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What causes acne? Let's talk about it.

When we are talking about a 'cause' it can be really easy to assume that there is only one main driving factor for an individuals acne.


I wish this were true, because it would be much easier to treat this condition!


In reality, there are many causative factors for an individuals acne which are completely unique to the person affected. There are definitely trends and common occurrences, however the combination of these causative factors are always unique.


I like to break these causes up into three categories based on how they affect ones skin and essentially how they create and exacerbate acne.


These categories are based on the three things that ultimately go wrong within a skin affected by acne.


To understand a little more about these categories so you can understand how they affect your skin, I highly suggest you watching the video I filmed where I spoke about these. Click this link to watch the video.


I also filmed a video where I spoke about these causes in more detail, so if you would prefer to watch the video instead of reading, you can click here as well.


Impaired Skin Barrier - aka pH imbalance or dysbiosis of the skin microbiome


When there is acne, 99% of the time an impaired skin barrier is also present.

Here is a list of possible causes of your Impaired Skin Barrier:

  • Over cleansing your skin or using a stripping cleanser

  • Over exfoliating your skin either too frequently, or too harshly

  • Having services like microdermabrasion on your already weakened skin barrier

  • Avoiding the use of a moisturiser or not moisturising enough

  • The use of harsh and damaging ingredients or products

  • Using too many active ingredients at the same time

  • Having an Essential Fatty Acid deficiency or lacking in this macronutrient

  • Having a predisposition to an Impaired Skin Barrier (genetics)

  • Sun damage and prolonged sun exposure

  • Some pharmaceutical medications

  • Chronic stress and living in the fight and flight state


Poor Sebum Quality - aka a thick and sticky sebum


When your sebum becomes thick, gluggy and sticky, this ultimately causes blockages within the follicle leading to comedones, papules and pustules. There are both internal and external causes of this abnormality within the skin.

  • A high sugar diet and or refined carbohydrates

  • An increase in androgen hormones within the body such as puberty

  • Certain hormonal imbalances such as PCOS or coming off of the pill

  • A diet lacking in Essential Fatty Acids

  • Not drinking enough water


Retention Hyperkeratosis - aka clogged skin or Excess Keratinisation


This is basically a build up of skin cells or the effect of skin cells clumping together either at the surface of the follicle or within the follicle, ultimately leading to a blockage which causes the formation of comedones, papules and pustules.

  • Clogging makeup or skincare (Acne Cosmetica)

  • Friction, pressure and rubbing against the skin (Acne Mechanica)

  • The presence of sweat or leaving sweat on the skin

  • A humid environment (in some cases)

  • A workplace where you are exposed to fumes, dirt, heat etc

  • Dirty makeup brushes and pillow cases

  • Various hair products

  • A skin that isn't naturally desquamating (exfoliating naturally)

  • Trans Epidermal Water Loss causes by an Impaired Skin Barrier


As you can see, there are so many factors that can potentially cause acne. And in most cases, there are many factors involved all at once which creates a 'perfect storm' for acne to develop.


When taking my clients down a skin transformation journey we will discuss the possible causes and aggravating factors for their unique circumstances.


And slowly, but surely the client will make life changes and alterations to remove and reduce their acne causes whilst simultaneously undergoing skin treatments and using a prescribed skin care regime twice daily.


It might seem overwhelming at the beginning, but with the guidance of your Holistic Skin Therapist (aka ME!) and if needed, the guidance of an allied health professional (eg. naturopath, doctor etc) you will be on the road to acne free skin in no time.


With love and gratitude

Your Holistic Skin Therapist

& owner of Soul Awaken Skin Therapies

Kathleen Klassman xo

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