Real ChemistryReal Chemistry


Acne are tiny micro-infections which form under the skin causing breakouts.

As the body’s protective outer-shell, your skin puts up with a lot. Harmful elements such as chemicals, infections, cuts, scrapes, and sunlight keep the seemingly delicate organ under near-constant assault. Athletics, cosmetics, skin care products, sun block, sweat, and stress can send your epidermis into overdrive, leaving it no choice but to react.

Skin takes approximately 3 days to re-grow after exfoliation or dead skin cell removal. Pores and follicles sometimes become clogged during this time. In a matter of hours, clogged pores can become covered with dead skin re-growth. If allowed to percolate under the dead skin, the body will do what the body does with any foreign object like the dirt and debris in the pores: it walls it off. The body perceives the tiny micro-infection as an invader that must be removed. It immediately goes to work building a tiny shelter for the infection to reduce the chance that the infection will spread to other parts of the body.

It is for this reason that day two, you might notice a hard, round, rather uncomfortable bump where there had been a tiny blemish, or nothing at all. The dirt and oil are trapped under the skin and have become a tiny incubator for infection, while the body attempts to resolve it.

So, what should you do?
Well exfoliation is the best, most effective treatment in this situation because you are essentially removing the” lid” on the tiny incubator. Remove the lid or the dead skin trapping the micro-infection, cleanse it thoroughly of dirt, bacteria, oil etc. and allow it to heal.

Prevention is clearly much easier and considerably more comfortable. The best strategy for addressing acne, is to first prevent the acne by preventing micro-infections. Exfoliation 3 times per week will help to prevent most micro-infections. You can exfoliate by any method, but we recommend the acid-free, abrasive-free Real Chemistry Luminous 3 Minute Peel, as it is less likely to irritate the skin and will allow for gentle exfoliation with the frequency necessary to be effective. Use a very thin layer on your damp face, in the shower, three times per week, to aid in the prevention of tiny micro-infections, which become breakouts.

This strategy is not a guarantee, as there are many factors which influence breakouts. However, regular exfoliation is one effective strategy to employ in the effort to reduce the intensity and frequency of breakouts.

A healthy, beautiful complexion is not only possible for those prone to acne, but could literally be days away, for most people.

How to use

Prevent breakouts in 2-3 minutes in the shower 2 -3 times a week!

Exams and Tests
Your doctor can diagnose acne by looking at your skin. Testing is usually not needed.

Steps you can take to help your acne:
Clean your skin gently with a mild, nondrying soap.
Exfoliate dead skin once per week using a non-acidic or non-abrasive method.
Remove all dirt or make-up. Wash once or twice a day, including after exercising. However, avoid scrubbing or repeated skin washing.
Shampoo your hair daily, especially if it is oily. Comb or pull your hair back to keep the hair out of your face.

What NOT to do:
Try not to squeeze, scratch, pick, or rub the pimples. Although it might be tempting to do this, it can lead to skin infections and scarring.
Avoid wearing tight headbands, baseball caps, and other hats
Avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers.

Avoid greasy cosmetics or creams. Take off make-up at night. Look for water-based or “noncomedogenic” formulas. Noncomedogenic products have been tested and proven not to clog pores and cause acne.

A small amount of sun exposure may improve acne a little, but mostly it just hides the acne. However, too much exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays is not recommended because it increases the risk for skin cancer.

If pimples are still a problem, a health care provider can prescribe stronger medications and discuss other options with you.
Antibiotics may help some people with acne:

Oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, erythromycin, trimethoprim, and amoxicillin
Topical antibiotics (applied to the skin) such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or dapsone
For women whose acne is caused or made worse by hormones:

A pill called spironolactone may help
Birth control pills may help in some cases, though they may make acne worse
Minor procedures or treatments may also be helpful:

A laser procedure called photodynamic therapy may be used.
Your doctor may also suggest chemical skin peeling, removal of scars by dermabrasion, or removal, drainage, or injection of cysts with cortisone.
People who have cystic acne and scarring may try a medicine called isotretinoin (Accutane). You will be watched closely when taking this medicine because of its side effects.
Pregnant women should NOT take Accutane, because it causes severe birth defects. Women taking Accutane must use two forms of birth control before starting the drug and enroll in the iPledge program. Your doctor will follow you on this drug and you will have regular blood tests.

Outlook (Prognosis)
Acne usually goes away after the teenage years, but it may last into middle age. The condition often responds well to treatment after 6 – 8 weeks, but it may flare up from time to time.

Scarring may occur if severe acne is not treated. Some people, especially teenagers, can become very depressed if acne is not treated.
When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your doctor or a dermatologist if:
Self-care steps and over-the-counter medicine do not help after several months
Your acne is very bad (for example, you have a lot of redness around the pimples, or you have cysts).
Your acne is getting worse.
You develop scars as your acne clears up.
If your baby has acne, call the baby’s health care provider if acne does not clear up on its own within 3 months.

Alternative Names
Acne vulgaris; Cystic acne; Pimples; Zits
Zaenglein AL, Thiboutot DM. Acne Vulgaris. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds.Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 36.