Skin Care Series #1: Bacterial Acne, Here's What You Need to Know

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Like many teenagers I had trouble with my skin. My mom was quick to take me to the dermatologist who prescribed various topical agents to address the issues. I remember one treatment being a dabber I was supposed to apply on any eruptions. I had the same one for months and months, maybe even a year. I now know that thing must have been completely infested with bacteria that I was spreading all over my face… Disgusting.

When Bacterial Acne Treatments Don't Actually Work:

Birth Control's (Unmet) Promise To Stabilize Hormones

Another common acne remedy for women is to go on birth control. In addition to its primary function, birth control also promises to calm the skin by stabilizing hormones — theoretically there would be no hormonal breakouts if the hormones were medically controlled. However, my hormones have a mind of their own. Not only did the breakouts continue but so did the heavy cycles that were the main reason I went on the pill in the first place.

Facial Steaming Breeding Ground

When I moved to NYC for college I was introduced to a renowned Upper East Side institution for facials. I loved the idea of my skin being deeply cleaned, however I noticed that their particular steaming process prior to extractions often caused more breakouts than it cleared. Again, bacteria was the culprit since it loves heat and moisture, and in my case the active ingredients in their products weren’t active enough to beat back the bacteria.

Dealing With the Remnants of Acne Causing Bacteria:

The Scarring Was the Worst

In addition to the pimples themselves, my real issue was with the scarring aftermath. A pimple might last a couple days, but the scars seemed to last forever. It wasn’t until I moved to LA after graduation and met the miracle that is Mady Shany of Jady Aesthetics that my issues were finally explained and resolved. In my case, the breakouts were hormonal and because I only have one kidney (a story for another time). 

Our Filtration Systems and Skin’s Protection Mechanisms

Our skin is our largest organ and it’s also a massive filtration system. Since one of the two of my internal filtration systems was missing in action (my kidney), my skin had to pick up the slack. Shany explained that scarring is the skin’s way of protecting itself. When the pimples — or the intruders as I call them — arise, the body encircles the invader as a way of mending the damage and preventing a spread. For darker hues this repairing process might result in a scar. Through her background in chemistry — and decades of deep training and practice of medical grade skin care — Shany developed the ability to perfect the skin of all colors, textures, and types. In 2008 Elle Magazine honored her with their Beauty Genius Award and also dubbed her “The Eraser” because of her ability to erase scar tissue — and not only from pimples or scars from surgery, she can make burn scars disappear. Thanks to Shany my breakouts and scarring became a thing of the past. 

Preventing Bacterial Acne in the First Place:

Keeping Our Hands Off Our Face

It’s important to employ best practices such as washing your hands before washing your face. And when not washing your face or applying skin care, it’s important to keep our hands off our face. How often do we sit with our chin resting in the palm of a hand? As we press the oil from our hand — and whatever we’ve touched with it — into the skin of our face. It should come as no wonder why so many people experience bacterial acne breakouts in that area. How often do you wash your glasses? If the answer is not often just know that they’re dirty and they’re sitting on your face. Also it’s best to change your face cloth daily and not to use the same one you use for your body on your face. And change your pillow cases every couple of days, too.

What We Eat

Of course what we put into our bodies will also be reflected in our appearance — are we eating a lot of greasy foods? Are we drinking plenty of water? Sadly, the water used to make coffee does not count. In fact, coffee is a major dehydrator, so for every cup we drink, think of it as subtracting a glass of water from our system. But, again, in order to win the skin care war we must not underestimate bacteria.

Back to the Menace of Bacteria 

Bacteria is an ever evolving entity with the power to learn and adapt; therefore we must always stay one step ahead of it. If you have a cleanser, night cream, scrub, or whatever you rely on, it’s important to note the efficacy lasts three to four months after the first use. 

Bacteria is smart — its survival depends on figuring out what you are using to get rid of it, and then becoming immune to that very thing. The trick is to change up your routine every three to four months, which aligns well with the seasons.

This doesn’t mean you have to throw out everything you’ve been using, unless you have a dabber, if you do, trash that thing. Rotating products means you keep acne-causing bacteria at bay by not allowing it to become comfortable with one form of defense. Imagine yourself as a boxer in the ring, if all you do is throw left hooks your opponent will quickly catch on and pummel you. You have to be like Ali and “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Part of how I float and sting is by following a daily, at-home practice that includes cleansing, exfoliating, toning, moisturizing, and masking — all courtesy of Jady Aesthetics. That might sound like a lot, but it only takes about 15 minutes, and the bacteria will never see me coming.

This post is part one of a three-part series that examines skin care. Continue the series on skin care in part two here and part three here.

Tags: Self Care, Skin Care, wellness

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Written By

Simbi Hall

Filmmaker Simbiat Hall graduated with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a double major from the Institute... See Full Bio

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