So you have bought some new skincare products and tried them on but to your dismay, pimples and acne formed. Why is it so? Read on to find out more.
Firstly, what is acne?
Acne is a skin condition characterised by red pimples on the skin, especially on the face, due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands. It is otherwise classified as a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit. Pilosebaceous unit is made of hair follicle, sebaceous glands and hair which are found everywhere on our bodies except our lips, palms and soles of our feet.
So what does a healthy normal pore looks like?
Sebaceous glands in every pore produces sebum which is responsible for keeping skin and hair moisturised. Sebum is made up of triglycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, cholesterol esters, and cholesterol. Dead skin cells combined with sebum produced fills the hair follicle and in a normal process, the mixture flows and spreads over skin surface, ensuring skin is moisturised and healthy. When the process does not work properly, the skin can become dry or excessively oily. When excessive sebum is produced, it is medically termed as seborrhoea. An excess of sebum, dead skin cells and dirt trapped inside pores can lead to acne.
Early acne or microcomedone can be caused by skin cells (or corneocytes) becoming too sticky as they shed and accumulate in the pore instead of flowing out onto the skin, more skin cells are shedding at the top of the pore instead of the bottom, or when sebum production is increased.
Microcomedone is generally not visible to the eye as it occurs under the skin surface. It can take up to 8 weeks for a microcomedone to surface and be visible. At this stage, the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, often known as P. acnes which normally resides in the pore do not cause infection. P. acnes bacteria feed on sebum and when sebum production increases, the number of P. acnes bacteria also increases in the pore.
While microcomedone looks perfectly normal on the surface, corneocytes may be piling and compacting deep within the pore. When you decide to try on a new product, especially those that promote cell turnover, more skin cells will shed and hence, this may cause buildup in the pore and whitehead/blackhead (or close/open comedone) may form. As sebaceous material builds up, inflammation develops in the cells surrounding the pore. Whiteheads can be infected or not, depending on whether the P. acnes bacteria have been able to infect the cells around the pore. This may develop into pustule or cyst in more serious cases when the skin cells walls rupture and get infected.
So when do you know stop using the skincare product?
When using new skincare products, you should generally see slight improvements within the first 3 to 4 weeks of use and you should allow about 3 months for the products to adapt. If you are still breaking out after 3 months or don't see any improvement at all in your skin after 1 month, switch to something else.
To reduce to severity of purge, you may introduce the new product slowly to your skin by starting at a lower concentration, at a smaller amount or use less frequently before gradually increasing to the recommended amount. It is strongly advisable to do a patch test prior to using any new skincare product. And always remember that our skin can only take so much of products at a time and diet plays a huge part to maintain healthy skin. They say healthy skin generally starts from the gut and it is absolutely true!