Fluctuating hormone levels play a big part in the formation of acne, and while we (sob!) can’t control our hormones, we can control some of the other factors that contribute to acne – namely, what we put in our bodies and what we put on our skin. We won’t address nutrition in this article, but suffice it to say that a diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is the best food for healthy-looking skin.
Pores are Homes for Hair Follicles
We often agonize about the size and qualities of the pores on our faces, but when we think about our skin health, we rarely stop to consider the real function of our pores. You may not like to think about your face as a hairy place, but in addition to the really visible hair in your eyebrows, your facial pores are home to lots of baby-fine hairs, too. Each pore has a hair follicle at its base and a sebaceous gland attached to it, and that gland secretes oil. Combined with dead skin cells, the oil from your sebaceous glands is called sebum. It forms a natural barrier that lubricates your skin and keeps it hydrated. Why do hair follicles and sebum matter when it comes to acne? Studies demonstrate that acne begins in the sebaceous glands, and the hair follicle itself sometimes plays a role in acne as well.
The Origins of Acne
According to a study published on the website of the National Institute of Health, “Sebaceous glands are holocrine glands found over the entire surface of the body except the palms, soles and dorsum of the feet. They are largest and most concentrated in the face and scalp where they are the sites of origin of acne.” The study goes on to say that increased sebum secretion and changes in the oxidant vs. antioxidant levels of lipids on the skin’s surface are “major concurrent events associated with the development of acne.” When you add stress and anxiety to the toxic stew of excess oil production, harmful bacteria and inflammation, what do you get? Zits.
The NIH study says, “another hallmark of sebum in acne patients is the presence of lipoperoxides, mainly due to the peroxidation of squalene, and a decrease in the level of vitamin E, the major sebum antioxidant.” It also concludes that monounsaturated fatty acids “are capable of inducing alteration,” or improving acne-covered skin. Basically what that means is that vitamin E is an important component of the sebum in our skin, and when the levels of that vitamin diminish, our skin gets out of balance and is more prone to acne.
Do Facial Cleansers Aggravate Acne?
Since overproduction of the natural oils on your face contribute to the formation of acne, you’d think that cleansers which remove those oils would solve the problem, right? Wrong. Trying to remove the sebum on your face with overly-drying soaps and foaming facial cleansers can have the opposite effect, and spur even more oil production. As the NIH study suggests, acne begins when the skin is stripped of sebum and its natural antioxidants, vitamin E in particular. It also concluded that monounsaturated fatty acids (otherwise known as MUFAs) can improve the appearance of acne.
Why Cleanse with Oil if You Have Acne-Prone Skin?
The natural oils in your skin are not the enemy. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s part of your immune system. Hydrated skin is the best immune barrier, so the sebum on your face is an important component of that defense. A better approach to taming acne is working with your body to re-balance the environment on the skin’s surface.
Facial cleansing oils can do just that. Olive oil, for example, is full of monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. On its own, olive oil is too thick, and will likely clog your pores. When paired with other skin-boosting oils, it’s a potent tool for treating acne-prone skin.
The oil cleansing method is much gentler on your skin, involving no harsh detergents to strip your skin of moisture. Not only will oils dissolve makeup (even waterproof mascara!), dead skin cells and dirt, but facial oils can clear pores of excess sebum without causing your sebaceous glands to kick into overdrive. Cleansing oils clean and hydrate simultaneously, so your skin’s moisture barrier remains intact.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, make sure that you buy facial oils specifically formulated for your skin type. Facial oils for dry skin tend to be heavier, and if you use a blend created for dry skin, it can cause congestion for you. One other note: buy only non-comedogenic facial cleansing oils.
The Acne-Healing Properties of Castor Oil
Castor oil is a common ingredient in many lotions and creams due to the moisturizing properties of the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) it contains, called ricinoleic acid. In addition to its ability to help your skin retain moisture, ricinoleic acid has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that inflammation and an overgrowth of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria contribute to the growth of acne, and castor oil can help reduce the proliferation of these harmful bacteria, according to Healthline.
BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil contains castor oil, but it also utilizes several other beneficial oils to nourish the skin and calm acne-causing conditions. Geranium, olive, vitamin E, and rosemary oils work in combination to reduce inflammation and boost the levels of antioxidants on your skin.
Vitamin E, along with the vitamin C in our rosebud-infused Clean Cleansing Oil are both important antioxidants involved in the creation of collagen and new cell turnover in the skin. They are crucial to the skin’s ability to maintain its elasticity and hydration, to prevent skin cancer, and to fight the signs of aging. And if you have acne, the antioxidants in vitamin E and vitamin C are involved in healing your skin from that condition as well.
BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog acne-prone pores. It is also cruelty-free and vegan.
NOTE: If you wear eyelash extensions or false lashes, you should not use facial cleansing oils, as they dissolve lash glue.
Want to learn more about facial cleansing oil and its benefits? Read our other expert advice article, What is the Oil Cleansing Method, and Why Should You Try It?