Acne is an incurable, but manageable, condition that causes oily skin, spots and increased epidermal sensitivity as the skin becomes hot or painful to the touch. It’s a common condition, affecting men and women, both in puberty and adult life. Acne varies in levels of severity and new research has shown that it has very damaging physical and psychological effects on self-image. Knowing the science behind acne, identifying its causes and symptoms, helps us to offer effective treatments – with visible results – to alleviate the signs of acne in all our clients.
There are many myths surrounding why acne occurs, some being that acne is caused by poor diet or having poor skin hygiene – which is definitely not true. In fact, acne is caused when the hair follicles become blocked and this is often because acne sufferers have overactive sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands produce an oily substance, called sebum, and are located beneath the hair follicles (known as ‘pores’). They work to lubricate the skin and stop it from drying out, yet in acne sufferers, they produce too much sebum. This excess oil mixes with other surface bacteria, like dead skin cells, that physically block the hair follicles and cause the white heads, blackheads, papules and cysts – all familiar to those with acne – to appear.
There are some factors that can increase your likelihood of developing acne, genetics is one of them. Acne is often thought to run in families, so if your parents both had acne, you’ll probably develop acne too.
Hormones can also play a role in acne and sudden hormonal fluctuations can cause the sebaceous glands to over compensate by producing more sebum. The high rises of testosterone in puberty, for example, is thought to be the biggest cause of acne in teens.
Women are also more likely to have adult acne than men as they experience hormonal changes regularly. Pregnancy, menstruating or polycystic ovary syndrome, can all be conditions that contribute to acne developing.
In other cases, acne can be triggered by cosmetics products (known as ‘acne cosmetica’), medication or prolonged friction against the skin – such as the repetitive wearing of headbands, helmets and masks (known as ‘acne mechanica’).
The main symptoms of acne are:
- Persistent, recurring spots that mainly appear on the face but can also develop on the back and chest
- Oily and easily-inflamed skin
- Skin becomes extremely sensitive to products
- Scars appear from burst spots
- Dark patches and blemishes remain long after flare
The six types of acne spots:
- Blackheads – ‘black’ spots that appear when a hair follicle becomes blocked and is opened to the skin. They do not contain dirt but take on their blackened appearance as the inner lining of the hair follicle produces colour
- Whiteheads – similar to blackheads and develop when a pore becomes blocked. Whiteheads appear when the clogged hair follicle is closer to the skin’s surface and protrudes outwardly
Spots can become more severe when the usually harmless bacteria, P.acnes, becomes aggressive and causes inflammation and pus build-up due to the abnormal levels of sebum produced. When P.acnes starts to contaminate the already blocked hair follicles, this can infect spots and cause the following ones to appear:
- Papules – tender, small and red bumps that spread across the skin
- Pustules – small, sore spots similar to papules, but have pus-filled heads
- Nodules – large, hard lumps that appear beneath the epidermis that can cause inflammation and be painful
- Cysts – the most severe spot caused by acne and cysts produce pus-filled lumps – similar to boils – and can cause acne scars when burst
For mild to moderate cases of acne, we have the following treatments available:
Skin peels – this is a completely customisable treatment that can become more advanced, or more sensitive, depending on your acne severity. Skin peels, also known as ‘chemical peels’ – that do not contain any chemicals – are named after the blend of powerful natural acids, enzymes and botanical extracts they are formulated of. Skin peels work wonders to alleviate the symptoms of acne by exfoliating and renewing the epidermis, and always leave your skin in a better, brighter and clearer condition after the first peel.
For the best results, we recommend the Obagi Radiance Peel®, designed by leading medical skincare brand Obagi®, which helps to decongest blocked, red and rough pores. Epionce’s Lite Refresh peel is also perfect as a first time, introductory peel and is suitable for even the most sensitive skin types. This peel has refining properties and helps to repair damaged skin. We also have a number of peels formulated by Medik8, which is another fabulous skincare brand dedicated to preserving the future of cosmetics sustainably. They have two peels suitable for acne, the first one is Sensitive PHA, which is a polyhydroxy acid (PHA) peel which does not contain any AHAs or BHAs that sensitive skin cannot tolerate as well – ideal for extremely sensitive skin. The other one is called Clarity and this is a peel that rapidly works to reinstate a clearer, even appearance – perfect for pigmented and darkly blemished skin.
Microdermabrasion – this is a professional-level exfoliation treatment that uses micro-crystals to intensely exfoliate the skin. The micro-crystals used can range in size, between 0.06-0.45mm, and the crystal size used will be assessed, and in line with your acne severity. This advanced treatment contains no chemicals and the micro-crystals used have antibacterial qualities to help rid the skin of dead skin cells, oil and bacteria to relieve, and prevent, the symptoms of acne. However, this treatment is not suitable for inflammatory acne as the slightly abrasive nature may worsen already sensitive and inflamed skin.
HydraFacial – a brand of patented facials that can help combat acne in six, unique steps. HydraFacial uses massage techniques, vortex technology, LED light, vacuum-action and a wide range of skincare ingredients to immediately and non-invasively extract toxins, bacteria and impurities to improve the signs of acne.
For the best results, we recommend the traditional Acne GlySal Boost HydraFacial which clarifies the skin in six steps, whilst also having the added benefit of a skin peel. The GlySal peel contains a blend of glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids which soothes, hydrates and exfoliates the skin. This causes no irritation or damage either – perfect for sensitive, spot-prone skin.
From our classic range, the Acne Pro HydraFacial is also specifically designed for acne and has all the benefits of the GlySal Boost facial but with the added benefit of Isolaz. Isolaz is a laser that kills acne-causing bacteria and works painlessly to treat inflammatory or moderate acne.
Or, for an enhanced result, you can go Platinum with your HydraFacial. Our HydraFacial Platinum collection has completely elevated the six, traditional steps of the HydraFacial and includes refining, calming, restoring and hydrating booster serums developed by esteemed skincare brands. For the ultimate acne facial, ZO® Health have created the Rozatrol® booster which is a multi-redness complex made of key anti-acne ingredients, like glycerine, Rosa Canina extract and lactic acid, that helps to soothe the skin, improve hydration and reduce the appearance of distressed blood vessels on the skin. This is suitable for red and easily irritated skin.
For more severe acne cases, we offer:
Intense pulsed light treatment (IPL) – light based therapies have amazing properties in targeting the wide-spread symptoms of acne and can restore enlarged pores to their normal size, kill bacteria, repair damaged, scarred skin tissue and correct uneven pigmentation. Alongside this plethora of benefits, the broad-spectrum, invisible and visible lights help to re-establish the healthy functioning of the sebaceous glands also.
Laser skin rejuvenation – this treatment works in a similar way to IPL, but rather than using long and short pulses of light, it uses visible beams of thermal energy to resurface the skin. This has the biggest benefits in improving tissue quality, renewing scarred skin – especially any rolling and boxcar scars – and refining an uneven complexion.
Microneedling – can help to alleviate deeply set scars and damaged skin using genuine DermaRoller® devices. This treatment is a collagen induction treatment that activates the body’s natural healing response by rolling ultra-fine needles over the skin. These micro-needles are of a medical-grade and cause atraumatic entry points in the skin to stimulate the production of collagen and improve the appearance of blemished, scarred and darkened skin. Thanks to amazing developments in microneedling, our needles are cone-shaped which means they will not drag or tear at the skin and enter seamlessly for minimal discomfort. It should be noticed that this treatment is not suitable for active acne, but can be used to improve the appearance of scars and post-acne inflammation.
Usually, when treating severe acne, we recommend a combined treatment approach which can include a light-based therapy, like IPL, and a skin rejuvenation treatment, like a skin peel for example. A combined approach can help to enhance the results and target multiple issues in one treatment plan. However, don’t worry about any of this, as during your consultation, your practitioner will guide and inform you through all the suitable treatment avenues worth exploring for your skin.
While acne cannot be completely prevented, there are a few tips to help avoid an aggressive outbreak. We recommend the following:
Do not pick, squeeze or touch your acne. Touching the affected area can help facilitate the spreading of acne causing-bacteria which in turn, may exacerbate the appearance of your current breakout and infect existing spots, causing pustules, nodules and cysts to form.
Use an emollient as a moisturiser. Emollients are un-fragranced creams that help soothe and hydrate the skin. They are used to help treat a wide range of dermatological conditions, like eczema and dermatitis, and can help calm inflamed skin which is why it is beneficial for easily-irritated acne prone skin.
Invest in non-comedogenic makeup. Acne can be easily triggered by cosmetics, known as ‘acne cosmetica’, so using non-comedogenic makeup is highly beneficial in reducing the symptoms of acne. Non-comedogenic is a term used to describe skincare products that are formulated in a way not to block the pores or directly cause breakouts. As blocked pores are a major cause of acne, avoiding anything that will contribute to this build-up will help. It is also recommended to avoid high oil products as this will increase the already high levels of oil present on the skin.
Find topical products that contain tretinoin, adapalene, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide which can be found in a pharmacy, retailer or prescribed by your GP. These are the essential, anti-bacterial skincare ingredients to help manage acne and alleviate its formation.
Whilst it has been confirmed that acne is not directly linked to poor diet, certain foods can cause hormonal shifts, which in turn, may result in the production of excess sebum and aggravate flare ups. The foods and drinks linked to worsening acne are: dairy, alcohol, coffee and sugary foods. Limiting your consumption of these things may help to manage your acne and live relatively acne-free.
Do not over-exfoliate your skin. Only exfoliate 2-3 times a week – if your skin can handle it – and avoid completely exfoliating beads if you have very sensitive skin. This may worsen your current complexion. Gently exfoliate your skin with an exfoliating mitt as this can work in a similar way and be much less abrasive.
No. Of Treatments
1-3 courses of treatment
0% finance options available
Single sessions from £59!
Your Next Steps
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Acne Treatment Pricing
|HydraFacial Acne Pro GlySal Boost||£188|
|Epionce Lite Refresh Skin Peel||£83|
|HydraFacial Acne Pro GlySal Boost||£564||£507.60|
|Epionce Lite Refresh Skin Peel||£249||£220|
|HydraFacial Acne Pro GlySal Boost||£1,128||£940|
|Epionce Lite Refresh Skin Peel||£498||£440|
|HydraFacial Acne Pro GlySal Boost||£2,256||£1,692|
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on the severity of acne and the treatment you have, the time it takes to see the results may vary.
Dairy, sugar, coffee and nuts can cause an increase in sebum (oil) in the skin, which is thought to trigger and make acne worse. By reducing your intake of these food types it may help you manage your acne.
Dark spots that remain on your skin after a breakout are caused by inflammation during the skin’s healing process. When a spot bursts, the pore opens and when it closes back, abnormal pigmentation, texture and tone appear that looks different to the rest of your skin. Sometimes broken blood vessels remain after the acne fades and can result in a mark that is redder or purpler than the skin.
Particularly aggressive blemishes can leave permanent marks, called Acne Scars. These occur when the normal skin tissue is destroyed and replaced with a fibrous tissue. When acne is severe, it can act like a wound, so when the body attempts to heal it can over/under produce the tissue needed to repair the area. The production of too much tissue forms a keloid or a hypertrophic scar, and too little tissue leads to a depression in the skin, or atrophic scar. The deeper and more inflamed the spot, or the more it is picked or squeezed, the more likely it is to scar.
Switching to mineral-based make-ups are an option if you suffer from acne and may help it. This kind of make-up does not contain any harsh chemicals which can trigger an outbreak and is suitable for sensitive skin types. Traditional cosmetics generally have heavier formulas which make your acne worse. It can irritate your skin and prevent it from breathing – even though they may provide good cover up. Mineral make-ups, however, allow your skin to breathe and should not worsen any redness, dryness or annoy any blemishes which traditional cosmetics may.
Squeezing spots, whether blackheads or whiteheads, can force the bacteria deeper into the pores, causing further inflammation and scarring.
Acne flares can affect us at any age. They can be triggered by stress and hormonal changes in the body. For men, acne can be present well into their 40s and can occur sometimes because of the higher levels of androgen in their body. Women also get acne as an adult due to hormone fluctuations: menopause, pregnancy and during menstrual cycles. Adult acne can also be a result of poor diet, increased stress and choosing the wrong skincare regimes. It is not an uncommon thing for adults to experience.
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