Sometimes, it feels like you’ve never left high school because you’re still struggling with acne well into adulthood. We’ve all heard the expression beauty comes from within, but the bad news is: so do breakouts! Knowledge is power when it comes to acne, so understanding what causes and triggers acne is essential to help you curb your breakouts and reduce the signs of a flare-up.

What is acne?

The most simplistic way to describe a pimple is to say that it’s a clogged pore. Pores are the tiny holes on the surface of your skin that are connected to oil glands by hair follicles and our skin is in a constant cycle of regenerating skin cells through our pores, thanks to the oily liquid that glands produce: sebum.

The sebum does its job of carrying your dead skin cells, up through the follicles to the surface of your skin, where they’re usually swept away and out of your life forever. However, sometimes our glands produce an excess of sebum which ends up sticking to the dead skin cells. Acne occurs when your hair follicles (pores) become blocked with a combination of dead skin cells and sebum (the natural oil your skin produces). This then causes whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples to form. If your acne is severe, you could also have cystic acne, which means the pore has become inflamed causing a bump of pus to form due to the infection going deeper into your skin.

“My acne really started flaring up last year and it’s been quite a journey ever since because I had always been somebody who had completely flawless skin. It all starts from within, so I started eliminating oily foods and fed my system a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables. I always made sure I was taking my fish oils and multivitamins. I also exfoliated my skin, at least once a week. I used DIY sugar scrubs and had microdermabrasion – anything that exfoliated your skin is beneficial. It gets rids of the old skin cells to make way for regeneration of your new skin cells a lot faster. I used the ClearGlow by Salina Cosmetics face mask two to three times a week. On the days where my skin would get extremely oily, typically, a few days before that time of the month, I would use it daily and I really saw a change. In terms of facials, what really worked for me were hydrafacials twice a month. By the third month, I saw a remarkable change. Another thing that I cannot stress enough is removing all traces of makeup. Makeup cakes up pores, causing acne. I’m all about organics so another thing I used was Spots Go, an acne treatment by Salina Cosmetics. I would use it over night. It has tea tree oil which penetrates deep into the skin and dries out whiteheads and blackheads which clog up and cause acne in the first place, as well as turmeric which is anti-inflammatory. Another thing I highly recommend is turmeric tea (allow a knob of fresh turmeric to simmer in water) and drink it up – always remember, it starts from within,” Salina Taqi, owner of Salina Cosmetics, giving an insight into her journey with acne.

Treat your acne:

When it comes to treating acne it can be hella frustrating. There are a lot of many different factors that come into play, from hormones and stress to inflammatory foods and sometimes just because your skin knows when to attack at the worst time possible; the night before a first date, a big interview, your birthday. There are tons of ways to soothe and calm acne-prone skin, and different things work for different people, so we tapped into easily accessible methods, facials and treatments in Karachi so you become familiar with options you might not have considered.

The Guinot facial cleansing treatment from Mint Beauty Solutions is for PKR 6000. The procedure mildly exfoliates and cleanses the skin to prevent pores from clogging up further. Immediately, after the procedure, you feel like your skin is breathing. Due to the mild nature of the treatment, the discomfort is very minimal, barely there, unlike some facials that sting and burn and make you wince instead of relax.

A somewhat pricier but incredibly effective treatment is the hydrafacial at Tasneem Nakhoda’s Skin Institute, costing at a whopping PKR 12,000. An additional charge of PKR 1,500 will also be applied, which amounts to the cost of the tip used for the facial, which is separate for each person. However, this is only a one-time purchase because you can re-use the tip. Hydrafacial is a game-changer. Powerful vacuum suction provides non-invasive, skin resurfacing and temporary pore opening to effectively cleanse, exfoliate and extract impurities evenly, without damaging the skin.

“The hydrafacial treatment gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin, ridding it of blackheads, whiteheads, dead skin cells and sebum. This allows the skin to reflect more light and helps it appear brighter and healthier,” advises Dr. Tasneem Nakhoda, the skin-healing Wonder Woman.

Laser therapy is also used to treat acne, averaging at around PKR 5,000 per session at Dr. Tasneem Nakhoda’s Skin Institute. Radio frequency is another form of acne treatment that’s on the pricier side, costing PKR 25,000 per session. On average, around 3 to 6 sessions are required to treat the acne to the fullest, depending on its severity. Only a dermatologist can weigh in on which treatment is best suited to your skin condition, making a consultation visit necessary, so you can measure out the pros and cons of each.

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