If you have acne then there is more than a good chance that you have used benzoyl peroxides, azelaic acids, AHAs, BHAs, vitamin C serums, carbon masks and countless other expensive spot treatments from the chemist, been prescribed antibiotics, retinoids, isotretinoin, co-cyprindiol and contraceptive pills from the doctor, tried every sugar-free, dairy-free diet and booted fluoride toothpaste following natural diet websites and perhaps even meditated until you could scream but are still unhappy with the results. You are not alone.
Why does acne always return? There’s a quick answer and a better answer.
The quick answer is that you haven’t done something or used something long enough to break the acne formation process for you.
The better answer is acne is a very individual condition and it’s exact causes for you are very specific to you. This is why, what works for Justin Bieber or that blogger online doesn’t always work when you try it at home- or they work for a bit and then acne returns.
The causes of acne are individual – but they are not unique. That might sound a bit nonsensical but stay with me here. Here’s a very simplified drawing of how acne starts:
Acne formation is very complex but put simply (to match my drawing) – genetics, diet and lifestyle affect your hormone production. Hormones effect sebum production and skin cell growth rates. Sebum and skin cell shredding lead to blocked pores. Blocked pores are nirvana for bacteria. Bacteria cause an inflammatory response. The inflammatory response makes the skin develop a pimple.
Lets not get too far ahead though. It all starts there on the left with genetics.
Acne is strongly genetic. This has been shown through clinical studies. A study of 458 identical twins and 1099 fraternal twins found that genes explained 81% of the difference in acne prevalence. Another study compared the difference in rates of acne in first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, and offspring) between 204 acne patients and 144 non-acne patients. They found that having a first-degree relative with acne increased your risk of getting acne by approximately 4 times.
How do genetics achieve this? Well, genes influence the whole set of events off to the right in my drawing. They influence how sensitive your skin is to hormones, how much sebum is produced, how fast skin cells grow, the strength of your bodies inflammatory response to bacteria and how well your body can control its anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the skin. Genetics poke their nose into pretty much every link in the acne forming chain.
“Genetic eh? So there’s nothing I can do” you might be thinking. Poppycock. Your genes might determine what you are, but not who you are. They may increase your propensity to develop acne but they do not have complete say. Why? Simple. There’s another factor up there in my drawing at the start of the chain, ‘diet & lifestyle’.
“Ah so he’s just going to promote healthy living then? Ah ok. Tired that didn’t work”. Stop there in the name of science! There are lots of studies on diet and acne which show low dairy, low sugar and low GI diets reduce or even completely remove acne. Why? In short, dairy, sugar and high GI foods spike hormones and these hormones cause more sebum to be produced which leads to a greater likelihood of acne. Science has also demonstrated a causality between acne and stress. Why? Again, very briefly, stress causes our stress hormones to go out of whack and stress hormones cause other hormones to produce more sebum and our bodies to have a rather grumpy inflammatory response to bacteria – the result a greater likelihood of acne. Diet & lifestyle can’t change your genes but they do affect your skin after the genes have had their say. It’s like a card game – genes deal the cards, but the player decides what to do with the hand.
“It’s like a card game – genes deal the cards, but the player decides what to do with the hand. “
But that isn’t the whole story either. Diet & lifestyle changes can reduce or remove acne for some. But acne is individual and what works for little miss dairy diet may not work for you. Why? Because you’ve been dealt different cards and you must play your hand differently to everyone else. You have to think about each part of the acne forming chain.
This leads us to all those products you’ve tried and which ultimately didn’t help and the big ‘why didn’t they work?’ question. To answer that, let’s look at the acne forming chain again and see where a lot of those products work their magic.
Each product works on one (sometimes two) parts of the acne forming chain.
Antibiotics such as Doxycycline for example kill bacteria to address the bacterial imbalance which leads to inflammation which leads to acne. The logic is simple – by killing the bacteria, the skin can’t go getting all inflamed and so acne disappears. But antibiotics do not stop the pores becoming clogged and an ideal place for bacteria to breed in the first place and if you stop taking antibiotics the acne resumes.
Accutanes such as Roaccutane, Isotretinoin, and Claravis primarily decrease the size and activity of the sebaceous glands in the skin, reducing sebum and reducing the number of blocked pores (they also help with inflammation). No block, no big bacteria growth, no acne. But they do not stop that acne conveyor – once treatment stops the genetics and lifestyle behind acne will continue to play with your hormones and acne can come back. Clinical experience suggests that the long-term cure rate of accutane isn’t as high as some manufacturers claimed and relapse rates are between 10 and 60%.
The further to the right a product acts, the less chance it has on the ability to help your acne if the cause behind it is off to the left somewhere. It’s like a conveyor belt of acne boxes – boxes goes in on the left, more boxes can added to the conveyor at each stage and the boxes fall off the right as acne – products act like a worker taking the boxes off the conveyor at certain stages – the later they act the harder it is manage all the boxes already on the conveyor.
“Acne formation is like a conveyor belt, the later you act on the conveyor the harder it is to manage”
The best solution is to think about how you can manage acne at each stage of acne formation. And be consistent. Consistency is another important factor in the ‘it didn’t work for me’ camp.
Products take time to work. Your body is continually producing new layers of skin which have to work their way to the surface – this takes about 28 days for the average adult and up to 60 days for granny. Active ingredients work on the layer of skin where new cells are made – not on the dead outer layer you see. This means on day 1 you apply magic product X, it will take at least 28 days for the effect of that on the skin to be seen. And products take time to work too – you have to keep using the product every day for as long as it takes for the products to get to work and the effects to be seen. Every product that promises instant results is just plumping the dead skin in some way and is always very temporary. Any products which have an affect on your hormones (changes in diet, supplements and probiotics for example) will take even longer to work – between three and six months.
So, how do you get rid of acne?
The answer is you have to find what works for you for each stage of the acne forming process and do it consistently and for as long as it takes and then some. By choosing to tackle each link in the chain you will reduce the chance of acne forming, but you need to maintain it, otherwise acne will return. There is no one-off magical pill (yet, there may be one in our lifetimes).
“Fighting acne is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to consistently day by day do the things that keep it at bay”
The cure to acne is not an endless marathon however. Over time, your genes will have the final say and your body will change (your hormone levels will fluctuate for example) and acne will disappear eventually (well more likely it will disappear then reappear a few times first) but you have to remain vigilant and continuously make life choices (what to eat, how to live, what products to use, what products to avoid) to keep yourself acne free – only then will you “get rid of acne”.
About 28 Day Skin
28 Day Skin is a revolutionary yet simple 15 minute daily acne treatment program that eliminates acne-causing bacteria at the source to clear pimples, restore the skins natural balance and help prevent breakouts.
28 Day skin tackles each part of the acne forming process to tackle the source and symptoms of acne. If you’ve just read the 1000 or so words above you’ll know why that’s important.
28 Day Skin does not use benzoyl peroxide (it has lots of side effects and it’s long term ‘cure rate’ is pretty low) and is an alternative to antibiotics, accutane and other acne treatments which have a high number of serious side effects. Instead the therapy uses a combination of nutritional supplements, patent pending topical products and blue light therapy to balance hormones, sebum and bacteria levels and help you get your acne under control.
By tackling each stage of the acne forming chain we take a ‘blanket approach’ to curing your specific acne problem. The 28 Day Skin therapy protocol is clinically proven to reduced mild to moderate acne severity be 33% in 28 days and over 50% in 12 weeks.