Understanding Acne (Part 2): The Acne Card

Understanding Acne (Part 2): The Acne Card

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. The goal of this series is to help you understand your acne in a whole new way so you can take the health of your skin into your own hands.

In part one of this Understanding Acne Series we covered what actually causes acne. That lays the foundation for understanding your skin, which will help you prevent your acne before it starts, so make sure you read part one.

Before I go into the details of what you can do to prevent the acne process, I want ease your mind a bit about why you have acne.

Most people have some underlying belief that they have acne because they are doing something wrong. I want to squash that. While there are things that you do or don’t do that help or hinder your efforts to clear your skin, you need to put the blame game to rest. Your acne is not your fault.

So then, why do you have acne? I know it’s really frustrating to look around a room full of people and notice everyone has better skin than you. You ask yourself, why do I have this problem? Why, no matter what I do my skin breaks out, but my friend who sleeps in her make up and eats junk never has a single blemish?

Well, the reason lies at least partially in your genetics.

Thanks to our DNA, our skin functions differently than those who don’t get acne. The cards we have been dealt make us more prone to breakouts.

For example, here are a few key differences between typical acneic skin and non-acneic skin. (Though there are, of course, exceptions).

  • Our skin produces more oil. Remember from part one that oil oxidation and inflammation trigger the acne process. More oil means a higher likelihood of problems.
  • Our oil is molecularly different. The chemical composition of our skin’s oil is slightly higher in squalene. Squalene is the component in oil that so easily oxidizes.
  • Our skin cells shed faster. That means we have more clumps of dead skin cells to gum up the works in our pores
  • Our skin is more sensitive to the bacteria that thrive in closed pores. Everyone has these bacteria on their skin. The problem is that for unknown reasons, our skin hates these bacteria more than average, and thus our skin reacts more aggressively toward them.
  • Our skin is more sensitive to the hormones that lead to acne. Androgen hormones can increase oil products and skin cell growth, as well as trigger inflammation and oxidation. Because our skin is more sensitive to these hormones, we see hormone fluctuations in our skin.
  • We tend to have lower levels of antioxidants throughout body and within our skin. Antioxidants are firefighters. They help prevent oxidation and fight inflammation. Many people with acne are found to have fewer antioxidants circulating in their system, and less available in their skin.

I want to stress this point again. It is not your fault that you have acne, anymore than it is that your fault that you have green eyes. So let the guilt go.

You and I have been dealt the acne card. The above factors are genetic and there is nothing we can do about our DNA. But that’s ok. The good news is that genetics only means you’re prone to getting acne. It doesn’t mean your fate is sealed. Once you understand the contributing factors, you can work with what you’ve got.

Think of it this way, the hand we’ve been dealt means we more easily breakout. But before now, you didn’t even know you were in a card game. Once you know what contributes to the acne process, you can start playing your hand in a way that helps your skin.

What I tell people is to think of acne like a check engine light. It’s not the actual problem, it’s showing you that there is a problem and you may have to look under the hood. Someone else, with different genes, may see weight gain, or arthritis, or diabetes, or eczema, or something else entirely as their check engine light. We get acne. So, we need to take a look at the engine to try to determine what’s causing our “acne genes” to turn on, and then go to work at turning them off.

So, what does that look like? I’ll cover that in part three. I’ll show you ways in which you can decrease the likelihood of oil oxidation and inflammation, and thus prevent much of your acne before it even starts.

If you want to be notified when part three is released, then sign up below. Otherwise, come back soon! (Update – part three now available!)

Much love,

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