Whether you are blessed with problem-free skin or one that suffers from the occasional breakout, almost everyone would have experienced some sort of skin blemishes, discolourations or pigmentation issues at certain junctures of their lives. From sunburn and hormonal changes to infections — skin colour changes can sometimes make us feel self-conscious and concerned.
What Causes Blemishes?
Blemishes are skin imperfections that usually form when your pores become clogged. They embrace your skin in varying types, such as blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts, among others. Unpleasant blemishes can appear anywhere on the body in the form of skin discolourations or dark spots, but the ones that manage to find their way to the face are the most disappointing. So what actually causes them?
Excess Oil Production
While there are many factors that contribute to the formation of blemishes, the root cause of these unappealing spots typically boils down to excessive oil production.
When your pores clog up with dead skin cells and excessive oil in the upper layers of the epidermis, whiteheads and blackheads will start to appear. When this transpires in the inner layers, you end up with acne. Either way, there is no running from blemishes once your pores get blocked.
While sebum is beneficial for the skin in small amounts, it may produce unwanted effects when the glands produce too much oil. Dead skin cells on the surface of the skin will start clumping up together, blocking the pores and forming blemishes.
The most common condition in this category, acne can appear as pimples, whiteheads or blackheads. Follicles — small sacs that produce and emit liquid — connect the oil glands underneath our skin to our pores on its surface.
The glands produce an oily liquid called sebum that transports dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. A small hair strand grows through the follicle out of the skin. When these hair follicles get blocked and become inflamed or infected with bacteria, pimples start to appear on the skin surface.
Acne usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders, as these areas of our skin contain the most oil glands. It may also leave dark spots, pockmarks or scarring on the skin.
Skin blemishes are predominantly the aftermath of an acne outbreak, where the pimples vanish but leave behind battle scars in their place for the face to remember. However, acne is not the only cause.
We all have been guilty of it. Many a time, as soon as we start noticing a spot appearing, we intuitively reach for our foundation or concealers and dab them with our fingers. However, heavy make-up, not to mention the microbes on our fingertips, can end up clogging more pores, resulting in more blemishes.
Simple practices, such as using brushes to apply your make-up, instead of using your bare fingertips, will prevent transferring any bacteria from your hands on to your face, saving you from needless outbreaks.
Then there are those who decide to raise the bar and sleep with their make-up on. Falling asleep as such is never a great idea and is detrimental to the skin on so many levels.
When your make-up is left intact on your skin overnight, it reacts and mingles with dirt, oil and bacteria from the day, causing dull skin, clogged pores, bumps, puffy eyes and generally aggravated skin.
Always make it a habit to cleanse your face or use a make-up remover every night before you go to bed, regardless of how tired you are.
Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands to aid in alleviating the effects of stress. It is an important hormone that helps the body deal with stressful situations, as the brain triggers its release in response to fear and different kinds of stress.
However, when too much cortisol is produced, it increases oil production in the body, causing your pores to clog up. This, in turn, results in blemishes and stress spots.
In addition, high levels of cortisol may cause weight gain and high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce energy levels and contribute to diabetes.
Home Remedies for Blemish-Free Skin
Try out these simple home remedies for naturally clearer skin:
1. Egg Whites
Egg whites are not only a good source of protein, but are also rich in enzymes that help even out the skin and lighten the darkest blemishes and scars. Apply the egg white to your face with a brush and leave it to dry. Thereafter, rinse off with cold water. Stick to this regime twice a week for a month and watch skin blemishes fade away.
Honey is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are effective in lightening scars. Apply a teaspoon of honey on your blemishes and keep it on for about 15 minutes before washing it off with cold water. Repeat the steps for 15 days and your scars will start to fade.
No prizes for guessing this one.
Widely regarded as a natural skin lightener for decades, lemon juice contains citric acid, which exfoliates dead skin cells to reveal healthier, lighter-looking skin. Not only does it lighten your scars and blemishes, it helps reduce excess oil and keeps oiliness at bay.
Squeeze half a lemon and apply the juice to affected areas. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, tomatoes help in shrinking open pores caused by acne and their natural astringent properties render them ideal for clearing blemishes. Furthermore, the high lycopene content present in tomatoes is effective in lightening those dark, stubborn spots.
Massage your skin with the juice from one tomato. Leave it to dry for 15 minutes before washing it off with water thereafter. Continue for 15 days to see the best results.