Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Get rid of blackheads and clogged skin

One of the skin issues I have faced since being a teenager
is congested skin. It started on my nose as blackheads and
in my 30s spread to my chin. I manage it quite well now by
using mineral make up, a regular exfoliant and eating a
good diet but occasionally and especially in the hot, muggy
Brisbane humidity, it will get worse again. And when it
does I go back to basics ' skin congestion 101!

Blackheads, whiteheads and blocked pores are usually caused
by a combination of factors. Excess skin oil, sebum and
toxins that are expelled through the skin are often an
underlying issue. In addition dead skin cells, pollution,
occlusive make up and dirt also play a role by filling up
pores already opened by sebum and oil production. Each
factor will contribute to congestion in a different but
significant way:

Skin Oil & Sebum: excess oil and sebum production by the
skin will contribute to clogging pores and encourage the
growth of skin bacteria. When combined with external
factors such as dirt, blackheads easily form.

Toxic Congestion: blood and lymph supply the skin with
nutrition. However, if the toxins that are produced in our
bodies everyday are not eliminated properly, they are
eliminated via the skin and can contribute to congestion as
well as other issues such as acne and skin irritation.

Dead Skin Cells: Each 3 or 4 weeks the skin replenishes the
skin cells. This natural process creates a layer of dead
skin cells over the surface of the skin. When left, the top
layer of dead skin cells causes the skin to look dull. The
other thing that may happen is that the dead cells will
plug the pores on your face and create congestion and
blackheads. When combined with excessive sebum production,
this can lead to the formation of white-heads and black
heads.

Skin Care & Make Up: The key culprits in skin congestion
are products that contain petrochemical based oils as they
have an occulusive effect, stopping the skin from breathing
and blocking pores. Talc, which is common in make up and
finishing powder, also has this effect. Waxes and butters
may also be an issue with skin prone to congestion. Make up
is usually worn on a daily basis so it is essential to
choose a make up that suits your skin type and doesn't
contribute to further congestion.

Pollution & Dirt: Building up on the surface of skin over
the day, pollution is a factor in the formation of
blackheads and blocked pores. The more polluted the area in
which you live, the more skin pollution you are likely to
experience. Effective skin cleansing is vital to clean the
skin of daily dirt and grime...washing with water doesn't
remove daily dirt and grime. Dirt that is found on our face
and other parts of the body can be a breeding ground for
bacteria and combined with oily skin can make things even
worse. Where does the dirt come from? Dirty hands are a key
culprit and those already conscious of their skin tend to
pick and rub their skin more than others, just making the
problem worse.

Treatment of of Blackheads So, how to get rid of blackheads
and congested skin? Squeezing your skin does more harm than
good. This technique will just lead to further skin
irritation and possibly damage and scarring to the
surrounding tissue. Rather than removing blackheads by
squeezing, the best way to get rid of them is by attacking
the source of the problem.

1. A good cleansing routine: Cleansing the skin of daily
dirt, grime and pollution is essential. A good cleansing
routine is a very effective way to remove blackheads, as it
will help wash away excess oil and dead skin particles. Use
a gentle cleanser as harsh and overly-drying cleansers will
only make the problem worse by causing an increase in sebum
production. If your skin feels squeaky clean, dry and tight
after washing, you are doing more harm than good and need
to use a more gentle cleanser. Avoid products with Sodium
laurel sulphate as this ingredient tends to disrupt the
acid mantle again causing increased sebum production.

2. Regular gentle exfoliation: one way to minimise
congestion and clogged pores is to ensure the top layer
skin remains clear by regularly removing the dead skin
cells. There are a number of very effective products you
can use to remove dead skin cells. Regular use of facial
exfoliants or scrubs will help clear dead skin cells that
block pores. Removing the top layer of dead cells will also
allow your moisturiser or serum work more effectively as it
comes into contact with live skin cells rather than dead
ones. There are a couple of things to look for in a good
exfoliant. The most obvious, although it is surprising how
many people ignore this, is that a body scrub is too harsh
to be used as a facial scrub. Look for a very fine, soft
exfoliant as your facial skin is soft and delicate. A harsh
scrub may actually scour the surface of your skin much like
a scrubbing brush and this can actually damage skin cells.
If your skin is excessively red or inflamed after use they
are far too strong. Gentle exfoliants will slough off cells
without a harsh scrubbing effect and are suitable to be
used 2-3 times a week.

3. Fruit Enzyme Peels: enzyme peels are another way of
clearing dead skin cells. They work as a result of their
ability to break the bonds between dead skin cells that
form at the surface of the skin. Skin normally has a dead
layer of cells at its surface (the corneocyte layer), and
fruit enzymes can speed up the normal process of skin cell
regeneration and sloughing. This results in increased
flexibility of the skin as well as decreased formation of
large dry skin flakes at the surface of the skin.

Pumpkin, pineapple and pawpaw provide natural, gentle
enzyme proteases that loosen the glue between dead skin
cells, slough away impurities, dead skin cells and unplug
the pores while delivering nutrition to the skin. This
leaves the skin cleansed and silky smooth and reduces the
likelihood of blackheads. Fruit enzyme 'peels' only need to
be used once or twice a week for good effect.

4. Light Moisturisers - moisturisers that use waxes,
butters and petrochemical oils will be more likely to
contribute to congestion in skin that is prone to
blackheads. Please note that waxes and butters are
perfectly suitable and definitely beneficial for those with
dry or dehydrated skin but for those with congested skin,
choose lotions rather than rich creams. If you have
combination skin and suffer from congestion as well as dry
skin, use oil based serums or hyaluronic acid to increase
moisture content in the skin without contributing to
further blockage.

5. Use glycolic and salicylic acid in moderation. While
they help reduce congestion they also have the tendency to
dehydrate and dry out skin if used long term. In addition,
those with a history of use of high concentration glycolic
acid can suffer redness and irritation at a later date when
exposed to even mildly acidic ingredients such as ascorbic
acid. If you choose to use such products, firstly use them
in consultation with a skin specialist, use low
concentrations, use them short term only and watch for
signs of skin dehydration.

6. Make Up - Mineral make up is an ideal alternative for
those with congested skin. Rather than sinking into or
filling pores, the particles of pigment sit on the surface
of the skin allowing the skin to breathe properly. This
helps minimise congestion and eventually, allows the pores
to shrink.

7. Dietary & Lifestyle tips:

Plenty of water will help flush toxins out of your system
and regular and regular exercise will keep your lymphatic
system flowing. Together both these factors will help
reduce the level of toxins being eliminated via the skin.

A diet high in low glycemic index foods helps to improve
acne symptoms including congestion and breakouts. The diet
consisted of 25% of energy from protein and 45% of energy
from low GI carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables,
grains and pulses. While this research was conducted on
patients with acne, there are strong correlations between
high GI diets and skin congestion as well.

Following the steps above will not only help you minimise
congestion but will also encourage clear, vibrant skin in
general.


About the Author:

The owner of vitalenatural.com, Ananda Mahony ND has helped
women all around Australia find the right organic & natural
skin care for them. As a naturopath, Ananda treats skin
issue from the inside as well as using effective topical
treatments.