As you know, I love giving out advice to those who are wanting a no-obligation way to learn about how to take care of their skin. I asked my readers if there were any topics they’d like me to answer for them. Read on and send your own!
Q: “I watch those Dr. Pimple Popper shows! I want to know if that’s actually good for your face? I try not to mess with my pimples because it scars. They never show what the skin looks like later or after it heals. Best acne treatments? Scarring treatments?” – Amy
A: Great questions! I’ll address them separately.
Ahhhhh. Dr. Pimple Popper. One of the grossest yet most satisfying things you can watch. I too, am a fan! In general, popping pimples is a no-no. The average person is not trained how to properly pop one, and which one is ready to be popped. Thus, you run the risk of scarring, hyperpigmentation and spreading the infection under the skin.
The difference between what you see in Dr. Pimple Popper and the everyday pimple is that those pimples are severely impacted and infected. Many of them have been under the skin for months or years. When you see a blackhead, that is oxidized sebum that becomes a plug. Those really deep ones that come out like snakes are rooted in the skin and would not come out on its own. They are absesses that need to be removed for risk of further infection under the skin. You’ll note that there is typically a lancet used, sterilized equipment, likely heavy exfoliation and steam beforehand, special products to loosen pores and sebum and gloves. The average person does not have access to, or use these items. It’s typically our frustration and our dirty nails lopping off the top of a pustule (whitehead) which creates the spread of infection and irritation. There is also an art when an esthetician does extractions for you at your local spa. Pimples needs to be pushed to the surface from the bottom, up.
Since becoming and esthetician and performing extractions, I see even seemingly clear skin have a gentle extraction which results in sebum looking like little vines emerging from people’s noses. This is why I suggest you get a monthly (or more often) facial if you can, especially if you are clog prone.
In a nutshell – no. Don’t pop your pimples. Let them go and if you can, work with your dermatologist or esthetician to get you on a regiment that will keep your skin clear. It can be a process but so worth the journey! I can attest to this after my 10+ years of seeing an esthetician.
This is really hard to answer without an assessment. But generally, these things in my Pimple Puzzle post are a good rule of thumb. The best thing you can do for yourself is to understand the cause of acne. It can be hormonal, dietary, bacterial, stress-related or an allergy. Once you understand better what could be causing it, then you know how to treat it.
Hormonal is best left to a professional. But, even things like cheese and milk can cause hormonal acne because those products contain hormones. Acne may be happening because skin cell turn-over is slowing and is clogging pores. If that’s the case, good exfoliation and Alpha/Beta Hydroxy are wonderful. If it is bacterial, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil are all great ingredients to look for. The trick is maintaining proper pH balance of the skin (4.5-5.5 on the pH scale) so as not to strip it which can cause a cascading effect of more oil, irritation and….more papules!
For scarring you’ve already incurred, hands down microneedling is my #1 recommendation. It is a great treatment in general and great for anyone who doesn’t have active cystic acne. You can read more about that treatment in my Vampire Facial post. While the at-home options are great for minor maintenance, they won’t have the results like a medical-grade treatment. Lasers like ResurFx can help over multiple treatments to retexturize the skin, but be wary if you have melasma or sensitive skin. Lastly, if those aren’t in your budget, a great at-home plan for exfoliation and skin-building ingredients plus stimulation from massage can help make improvements in the long-haul.
Q: I want to know more about facials, especially for combination skin. I’ve seen improvements when I’ve gone, but I’d like to know how often to go.” – Danielle
A: Danielle, I love this question! First off, not all facials nor estheticians are created equal. Just like getting your hair done, ask around to those who have been going to one to get their recommendations, or look up reviews.
A good esthetician will be able to customize your facial on the spot after a skin analysis and speaking to you about what your goals are. When you see different types of treatments offered, it is to give the esthetician a gauge of what products to prep with so they can keep on-time, and most importantly the amount of time you plan to spend in the spa so that their time is booked appropriately. If you came in for a 60 minute relaxing facial, but then we decided you really need exfoliation, I would customize it to heavily focus on refining the skin but you’d need to compromise that you wouldn’t get the full relaxing massage.
Regarding how often, it depends on your skincare routine as it exists today. If you’re starting something new, or do get facials regularly I would suggest twice per month, if not once a week for quicker results. Our skin at around the age of 30-40 turns over once every 30 days. If you wait once a month (or longer) you aren’t even treating new skin cells. Quicker will allow removing of old dead skin and better product penetration, and darker pigment will also ratchet up the ranks faster. Note, when treating hyperpigmentation there is a chance it will get darker as it comes to the surface before it gets lighter.
After you’ve gotten into a good routine, once a month to keep up with your investment will suffice. Also don’t take a spas word for it on the products they are selling. Ask them about the ingredients vs the products. Research the products they are offering (which may be fantastic, I’m not saying don’t buy them) but knowing ingredients can help you understand what’s worth splurging on and what you can get a basic product for. An example would be SkinMedica’s TNS serum which is pricey but so effective. I would buy that hands down. But do I need the $70 face wash? No, unless you really wanted it. I am OK with Cerave SA which does a nice job.
Q: “What are some good sunscreens to check out?” – Katie
A: I’m glad to hear you’re thinking about SPF, Katie! Here are a couple of my favorites:
EltaMD $33 – great for acne-prone and sensitive skin. Broad spectrum, incorporates lactic acid for resurfacing and sodium hyaluronate for moisturizing.
Neogen Dermalogy Day-light Protection SPF 50+++ $30 – this lightweight, super moisturizing SPF goes on like a dream and is chock full of antioxidants like rose extracts, vitamin E, and raspberry. It has moisturizers like sodium hyaluronate and glycerine high on the list. It can have a bit of a shine, so is best suited for dry skin or someone who likes a dewy look.
Obagi Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF $52 – leaves a soft, matte finish perfect under makeup and for oily skin. Vitamin C provides extra protection for ultra violet rays and is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores.
Australian Gold Botanical SPF Tinted Face Lotion $13.99 – a great drugstore find, this does have a tint which is great for those non-makeup days or to lightly cover imperfections. It is a physical sunscreen which gives it a nice powdery, matte finish. It contains vitamin E, red algae and squalene which are beneficial skin properties. The only con is that the shade is not universal.
I hope you found some good nuggets and thank you readers for sending in your questions! You can find me on Instagram at @stacie4roux (my new brand and more on that later!) or in the comments to shoot me any questions you have. XoXo – Stacie