Acne Part II – Why Do We Get Acne? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment October 29, 2020 Sreeja Shrestha We are aware that Acne is a common skin problem but we often don’t realize what causes acne on face! Getting caught up in the jazz of multiple skincare actives, good smelling skincare products, and fallacious green beauty claims, we forget that our skin is a very smart organ. We overload our skin with unnecessary things and in response, our skin retaliates. As a result, we develop acne and we keep looking for acne marks treatment. Long story short, our well-intentioned skincare practices disbalances our BAM (Barrier, Acid Mantle, and Microbiome). So let’s discuss about how to prevent acne? Skin barrier Your skin barrier works really hard, without getting any rest. It acts as a wall between the inner layers of your skin and the outside world by protecting your skin from the harmful toxins and bacteria present in the environment. It works the hardest to keep all the moisture in, which keeps your skin healthy. Now our skin barrier starts losing its efficiency (because we loose lipids) as we age (particularly after 40) which leads to a dry and flaking skin that is more prone to wrinkles. But age is not the only factor. Our lifestyle habits, skincare routines, and environmental factors all play an important role in the health of our skin barrier. For instance, not maintaining a healthy skin routine, not applying sunscreen regularly or smoking can lead to the oxidization of the lipids in our skin therefore, negatively impacting our skin barrier. Using harsh cleansers containing sulfates can also diminish the skin barrier by over drying our skin and stripping it off its natural oils. Too much exfoliation (chemical and physical, both) is also counterproductive and it can throw our skin barrier off balance by causing surface micro tears and removing several layers of skin cells, making our skin more sensitive and prone to damage. Using harsh anti acne products can give you relief from your acne woes in the short run but in the long run, it weakens your skin barrier, leading to overproduction of sebum and creating a vicious cycle of recurring breakouts. Acid Mantle Skin’s acid mantle- We strive to maintain a balance in our lives – a balance between our work and home, a balance between saving and spending, or a balance between eating and working out. But do we ever stop for a minute and think about maintaining a balance between the skincare products that we apply and our skin’s pH level? Well, most of the time we don’t, and honestly, I looked at pH balanced skin care products as a marketing gimmick. But this is something we should really pay attention to because your skin’s acid mantle is slightly acidic (somewhere around 5.5) and using products that are too alkaline or too acidic can compromise the pH level of your skin. Now if you are dealing with acne, you have probably heard these advices many times, maintain a daily skin care routine for glowing skin, wash your face two times a day, use an anti-acne face wash to get rid of your acne, scrub a little harder to get rid of the acne impurities and maybe then you can get a clear skin. But guess what do these statements have in common? None of them work, in fact, they cause more damage by disturbing our skin’s acid mantle. Skincare habits like using hot water to wash your face, over exfoliating, using harsh cleansers, using undiluted apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can all create an imbalance in your skin’s pH level. You might think these are the perfect part of your basic skin care routine but these are not! Microbiome The skin microbiome is the healthy bacteria of your skin and it prefers a pH of about 5. It increases the production of ceramides, which plays an important role in keeping your skin barrier healthy. Excessive use of chemical exfoliators, soaps, harsh cleansers, topical antibiotics, topical steroids, and using skincare products with strong irritants can all cause your healthy bacteria to deplete. And depletion of healthy bacteria gives more space for the bad bacteria to thrive therefore, making your skin more prone to infections and acne. So now you know how we damage our BAM but how can we protect it and bring it back to health? Check out Acne Part III for that. Love Sreeja S.