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The Struggles of Acne

By Janet Thompson

My favorite clients are those who suffer from acne. I say this because these clients are so appreciative of the change in their skin that I find it to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. I have literally approached total strangers at the mall, who are suffering from acne, offering my help to improve their skin (my husband hates when I do this!) When I see someone whose skin looks uncomfortable and is as red as an apple, the Esthetician in me ‘kicks in’ and I’m on a mission because I KNOW I can help! So, if you have acne and are approached by some middle-aged lady on the street offering to help clear up your skin – don’t be afraid — it’s probably me! Just humor me and smile . . .

Most of my clients have been to at least one dermatologist and have been prescribed a myriad of drugs to clear up their skin – all to no avail. The antibiotics they’ve taken help to get rid of the bacteria that causes acne but once they stop taking them, the acne reappears and the infection starts the cycle all over again. The topical ointments cause their skin to become red, inflamed and flaky. They’ve battled with acne for years, some decades, and have tried almost every product, diet or remedy on the market yet they still see little or no improvement in their skin. You know why? … they didn’t start out with a ‘clean slate’ and nobody taught them the proper way to care for their skin. What do I mean by a ‘clean slate’? … a chemical peel! A chemical peel dissolves the dead skin cells, dries out the blemishes and brings the skin’s pH down for a short period of time – which is exactly what acneic skin needs to start healing. Education and understanding of how pH affects the skin can make a HUGE difference in your complexion and your breakouts.

ACNE 101

An acne blemish begins approximately 2-3 weeks before it appears on your skin’s surface. So while it may seem like you get a pimple overnight, what you’re actually seeing is the final stage of a much longer process. It starts in your sebaceous hair follicles – your pores. Deep within each follicle, your sebaceous glands are working to produce sebum, the oil that keeps your skin moist and pliable. As your skin renews itself, the old cells die, mix with your skin’s natural oils, and are sloughed off. Under normal circumstances, these cells are shed gradually, making room for fresh new skin. However, a person who suffers from acne doesn’t shed or turnover these cells ‘normally’ which results in the dead cells becoming sticky and clumping together to form a plug – much like a cork in a bottle. This plug, or comedo, traps oil and bacteria inside the follicle.

The plugged follicle begins to swell as your skin continues its normal oil production, causing pressure and bacteria to form. Your body then attacks the bacteria with a swarm of white blood cells to combat the infection. The whole process takes 2-3 weeks, concocting the dreaded blemish.
Don’t let the words ‘chemical peel’ scare you. Many of the peels out there are derived from fruit acids and are perfectly safe and beneficial for your skin. They work by dissolving the dead skin cells and sebum that’s clogging the pore which allows the skin to breathe and renew itself more quickly than on its own. This results in clearer, fresher skin.

Chemical peels are an excellent way to start the acne healing process. Along with the proper education, cleanser, toner and moisturizer, you could quickly be on the road to recovery . . . without all the harmful drugs in your body. I have seen improvement in some of my clients by the time they walk out the door. Others take months depending on the severity, but treating acne is commitment – one that’s definitely worth it when you see the results in the mirror!


Janet Thompson is a licensed Esthetician, and owner of Spa La Vie, Organic Skin Spa, located in Wasco, IL. 630-485-2788. www.SpaLaVie.info. Janet loves helping people achieve their skin care goals — the natural way.


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