Beat Holiday Stress!

The holidays can be a crazy time of the year for most people, but there are some techniques you can use to help minimize your stress and avoid the negative effects it can have on your skin.  Remember, hormone receptors connected to the oil gland are triggered by stress hormones. The stimulated gland increases oil production, causing pimples and breakouts.

  • Prioritize & Plan -- You can't be everything to everybody and you definitely can't be in two places at once.  Plan ahead and decide the things that are most important to you this season.  Look at your calendar now, make lists and prioritize the things that matter most.   You should enjoy the holiday season, not just get through it.  
  • Take Care of Your Body -- This time of year is also cold & flu season.  When your body is stressed you are more susceptible to illness (and breakouts!).  Take time for light exercise, drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods and get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. and don't forget to be extra diligent with your homecare regimen!
  • Give to Yourself -- The holidays are full of family gatherings, work parties, hanging with our friends, but there can be too much of a good thing.  Make sure to take time for yourself everyday, whether it's just sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea or taking a relaxing bath.  And don't forget to include yourself when you do all that holiday shopping!  Spending a few dollar and a few minutes on yourself is not selfish -- you are worth it!

Most importantly, enjoy yourself and your loved ones!





Acne Products Gone Bad

I remember the days of being so desperate for my acne to be gone that I would try every product available without even glancing at the ingredient deck.  It's supposed to cure my acne right? Let me slather it on! Why would I think for a second that this product MADE for acne would have anything in it that could make it worse?  So innocent and trusting...but now I know better and you will too!

I want to stress the importance of checking the ingredients on every single product that touches your skin!  Below are 4 products that are targeted specifically for acne yet they all contain pore-cloggers!  The very product that you are trusting to help with your acne could actually be aggravating it. 



Clearasil Daily Clear Acne Treatment Cream

-Contains Isopropyl Myristate and Glyceryl Stearate SE



ZAPYZT Acne Treatment Gel

-Contains Laureth-4



Dermae Very Clear Acne Spot Treatment

-Contains Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20



Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Spot Treatment

-Contains Glyceryl Stearate SE and Soybean Oil




It's no wonder that it seems so impossible to get clear skin.  Let me be your guide  - every product that I recommend will be acne-safe, I promise.


Acne and the Cold

After enduring the last several days with a cold, I find myself thinking how lucky am I to be sick AND acne-prone!  Not only do I get to suffer with all of the symptoms and consequences of the cold itself (hello, 4 day weekend at home in bed, just what I asked for!) but it truly is the gift that keeps giving.  Us acne-prone folks get to experience the effects for days or weeks after in the form of breakouts.   This increase in breakouts post-sickness is no coincidence my friend.  Do you partake in any of the following when you are under the weather?

  • Cold/Cough Medication?
  • Chicken Noodle Soup?
  • Kleenex:  The wonderful new varieties aimed to NOT cause our noses to be raw and chapped from the constant wiping and blowing?
  • A severe lack of participation in your normal skincare routine? (Where's the energy?!)

If you are a current acne client of mine, you probably just had an A-HA moment, but if you are not let me fill you in...

  • Many cold and cough medications contain bromides and iodides, which are known to aggravate acne or cause acne-like eruptions.  
  • Most canned soups contain iodized salt, soy and some even have carrageenan, which can all aggravate acne.  Try making your own soup  - without iodized salt.  
  • Those lotion infused Kleenex might feel great on your sore, chapped nose, but with the addition of ingredients likes coconut oil and sodium lauryl sulfate, they can now cause the breakout blues.  Sticking with the plain variety is your best bet.  
  • When you're sick, it can be hard to drag yourself out of bed to do anything, let alone stand at your bathroom sink for 5 minutes while you perform your skincare routine.  But remember, prevention is the key to treating acne and even a day skipped can show up later! So unless you find a wonderful person who is willing to wash and apply each of your products to your face without you lifting a finger (and to throw in a foot massage while they are at it) you will be best served to just get up and do it, you will thank yourself later.  

While you may not be able to completely avoid the above acne culprits while you are sick, at least knowing the probable causes of your post-sickness breakouts can ease the stress (and help you avoid yet another cause of breakouts!) 

Wishing you all a healthy holiday season!





Women – You May Have to Breakup With Your Makeup

You may not know this, but the very makeup you’ve been wearing to help your skin look better could actually be making it worse. Acne caused or aggravated by makeup is also known as acne cosmetica.

When you go to the cosmetics counter to get your makeup, moisturizer, or any other product for your skin, be sure to check out the label. Don’t fall for the terms “hypoallergenic” or “non-comedogenic.” Many of the products that use this marketing ploy have ingredients that can clog pores or exacerbate skin conditions.

You may not see the effects of pore-clogging ingredients for many months—it has a cumulative effect and it may take up to six months to see the acne fallout from them. So, you have no way of knowing whether or not a certain makeup is a problem or not; you just have to make CERTAIN it does not contain comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients!

Here are just a few foundations from some of the most well-known cosmetic companies with ingredients proven to make acne worse:

  • Bare Minerals SPF 15 Matte Foundation
  • MAC Studio Fix
  • Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer
  • Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder
  • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup
  • Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

Note that although some of these products claim to be “acne solutions,” “natural,” for “healthy skin,” and say they’re “oil free,” this doesn’t mean that they are a safe choice for acne-prone skin.

To determine whether that foundation you’ve had your eye on won’t break you out, check the ingredients against our Pore-Clogging Ingredients List. If you are local, I custom-blend a mineral makeup that covers up the redness of acne while you are getting clear and is 100% acne-safe.

End the vicious cycle of your makeup breakouts. Take charge of getting clear so you can stop covering up and let your skin shine!


Relieving Dryness from Acne Products

One of the most common complaints of even the best acne products is that they irritate and dehydrate the skin.  People tend to stop using their acne products when their skin gets dry and peels, so they never get completely clear, nor do they stay clear.  I want to go over some strategies that can make using acne products a more productive, comfortable process.

  1. Know from the onset, that you are going to have some dryness and peeling from acne products.  Any product that is strong enough to get acne under control is inherently dehydrating – that’s just the way it is, but there are ways we can alleviate this problem while your skin is adapting to products.
  2. The best strategy is to start off using products very slowly.  Allow your skin to slowly adapt to your products. I will be coaching you through this process.
  3. You can add a water-based hydrator to layer under your morning sunscreen and your evening benzoyl peroxide.  Remember to not use any moisturizer or cream with oil in it as it will stop the action of the benzoyl peroxide. The benzoyl will not be able to penetrate into the pores to do its work of stopping acne from forming.
  4. Dryness around the mouth and chin area is a very common reaction to benzoyl peroxide.  When it happens, you can apply a thin layer of Vaseline on the dry area (smile lines) before they applying the benzoyl peroxide.  Rest assured that Vaseline will not cause your skin to break out.
  5. Another option is to take a 1 to 3-day break from your routine. Just cleanse, tone and use your noncomedogenic sunscreen in the morning and cleanse, tone and use a noncomedogenic moisturizer at night.  When your start their routine again you will resume where you left off.  **Word of caution – if you take too many breaks, you will not clear either. If you are chronically dry, then it’s time to readjust your home care routine to one that your skin can tolerate.

The Power of Benzoyl Peroxide

Here at Erin Marie Acne Solution, I utilize potent products in my system of acne management. Of these, benzoyl peroxide is a particularly powerful fighter in the battle against blemishes. Benzoyl peroxide, or BPO as it’s also known, is an ingredient that’s been around since the seventies as a topical acne treatment, and for good reason: it works. Wondering how it helps your acne? Read on!

Take a closer look at its name for a clue. Peroxide sounds familiar, right? Yes, the very same stuff from your childhood that would fizz away when your Mom poured it over your scraped knee is a component of BPO. Those bubbles are the reason hydrogen peroxide works as an antibacterial agent for wounds. What makes benzoyl peroxide particularly effective for acne is that it’s formulated in such a way that it doesn’t just sit on the surface of the skin; it delivers the active ingredient of oxygen deep inside the pore where it’s needed most.

So, why does an acne-prone pore need oxygen? Well, there are two types of acne: inflamed and non-inflamed. Inflamed breakouts occur when the P. acnes bacteria (which are present on all of our skin) feed on the debris inside of a clogged pore and begin to replicate. Your immune system then enters the picture to fend off the invasion, resulting in red, painful, swollen, and sometimes pus-filled pimples. Fortunately though, the P. acnes bacteria do have a weakness: they cannot live in the presence of oxygen. This gives benzoyl peroxide kryptonite-like powers in the face of inflamed acne. When you regularly apply a BPO product to the skin oxygen dives down into the pore and both eradicates the bacteria as well as prevents them from invading in the first place.

Another just as important function of benzoyl peroxide is its ability to exfoliate the inside of the pore. Why is this necessary? Remember that acne is a genetic disorder of the pore in which the skin sheds too many layers of dead cells per day. Your poor pores, unable to keep up with this onslaught, form an impaction made up of these skin cells along with sticky oils. This is what is known as clogged pores or non-inflamed acne. Benzoyl peroxide comes to the rescue, causing the debris in the pore to loosen by thinning out those oils and peeling the pore. BPO addresses the clogged pores you currently have and also keeps them from forming.

Here’s how you can make the most of your Benzoyl Peroxide:

-Make sure you follow the timed schedule to allow your skin to get used to it before using it overnight.

– Use it every single day.

– Don’t just spot-treat! Acne affects all pores.

– Apply a dime to a nickel size amount. The skin needs to be saturated with it in order for it to be effective.

– Choose your product wisely. Pick a non pore-clogging, water-based formula.

Now that you know how benzoyl peroxide works, you can see why it’s such a superstar! Let it be your faithful friend in the fight for clear skin.



Boost your fresh fruit/veggie intake by visiting our local Farmer's Markets!

Studies have shown that inflammation affects acne. Inflammation (or oxidative damage) depletes antioxidants and that leaves your skin vulnerable to inflammation and irritants. Studies have also shown that antioxidant treatment can help with acne.  

The natural antioxidants of fruits and vegetables, along with their other vitamins, minerals and fiber will keep your body working at its best.   Check out these local farmer's markets and enjoy fresh and nutritious in-season fruits and vegetables.  

1.  Kansas Grown Farmer's Market -- 3 locations!

2.  Old Town Farmer's Market --

3.  Delano Community Farmer's Market --

4.  Haysville Hometown Market --

5.  Lincoln Heights Village Farmer’s Market -- Wednesday mornings from 7-11 a.m.
May 7 through October 1, 2015  In the parking lot of Lincoln Heights Village shopping center, southwest corner of Douglas and Oliver in College Hill

6.  Kechi Farmers Market -- Thursday afternoons from 4-6:30 p.m.  June 18 through September 24, 2015.  Kechi United Methodist Church Parking Lot, 4533 E. 61ST St N. Kechi, KS 67067
More info:

Pore-clogging ingredients

Do not ever put anything on your skin or your hair without checking the ingredients first, even if it says “won’t clog pores” or “noncomedogenic” on the bottle. No government agency oversees this so skincare companies can claim their products promote clear skin and have pore cloggers in their ingredient deck.

Many professional skin care products, natural skin care products, organic skin care products and even acne skin care products can have pore-clogging ingredients. No government agency oversees this, so skincare companies can claim their products promote clear skin and have pore cloggers in their ingredient deck.

There are many ingredients that sound wonderful for your skin, but can be some of the worst offenders. Natural oils like cocoa butter and coconut oil which are found in many “organic” skin care lines will wreak havoc with acne-prone skin. Other oils such as jojoba, olive and lanolin are mildly comedogenic and can be a problem if formulated with other comedogenic ingredients.

The prescription product Retin A (the cream form) has isopropyl myristate – a potent pore-clogger. Some other prescription products are comedogenic as well. Many over-the-counter acne medications also have pore clogging ingredients. “Oil-free” products are not necessarily safe either.

These are all the ingredients that can aggravate acne.

Printable list


Acetylated Lanolin

Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol

Algae Extract


Butyl Stearate


Cetyl Acetate

Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20

Chondrus Crispus (aka Irish Moss or Carageenan Moss)


Coal Tar

Cocoa Butter

Coconut Alkanes

Coconut Butter

Coconut Oil

Colloidal Sulfur

Cotton Awws Oil

Cotton Seed Oil

D & C Red # 17 (can also be listed without D&C)

D & C Red # 21 (can also be listed without D&C)

D & C Red # 3 (can also be listed without D&C)

D & C Red # 30 (can also be listed without D&C)

D & C Red # 36 (can also be listed without D&C)

Decyl Oleate

Dioctyl Succinate

Disodium Monooleamido PEG 2-Sulfosuccinate

Ethoxylated Lanolin

Ethylhexyl Palmitate

Glyceryl Stearate SE


Hexadecyl Alcohol

Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Isocetyl Alcohol

Isocetyl Stearate

Isodecyl Oleate

Isopropyl Isosterate

Isopropyl Linolate

Isopropyl Myristate

Isopropyl Palmitate

Isostearyl Isostearate

Isostearyl Neopentanoate


Laminaria Digitata Extract

Laminaria Saccharina Extract (Laminaria Saccharine)



Lauric Acid

Mink Oil

Myristic Acid

Myristyl Lactate

Myristyl Myristate

Octyl Palmitate

Octyl Stearate


Oleyl Alcohol

PEG 16 Lanolin

PEG 200 Dilaurate

PEG 8 Stearate

PG Monostearate

PPG 2 Myristyl Propionate



Potassium Chloride

Propylene Glycol Monostearate

Red Algae


Sea Whip Extract

Shark Liver Oil (Squalene)

Sodium Chloride (Salt)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Solulan 16

Sorbitan Oleate

Soybean Oil


Steareth 10

Stearic Acid Tea

Stearyl Heptanoate

Sulfated Castor Oil

Sulfated Jojoba Oil

Stearyl Heptanoate

Wheat Germ Glyceride

Wheat Germ Oil



Content provided courtesy of Face Reality Acne Clinic

Shampoos that are unsafe for the acne-prone

Not only do you need to watch out for pore-clogging ingredients in your skin care when you are acne-prone, you need to also watch what you use on your hair.  There are tons of hair products out there that contain sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate both of which are high on the comedogenic (pore-clogging) scale.  When I did a search for “shampoo” on the first page of Amazon, almost all of the shampoos listed had pore-cloggers in them.  I have made the offending ingredient bold in each list of ingredients.  And this is just a partial list – my aim is to point out how many shampoos contain these ingredients – make sure you check ingredients against our List of Pore Cloggers before investing in it.

Aveeno Nourish and Moisturize


Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Dimethicone, Sodium Cumenesulfonate, Cocamide MEA, Cetyl Alcohol, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Gluten, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Avena Sativa (Oat) Peptide, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Acrylates Copolymer, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Glycol Distearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-10, Glycerin, Mica, Titanium Dioxide. May Also Contain: Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.


Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo and Wash

Coconut Oil – The flesh of the coconut is rich in emollient fat and when pressed, yields a white, sweetly-scented, super-moisturizing oil, which is a solid at room temperature but easily melts on the skin. Ingredients: aqua (water, eau), decyl glucoside, coco-betaine, lauryl glucoside, sucrose laurate, glycerin, parfum (fragrance), betaine, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate, sodium chloridexanthan gum, glucose, citric acid, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, limonene.


Free and Clear Shampoo (should be able to trust the name, right?……wrong…)

Purified Water, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, Acrylates Copolymer, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Glycerin, Sucrose Cocoate, Panthenol, Pentylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Disodium Edta, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Chloride


Pantene Ice 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Citrate, Cocamide Mea, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Dimethicone, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.


John Frieda Luxurious Volume Touchably Full Shampoo



Content provided courtesy of:

©2013 Face Reality Acne Clinic


The Importance of an Acne Regimen

Treating acne takes determination, dedication and patience.

Treating acne takes determination, dedication and patience.

Treating acne is no different.  Home care compliance (a.k.a. the hard work) is the number one factor in getting and staying clear.  I find that the those who are compliant and patient achieve the best results.  Those who want immediate results usually struggle and some eventually fail at obtaining clear skin.  Having struggled to control my acne for many , many years, I understand the dedication that is required to get results.  Once you make that commitment to yourself to put in the work, you will be so glad you did!  

Treating acne takes determination, dedication and patience.  There is no miracle cure and you can't expect overnight result.  Understanding what is occurring within your skin and communication with your acne specialist are two key components to clearing your acne.  Changing your regimen on your own usually leads to disappointment.  Having an acne specialist on your team can help you stick with your regimen and get you through the rough times.  

Find an acne specialist, educate yourself by asking questions and follow the regimen given to you.  You can have acne free skin!

Top Ten Acne Myths

1. Myth: Washing Your Face Often Prevents Breakouts.

Fact: Washing your face several times a day will not do anything to keep you from breaking out. In most cases, it will only serve to irritate and dehydrate your skin. Acne starts deep within the pore – dead skin cells pile up faster than normal and get caught inside the pore causing a “microcomedone” (the beginning of an acne lesion) to form. You need products that penetrate inside the pore to prevent acne from forming in the first place.

2. Myth: Acne is caused by poor hygiene and/or acne is
caused by dirt.

Fact: As said before, acne starts deep within the pore. Acne prone pore shed dead skin cells five times faster than normal pores. Dirt and/or surface skin oil has nothing to do with the formation of acne. Even if a person washes their face several times a day, it won’t stop acne from forming. (See myth #1). Acne needs to be managed with the right products that penetrate the pores to stop acne where it starts.

3. Myth: Acne is caused by candy and french fries.

Fact: A diet high in iodides (the salt on those french fries) can make acne worse, but neither candy nor fried foods “cause” acne. There have been studies that show that sugar-laden foods and fast foods can make acne worse, but it certainly is not the “cause”. If it caused it then every teenager in America would have acne, but that is not the case. Acne is an inherited disorder of the pores – you either are prone to it or not.

4. Myth: Acne is just a cosmetic disease.

Fact: Any disease that can leave permanent disfiguring scarring on the face is more than just a “cosmetic” disease. It affects the self-esteem of the acne sufferer deeply, some to the extent that they won’t leave the house or even go to school. Some people can get staph infections with their acne, which can be dangerous if not treated. Some people take Accutane (its equivalent) which can cause a whole host of really dangerous side effects. Acne is a disease that needs to be taken seriously!

5. Myth: You just have to let acne run its course.

Fact: Some people (not very many) never grow out of their acne. I had a client in her seventies that still broke out! For others, it is not worth the risk of potential permanent scarring that acne can cause. When acne can be managed with the right products, why take the chance? There have been studies done that people with acne get lower-paying jobs and get passed over for promotions. We live in a culture that rewards healthy, attractive people. While that may not be “right”, it is the reality. If you can do something about an unattractive condition then it is a really good idea to take action. Let an acne expert help you get your acne under control!

6. Myth: You should spot treat zits with benzoyl peroxide

Fact: Benzoyl peroxide is best used as a preventative for acne. It kills the microcomedones (the beginning of an acne lesion) before it gets a foothold in the pore. If you just spot treat with it you are only treating the existing acne and not all of the pores where acne may be forming. Acne can take up to 90 days to form and come to the surface, so the area that you don’t treat may be the area where acne is getting its start.

7. Myth: Acne can be cured.

Fact: There is no “cure” for acne. Most people will grow out of it at some point in their lives, but no one can predict when that will be. Acne can wreak havoc on your face until you do. The good news is that acne can be controlled by using the right products for your type of acne and used in the right way. You want an acne expert to guide you in this process to get your skin clear as quickly as possible.

8. Myth: Toothpaste can cure acne.

Fact: This is truly an urban myth. While toothpaste may be able to dry out existing lesions, it has nothing in it that can prevent acne from forming in the first place. And, if you want a spot treatment (which is, at best, a band-aid approach to your acne problem), there are better alternatives. Toothpaste can really burn your skin AND most brands have sodium lauryl sulfate in the formulation – a know pore clogger. (See list of pore-clogging ingredients.)

9. Myth: Moisturizer will make you break out.

Fact: Most people with acne are deathly afraid of moisturizers and with good cause! There ARE many moisturizers with pore-clogging ingredients in them. However, any product that is active enough to get your acne under control can and will be inherently drying/dehydrating. This means you will need to:

  1. Start slowly with strong products to allow your skin to get used to them.
  2. Use a sunscreen/moisturizer during the day to give your skin the moisture it needs so it doesn’t get completely irritated and dried out from your acne regimen.
  3. Make sure the sunscreen and/or moisturizer you use is noncomedogenic (non pore-clogging).
  4. Never use moisturizer over the top of benzoyl peroxide – it will stop it from penetrating the pore where it does the work of preventing acne from forming.

10. Myth: Products need to tingle or sting in order to
know they are working.

Fact: While it’s true you need strong products to get acne under control, if they are too strong, that means your skin will eventually get too irritated and burned. Stinging = Burning!! At that point, you will have to stop all products that are working to get you clear and take a break for a few days. This will impede your progress of getting clear. Let your Acne Specialist choose the correct strength of product for your type of skin and your type of acne.

11. Bonus Myth: Accutane will cure your acne and you
will never break out again.

Fact: We have scores of people come into our acne clinic who have taken Accutane (or its generic equivalents) who broke out again. Some took this drug not just once but several times (one woman took it seven times!). Isotretinoin (Accutane) can be a godsend for some people; but realistically, it’s not the silver bullet most people think that it is. And don’t let me get started about the health risks you incur if you choose to take it.

Courtesy © 2012 Face Reality Acne Clinic

How To Get Rid of Acne

You cannot cure acne but you can have clear skin if you know what you are doing. There are a few key concepts that you need to know to get your skin clear and get rid of acne.

  1. You need to use the right acne products for your type of acne. A product that is good for inflamed acne (pimples, pustules and cysts) will not be good for noninflamed acne (blackheads and whiteheads)
  2.  You need these products to be strong enough for your type of skin. If they are not, your skin will not change much. If they are too strong, you will irritate and dehydrate your skin; and you will still break out.
  3.  You need to use these products in the right way. It takes strong products to get acne under control, but if you use too much too soon, you will irritate and dehydrate your skin. You must start slowly with strong products.
  4.  You need to account for skin adaptation. What does this mean? This means you cannot allow your skin to get too “used” to products. If you do, then your skin will stop responding and not get clear. It takes adjusting your skin care regimen routinely.

Does this all sound like tricky business? Yes, no doubt that it is.

These are the main reasons you need an acne expert to guide you in the process of getting your skin clear. We know what it takes to get and keep your skin clear and we know how to get rid of acne once and for all!

Content provided courtesy of Face Reality Acne Clinic


Acne Formation

What is Acne?

For most people, acne is an inherited condition of the pores. When someone is prone to acne, their pores clog with dead skin cells much faster than normal. Healthy pores shed about one layer of dead skin cells per day inside the pore, but acne-prone pores shed up to five layers of dead skin cells per day. The body just can’t keep up with keeping the pore clear. Technically, this is called “retention hyperkeratosis” — dead skin cells shedding more quickly than the pore can expel them.

This first picture is of a normal healthy pore.


As the dead skin cells begin to accumulate inside the pore, the cells become sticky and get stuck inside the pore and form a plug. Medically, this is called a “microcomedone” – essentially the precursor to all acne. As you can see in this picture, there are more dead skin cells shedding inside the pore.


Hormonal fluctuations trigger more oil production inside the pore. Normally, this isn’t a problem because the dead skin cells don’t get trapped. But with acne prone-skin, when the dead skin cells shed more quickly and form a blockage, the perfect environment for the P. Acnes bacteria is created. The oil is a nutrient for the bacteria, so the bacteria proliferates. So you see, bacteria is not the “cause” of acne, it is the effect of too many dead skin cells. This is an important distinction to remember.

But, some people don’t get inflamed lesions — inflammation is also an inherited tendency. If the dead skin cells and the oil that form the plug don’t become inflamed, the plug becomes a whitehead; that is, a non-inflamed lesion under the skin, also called a “closed comedone”.

Or the plug can become a blackhead, which is a non-inflamed acne lesion where the pore remains open, also known as an “open comedone”. In the case of a blackhead, the tip of the plug darkens as it is exposed to oxygen in the environment. As the oil in the pore builds up, inflammation can develop in the cells surrounding the pore. Blackheads can be infected or not depending on whether the P. acnes bacteria have affected the cells around the pore.

As the oil and the dead skin cells build up, they put pressure on the cells surrounding the pore. With enough pressure, the sides of the pore rupture and the contents of the pore leak into the surrounding skin. Because this sebaceous material contains a lot of P. acnes bacteria, the surrounding skin now becomes infected, creating a red bump that we know as a pimple. The medical term for this red bump is an inflammatory papule.

This next drawing shows a pustule, which is different from a pimple only in that it contains white blood cells. When the immune system fights off the P. acnes infection, white blood cells, which are soldiers of the immune system — pile up, creating pus in the pore.

Now another, deeper inflamed lesion can form called a nodule. It is a solid dome-shaped lesion that extends below the surface, deep into the layers of the skin. Scarring is common with nodules and can sometimes leave an impaction behind, which can flare again and again. When a group of pustules cluster together under the skin, they form a cyst. An acne cyst can appear similar to a nodule, but is pus-filled, and can have a diameter of 5mm or more across. They are usually very painful and scarring is common with cysts.

So you see, acne is primarily an inherited dead skin cell problem. Most acne, no matter what form it takes, starts with microcomedones. This means the solution lies in products that penetrate the pore and prevent dead skin cells from building up. That’s why your home care routine is so crucial — it’s all about preventing the microcomedones (the beginning of acne) from forming at all.  This is the best way to get rid of acne.

Content provided courtesy of © 2012 Face Reality Acne Clinic