First things first, find out what causes acne and what type you have with Volume 1 in the Acne Diaries, then give your skin a head start by cleaning up your bathroom sink and beauty bag with our guide on how to get rid of acne in Volume 2.
Now that's sorted, it's on to the good stuff - who you should see and how they can help with your acne treatment. Over to the experts!
1. THE DOCTOR
The Expert: Dr Terry Loong - Integrative Cosmetic & Skin Doctor
Q: What type of acne can you treat?
A: All types of acne can be managed but as a rule of thumb hormonal acne (whiteheads, blackheads, papules, nodules) I can treat. Acne rosacea and acne conglobata are more difficult as they are much hard to teat and can only be managed.
Q: When should I come to see you for acne treatment?
A: Most of my patients come to see me after failed visits to other doctors or therapists and they've failed using antibiotics or birth control pills. I also have patients coming to see me when they don't want to go down the Roaccutane route and are looking for a more holistic route. It's best to come and see me before scars or pigmentation set in as these are hard to treat (but not impossible). It's never too late but it's always good to control and reduce any active acne before treating scars or pigmentation.
Q: What acne treatment would you suggest?
A: I combine internal solutions together with external solutions. I look at sources of inflammation e.g. the gut, optimise it and increase their immune system which helps to fight against bacteria on the skin and allow healing of the skin. I also help patients balance their sugars and hormones whilst recommending products and treatments to calm, hydrate and clarify their skin.
Q: Any take home tips?
A: It depends what I find during the consultation - I always ask my patients to complete a 14 page questionnaire before they come and see me. More often than not they go home with diagnostic test kits to test for inflammation, gut health or hormone balance and skin products to help reduce the breakout.
I recommend using some of the ZO Skin Health products to manage acne, like their Offects Exfoliating Polish and retinol products. They also have a new product Offects Sulfur Masque, which treats and prevents acne. It contains skin hydrators too which is great as many people with a acne have dehydrated skin and make the condition worse when using active acne fighting products.
I also recommend Oxygenetix Acne Control as I know my patients will wear make up to cover up acne and I’d rather they used something that will not make it worse and actively treat it than use products that aggravate the condition.
2. THE HOLISTIC HEALTH SPECIALIST
The Expert: Gemma Clare - Global Holistic Health Specialist, Skincare Expert and Facialist
Q: How can holistic healthcare help?
A: A holistic health approach to acne will treat both symptoms and the underlying cause. I've only had success stories with patients so far!
Q: Why is it better than other treatments?
A: Holistic healthcare will work in harmony with the body and treat the underyling cause as well as the symptoms for lasting results.
Q: When should I come to see you?
A: I see people at all different stages of acne. Some at initial stages, whilst others have spent over a decade seeing dermatologists and doctors and taking antibiotics like ruaccutane but still have skin problems. It’s never too late!
Q: What acne treatment would you recommend?
A: I regularly use Cosmecutis™ Prescription Skin Treatment bespoke advanced skin treatments to treat acne. Every prescription is formulated to meet individual needs but I would usually include galvanic, high frequency, personalised masks and blue light LED therapy to clear the pores, kill the bacteria inside and heal the skin.
Q: Any DIY suggestions?
A: Depending on the outcome of the consultation and session I will make lifestyle, skin care ritual and supplementation recommendations to support clients in achieving clear, healthy skin.
3. THE NUTRITIONIST
The Expert: Ella Allred - Nutritionist
Q: Why is it better than other treatments?
A: Around 80% of women between the age of 12 and 24 suffer from acne and your diet can hold the key. Treating acne from a dietary/nutritional perspective may be your best bet because our skin is a reflection of our internal health. Often conventional treatments like antibiotics make acne worse and medicines like Isoterinoin can come with a hefty dose of side effects. A nutritional therapist will look at the whole picture rather than just looking skin deep.
Q: How can you help?
A: Symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. The root causes are ascertained via a personal assessment and sometimes some lab tests. We will then give you dietary and supplement recommendations according to your biochemistry. No two people are the same, but great progress can be made to stop outbreaks and minimise scarring. Results may take 3-6 months however, and it's not a quick fix, you'll need to be prepared to put in the work to make a difference.
Q: What would you prescribe?
A: Although acne may manifest itself in different forms, they do have similarities. All types of acne start with inflammation so we would give you a strong natural anti-inflammatory like curcumin which is from turmeric, tea extract and fish oils. Acne can also be a response to abnormally high levels of testosterone even if you're a woman.
Every hormone that your body makes needs to be processed by the liver. If your liver is struggling and functioning sub-optimally then this may reflect on your skin as acne. I would prescribe some zinc, which is required for the enzymes which make hormones less toxic and potent. Other substances which aid detoxification are amino acids such as glutathione, NAC and methionine , as well as a few herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion and beetroot.
Q: Anything I can do at home?
A: Go to the toilet! Visiting the bathroom for a number 2 regularly is actually really important. Clearing out your bowels is your body’s way of removing toxins. If we don’t go regularly, we can end up reabsorbing old hormones and toxins which the liver needs to deal with a second time! If you’re not using the loo enough, your body will push the toxins out through the skin causing inflammation and acne! Taking supplements of Vitamin A and E is great for the skin, whilst collagen and hyaluronic acid based products can help scarring.
Q: What's the worst thing I can do?
A: The single worst thing for your skin, which you should remove from your diet, is sugar. Sugar causes inflammation within your body, which will then display itself on your face. Trans-fats and refined grains such as white rice or pasta are also a no-no.
4. THE ACUPUNCTURIST
The Expert: John Tsagaris - Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Expert
Q: Can acupuncture help my acne?!
A: Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and herbal supplementation, has a unique understanding of and treatment for acne and hormonal break outs. In Chinese medicine, acne is interpreted as the effect of an imbalance of the organs that are related to the health of the skin. In this model, the skin is affected by overwhelming fluctuations of hormones affecting sebum production as well as the pH of skin triggering bacteria growth and clogged pores. The actual skin has no problem; however it reflects the internal imbalances.
The re-balancing process will allow to neutralise toxins, by supporting its immune system. Acupuncture addresses the internal causes of acne or any other skin concern and affects directly the skin by alleviates inflammation, improving micro-circulation and oxygenation . The fact that the skin responds to bodies detoxification process, actually means that the skin is strong and healthy enough to facilitate it.
In addition, acupuncture treatment can be combined with customised LED light therapy which uses light-emitting diode (LED) technology, inspired by NASA research, to activate anti-inflammatory vital for the skin mechanisms that will address the irregularities from a cellular level . Specific wavelengths of light target the strain of bacteria that plays a pivotal role in causing acne for many people.
At home skincare is also crucial and I recommend using a range which helps to balance your skin. My SkinPointEight, AGE-ADAPT® skincare range is specifically designed to enhance the skin barrier integrity and responses. The adaptogen herbal actives help normalise photo-protective and environmental adaptability of the skin and supports its performance.
Q: Why should I come to see you for acne treatment instead of other experts?
A: People come to me once they have exhausted any other avenues for a solution to their problem. Clients can come to see me at any stage of their condition. If the individual has a mild form of acne, I may recommend a topical product or treatment along with a combination of supplements. I also treat advanced forms of acne and acne scars. Light therapy or Chinese micro-needling, facilitate production of new collagen which in turn corrects uneven skin tone that is a result of scarring.
Q: What can I do at home to help?
A: The goal of acne treatment in Chinese medicine is to reduce the internal heat I immunological challenges) and dampness (inflammatory factors or dietary intolerances) of the body with appropriate remedies. Depending on the underlying cause of acne outbreak, it is usually treated with formulations containing herbs that address different aspects of the skin problem as well as dietary and life style changes.
Scutellaria, also known as Huang Qin, is widely used in herbal formulations for treating acne. Ointment containing the dried root of Scutellaria can be applied to the acne lesions or taken internally in a capsule form to regulate skin cells improving their life span as well as the antioxidant defences.
According to the traditional Chinese medicine Red Peony, benefits from dark red clusters of acne and rashes which is sometimes perceived as a sign of poor blood circulation and helps to detoxify the skin.
Q: What are your top tips for day to day help?
A: Alkalining the diet is an important stage of recovery from acne. Eating plenty of squash, cucumbers, watermelon, winter melon, celery, carrots, cabbage, beet tops, dandelions, aloe vera, mulberry leaf, carrot tops, lettuce, potatoes, cherries, papaya, pears, persimmons, raspberries, buckwheat, alfalfa sprouts, millet, brown rice, mung beans, lentils, and split peas. Avoid excess sugar, dairy products, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages, nuts, seeds, shellfish, and fatty, fried, and processed foods.
Topically make sure that the skin is clean with no makeup during bed time as the skin needs to breath and detoxify. Steams and charcoal facial will help with controlling breakouts and make sure to not use a moisturiser containing an SPF in the evening as this creates a very acidic skin surface promoting bacteria growth.
For a bespoke cleanser recommendation that'll help you banish blemishes for good, Powder may just be your beauty fairy godmother.