Even though acne is most commonly associated with teenagers and their rampaging hormones’ effects on the skin, adults can deal with it, too. In fact, some people struggle for decades to get their skin condition-because yes, acne is a skin condition-under control.

At Essence of Beauty in Ottawa, we want to see you feeling confident, healthy and happy in your best skin, and routine care is an important part of that. Below we have listed ten of the best things that you can do for your skin-outside of the dermatologist’s office.


1). Be careful when using over-the-counter acne treatments

Topical acne treatments that you can buy at your local Ottawa drug store usually consist of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, both of which are incredibly effective for many users. When combined, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid work even better to rid you of pesky “activity” on your face or body, but it’s important to practice caution when using one or both of these compounds in your over-the-counter treatment. Begin your treatment by only using a small amount of product at first, and then increasing or decreasing the amount as you feel is necessary.

Another reason to be especially careful when using these products is that they can cause excessive irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. It’s also wise to be mindful of the fact that these medications can bleach fabrics and hair that come into contact with them. So when you’re applying these topical products, make sure you’re wearing a shirt you don’t care too much about, and tie any long hair back.


2). Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

A lot of acne treatments contain anti-sebum ingredients that can cause some pretty irritating drying of the skin, so it’s important to moisturize it in order to keep it healthy. But doesn’t seem just a little bit counter-productive to slap moisturizer onto a face or body that might already be having issues with, say, oil production that causes acne? That’s a common misconception, but entirely wrong. Making sure that your skin is moisturized is essential to its overall appearance and health. When choosing a moisturizer, do a small amount of research to find the best brands and products to suit your skin type and its individual needs.

A good moisturizer will reduce redness, dryness, peeling and other forms of irritation caused by your OTC or prescription acne treatment-without clogging pores. If you have dry skin, look for creamier formulas. If your skin is oily, take a gander at a lighter, gel-based product. Different products suit different skin types, it’s not one-size-fits-all.

Before you moisturize, make sure to prepare your skin with some warm water. This helps your moisturizer to “lock in” the water.


3). Skip the makeup bag

We know how it goes: acne causes scarring and redness that you want to hide behind makeup, but the makeup itself can cause you to break out. There really is no winning in this vicious skin cycle, unless you choose to go without your beloved foundations, concealers, powders and blushes.

If you feel that you just can’t for any reason, make sure to cleanse your skin before heading to bed. Never sleep with makeup on, or you’ll wake up with irritated and possibly bumpy skin in the morning. Use oil-free cosmetics as well as ones without unnatural dyes or fillers. If you’re unsure of what’s in your makeup, the information should be able to be found on the product label. Also, make sure to keep any brushes that you use clean, as the transference of bacteria from the brush to your skin can also cause pimples. If you use your hands to apply any of your makeup, wash them with warm, soapy water before getting ready for your day.


4). Be mindful of which hair products you choose

Any products that you use on your hair have the very real possibility of ending up on your face throughout the day. Products can drip down into the skin and clog pores, or hair resting across your face (such as a fringe, or “bangs”) can cause pimples to pop up overnight. To best minimize this, opt for hair care products that lack harsh chemicals, oily ingredients or unnatural fragrances. If your hair is long, try keeping it tied up or into a bun as much as possible-especially while you’re sleeping.


5). Clean skin is happy skin

Whether you have acne or not, keeping your skin clean is essential for its overall health. Cleansing daily sloughs away dead skin cells, excess sebum, makeup and environmental muck that can wriggle down into your pores and cause problems. When washing, massage your face gently and rinse with warm water. If you have sensitive skin, avoid using any harsh cleaning agents that can cause redness and other forms of skin irritation.

Exfoliating is an important part of a good skin care routine, but you must pay attention to how you do it in order to avoid causing additional damage to your skin. Instead of using something hard like a conventional wash cloth or an exfoliating glove, opt for gentler exfoliating agents. They all serve the same purpose-to get impurities out of and off of your skin.


6). Hands off!

Touching your face is something that a lot of us don’t think about, but we do it all of the time. Resting your chin in your hands, your hand on your forehead when you’re frustrated or applying makeup with your hands can all cause acne flare-ups. There are bacteria on your hands from day-to-day life, and pressing your palms or fingers against dead skin cells that are already causing irritation and pain to your skin will only make it worse.

This also goes for popping or picking at your pimples with your fingers. Opening the skin with your fingers will not improve the condition of your acne, and may in fact cause an infection that will make your break out worse. At Essence of Beauty, we recommend entrusting your cleanser products to deal with your skin troubles.


7). Hang out in the shade for a while

The sun is not great for your skin, and its rays can speed up the process of developing acne as well as increase any inflammation that’s going on in and under your skin. Always, always wear sun screen when you go outside, whether you have acne or not, but make sure to choose one labeled as “non-comedogenic,” which means that it will not clog your pores and cause more acne.

Some acne products can make your skin much more sensitive to sunlight, as well. Look on the product labels for your skin care items for any warnings about this.


8). Watch what you eat, and how you eat it

If you’re prone to acne, it might be a good idea to practice extra caution when eating messy foods, as grease and oils found in food can be transferred to your face. Be mindful to wash your hands after meals and before you touch your face or hair as well, to avoid the spread of bacteria that could cause acne breakouts.

The type of food that you eat isn’t likely to cause your skin to get irritated and break out, but foods that are rich in vitamins will provide your body and skin with essential nutrients.  Some researchers believe that foods containing vitamin A and beta-carotene can improve the health of your skin overall, which can reduce incidents of acne. Examples of such foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach. If you fill your diet with these treats, you may see a noted improvement in the condition of your skin.


9). Exercise to help improve your skin

It’s no secret that a daily exercise routine is a great way to maintain and improve your overall health. Working out doesn’t reduce production of the oils that can cause acne, but it does reduce stress and enhance blood flow, which will improve the appearance of your skin. Make sure to wear the proper attire for the activity that you’re engaging in while avoiding hats, goggles or helmets that can increase how much you sweat.

Showering after a workout is also essential to ridding your skin of sweat and other oils that can clog your pores.


10). Calming down = calmer skin

It can actually be stressful to try and find time to relax, especially when your skin is inflamed and painful because of acne. But it is in the best interest of your skin, and your body overall, to try and find some time to yourself each day. Stress can exacerbate acne and actually make it worse, so if you feel yourself getting bogged down too much by negativity, anxiety and stress, take a break from it as soon as you’re able. Walk your dog, play a sport, visit with friends and family, the possibilities are endless. Do what you enjoy and what calms you down, and your skin will calm down, too.

As much as we all wish we could change it, the unfortunate fact is that acne is a common-and even expected-part of adolescence and even adulthood. Many people have to build a daily routine of skincare to keep their acne under control, and see dermatologists like those at Essence of Beauty to help them manage it even more effectively.

Sometimes, no matter what we do, acne just won’t go away. Sometimes it even seems to get worse the more we try to rid ourselves of it. That’s when you might want to consider calling in the professionals. If you’ve given thought to seeing a holistic acne specialist to clear your skin and reveal your healthiest-looking you, call Essence of Beauty in Ottawa at 613-220-2101.