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The Essential Truth About Acne

Kristina Valiani December 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
The Essential Truth About Acne

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One of the most worrisome and prevalent skin care problems many people suffer through at some point in their lives is some degree of acne—whether it's blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules or blemishes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 85% of all people have acne at some point in their lives. This common disorder can range from mild to severe, can sometimes cause extensive scarring and usually occurs between the ages of 12–50.

Development of acne

Acne is not contagious; it is caused by many different factors. Several of those factors have to exist in order for the lesions to occur. Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is a bacteria that is found in every human, located inside sebaceous follicles. Those who suffer from acne have a higher amount of the bacteria than an average person. P. acnes is considered to be anaerobic, meaning that it cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. In a normal skin type, there may be P. acnes bacteria present in the follicle, but the amount remains low, because the presence of oxygen in the follicle helps to continually kill bacteria. That is one reason why exfoliation is so important for all skin types, especially for clients who are prone to breakouts—sloughing off dead skin cells will allow oxygen to reach P. acnes bacteria.

Inflammation is another factor in the development of acne. It causes a chain reaction of redness, swelling and irritation, and eventually will cause the follicle walls to become damaged. The pressure of debris—including dead cells, sebum and other biochemical factors—in the follicle will cause the walls to rupture. The debris, including the P. acnes bacteria, will move into the dermis. White blood cells arrive at the site of the rupture and release enzymes to dissolve the debris in the lesion. These enzymes affect the follicle lining, which causes more inflammation, swelling and discomfort. The enzymes even destroy collagen, potentially resulting in post-acne scarring.

Inflammatory and noninflammatory lesions

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Treatment How-to: Acne-prone and Problem Skin Facial











This treatment helps clear breakouts, reduce congestion, purify pores and control shine. Salicylic acid helps speed up cell renewal for a brighter complexion, while a combination of antioxidant vitamins nourish and protect the skin. This hydrating treatment controls bacteria and excess oil production, while soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients ease discomfort from breakouts. Nourishing ingredients aid in preventing excess dryness and irritation, visibly diminishing the appearance of blemishes and blackheads. Results are improved texture and appearance of skin, increased clarity and a radiant, healthy complexion. Clients being treated for acne-prone or problem skin should receive a facial from a qualified esthetician every two weeks until the skin is clear. Proper home care is essential and is the foundation of the program. Once the skin has cleared, monthly treatments should be performed.

Duration: 60 minutes

Cost: $95–125

Contraindications: Refrain from performing this treatment on clients with severe cystic acne with open pustules; open cuts or abrasions; active herpes lesions; conjunctivitis; severe eczema or psoriasis; impetigo; or a fungal infection. Clients should consult with their physician for approval of treatment if post-surgical or -trauma bruising and swelling are common because it often can be mitigated by gentle manual lymphatic drainage massage.

Supplies and equipment needed:

4 x 4 cotton squares

Wet sponges

Cotton rounds

Products needed:

Eye makeup remover

Gel or foaming cleanser

Salicylic acid toner

Facial steamer

Enzyme-based exfoliant

Serum with anti-inflammatory ingredients

Clay-based mask with glycolic or salicylic acid

Toner with antioxidants

Lightweight moisturizer

SPF 15

Step 1: Remove eye makeup and lipstick with eye makeup remover.

Step 2: Apply a gel or foaming cleanser that will remove the oil, makeup and bacteria. Use circular motions to thoroughly remove all makeup. For clients with more makeup, perform a second cleanse and rinse.

Step 3: Apply toner with 4 x 4 cotton square to remove any excess makeup and cleanser.

Step 4: During the skin analysis, evaluate the degree of surface oil and what types of lesions are found on the skin. Also check your client’s hydration, collagen, elasticity, and healing abilities.

Step 5: Begin steaming the face, neck and décolleté while mixing up your enzyme treatment. Apply an enzyme-based exfoliant to the skin with steam for 10 minutes. Enzymes will gently digest the dead skin cells and prep the skin for extractions. Remove with wet sponges.

Step 6: The skin should be free of all products but not completely dry for extractions. Begin extractions in the chin and neck area first and work up the face, ending with the forehead. This technique will help you avoid contact with any blood or body fluids that may have surfaced from the extraction process.

Step 7: Once the extractions are complete, wipe the face with a salicylic acid toner on cotton rounds.

Step 8: Apply a clay-based mask using either glycolic or salicylic acid. Leave on for 10–12 minutes, and perform a hand and arm massage. Rinse mask with wet sponges.

Step 9: Apply a toner with antioxidants with two cotton rounds.

Step 10: Apply serum that is packed full of anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Step 11: Apply lightweight moisturizer and a SPF 15.

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