Acne (acne vulgaris) a relatively common skin disorder, can be very complex, from its causes to treatment – even changing with age. Even among dermatologists, there is some disagreement about treatment; however, generally they classify the disease within 4 grades but the simplest way of classifying acne is fairly straightforward: mild, moderate, and severe. Your skin will actually move between these grades as your acne waxes and wanes on its own. Just as there are different grades, there are also different types of acne. Let’s find the best face masks for acne prone skin.
What is Acne?
At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced some of the following symptoms of acne and they occur in varying levels of severity:
- Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)
- Blackheads (open plugged pores)
- Small red, tender bumps (papules)
- Pimples (pustules), which are papules with pus at their tips
- Large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin (nodules)
- Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin (cystic lesions)
Classifications of Acne
Mild acne can appear on your face, back, shoulders, and (yep) buttocks generally seen as a few blackheads, bumps, and breakouts few and minor. At this stage you have the opportunity to address the condition before it progresses.
With moderate acne, breakouts are more noticeable with inflamed papules and pustules along with bumpy skin and blackheads. At this point, medications are generally prescribed. But let’s see if we can find a natural solution!
With severe acne, the lesions are now large, red and swollen. At this point, it is difficult to get the condition under control.
Types of Acne
- Comedonal acne is a subset of acne vulgaris. Instead of having inflamed pimples, though, you’ll have bumpiness, blackheads, and milia. This type of acne can happen anywhere on the face or body, and it can range from very mild to quite severe.
- The most severe form of acne, cystic acne, can occur anywhere on the face or body. These are deep lesions with a lot of inflammation and large, painful blemishes (or cysts).
- Nodular acne is characterized by breakouts with large, hard and deep blemishes are called nodules and can occur in men and women at any age.
- Acne mechanica is a type of acne caused by excessive heat, pressure, or friction on the skin and most often the result of helmets, athletic pads and sweatbands – therefore, often referred to as sports acne.
- Acne cosmetica (a type of comedonal acne) is generally triggered by the use of makeup, creams, and moisturizers, and even certain hair care products.
- Excoriated acne results when pimples are picked at excessively and chronically..
Since acne is not the only skin condition that may cause pimples, red bumps, or whiteheads on the skin, if these signs appear in “odd” places like your scalp, legs, hands or feet, armpits, stomach, or pubic area (if you’re not 100 percent sure what you’re seeing is regular acne) make an appointment with your physician for a diagnosis.
Causes of Acne
Basically, acne occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells resulting in whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. Effective treatments are available, but acne can be persistent. The pimples and bumps heal slowly, and when one begins to go away, others seem to crop up. The complex causes of acne are basically hormonal, part of a chronic inflammatory process, and dependent on genetic predisposition, can be worsened by stress, and may or may not be influenced by diet (each person is different in that regard).
Skin care for acne-prone skin
Countless soaps, toners, creams, lotions are available from which to choose; however, surprisingly, one of the most effective agents for treating acne has been used for centuries…the facial mask. It is known that among cosmetic products, the facial mask is the earliest type. A facial mask can be nourishing, calming, soothing, refining, and/or purifying.
Many masks employ the use of naturally occurring earth clays because they absorb impurities and help the skin heal. Clay masks come in a multitude of colors and a multitude of clays—all of which have different properties. But what are the best face masks for acne?
I’ve scoured prescription drugs, over-the-counter acne aids, and cosmetics brands to find the best face masks for acne, and not surprisingly, nature has provided us with the perfect answer. Found in different parts of the world from China to Morocco to the Mediterranean basin, effective agents that are oil absorbent and draw out impurities from the skin while increasing microcirculation in the skin are available, inexpensive and abundant. Here are my recommendations for mild/moderate acne and as an adjunct to therapy in severe acne:
Fuller’s Earth Clay
This clay is such a powerful absorber of oil and impurities that it is also used in cat litter and automotive products to absorb oil spills on the pavement. It can also be used to spot dry clean fabrics. For the face, this clay works well for addressing hyperpigmentation since it has mild bleaching activity and is a masterful oil absorber. Mixed with rose water and used as a mask, it increases circulation which is helpful for healing underlying acne inflammation. Since it is a very drying mask, individuals with normal or dry skin acne should limit use to once per week
One of the best clays for oil absorbency, this unique clay has electrical properties that when mixed with water makes the molecules charged and attracts toxins out of your face and into the clay! Skin ailments involving bacteria and fungus and impurities respond to treatment with bentonite clay. Since the clay swells when mixed with water it can absorb more than its initial mass, including any swelling from excess sodium in your face. Due to its tightening, acne-clearing, and impurity-absorbing abilities, you can probably tell why bentonite clay is a popular mask for acne. Click on the picture for more information.
French Green Clay (Montmorillonite)
French green clay (Illite Clay or Sea Clay) gets its color from the amount of decomposed plant material and iron oxide in the clay. This clay is excellent for exfoliation and pore-tightening on top of oil-absorption. In fact, this clay is so absorbent that not only does it drink up oils, it also increases circulation in the skin to the extent that you may feel a tingling sensation when using it as a mask – a very beneficial action for healing. Click on the photo for more information.
This clay is found in different colors—white, yellow, red, and pink are the more popular ones, all of which vary in their abilities. White kaolin clay is the gentlest and best for sensitive dry skin. It is more of an exfoliating clay rather than oil absorbing. Yellow kaolin clay is slightly more absorbent, a circulation -boosting as well as exfoliating and is still gentle enough for sensitive skin. Red kaolin clay has the most oil absorbancy and is best for acne/detoxifying masks for the face or body. Pink kaolin clay is a mixture of white and red kaolin clays, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin that needs a bit of oil-absorbancy and gentle exfoliation.
Mined in Morocco and extensively rich in minerals, red rhassoul clay is great for both skin and hair. It’s very negatively charged and most toxins, therefore, it is a wonderful clay for use on the skin which is positively charged. It is a perfect magnet for attracting and washing away impurities—sebum plugs, blackheads, and oil around hair follicles. Because of its elasticity and texture-improving effects, it’s gentle enough for daily use in small doses like in a mild handmade soap. When mixed with water, yogurt or fruit juice the clay is extremely oil absorbent – just take care not to stain clothing or linens when using. When mixed with crushed oats or almonds it becomes a heavy duty exfoliator which should be used cautiously on acneic skin.
Dead Sea Mud
The Dead Sea is the world’s oldest salt lake located between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. Situated 1,389 feet below sea level it is the lowest lake on Earth. Ancient Egyptians even knew of the seas unusual healing and regenerative properties. Researchers across the globe have found the mud from the Dead Sea to contain minerals that enhance skin tone, protect against skin dryness, and draws out impurities. The first application can result in a pronounced increase in microcirculation so that you feel your face is burning, only to find on removing the mask, your face is radiant and clean! This mud is great for all skin types and leaves clearer, cleaner skin free from blackheads and invisible impurities.
Dead sea mud contains 26 different minerals including sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium, so it nourishes the skin. Studies by the Dead Sea Research Center (DSRC), a non-profit organization, have shown Dead Sea mud is useful for treating skin conditions including acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and vitiligo. Click this photo for more information
Naturally occurring clays and dead sea mud offer excellent alternatives to “drug store” cures and can effectively serve as the first line of defense in preventing worsening acne and in providing relief in conjunction with other treatment modalities as prescribed by a physician. What are the best facial masks for acne prone skin? The clays and mud as presented are definitely in the running for a safe, natural, organic alternative to harsh detergents, abrasives, and drying treatments so heavily advertised. As always, if these or other self-care remedies don’t clear your acne, see your primary care physician for assessment and treatment.