Skin Concerns: ACNE

October 28, 2019 4 min read

Skin Conditions: Acne blog cover-types, causes, management, and solutions for acne

Whether it is adult onset, or smack dab in the middle of puberty, acne is NEVER welcomed. By definition, acne is an inflammatory skin condition caused by overproduction of oil (sebum) in the skin. The skin also has an abundance of bacteria calledPropionibacterium acnes which exacerbates the severity of the condition. 

Acne is largely hormonal in nature, and seems to creep up at the most inopportune times. Not only is it difficult to manage, it can be incredibly painful and lead to scarring. In addition, acne often induces anxiety about one’s appearance. 

A very common plan for those with acne, is toover cleansewith harsh ingredients, like alcohol, that dry out even the oil that the skin needs for baseline health and defense. The body senses this lack of equilibrium, and our system turns up the production of sebum to protect the skin. The problem is the surface of the skin is no longer exfoliating at a rate fast enough to keep up with oil production. 

So, now the pores are clogged from dead skin, which traps the oil in the pores. The acne bacteria then thrive in the oil and create infection and inflammation.  This feedback loop proliferates the acneic cycle, leading to more and more skin disturbances. To help gain control of the acne issues, you need to work from the inside out. 


  1. Hormones. During puberty, males have the highest incidence of acne due to androgens in the form of the hormones, testosterone and human growth hormone. Females have elevated androgens just before and during menses, during pregnancy, and also with menopause. This can lead to adult acne.

  2. High levels of IGF-1 (an insulin-like growth factor). IGF-1 is not only linked to acne. This growth factor is increased in the body due to inflammation from things like high protein diets, dairy products, high glycemic index foods, stress, poor diet, excess weight, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, poor oral health (flossing is a must), and environmental pollution. 

To help decrease sebum production, modify your diet, decrease and manage stress, and exercise. For dietary recommendations, eat foods loaded with antioxidants like low glycemic index fruits and vegetables. Eat healthy fats like avocado, nuts, coconut and olive oil.  Decrease or eliminate inflammation-inducing foods like sugar, processed foods loaded with chemicals and preservatives, gluten, soy, and trans fats. Meat and Dairy are known causes of high IGF-1a. If you choose to eat meat, make sure the animal is grass fed, organic, free range, humanely killed, as well as antibiotic and growth-hormone free.  Also, exercise and sweat to clean out pores. Be present, meditate and choose happiness to help decrease stress. 


  • Cleanse skin twice a day (and after dirty or sweat-inducing activity) with a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin dry of all its oils.
  • Use a topical vitamin A treatment in the form of retinaldehyde or prescription retinoid to increase cell turnover. This will help prevent the pores from clogging with dead skin cells and sebum. Use Mikel Kristi Vital A Rejuvenating Serum
  • Wear an SPF with zinc oxide daily to prevent collagen breakdown and sun damage. Since acne damages the collagen matrix in the skin, further assault from the sun can make old acne issues reemerge and scars can get larger and deeper with time. Zinc oxide not only protects the skin from this, it is also an anti-inflammatory agent so it can calm active acne and inflammation on the skin.
  • Help Kill acne bacteria and decrease inflammation with topical essential oil blends like lavender, lime, neroli, ylang ylang, rosemary, tea tree, basil, sandalwood, lemon, eucalyptus, lemongrass, or oregano—to name a few. Use our Rejuvenating Swipes
  • Don’t moisturize unless your skin feels dry (which should not be too often since there is already excess sebum). If you do feel dry, then that usually means there are too many dead skin cells laying on the surface of the skin. The answer here is to increase cell turnover with AHAs, BHAs, and/or topical vitamin A to release the oils onto the surface of the skin. 
  • Do not use chemically-laden makeup or cosmetics that contain talc because they cause inflammation and clog the pores. Instead, pure mineral makeup is a great solution.

  • Be patient! Control of acne breakouts with the proper topical products can take 2 to 3 months to work. You may even experience a purging process with worsening of breakouts for a few weeks. To see results more quickly, I recommend adding in a procedure as discussed below. 

  • For moderate to severe acne, it is best to seek help from a medical professional, preferably with an aesthetics background. Most over-the-counter products are not going to be effective in treating moderate to severe acne. They may even cause more problems. 

Example Acne Skincare Regimen:





2.Tone to rebalance pH

2.Tone with AHA or BHA to rebalance pH

3.Apply SPF with zinc oxide

3.Apply topical vitamin A

4.Apply mineral make-up, if desired


Most of my patients want results quickly.  So, along with skincare, I recommend treatments to jump start the skin.  The goals are to encourage rapid exfoliation to clean out the pores, to stun the oil glands and decrease sebum production, to decrease the acne bacteria on the skin, and to minimize the scars. Usually a combination of treatments will give the best results.

  • Exfoliating Treatments: Chemical peels, Microdermabrasion
  • Decrease sebum production:  Blue light masks, BBL Blue light Photofacial, Some Radio frequency treatments, Very short pulsed Nd:YAG
  • Red Scars: BBL, IPL, Nd:YAG, Pulsed-dye Lasers (PDL)
  • Indented Scars: Laser skin resurfacing with CO2 or Erbium, Halo Laser, Nd:YAG, Dermal fillers, Plasma Resurfacing

Acne can be controlled with proper diet, stress management and skincare. A great start is with diet modification and our Mikel Kristi Core Collection with Rejuvenating Swipes.

Christy Hall
Christy Hall

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