What causes acne? How common is it? Can you moisturise acne-prone skin? Melanie Murphy puts your acne questions to consultant dermatologist Dr Niki Ralph, to help us understand more about our blemishes and what we can do to treat them.
Melanie Murphy: Hello my Internet family! So welcome back for another video and this is a bit of a different one but it’s really, really, exciting. I got to team up with one of my favourite brands ever which you guys know, La Roche-Posay, and I got to interview an actual dermatologist.
Her name is Dr Niki Ralph. So you guys may or may not know that I have shared a lot about my own personal journey and struggles with acne on my channel. Because I’m not an expert myself, I really wanted to ask Niki some of my most frequently asked questions from YouTube and also some direct questions for her from you guys on Twitter.
Seeing a dermatologist can be really difficult for a lot of people, especially if they’re younger because it’s expensive and there can be really long waiting lists as well. So I really hope that you guys enjoy this video; it’s packed with really valuable information and I’m just really grateful that I got to do this interview with La Roche-Posay and share with you guys. So roll on the video!
What are the main causes of acne?
Melanie Murphy: So Niki, you’re the perfect person for me to have here because I find it easy to talk about my own struggles and experiences but I know that it’s different for a lot of my viewers and everyone experiences acne quite differently. One of the most common things I get asked is “What are the main causes of acne?”
Dr Niki Ralph: Well I suppose there isn’t one cause, that’s the first thing to say; it can happen at any age in your life but the commonest time in your life that it happens is at puberty. Hormones change, which then has a direct effect on the skin. So you have increased androgens, it causes increased sebum production, or your oil production. So you notice straight away you have greasier skin or oilier skin. Then that leads to a problem with blocking your follicles and that gives you your inflammation or the red spots that you see. But basically the primary lesions of acne is the blackhead; it’s called a comedone, that’s the proper name for it, but that’s your blocked pore. Then you get your bacteria on top of that which leads to your white spot, which is a collection of your dead skin cells essentially. They can’t be shed properly from your follicles and that’s your blocked pore and then you end up with your puss bump or your red bump which are the spots that you see.
Melanie: Okay, and then so is that why they often say like, various lifestyle factors will cause acne. It’s actually because it’s affecting your hormones in the first place?
Niki: For some people they’re just going to get acne; it doesn’t matter what they do in their lifestyle. There are things that you can change in your lifestyle that can help, but if you have severe acne, you have severe acne. That happens in teenager years, you can’t change that, and with time they tend to level themselves out but not for everyone. So some people then go on into their 20s and 30s and they may still have acne. But for the majority of people it’s the teenage years that are the most problematic years.
How common is acne?
Melanie: And I guess another one that I’m always constantly asked is “How common is acne?”. Because I think people do feel very isolated and alone in it and like you would know the actually statistics of this so…
Niki: Roughly 80-85% of teenagers at some point in their teenage years, which they roughly categorise between 13 and 18, would suffer with acne. And about 30% of those teenagers would have sufficient enough acne to warrant medical treatment. So that’s quite a big proportion of them done.
Melanie: That’s substantial. It’s more common to have it than not have it!
Melanie: On that subject I’d love to talk a bit about the psychological side of having acne because I feel like that’s something that’s not talked about.
Niki: Sometimes people don’t actually tell me, they just come in and say “I want treatment for my acne”. But you almost have to build up a relationship with them before you find out how much of an impact it’s having on their self-esteem, their self-image, things like that. Sometimes you can tell the minute they walk in the door because they styled their hair in such a way that…
Melanie: I used to do that!
Niki: …that it goes across their face or sometimes they make absolutely no eye contact until I sometimes put them on treatment and then with months into it, they walk in the door and their head is held high and then you know that the treatment is working and it’s had a huge impact on their self-image.
Melanie: Something I think a lot of people are afraid of when they have acne is adding moisture to their already oily skin. So is there a particular reason why it’s really important to use moisturisers and serums and stuff when your skin is acne-prone?
Niki: Yeah, so I suppose when you have acne, you tend to wash your face, sometimes a little bit too frequently for people. Because you think if you just keep washing, you get rid of all that oil, but it’s still important that before you go to bedtime, you would wash your face. Then you’re essentially getting rid of that oil and drying things out a little bit. So it is important that you would then use a moisturiser to replace the moisture that you’ve washed away essentially.
It’s also important not to over wash as I said, because your body will then be stimulated to produce more oil. So if you use products that are a little bit too harsh, too much alcohol contained in them, things like that, then that stimulates your sebum production or your oil production so you have to be a little bit careful with that. There are tried and tested products on the market so the La Roche-Posay Effaclar range, Effaclar Duo specifically is not just available to be used in conjunction with other acne treatments, you can actually use it as a moisturiser and it will provide a nice base for your makeup if you then want to wear makeup on top of it.
Melanie: I’ve used that for two years actually and I didn’t realise it could be used as a moisturiser at first but it’s so moisturising and it’s also really gentle and doesn’t make your skin look really oily.
Niki: So yeah, no, it’s what I would recommend for my patients who have mild to moderate acne or even some of my patients who are on stronger medications which need to come and see a dermatologist every month, but then after their treatment as well when they’ve finished their acne treatment, I would still recommend the Effaclar range, as almost a prevention and maintenance afterwards.
How to deal with teenage combination skin?
Melanie: So I asked my lovely Twitter viewers to ask me questions to give to you and I think people are really excited about this because it is hard to get an appointment sometimes with a dermatologist, so again, thank you so much.
@JustAnnabelll asked “How to deal with teenage combination skin?” so I’m assuming she means where you have an oily maybe T-zone, dry cheeks and stuff and I definitely experienced that myself.
Niki: It’s a difficult one because most people have combination skin and the T-zone is the commonest area. You have more glands there so you’re going to produce more sebum or more oil. You still need your normal cleansing regime so what I usually recommend for my patients is that they would use their Effaclar foamy wash because it’s PH balanced.
Melanie: I love that wash!
Niki: Exactly, and it’s nice, you get a nice feel to your skin afterwards. You don’t feel that tight sensation after you wash with it.
Melanie: Yeah, it’s not stripped bare or dry.
Niki: Some products, they have alcohol in them and you feel like you’ve been kind of stripped raw so that would be one that I would suggest. You can either take your makeup off with or if you don’t wear makeup, you can still wash your face with that on a daily basis.
Ways to stop acne coming back after it’s gone
Melanie: So a question here that leads on from that actually: “Ways to stop acne coming back after it’s gone” that’s from @thatemojigirlYT.
Niki: Sometimes when people are prescribed a medication they think the medications going to do everything and then once I can take it, I can stop…
Melanie: And never get it again!
Niki: Yeah and I think that they left their cleansing regimen may fall to the wayside.
Niki: And then you know it becomes another vicious cycle again so I think it’s always important to always maintain your cleansing regimen and even when you’re finished your course of treatment and whatever that medication may be, I think it’s still important to use treatments after that.
What is the best way to get rid of acne scars?
Melanie: Finally, and this is something that is just like, everyone wants to know this. From @AnnaSejuelas10 - I’m so sorry if I pronounced it wrong! “What is the best way to get rid of acne scars?”
Niki: So I suppose sometimes we confuse scars with pigmentation so just to kind of divide them into two.
Niki: Yeah, everyone gets pigmentation, so if you have a spot it’s going to leave with you a mark but it doesn’t mean it’s a scar, it doesn’t mean it’s permanent. So be reassured that that will go but sometimes it just takes time.
Melanie: So what about the actual indented scars or pit scars?
Niki: The most important thing is that you calm your acne down and almost switch it off before you start going down the road of laser or other options because you can do that while you have acne but if you still have active acne then you still get more. But what I would suggest is that you wait for a little while when you think your acne is fully settled and then maybe six months down the line, you could look into the options of laser or there’s some surgical options.
Melanie: So both Niki and I have a few times referenced the importance of having a consistent skincare routine for acne-prone skin and we talked about a range of products that both of us have our own individual experience with, it’s the La Roche-Posay Effaclar range. So that was including the Effaclar gel wash and also the Effaclar Duo + moisturiser, which is a corrective moisturiser. And it’s also used by a lot of girls as a makeup base, so in the morning they’ll apply this after cleansing their skin and before putting on their makeup and it sits nice. It’s anti marks, corrective, unclogging product. But why do you recommend this so much to your patients?
Niki: The lovely thing about this product is that it has ingredients in it that hydrates your skin, that allows your skin cells to actually work more efficiently. Your makeup will then sit nicely on it. So people can use it without contributing to more spots.
Melanie: And I like the fact it’s not heavily perfumed and doesn’t feel like there’s this layer of stuff on your face, it kind of mattifies your face even though it’s also moisturising it- which is why I love this and they actually sell this in kits. This is actually available in like pharmacies and drug stores so it’s quite affordable and buying it in the kit helps you to save money with it. And then you get a toner in there as well, which you use. So it’s nice to get into a 3 step routine. It’s so hard to get into a routine but once you’re in it and build a habit of it, it just like becomes like a normal part of your day.
So Niki, thank you so much for coming today! I feel like you’ve given my viewers a lot of really valuable information and guys if you have any questions that we didn’t kind of specifically address here, just leave it in a comment down below and I would really love to read through them and I can pass on some more questions to Nikki. She would be very happy to answer them for you and I’ll see you again in another video.