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03 December 2016Last updated
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Beauty | Grooming

Acne: why it’s all in one spot

Do you suffer from recurrent blemishes in the same area of your face? Louise Emma Clarke consults a panel of dermatologists and skincare experts to map out the face, finding out why it might be happening and how we can treat it

Louise Emma Clarke
28 Nov 2016 | 09:00 am
  • Source:iStock

Baffled by what is causing your spots? Find yourself pondering whether the greasy takeaway you had last weekend resulted in the breakout on your forehead? Or whether the fluctuating hormones you’ve been suffering are to blame for your spotty chin?

You might just be on to something. ‘Like reflexology, areas of the face can help give us information about what’s going on in the body,’ explains Simple Skincare expert and make-up artist Caroline Frazer.

The term for this in the dermatologist world is ‘face mapping’; a practice that combines traditional Chinese medicine dating back thousands of years with modern skincare science. The idea is that the state of your skin reflects your inner health, with different areas of the face connected to organs in the body. Intrigued? We’ve consulted the experts to map each area of the face — and to find out what we can do to turn the tables and get back to clear, blemish-free skin.

Forehead

What it means: Experts believe the forehead can be broken down into sections. Caroline explains, ‘The top part is related to the bladder, the middle is digestion and the lower part, which runs between your eyebrows, is related to your liver, so you’ll often get spots here right after party season.’

‘An oily scalp is also associated with acne on the forehead area,’ explains Dr Iman Al Sayed, specialist dermatologist at Dental SPA Dubai. ‘If your hair is oily, consider shampooing daily. Some hair styling products such as waxes and oils can also block the pores. The same applies for regularly wearing hats, caps, and helmets.’

How to prevent it: Rebecca Treston, founder and manager of Rebecca Treston Aesthetics at Euromed Clinic advises, ‘Eating less processed foods and reducing the amount of fat in your diet can help, as these negatively influence the digestive system. Make sure you drink plenty of water and get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night to help flush out any digestive imbalances.’

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Turning your attention to skincare routine is also a good idea – and a cleanser suited to acne-prone skin is a sensible place to start. Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash (Dh259, Basharacare.com) is ideal for acne-prone skin, containing salicylic acid to rid skin of pore-blocking dead skin cells as you cleanse. Extracts of balm mint, eucalyptus, tea tree, burdock, and camphor help to calm and decongest, leaving the complexion clearer, softer and healthier-looking.

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Regular use of a purifying mask can also help to prevent forehead blemishes, such as Shiseido Essentials Purifying Mask (Dh165). The deep-cleansing, rinse-off mask is formulated with marine mineral clay to combat dullness and rid pores of impurities.

Cheeks

What it means: ‘Sometimes spots on cheeks are down to our dairy consumption,’ explains Sk:n Group medical director Dr Firas Al Niaimi. ‘Though not really well-understood, it is believed that the sebaceous glands here are more sensitive to growth-factor receptors, which are stimulated by a protein found in some dairy products.’

But there are other factors at play, too. ‘Think about your smartphone use,’ adds cosmetic dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. ‘Touch screens contain large amounts of bacteria on their surface. Placing your phone against your cheek creates pressure that may activate your oil-producing or sebaceous glands. Combine this with heat generated from the phone and bacteria on the phone surface, and acne can result.’

How to prevent it: If you have a dairy-rich diet, it’s worth cutting back to see whether it helps to control the breakouts. You should also get used to regularly washing anything that comes in contact with your skin.

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‘Make sure you wash things that touch your face regularly, like pillow covers and your cell phone,’ advises Sheilesh Shah, founder of Urban Veda Natural Skincare. When it comes to skincare, bear in mind that breakouts on your cheeks are one of the most likely areas to scar – so treat spots gently and always resist the urge to squeeze. Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam (Dh140) is a good choice as it gently removes dirt, unclogs pores, and soothes skin. A topical spot treatment is a good suggestion for overnight use – and a gentle, natural choice is Dr Organic Tea Tree Blemish Stick (Dh35, Basharacare.com), which combines organic tea tree oil and aloe vera to soothe and heal blemishes as you sleep. For day wear, if going without make-up isn’t possible, pick a mineral formula that allows blemishes to breathe and heal. Bareminerals Concealer Broad Spectrum (Dh95, Sephora) is a wise choice.

Chin

What it means: If you’re prone to breakouts on your chin, it isn’t a coincidence that they are popping up around that “time of the month”.

Caroline explains, ‘Spots on the chin generally relate to hormonal fluctuations often at period or ovulation time. Oddly enough if you notice that you predominantly get spots on one side of your chin more than the other, this is the side where the ovary is releasing the egg.’

How to prevent it: Sheilesh advises, ‘In the days before your period, try to pay extra attention to your skincare. Also be sure you’re not resting your chin in your hands when bored or tired, as this can transfer oils from your fingers on to your chin, which can cause pimples.’

When it comes to skincare, hormonal acne responds extremely well to the skincare ingredient salicylic acid, derived from willow bark. The ingredient smooths away dead skin cells that clog pores, decreases inflammation, and has a mild antibacterial effect. Using it around your period every month (or consistently, as long as you don’t have sensitive skin) should show a real improvement in hormonal breakouts.

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Rodial Super Acids X-Treme Pore Shrink Cleansing Pads (Dh250, Paris Gallery) can be swept over skin after cleansing in a matter of seconds. They contain gentle apple amino acids, along with olive oil and salicylic acid to deeply cleanse, unclog blocked pores, and control sebum flow.

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If a spot does appear, however, a targeted treatment containing salicylic acid can be applied directly to the spot to help it to heal. Murad Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel (Dh290, Basharacare.com) removes dead skin cells to not only stop bacteria from building up, but it also means that the treatment can penetrate deep into the skin to eliminate bacteria and clear up existing and future breakouts.

Nose

What it means: ‘Spots on the nose are usually born out of clogged pores and blackheads,’ explains Caroline. ‘Pores on the nose are dilated, so breakouts are often caused by a build-up of dirt and beauty products.’

There could, however, be an underlying cause, ‘High blood pressure can also make spots in this area worse, so consult a doctor if you think the two are linked,’ adds Rebecca.

How to prevent it: Firstly, pay attention to hygiene. ‘Make sure you clean your make-up brushes regularly and cleanse your face well each night to prevent outbreaks,’ advises Caroline. Whilst on the subject of nutrition for this skin type, she says: ‘Replace fatty foods with fruit, vegetables and fish rich in omega 3, and cut down on alcohol and dairy.’

When it comes to suitable skincare to prevent breakouts on your nose, Rebecca says, ‘Masks that are specific for cleaning out pores and minimising the appearance of blackheads can be used.’ We love boscia’s Luminizing Black Mask (Dh195, Glamazle.com), which is designed to be peeled off to draw out dirt and oil, whilst reducing the appearance of pores, firming skin and reducing inflammation.

Chest and back

What it means: If you are prone to breakouts on your chest or back, your UAE lifestyle could be to blame, as the problem can be exacerbated by hot weather. Rebecca explains, ‘Breakouts here are caused by the same factors as facial acne, but it can often be worse in hot weather. This is because the sun dries the water out of your skin, dehydrating it, which makes your oil glands overgrow and overproduce.’

How to prevent it: ‘Avoid heavy body lotions or moisturisers that would be likely to clog the pores. Ensure you thoroughly cleanse and wash the area both morning and night,’ says Rebecca.

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Dr Al Sayed adds, ‘Often clogged sebum and sweat glands are the cause, so use non-comedogenic lotions with minimal ingredients.’ Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion (Dh179, Basharacare.com) is a sensible choice, as it contains queen of meadow extract to help tighten pores and reduce excess oil production.

Louise Emma Clarke

Louise Emma Clarke