This guide provides information on the causes of acne, spots and blemishes. We look at what blemishes and acne actually are and why many people suffer from them at some point in their lives.
We also advice on the wrong ways to treat acne, spots and blemishes which can often cause further irritation to your skin, and look at the most effective ways to take control of acne or spot-prone skin through the use of natural ingredients.
Want to get straight to the solution? See our natural skin care for spot-prone skin now.
What causes spots and blemishes?
In truth most adults will get blackheads and whiteheads at some point in their lives,
Almost any change in the texture or colour of your skin can be called a blemish or imperfection, from hereditary birthmarks to tiny blackheads no bigger than a pinprick. While moles and port-wine stains are permanent, more common blemishes, particularly spots and acne, come and go throughout your life.
Even though it is extremely common there is still stigma attached to acne - particularly in adults since it is often regarded as a condition that exists solely to torment teenagers or a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. In truth most adults will get blackheads and whiteheads at some point in their lives, particularly in the developed world where we are often exposed to pollution, diets with high glycemic loads and chemical skin care products.
Blemishes, both blackheads and whiteheads are both caused by sebum, a natural oily/waxy substance excreted by your skin’s sebaceous glands, lubricating and waterproofing your skin but also blocking pores and hair follicles. In a blackhead the sebum is exposed to the air, causing it to oxidise and turn black, whereas in whiteheads the pore or follicle is blocked and sebum is trapped beneath the skin’s surface. Though it’s tempting, removing blackheads and whiteheads by ‘popping’ them is likely to cause scarring and discolouration, turning a temporary spot in to a permanent mark on your skin.
Spots and blemishes are persistent, but their appearance can be seriously reduced by removing the impurities and excess sebum that causes them to develop. A healthy lifestyle with plenty of fresh air and exercise will help, but your genetics and pollutants in the air around you can’t be avoided, which is why Green People’s range of organic skin care products with their natural ingredients cleanse skin of impurities, unclog pores and balance your skin’s sebum production, significantly reducing the appearance of spots and blemishes.
1) Spots and acne generally affect people in their teens and early 20s but people of any age can develop them. It’s hard to pin down any one reason why someone develops acne or spots but poor eating habits, stress, hormonal changes, genetics, a sluggish liver, poor digestive function, incorrect hygiene and harsh, pore-clogging skin care products can all contribute to creating the right skin environment for the acne bacteria to take hold.
2) Heavy use of chemical-laden make-up can clog your pores and lead to spots, and make-up brushes and foundation sponges - if not rinsed regularly - are a haven for bacteria! Try organic mineral make-up instead, and always cleanse thoroughly before bed. Avoid drying alcohol, as your skin will react by producing even more sebum. Stay clear of products containing mineral oil and silicone as these can block pores, prevent the skin from breathing and trap dirt, it is much like wrapping your skin in cling film.
3) Acne is a skin condition affecting the sebaceous glands and appears where your glands are at their busiest and inflamed or infected. The over-active sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum, which together with dead skin cells, block your hair follicles and pores. As the bacteria feed on the sebum it sets the scene for the development of spots, pimples, white heads, blackheads and acne.
4) Using acne skin care products rich in natural, organic and balancing actives can help to counter some of these factors and improve the condition of the skin. This is because harsh chemicals can dry out the skin and irritate it, leading to more spots. Natural products, on the other hand, work by giving the skin the tools it needs to get back to balance, become healthier and fight acne bacteria and spots..
Getting rid of acne and blemishes the wrong way
Acne can be a source of stress and worry throughout your life, not just during your teens. Though your chance of developing blemishes is partially down to your genes, most people will develop a spot or blemish at some point in their lives so it is important to learn the right way to deal with outbreaks.
Excessive washing or washing with products that are too harsh for your skin can do more harm than good - your skin is a delicate ecosystem. In very simple terms, P. acnes bacteria feed on sebum, a natural moisturiser excreted by your skin, which under normal circumstances keeps the sebum in check. Wash away sebum and the ecosystem collapses, leaving you open to infection. Kill the bacteria with strong antibacterial soaps and washes and sebum will build up, blocking pores and causing - you guessed it - spots.
Though it is many people’s first reaction when seeing a spot to ‘pop’ it between their fingers, this is never a good idea. Much like excessive washing, squeezing spots can cause long-term damage to your skin - scarring, discoloration and simple whiteheads turning in to full-on cystic acne. Your body will take care of spots naturally if you leave them be - the white in a whitehead is billions of white blood cells fighting off the underlying infection.
Harsh chemical treatments for acne as benzoyl peroxide can have side effects and some find it unpleasant to use, irritating sensitive skin and making acne and blemishes worse for some people.
Natural solutions for staying spot-free
Cleansing your skin every morning and evening with one of our organic face washes is an easy way to remove all traces of dirt and impurities from your skin without drying or damaging your skin.
We have created a range of anti-blemish products that contain natural ingredients which have been shown to be effective at fighting acne. Our key acne and blemish fighting natural ingredients include:
- Bentonite Clay – Draws out impurities
- Tea Tree extract – Strong antimicrobial properties
- Green Tea extract – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
- Zinc oxide – Soothes spots and helps reduce redness and irritation
- Rosehip oil – Excellent tissue regenerating properties, helps prevent blemishes and scarring
- Pineapple enzymes – Unblocks pores to prevent build-up of dead skin cells
Even with the best skin care regime in the world, you will still get the occasional spot. We have a transparent Zap & Clear Serum which will help it on its way, as will our Blemish Banish concealer.
While you’re waiting for the spot to disappear naturally, keep your skin clean with fresh, cool water. This will cause your skin pores to close, reducing the chance of sebum and bacteria entering.
Prebiotics: a natural answer for acne?
Acne can be a difficult problem to solve, as scientists have yet to understand exactly what causes it. A lot of research has been done into the factors which can affect the development of acne, and these are becoming clearer, but we still do not have an absolute understanding of the exact sequence of events that lead up to an acne breakout.
What we do know is that the following factors are connected to the development of acne:
- Excess sebum production
- Over production of keratin (a tough protein) in follicles
- Fast growth of a certain bacterium (Propionibacterium acnes)
- Immune responses
One of the factors listed above is a bacterium known to be linked with acne. It is always present when acne lesions occur so the theory is that by dealing with this bacterium, acne can be reduced.
Prebiotics are probably better known in relation to nutrition than to skin care products but are in fact helpful on the outside as well as in – such as by tackling acne bacteria on the skin.
Prebiotics are useful because they encourage the growth of probiotics, good bacteria which make the skin less hospitable for the acne bacteria to survive. They excrete natural antibiotics, increase competition for nutrients, lower the pH of the skin and help to prevent the acne bacteria from growing together.
This effect of promoting the good flora on the skin whilst at the same time inhibiting the undesirables is a combination that suggests acne may be helped naturally. Prebiotics have been described as “a gentle and sustainable alternative to undirected irritable antibacterial ingredients” and it is for this reason that we use them in our natural skin care products.
Have a question about organic acne skin care?
If you have any questions about our natural acne skin care products, our customer care team is happy to help. Please call us on 01403 740350 or leave a comment or question below.