Tackling acne – head on




By David Mendes


About four years ago, after boozing it up before leaving university, my skin erupted into several red blotches, much to my horror. Despite trying just about everything I could lay my hands on, nothing would make it improve, and I eventually realised I needed professional help!

I scanned the Yellow Pages and finally got hold of a beautician who agreed to see me. Yup, it was around Christmas – the timing couldn’t have been better, could it? Thankfully she’s Jewish and wasn’t on leave, so I managed to set up an appointment for the next day. Not that I’d normally be caught dead in beauty parlours, but I needed help and the name “One-Step House of Beauty” conjured up images of a quick fix, which naturally appealed to me!

When I finally found the place and got to see her, she informed me that, as a result of all the squeezing and picking, I’d caused a secondary infection to set in. That was all I needed to hear!

Secondary infection! Charming.

Anyway, as there was a danger it might lead to permanent scarring, she began working on it straightaway. The first step involved using a laser to try to lessen the redness. She also cleaned the area carefully and told me to keep dabbing surgical spirits on the infected parts.

After several treatments and following her advice for a few days, the swelling went down and my face’s initial pizza-like appearance began fading. I was hugely relieved – there’s nothing worse than dreading leaving your house for fear someone might see you looking like that – especially someone you know!

I had felt totally helpless and, in truth, was willing to pay her just about any sum of money to get rid of it. This was one area where I had to concede a woman did know more than me!!

The other thing I had done was a facial – not something I’d normally consider. To me, the word even has a ‘Kugel’ (a rich South African Jewish woman) ring to it – faaayshil, doll!

But, after much cajoling, I again put aside my masculine pride and agreed to it. Basically what happens during these is that all the junk that’s built up inside your skin is extracted – not pleasant and often painful – but once the redness subsides, the results speak for themselves. I was pretty blown away by how soft my skin felt and how radiant it looked several days later.

You’re probably thinking that my case was a bit extreme, which it possibly was. But, according to the stats, if you’re reading this and male, chances are you’re presently suffering from acne to some degree or are likely to at some point in your life.

And besides acne, there are plenty of other things that can go wrong, some of which are preventable, provided you take action soon enough – sun damage being a prime example.

Let’s face it, most of us in this country spend a helluva lot of time in the sun and sometimes don’t even think of using sunscreen. These days ultraviolet radiation levels are often dangerously high and the risk of causing sun damage and even skin cancer is apparently much higher than most of us think. Pollution levels are also increasing in many of our cities, which can speed up the aging process as a result of free radical damage.

So, what can be done?

Skincare expert Michelle Probst shares a few of her tips with us:

#1 Keep your skin clean.

Men have approximately 15% oilier skin and significantly larger pores than women do. Basically, this means you get dirtier. It is very important, no matter what skin type you have, to clean your face every day. Deep cleansing is important. It keeps pores clear, skin healthy and you looking good.

Cleansing products should be as chemical-free as possible. Deodorant soaps shouldn’t be used on your face. They cleanse with harsh ingredients and leave a detergent film behind. This may irritate your skin and will clog your pores. Go natural.

A good scrub is essential for healthy, clean skin. It will remove dead cells and smooth the surface of your face. The scrub should be strong without being damaging. Stay away from scrubs that contain rough substances such as ground bits of nut or seed extracts. They will tear and damage the skin. A good scrub will invigorate you, not hurt you.

Moisturising is a necessity. Again, the product with the least amount of chemical additives is the best. Always use a light moisturiser on your face after cleansing and shaving and don’t forget your neck!

For an intensive moisture treatment use pure vitamin E, or Aloe Vera oil. It is available in liquid form, or just break open a capsule and apply the oil directly to the skin. This is a great under-eye treatment. Remember it is very important to moisturise this sensitive area of the face. It is one of the first places to show age because the under-eye skin secretes no necessary oils on its own.

#2 Keep it toned.

Because men are outside more than women are, environmental debris and pollutants are more a factor. Toning helps keep the skin clear and firm.

As skin ages, it needs to work harder to maintain its elasticity. Astringents and toners with glycolic or alpha hydroxy acids work the best for toning the face. These acids can actually reduce the pore size and help avoid ingrown hairs. They are aggressive and have quick results. Remember to look for a product that is not photosensitive (sensitive to light).

#3 Treat your skin.

Depending on your skin type (oily, dry or combination) and the time of year, there are different products that treat and enhance your skin. Different treatments will have very different results. It is important to know your skin’s needs.

All types of skin need to be exfoliated. This is the removal of dead skin cells that form daily. This is an essential part of skin treatment.

After shaving, you need to moisturise with a product that has absolutely no alcohol in it. Avoid heavy, fragrant aftershave products too, as they can irritate the skin.

Skin that is too shiny doesn’t look healthy, just greasy. Blot the excess oils away. Blotting papers or a light powder that will give you a more natural finish are both good options to try.

Don’t forget about your lips. Find a balm that has an SPF of at least 15 in it. Peppermint oil has a nice feel and keeps the lips looking luscious.

#4 Protect your skin.

Healthy skin is young-looking skin. There are preventative techniques that can promote the best skin possible and keep it looking its best longer.

Remember that your skin is a mirror of your overall body health.

Avoid over-exposure to the sun – sun damage can lead to hyperpigmentation (brown spots) that can sometimes develop into serious skin disease. Excessive exposure can also exaggerate and thicken fine lines. Use an SPF 15 or higher on all exposed skin, especially on your face.

#5 Stay in shape.

Exercise promotes capillary functioning, which can decrease premature aging. It also increases oxygen to the tissues, which keeps skin looking young.

#6 Eat right.

Keep vitamins such as C and E in your diet regimen.

#7 Everything in moderation.

Too much of anything is never a good idea. Stay away from excessive alcohol, smoking, fatigue and stress. Not only can these factors lead to premature aging, they also decrease facial circulation, making you look older.