Those who have experienced acne, especially during their formative years, will understand that acne comes with its own set of emotional challenges. At best, people around them would offer unsolicited advice on how to clear their acne. At worst, they would be the target of bullies online and in real life. Either way, their confidence will take a hit that will take years to recover from.
Fortunately, the skin acceptance movement is beginning to take hold around the world, bringing hope that the younger generations will understand that acne is completely normal, along with lines, creases, bumps and pores that they may encounter. One of the biggest supporters of this movement is Sarah Miller, who has experienced the emotional struggles of having acne first hand.
As early as 13, Miller began developing severe acne. "It was genetic. My parents, aunts and uncles all had acne," she explains. "I was bullied and called 'pizza face'.
"I always tried to cover it up with tonnes of make-up or bangs and layers of hair, which only worsened the problem. I tried so many medications and prescriptions. I did all the wrong things—harsh scrubs, no moisturiser, super astringent alcohol-based products, picking at everything!"
It was this arduous trial-and-error process which put her on the path of becoming a professional skin therapist. As a master instructor, she has been diligently sharing her knowledge on how to correctly care for acne-prone skin with Clear Start, a brand created by Dermalogica.
In this interview with Tatler, she helps us understand the science behind the completely normal condition of acne and how to deal with it without ruining our skin and mental health.
Why do we get acne?
Acne is caused by four main factors: excess sebum, excess skin cells, P. acnes bacteria, and inflammation. They can be triggered by so many things, such as genetics, stress, diet, and pore-clogging ingredients, just to name a few. What may be a major trigger for one person may not be a problem for another.
The hormonal cycle can also affect the skin. Many experience a slight increase in oil production in their skin or experience a breakout in the jaw area and neck around their monthly cycle, or even when they are ovulating. Others may notice a little more heat in the skin, the appearance of large pores or heightened skin sensitivity at different stages of their hormonal cycle.
How can we prevent acne?
Unfortunately, acne is not avoidable for many people. But the right skincare routine can help balance and manage breakouts. Some of my clients can even get to a place of avoiding acne altogether.
But remember, you can be doing everything right and still get a breakout. You need to know that you are not alone and acne is normal.