what is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It presents in different forms including pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.
Acne can be inflammatory (papule, pustule) or non-inflammatory (blackhead, whitehead). There are two types of inflammatory acne which result when a blocked hair follicle becomes inflamed or infected by bacteria. A papule develops when whiteheads or blackheads cause so much irritation that they damage some of the surrounding skin. They present as small red tender bumps. A pimple (pustule) is a papule with a centre of pus.
Whiteheads (closed comedones) and blackheads (open comedones) are non-inflammatory and caused by clogged pores. They form when dead skin cells, oil and bacteria become trapped. In the former case, the pore opening is obstructed and remains sealed, the latter breaks open, darkening because of exposure to the air.
why does acne form?
Acne can be very persistent and some people are more vulnerable than others. Although acne cannot always be prevented, in some cases, it can be reduced or even eliminated depending on the principle cause and severity.
There are many triggers for acne. Common ones include high oil production, bacteria, excessive hormonal activity which may occur during puberty, menopause, menstruation and pregnancy and lifestyle (poor diet, stress).
Sometimes, acne needs to be managed using prescription medicine that can provided by a dermatologist to ease severe conditions. For most however, skincare can reduce acne and also accelerate healing.
Acne is a serious focus for Korean skincare producers. Major Korean brands are introducing entire lines dedicated to acne care. These include Pyunkang Yul, Cosrx and Somebymi. Within these lines, cleansers are designed to remove excess sebum without disrupting the moisture barrier while toners clear and minimise pores. Then there’s also targeted solutions which effectively treat the blemish in the form of a mask pack and spot treatment. Finally, antibacterial creams and serums reinforce the skin barrier while also providing a strong defence against new breakouts.
With an entire acne line, Pyunkang Yul has created products that exploit the power of White Willow which contains Salicylic Acid and tannin to effectively remove dead skin cells and debris from pores.
Cosrx have recently introduced the AC Collection, a range containing ingredients to mildly yet effectively help control excess sebum production, enlarged pores, dead skin cells and inflammation. Centella Asiatica Extract (aka Cica or Gotu Kola) and its active compounds Madecassic Acid, Asiatic Acid and Asiaticoside work to soothe acne while also reinforcing the moisture barrier to prevent bacteria penetration. Together, they comprise what Cosrx calls the CentellAC-RX complex.
Somebymi has released a line of products that use the acne combating power of Centella Asiatica and Green Tea Extracts together with Alpha, Beta and Poly Hydroxy Acids to gently exfoliate dead cells, for smoother, healthier skin.
These product lines are available at April & Ko.
In a multistep Korean routine, no matter how many steps you choose to incorporate, you should adhere to the following general rules to help you clear your skin of acne.
• Double cleanse every night to remove makeup, sunscreen and pollutants.
• Exfoliate a few times a week to encourage cell turnover and keep pores clear.
• Apply toner to prepare your skin for actives and add the first layer of hydration.
• Essence is a key step in the Korean routine and adds a concentrated hit of hydration.
• Sheet masks for soothing moisture.
• Highly concentrated, serums are able to deliver active ingredients to target specific needs.
• Choose eye/face creams and oils that provide plenty of moisture without congestion.
There are also a few bonus steps that can be included.
• A hydrating and soothing mask can provide a boost to the healing process.
• A sleeping mask can deliver a deep nourishing night treatment that can be beneficial a few times a week.
• Spot treatments are effective at treating acne, redness, inflamed and troubled skin at the site.
In summary, make sure you choose products that target acne with proven ingredients such as Salicylic Acid and Centella Asiatica and its active components (Madecassic Acid, Asiatic Acid, Asiaticoside). Remember the key objective is to keep pores clear of debris that can cause congestion and to soothe inflammation for faster recovery. And always introduce new products slowly. Korean skincare is available at April & Ko.