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Woman with her hand on her forehead, looking stressed and staring at her laptop screen

 

We’re weeks deep into self-isolation. And no matter how much Netflix and chilling you’re doing (Tiger King is not helping), the chill is elusive.

 

While stress isn’t the cause of acne, it does create the perfect storm to spark flare-ups or worsen existing acne. Stress sets off a pathogenic cascade of mechanisms that result in an increase of sebum and inflammation in the skin, two heavily weighted factors in the acne equation.

 

Stress releases the hormone, cortisol, which stimulates the androgen hormones, which are responsible for the production of sebum. Increased sebum alone isn’t responsible for breakouts. But when sebum combines with an increase in inflammation, the other prong of the stress pitchfork, it results in hyperkeratinization, an abnormally rapid shedding of skin cells in the follicle. The excess skin cells mix with sebum to create an impaction and allow acne bacteria to thrive, worsening inflammation, and so on.

 

Here’s how to avoid the stress-breakout.

 

Build a complete regimen with products that work together to increase cell turnover, help shed dead skin cells, target bacteria, and reduce inflammation.

 

Vitamin A therapies are the core of topical treatment for acne because they accelerate cell turnover to peel out existing impaction, work beneath the surface to keep new pimples from forming, and are anti-inflammatory. A Vivant vitamin A serum is the foundation of your regimen.

 

Vitamin A works best when combined with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or mandelic acid. Both belong in an acne regimen to keep bacteria from fueling the growth of acne. And both have the added benefit of being anti-inflammatory.

 

Acids, including salicylic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and glycolic acid are comedolytic (they remove dead skin cells) and anti-inflammatory to help keep pores from becoming clogged and inflamed. They are mainstays in the formulas of cleansers, toners, and corrective serums.

 

When looking for anti-inflammatory ingredients, don’t mistake skin-calming with heavy, occlusive, pore-clogging components. Ingredients like niacinamide, whole leaf aloe, allantoin, sulfur, green tea extract, and grape seed oil are soothing, reparative, anti-inflammatory, and non-comedogenic.

If you need help building your regimen, you can use Vivant’s online skincare consultation, or email our in-house esthetician with your specific questions.

 

What else can you do?

 

Never pick at blemishes. Picking creates further inflammation and can lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation.

 

Rub ice over any affected areas for two to three minutes. Rubbing ice over your skin stimulates cell renewal and healing, reduces redness and inflammation, and increases the absorption of follow-on products to maximize their effectiveness. 

 

Watch your sugar intake. Sugar ignites inflammation in the body. Swapping high glycemic foods—white rice, pasta, juices, sweets—for foods that help regulate blood sugar and are slower to digest—complex carbs, nuts, whole fruits and vegetables with high fiber—will help to reduce inflammation and support clear, healthy skin.

 

Reduce stress as much as possible by getting good sleep, exercising, taking some time to recharge and disconnect from the news for a while, do something creative, read a book, anything that helps you unwind and relax.

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