Acne AND wrinkles? How can this be true?! But spots aren’t just for teenagers. And even if you had clear skin all through those teenage years, various factors might mean, as you approach your more, well, mature, years, spots might appear.
There are so many causes for skin eruptions, and various types of acne. Hormones, stress, external factors, intolerance to types of food – the list goes on.
Thankfully, there are products available that will help clear the issue – and there are key ingredients to look out for in products.
- Salicylic Acid is the gold standard of acne treatment. You will also find it labelled as a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), and it is an exfoliant. It’s gentle enough to use on the whole face and is in cleansers and other treatments.
- Benzoyl peroxide is in spots treatments and kills the acne bacteria. It really shouldn’t be used across the whole face.
- Glycolic Acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). it’s an exfoliating ingredients that targets both acne and wrinkles. It removes dead skin cells on the surface, and is the base of the fabulous Alpha-H products (the clue is in the name!), founded by Michelle Doherty, who herself suffered with cystic acne for years.
- Retinol is a vitamin A derivative, and an old-school beauty ingredient. Topical retinoids are brilliant for acne, and also anti-ageing, but they are harsh, and they can be too much for sensitive skin.
There are a few things you just shouldn’t do – never pick at spots, or at bigger cysts under the skin, no matter how much you want to. Keep spot treatments on hand, and use when you feel the need. Exfoliate as much as you can – sloughing off the dead cells helps.
You also need to find the right products and the right skincare regime for you.
I asked a friend, Kirsty, 31, left, who suffers with cystic acne outbreaks to trial some products – here are her reviews:
Cloud 9: Spot Clearing Gel, £32, Space NK
Claims: Apply it to the very first sign of a breakout to prevent it forming, or apply to existing spots to minimise inflammation and control oil production. Helping to eliminate blemish-causing bacteria, Clarity works to inhibit spots from returning for a complexion that’s clear and even.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) to reduce inflamation and redness, Allantoin for healthy skin regeneration, Chamomile extract for soothing.
Kirsty’s Verdict: I used this for a few days, but deferred to the Alpha H Gel again as I was a little disappointed in this product. It took away the redness, but in turn left my treated areas of skin quite dry which I couldn’t understand. The packaging itself is quite bulky and it’s a bit bling! It’s difficult to get a little product which means that I had a wee bit of waste each time I used it.
Pros: Sinks in well, no sting whatsoever and quells redness.
Cons: Large distribution hole and quite sensitive to squeeze, so you end up with lots instead of a wee dab. The no sting is a pro and con, because it didn’t feel particularly ‘active’. It dried out my skin which I didn’t expect! Packaging isn’t transparent so you wouldn’t really know when it’s coming to an end.
Murad Rapid Relief Spot Treatment, £17, murad.co.uk
Claims: Maximum strength blemish gel which will reduce spot sizxe in just four hours.
Key ingredients: Salycilic Acid 2.0%, Thyme and Pine Extract complex, Horse Chestnut and Oat extracts to soothe redness.
Kirsty’s Verdict: Not perfect. When I first put it on… ouch! I also feel like it’s dried out the skin surrounding the spot, giving a rather attractive sort of island tide line, not! You can see how much you’ve used in the tube though, so that’s a bonus.
Pros: Small funnel, so easier to get a little drop versus a big splodge. Felt like it was working pretty fast. It removed the redness from the spot and reduced size noticeably, very quickly.
Cons: A little drying and a long lasting sting.
Alpha H Clear Skin Daily Face and Body Wash, £35, alpha-h.com
Claims: Specifically designed to fight infection, pimples and pustules, this wash is ideal for oily and congested skin on both the face and body. Using this will reduce inflammation and soften the appearance of red blemishes.
Key Ingredients: Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Thyme and Salicylic Acid.
Kirsty’s Verdict: I really like this. The 200ml is a brilliant size, feels like great value as you only need a little – two pumps for an even clean. It smells super fresh and leaves skin feeling very clean. One thing – I forgot to avoid my eyes on one occasion, and I won’t make that mistake again!
Pros: A little goes a long way. It’s non-drying, lifts makeup and SPF with ease and it chased off my cystic spots (fingers crossed this lasts!!). Skin doesn’t feel immediately tight after using and the scent is lovely. My skin feels fresh after using this.
Cons: I don’t have anything negative to say about this product, I really like it!
Alpha H Clear Skin Daily Moisturiser with Glycolic Acid, £22.95
Claims: Refines pore size, improves appearance of blemishes, hydrates, and encourages the shedding of surface hyper pigmented cells, reducing hyperpigmentation caused by post-blemish marking.
Key Ingredients: 10% Glycolic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid
Kirsty’s Verdict: The only thing holding this back is the piling issue. Otherwise it’s a really nice day cream. I wouldn’t use it at night as I think, half asleep, I’d inadvertently rub it in my eyes. Also the scent is quite energising, so maybe not the best for night time.
Pros: Hydrating to a point and really feel like it contributed to the clearing of my skin.
Cons: I noticed some piling with make up on this one. Left a bigger gap between application, but it still happened unfortunately.
Alpha H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel, £16
Claims: This blemish control gel has been formulated to reduce swelling from the root of the infection. Can be used on all skin types for unexpected and unwanted blemishes. Best result will be achieved when applied whilst sleeping overnight. Rapidly reduces inflammation of active blemishes. Fights infection and prevents the further spread of infection. Swiftly reduces the appearance of redness and swelling of breakouts.
Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Salicylic Acid, Oregano, Eucalyptus, Zinc
Kirsty’s Verdict: My stand out product. This is fab. It sinks in really quickly, feels like it’s working, but didn’t dry my skin at all.
Pros: Everything! Perfect nozzle, non-drying, slight sting, really took the redness and size down of my spots. I keep it in my bag at all times now.
Cons: Due to white packaging, you can’t tell when it’s close to the end, but that’s my only gripe.
Ermana Revive Face Oil, £25, John Lewis
Claims: Ermana founder Claire has had positive feedback from customers with skin breakouts. “Natural plant oils help fortify and strengthen this barrier as they are similar to the oil that is produced by the skin,” says Claire, Ermana founder,”so they are easily recognised and absorbed without clogging the pores.”
Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, Lavender Oil, Frankincense Oil
Kirsty ‘s verdict: I wanted to love this. The packaging is beautiful and it feels crafted, but my skin wasn’t very happy with it. I wonder if it’s maybe not dehydrated enough at the moment? Maybe in the depths of winter my skin will handle it a bit better. I persevered for a few nights, but it doesn’t work on my cheeks, chin or nose. Although it helped a little on my forehead, which is something.
Pros: Lovely smell, natural ingredients and feels really hydrating.
Cons: It takes a long time to properly sink in, and my skin slightly flared up when I used it unfortunately!
Bobbi Brown Remedies Skin Relief No80 Calming Red Algae Complex, £29.50
Claims: This calming, soothing formula—suitable for sensitive and reactive skin—visibly reduces redness and irritation and relieves stressed skin. As a result, skin is stronger and protected from future flare-ups.
Key Ingredients: Undiluted Red Algae complex and Seaweed extracts
Kirsty’s verdict: A wee drop really did take the redness down in my cheeks significantly, which was great, but not so much on my nose though. As soon as I used it I felt my skin a bit dry and tight, so needed to be swift with the moisturiser!
Pros: A little goes a long way and it really does work! The redness was taken down quite a bit.
Cons: Need to pop a moisturizer on pretty promptly after using as it tightens the face.
These are just a few of the products on the market for cystic acne, blemish prone skin, and other spot-related skin issues. Here are a few more of our recommended products.
1.Clinique Airbrush Concealer, £20
2.Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten and Firm Vitamin C Serum, £72, Space NK
3.Crystal Clear 10 Minute Glow Peel Off Mask, £25.99
4.Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Peel, £73.50 for 30 day packet
5.Bare Minerals Blemish Remedy Anti-Imperfection Serum, £36
6.Crystal Clear Crystal Polish Exfoliator, £30
7.Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel, £73.50 for 30 days packet