Does having acne mean you don’t wash enough?

Does having acne mean you don’t wash enough?

The answer is no, having acne does not mean you don’t wash enough.

For starters, did you know that a whopping 1 in 5 adults suffer from acne and that around 85% of people will suffer from it at some point in their lives? While the common misconception is that there is a link between spots and dirt, the truth actually lies much deeper below the surface.

Ok, here comes the science-y bit:

Acne is caused by an increased sensitisation of the skin to certain hormones. This is why acne usually occurs during times of hormonal change. This increased sensitivity causes the skin to lose its ability to control moisture levels, and water loss through the skin increases. Now we know that we’re all made of around 60% water, so your body will do its best to keep all that moisture in, by thickening the skin and pumping more oil towards the surface in an attempt to slow down the water loss. This causes a higher build-up of dead skin cells and oil, which cause blockages within the skin, which in turn leads to acne.

So, absolutely nothing to do with dirt. Just your skin doing all it can to prevent it from drying out – simple really.

However, despite this knowledge, there is still a huge problem amongst acne sufferers of over-washing. Especially over-exfoliating the skin in an attempt to scrub away the dead skin and oil that lead to spots and blackheads. It does seem to make sense on the surface as those are the things that are causing the acne, so why not try to get rid of them?

But over-exfoliating the skin can actually strip away, not only the dead skin, but also skin cells that aren’t yet ready to be removed. This ends up leaving raw, painful skin, triggering redness, irritation and inflammation that can leave skin more susceptible to infection. Moisture loss is not only an issue for those suffering from acne; it is also a core skin problem with those suffering from eczema and rosacea, meaning that reigning back on how much you exfoliate should be a high priority for everyone. On top of this, the more dead skin and oil you scrub away, the more your skin will try to compensate, creating an overactive level of oil production, and an endless cycle of scrubbing and spots.

So how much is too much?

Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t telling you that you shouldn’t wash or exfoliate at all, just that you should do it with care and with a better understanding of what you’re actually doing to your skin.

First of all, if you are going to exfoliate, you should only do it 2 to 4 times a week and in the evening, using a product specifically designed for acne prone skin, which will help prepare your skin for the application of other acne specific products. This is frequent enough to maintain healthy skin turnover to keep pores from clogging, without risking any damage. Exfoliating can also remove the natural chemicals produced by your skin that help to protect you from harmful UV rays and prevent premature ageing and sun damage; exfoliating at night will allow your skin the chance to replenish itself by morning.

When you’re not using your exfoliator, you should use a more gentle cleansing wash. This will calm angry skin while gently cleansing and toning with non-irritating ingredients, without stripping away layers of your skin. This should be done every morning and on your exfoliator-free evenings.

So there you have it, plain and simple. Acne has nothing to do with dirt, and washing twice daily with the right products should be enough to control your symptoms. This myth is just that; a myth! And it’s time we treated it that way.

Need help deciding what to buy? Take advantage of the ARA UK and your nearest Accedited Treatment Centre. There’s no such thing as a silly question!