. Most of us deal with acne on our face, but there is a good amount of people that experience it on the chest and back. Here are my tips for taking care of bacne:

  1. Keep it clean!
    I’ve had clients that can’t figure out that taking a shower and changing their shirt and sports bra are necessary after a workout.

    I shouldn’t have to explain that one, but you’d be surprised. Also, change your pillowcase and sheets at least 2-3 times a week so you’re not sleeping in a breeding ground for bacteria.

  2. Keep yourself hydrated. You’ll hear this a million times but drink PLENTY of water and lightly moisturize so your body isn’t overcompensating for the loss of water/oil.
  3. An old remedy to try is a little bit of apple cider vinegar mixed with a little bit of tea tree oil and applied after you get out of the shower before bed time.
  4. This is where I feel a glycolic can be needed. Glytone’s Exfoliating Body Wash is great for clearing up body acne. It’s exfoliating and revitalizing with 8.8 percent glycolic acid in it. If you feel like you’re too dry after the body wash, follow up with Glytone’s Body Lotion to round it out. Not only are these two products effective but they’re raved about by DermStore customers.

If you want to explore more options with back acne products I would also recommend Glytone’s Back Acne Spray, which has 2 percent salicylic acid and a 360 degree spray pump so you can spray it upside-down, and Avene’s Diacneal Soap-Free Gel Cleanser for sensitive or dry skin types.

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