Out of all the skin issues that I talk about on this blog, one of the most requested and asked about has got to be acne and breakouts. Whether you’re a persistent sufferer of adult acne or just suffer from hormonal breakouts, you’ll know that acne still comes with a lot of myths and old wives tales about how best to manage it and banish those spots for good. They say ‘knowledge is power’, so I thought it was high time that we all know what we’re dealing with. After all, you can’t treat a spot if you don’t know what kind of spot it is. So here’s my breakdown of breakouts.
Type 1: Whiteheads
These tend to be the easiest type of spot to deal with. These usually magically appear overnight in all their fully formed glory - and have a very noticeable 'white head'. If you’ve recently changed your nightly moisturiser to a richer formula and suddenly find yourself with the dreaded whitehead, it’s probably a bit too rich for you. These can also be the result of excess sweat or a bit too much greasy food.
What to do about it: Start by feeling around the spot, whiteheads don’t tend to be sore. If it's not sore, and you can see a large amount of sebum (the white stuff), cleanse your face as normal. It’s best to use a flannel with your cleanser on these occasions, as sometimes the flannel will take care of it for you. If not, finish your cleanse and hold a warm flannel over the spot for a minute. Now take clean hands, split two bits of tissue, wrap them around your forefingers and gently squeeze in from the outside. It should come away easily. If it does, make sure the area is clean, tone, moisturise and go live your life. If it doesn't come away, it's not ready and could be our next culprit.
Type 2: Pimple
A pimple is one of those spots that sits on the fence. It’s still deciding what it wants to do. They are small, red and have no head.
My advice; leave it the hell alone. You just need to carry on with your usual routine. Cleanse, tone, moisturise (yes, moisturise. Drying out a spot is not a thing people), conceal and be on your way. 99% of the time it will go away on its own. If not and you’re a little unlucky, it will turn into number 3 on our list.
Type 3: Large pimple (aka pustule)
I like to call this one ‘the hulk’. It’s angry and wants you to know it. They are sore, red, inflamed and infuriatingly nearly always without a head. So what does that mean? It doesn't want you to pick. DO NOT PICK. I REPEAT DO NOT PICK. For those of you, like me, who suffer from acne or acne rosacea, this is your common nemesis.
My advice to you; keep it clean, keep it moisturised, keep an eye on it. Trust me, it will go away, but unfortunately it wants to do it in its own sweet time.
Sometimes you can see a teeny tiny whitehead forming on the top. Cleansing will remove what your skin wants you to remove. If your skin doesn’t offer that sebum to you, it’s time to back off. All you'll end up with is a bleeding, angry spot that is ten times the size it was as when you started. That’s when acne scarring happens, so as tempting as it may be, be cruel to be kind and leave it alone.
Type 4: Blackhead
Believe it or not, these are not typically spots. First let me expel a few little myth for you; blackheads do not mean you are dirty or unclean and they are not caused by germs (same goes for all spots FYI). Blackheads are the result of your DNA, sorry.
The best thing you can do for blackheads is to cleanse your skin morning and night, using the right products (have a look at my acne blog for more details on this and go for an acne targeted facial to get them removed gently and professionally.
Top tip; blackhead removal is called ‘extractions’ in beauty lingo…make sure you ask about this specifically when you book.
Hopefully, armed with that snippet of beauty knowledge you can start treating your skin and spots with the respect they deserve. Remember the answer to your spot issue is not always to ‘pop’ it. In fact, that’s rarely the answer, trust me.