February 21, 2014

BHA - Beta Hydroxy Acid or Salicylic Acid for pimples, acne and blackheads

One of my readers contacted me asking me what a BHA serum is. 

Firstly, a serum is a skincare product more highly concentrated in its active ingredients than a moisturizer or treatment cream. You would normally use a serum before your moisturizer to spot treat a particular problem, such as pigmentation, pimples, blackheads or wrinkles. 

A BHA serum contains Beta Hydroxy Acid. The most common BHA in skin care is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid can be derived from the bark of the Willowtree or more commonly is made synthetically. Salicylic acid is an oil soluble acid, and is also related to aspirin. It is a very strong acid, and in skin care only a maximum of 2% is used.

Because it is an oil soluble acid, it is attracted to the oils in the skin such as the oil trapped deep inside the clogged pores and blackheads. Oil dissolves oil,  so this acid is best used on an oily skin with problems such as clogging, congestion, milia and blackheads. It is well known for its ability to penetrate deep inside the pores and exfoliate the pores from the inside out, helping to clear impurities and improve a problem skin. 

As it is related to aspirin, it has powerful anti-inflammatory action on the skin. This is very beneficial for skins suffering with acne and inflammation. However people with aspirin allergy should do a patch test behind the ear to make sure they can use it without causing allergies.

Salicylic acid is also a very good keratolytic. This means it is very efficient at breaking down dead cells as it targets the keratin found in the dead cells of the skin. This makes it a very good exfoliant  both inside of the pores and on the surface of the skin. Not only does it help to improve blackheads but it's also very good at helping improve open pores, milia, thickened skin, sun damage, wrinkles and pigmentation. 

Salicylic acid works best at lower doses from 1 to 2% at a pH of 3 to 4. Just like all acids, it works best in a serum or a moisturizer. Using AHAs or BHA in a cleanser is more gentle because the acids are not left on the skin to penetrate. So if you use a cleanser with AHAs or BHA, leave it on for a few minutes in order for the acids to do their work efficiently. For more problematic skin, my advice is use either a serum or a moisturizer with a BHA and only use it at night on your skin. Using multiple products on your skin with BHA could potentially cause side-effects such as rashes, irritations and excessive dryness and flaking of the skin, so don't over do it.

All AHAs  and BHA overtime thin your skin and make it more sensitive to the sun, so you must protect your skin. If you're using AHAs or BHA in your skincare routine you must also use a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin during the day. 

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Jana x

February 19, 2014


blackheadsHorrid little things aren't they?
The pores look like they have dirt trapped inside them but in fact blackheads are not caused by dirt. Inside a typical blackhead you will find dead skin cells, sebum (oil) and hair. Yep, that's right, hair. That is because blackheads occur inside hair follicles. 

Your skin renews itself every month and old cells are shed from the surface. In fact most of the dust around your home is actually your own dead skin cells. The dust mites love it! Nom mom! 

Anyway, some of these dead skin cells can actually clog up the opening of the hair follicle, plugging it up preventing the hair and oil flowing onto the surface. The oil becomes waxy and together with the dead cells forms a plug. The hair is also unable to escape so it curls up and grows inside the hair follicle. I heard once when a blackhead was extracted they found 18 hairs inside it! 

The clogged pores appear black from the surface because of the oxygen in the air. Just like when you cut an apple in half and leave it out, it turns brown. The top of the blackheads turn black because the filament has been oxidized. When you squeeze a blackhead, the tip is black and the rest is white because it has not been exposed to air. 
cures for blackheads
So how to get rid of blackheads? 
1. Use an oil balancing cleanser, but be careful not to strip your skin because this will cause the skin to produce even more oil

2. Exfoliate 2 to 3 times a week to remove excess dead skin cells. Enzymatic or BHA exfoliants are most effective for clogging, congestion and blackheads

3. Use a deep cleanser or a specialized product designed to melt away blackheads to soften and draw them out

4. BHA serum are excellent as they exfoliate the pores from inside out

5. Masks are one of the fastest acting treatments to treat open pores, clogging and blackheads. They draw out impurities, detoxify and refine the skin. You can use a mask once or twice a week.

6. Using a moisturizer specifically prescribed for open pores, oily skin or skins with clogging and blackheads will be really helpful. These treatment creams will continue working on your skin throughout the day and prevent any further problems from occurring. 

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Jana x

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A Skin Care Expert, Retail and Customer Service Coach, Business Consultant and Best Selling Author. Writer and blogger, currently writing popular blogs and articles about beauty, skin care, retail business, sales and customer service.

Read Jana's full bio here: janaelston.com