I’ve struggled with acne for a long time; in fact, it’s been a source of self-consciousness for me for more than 10 years. Recently, I’ve managed to get it under control with guidance from Dija Ayodele, skin expert and author of Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide. Below, four key lessons she’s taught me about keeping my acne at bay.
Streamline your skincare routine…
“Most people are using far too many products,” says Ayodele. “When you strip back your routine, you have the chance to see what actually works for you. It also gives your skin a chance to heal if you’ve compromised your skin barrier. Remember, it’s harder to treat any dermatological concern if the skin is damaged.”
… but make sure to balance actives with soothing ingredients
As a person with sensitive skin, counteracting my sometimes drying tretinoin with soothing cica, peptides and ceramides has been essential. “You want to treat the skin kindly at all times,” says Ayodele. “The constant use of harsh actives–which can sometimes be necessary for acne treatment–can cause further inflammation. You need to make sure you’re evening things out with calming, moisturising products.”
Get monthly in-person treatments
“Regular facials that incorporate chemical peels and lasers can help to get skin in better shape more quickly,” Ayodele advises. “You’ll begin to see results after about six to 12 months. Once things are more or less under control, you can come in for treatments less regularly–say every eight weeks or even three months–to keep things in check.” Sometimes, though, more intensive medical intervention may be required. “In those instances, a dermatologist will be able to prescribe you treatments such as Accutane or Spironolactone–a hormone suppressor that helps deal with oily/acneic skin conditions,” says Ayodele.
Accept that there’s no quick fix
“Everyone is different, and acne can be triggered by your lifestyle, genetics and/or environment,” Ayodele explains. “Even once you’ve got your skincare routine nailed down, it may take a little while to see results, especially if you’re in your late twenties or older, when your skin cycle has slowed down.” I know that can be frustrating to hear, but stick with your treatment–consistency is of the utmost importance–and don’t fall prey to anyone promising you an overnight solution, which might do more harm than good in the long run. “With its endless array of ‘before and after’ photos, social media makes everything seem quick and easy; it gives people false expectations about how long things will take to work. In the end, though, slow and steady will always win the race.”
All of the products Dija Ayodele recommends for acne treatment…
“Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are the gold standard when it comes to dealing with acne, spots and blemishes as they’re able to penetrate deeply into the pores, helping to decongest the skin,” says Ayodele. Exfoliation is also key. “You want to be able to get rid of the old skin cells sitting on the surface of the skin. Try products that contain either lactic or mandelic acid, which tends to be gentler than glycolic acid. Meanwhile, retinol can help with controlling the level of oil in the skin, and assist in speeding up the decongestion process, too.” When dealing with hyperpigmentation specifically, tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients are your best bet. “Alpha arbutin, licorice extract, tranexamic acid, glutathione, kojic acid, resorcinol–these are all ingredients I’d be looking to include in my clients’ skincare.”