Acne breakouts are never a simple thing, therefore, our toxic relationship with acne can still be seen on our skin even after we are left to deal with the aftermath of it.
It’s not only that acne affects our self-confidence, which in turn, takes its toll in our day to day lives, but once it is gone, we are left to deal with the physical scars it leftover.
Most of the time, acne scars become dark or discolored patches called hyperpigmentation, however, there is one more thing people can expect to see after finally giving acne the boot – redness.
Therefore, this article is going to teach you how to get rid of redness from acne, as well as explain further into why redness can still happen even after active acne is finally gone.
So let’s start this from the beginning by explaining the most important question;
What Causes Acne?
Our pores are an opening to a follicle that is made up of a single hair and a sebaceous gland.
The sebaceous gland releases an oily substance known as sebum which travels up and out of the pore and it then remains onto your skin to keep it moisturized and lubricated.
Moreover, sebum keeps your skin protected from pollution and other environmental aggressors. Additionally, sebum has mild bactericidal properties that can protect your skin from certain types of bacteria.
Acne develops when the pores on your skin become clogged with excess sebum and a mixture of accumulated dead skin cells, white blood cells, and bacteria buildup.
The mixture then blocks the pores and prevents sebum from escaping, meaning it will remain trapped inside the follicle.
And once it stays trapped inside the follicle, it creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive, triggering your immune system to fight against it, which is essentially how acne happens to be.
Eventually, this leads to inflammation on the skin, which doesn’t simply vanish when you get rid of acne. Acne redness that remains lingering on the skin even after the initial inflammation is called post-inflammatory erythema.
What Is Post-Inflammatory Erythema?
Post-inflammatory erythema is a red blemish that appears when the blood vessels are damaged or abnormally dilated as a result of long-term inflammation. The colors can vary from pink, red to deep purple, depending on the severity.
Severe trauma to the skin such as acne breakouts causes the delicate blood vessels under our skin to break and this triggers an increase of blood flow as a direct immune response to heal the vascular wound.
Additionally, aggressively picking at the blemish can easily damage and break blood vessels and this can trigger post-inflammatory erythema that is going to linger on the surface of your skin for a long time.
How Do You Know If You Have Post-Inflammatory Erythema?
Erythema disappears temporarily when you apply pressure to it and this is known as the blanching effect.
You can recognize the erythema by pressing a clear piece of glass or plastic to the area and applying light pressure to it. If the area becomes white or it changes color completely, then the condition should be recognized as post-inflammatory erythema.
If the redness persists during this simple test, this can be a sign of another skin condition, such as rosacea.
What Is Acne Rosacea?
Acne rosacea is a common and chronic acne-like skin condition that commonly affects the central third of the face, especially the nose, and its intensity varies over time.
The most common rosacea symptoms include easy facial blushing or flushing and redness of the face as well as tiny red blemish and red vascular lines on the face.
Rosacea is often mistaken for rosy cheeks, sunburn, and quite often acne and some of the known triggers include excessively oily skin, alcohol, hot and spicy foods, emotional stress, smoking, as well as extreme heat and cold.
While rosacea can be a very bothersome and frustrating condition, it is actually manageable through adequate skincare, topical treatments, improved lifestyle, and good health.
It is an incurable condition and if left untreated, it tends to worsen over time.
How To Reduce Acne Redness?
Acne is a result of several actions, therefore, it takes time for this unpleasant result to manifest itself on your face. Acne doesn’t happen overnight, even though that’s the popular opinion.
That pimple that you just woke up with and wasn’t there last night took from 6 to 8 weeks to form and finally come to the surface.
Everything has its cycle and it takes time to become visible. Acne redness is a sign of inflammation, which was at some point caused by long-time irritation.
This irritation can be a result of bad topical solutions such as pore-clogging ingredients that cause acne, or irritating ingredients such as perfumes and essential oils in skincare products.
Therefore, let’s talk about several ingredients that you should definitely avoid to reduce redness:
Essential oils are a hot topic in skin care. Some swear that essential oils have improved their skin, while others go as far as saying they are toxic.
I am not sure about the toxic part, because I quite enjoy using essential oils in my home, however, I don’t believe essential oils should belong in skincare products.
Essential oils are the volatile essences of plants that create unique fragrances and they can be extracted from any plant’s flowers, bark, stem, leaves, roots, and sometimes its fruits.
These oils are quite complex mixtures, often containing up to 60 different substances.
Most of them have antibacterial properties that are supposed to improve skin problems related to fungi, yeast, and other topical aggressors.
However, essential oils can prove harmful for your skin, because most of those components can also significantly irritate and damage your skin.
Common examples include fragrance ingredients like limonene, citronellol, eugenol, and linalool, all present in many skincare products that are advertised as “fragrance-free”.
Additionally, other essential oils for acne-prone skin such as the very popular tea tree oil (that some people claim it is even soothing), lemongrass, grapefruit, and bergamot have researches showing them to be helpful for acne, however, they can also cause significant irritation that will bring a new onset of acne in the future, therefore, it is best for you to stay away from this vicious circle.
Also extremely problematic are mint oils such as peppermint, spearmint, and balm mint as these can actually cause burns on the skin.
Fragrance is another very popular component in skin care products, and for a good reason. Everyone wants their haircare and skincare products to smell nice besides having nice packagings.
Cosmetic companies understand the power of a product that smells pleasant and this has a massive impact in the consumer’s buying decisions.
Another reason fragrances make their way into skin care products is that a lot of natural ingredients don’t smell very good after they are being made in the lab.
I have smelled a sample of a product without fragrance and the only thing I could compare it to was a pair of wet socks.
Understandably, nobody wants to spend their money on a skincare product that smells like wet socks, regardless of how good it is for the skin. Nobody even wants to know about that part,
However, research has established that fragrances in skincare products are among the most common cause of sensitizing and irritating the skin.
This can not only be harmful to your skin, but it will also make the process of dealing with a certain condition much harder and create another vicious circle for your skin problems.
If you are suffering from acne redness, the last thing you want to do is exacerbate your inflammation by using perfumed products.
Additionally, fragrance in skincare isn’t only problematic for sensitive, redness, or acne-prone skins. It can sensitize even normal and dry skin types and cause significant irritation.
Alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat, and methanol are used to make creams and other skincare products feel lighter, help other ingredients like retinol penetrate your skin easier, and as a preservative that prevents the products from going bad too soon.
Additionally, they give products a quick-drying finish, immediately mattify the skin, and make products feel weightless on the skin, so it is easy to see their appeal.
However, there is a huge downside to incorporating drying alcohol in skincare products.
When you see these names of alcohol listed among the first five ingredients on the ingredients list, without question they will be cruel to your skin by causing dryness and irritation which consequently leads to breakouts, blemishes, and even premature aging of the skin.
Bad alcohols, when used in high concentrations in skincare, deteriorate your skin’s protective barrier, which renders your skin incapable of retaining moisture.
Additionally, this dehydration will trigger the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil to compensate for the lack of hydration.
However, just to be clear, there are other types of alcohol, known as fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for your skin.
They are exceptionally good for dry skin and can also be beneficial for oilier skin types if they come in smaller concentrations.
It is important to differentiate the skin-friendly forms of alcohol from the problematic types of alcohol in skincare products so you can make better choices for yourself.
Now once we bashed the bad ones, let’s talk about some beneficial ingredients in skincare to reduce redness:
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid naturally derived from willow tree bark, wintergreen leaves or sweet birch bark.
Different concentrations may vary depending on the product at hand, however, salicylic acid can be found in concentrations of up to 5% in some over-the-counter products.
Salicylic acid is an effective ingredient in many targeted acne treatments and it has excellent soothing properties that help calm the inflammation caused by acne.
Additionally, it’s oil-soluble which means it can cut through the superficial oil and penetrate deeper to cleanse the pores.
This will unclog the pores and allow sebum to flow freely, which will result in clear skin in the future.
Otherwise known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients that help in treating acne.
It is also called nicotinamide and it is a form of vitamin B3 that’s an essential nutrient for your body and it is one hell of an ingredient to prevent serious disorders of your skin.
Using a serum that contains niacinamide has proven to be most beneficial due to the liquid consistency that allows it to penetrate in the skin easier, however, it works equally good in cream – formulation as well as a gel.
It is ideal for treating blemishes due to its anti-inflammatory properties and can suppress the skin’s inflammatory response to calm redness, sores, and imperfections as well as balance out the oil production and prevent future breakouts.
Benzoyl Peroxide is an ingredient that is starting to have a bad name on the market, however, while others deem it to be dangerous, In my experience, it is one of the most misunderstood ingredients out there.
Benzoyl peroxide is proven to have an antibacterial effect that specifically inhibits and destroys the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes that live deep in your pores and survive on your natural oil, dead skin cells, and skin tissue.
It can be quite drying for the skin if not used properly and this is why many people experience side effects that include sensitive skin, burning sensation, redness, peeling, and inflammation.
However, if used properly, it can successfully heal your acne without triggering any side effects and research has shown that benzoyl peroxide has mild soothing properties that can help with inflammatory redness and acne scars.
Additionally, the best thing about it is that it can be used as a spot treatment rather than having to be layered all over the face.
Allantoin is a by-product of uric acid extracted from urea and considered an effective skin-soothing and conditioning agent.
This means that has the ability to soften and help the damaged skin heal but is also stimulates the growth of new tissue.
Allantoin occurs naturally in the body but it can be extracted from plants like chamomile and comfrey or made synthetically, which is the most common method in cosmetic use.
Getting rid of acne can take a while, especially until you find out what truly works for you, everything is trial and error.
Some products can worsen your acne and therefore your redness too, however, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
In this article, I wanted to explain more about the possible causes of redness as well as teach you how to get rid of redness from acne by choosing to use ingredients that are beneficial for your skin’s health.
I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing this article and, as always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Trying to cope with my obnoxious acne breakouts forced me into finding a solution to my problem by pursuing a career in the beauty industry. Today, I’m a certified esthetician & I’m passionate about sharing what I know to help you achieve healthy, glowing skin. You can learn more about me here.