Did you have fun celebrating Holidays? Mine were pretty crazy with just the right amount of sexy and weird to not forget in a while
But more importantly I got inspired to finally tackle a subject that’s very personal and something I’ve struggled with for most of my young adulthood – acne and face care.
Let me share some background to paint you a picture with what we’ll be talking about here and set some expectations.
When it comes to acne I’m as average as it gets – I never had really severe cases but also never really had a clean and clear skin either, and I hit my 25th birthday already. I wish I could blame it on genes or some other factor out of my control but the truth is I just had really bad habits when it came to skin care.
Every time I would research topics like acne and skincare I would get overwhelmed with all the requirements for great skin, tremendous amount of unnecessary info and either just end up doing nothing (paralysis by analysis) or buy a random product with the best pitch and hope it will magically fix all my skin issues (you know, like the ad said).
Anyway, one day I actually got fed up with it and decided I WILL GET THIS HANDLED and I am very happy to report that I barely got any new acne for the last two months!
I still have to deal with some old scaring I have from my “stupid days” when I had no idea what I’m doing, but now it’s only a matter of time.
Turns out curing acne for men is really not that complicated when you focus on the right things and don’t stress the little things.
So in this guide I won’t focus on every little thing that can help/be an issue and instead focus on the major factors to help us start getting results and we can make further adjustments down the road. (Tim Ferris style )
I expect this guide to get somewhat longish so I will be splitting it into three sections:
- What is acne?
- Why do we get acne?
- How to fix it?
It might get a bit geeky so if you’re not into that stuff fill free just go straight to part three and start working on the solution.
And last disclaimer before we start: I’m not a doctor, nor a medical professional. I’m sharing what worked for me and others I researched. Take everything you read with a grain of salt and be smart guys.
So what the hell is acne?..
..and why it is ruining appearance and self-esteem of so many men?
Basically, our skin is covered countless microscopic pores (hair follicles). Sometimes these follicles overproduce cells and become blocked. Skin oil (sebum) can’t get out and bacteria start to grow in our pore. This is when our issues begin.
Hair Follicle (Pore)
If trapped bacteria and sebum stays under the skin surface a whitehead forms. Usually they are so small that you can barely notice them. If, on the other hand, the pore opens and sebum (oil) oxidizes to turn black / brown it will become a blackhead. Whiteheads and blackheads are considered non-inflammatory acne and aren’t that serious.
The real problems happen when follicle wall ruptures, white blood cells rush in and acne becomes inflammatory. At first it will become a papule and a few days later (when white blood cells reach skin surface) a pustule (pimple).
There are other severe cases of acne, but for the time being let’s stick with the basics.
And Why, Oh, Why Do We Get Acne?
Like with fitness, there’s a lot of “bro-science” when it comes to acne and what causes it. You will hear statements like “your particular diet affects your acne”, “stress causes acne”, “and you should never pop a zit” and there are often studies to support these claims.
The problem arises when we interpret these studies incorrectly, for example, in case of the diet argument chances are that it’s not the particular diet that helped with acne, but instead losing weight, which in turn affects body’s hormonal balance that helps your skin look better.
Note: I am NOT trying to refute any of the claims above (chances are, there’s some truth to them) but instead introduce the idea that there are a lot of myths and far-stretched truths that need more hard data.
So instead of trying to figure all the ins and outs of what’s true and what’s a myth, in this section we’ll only focus on actionable bad habits we might have that can cause acne or increase its severity. This means we’ll also going to ignore genetic and other “out of our control” factors – no point fussing about things we can’t change.
Bad Habits That Cause Acne
Let’s briefly cover some of the bad habits that can cause acne? Embarrassingly, at one point in my life or the other, I was guilty of having most of them.
- Not cleaning your face – just splashing some water on your face every once in a while is not enough if you have acne.
- Over washing your face – the other side of the spectrum is over washing and over scrubbing your face. Acne is not dirt and not something to just wash away. Even more so, you’re robbing your skin of essential oils.
- Touching your face – this is a big one. For many of us, touching the face is something we do unconsciously and do it a lot. Unfortunately, it’s also an express way to get bacteria and dirt on our face. If you have acne, chances are you touch your face A LOT.
- Popping, scratching pimples – yes, I know it looks bad, but incorrectly popping a zit increases the chance of damaging skin and making your problem way worse in the long term. If possible, let your acne heal using good products and some time. If not, we’ll cover a proper way to pop a zit later in this article.
- Using too much product – oh I’m so guilty of this one. “More = better” equation is not necessarily true when it comes to medicine and some of the products we use to cure acne is medicine. Chances are, using larger than recommended amount of product will only irritate the skin instead of making the healing process faster.
- Not changing sheets regularly – we spend a lot of time in bed for both rest and pleasure, so we need to make sure to change sheets regularly, especially pillowcases. Otherwise, we’re potentially delivering dirt and bacteria straight to our skin.
How To Cure Acne For Men?
Our strategy to get rid of acne will consist of two parts: day-to-day habits and face clearing routine. To make it real easy, we’ll focus on 3 major day-to-day habits and find a simple, out-of-the-box morning/evening routine face clearing routine.
- Stop touching your face – I know this is easier said than done and might take some time to internalize but it’s really worth the effort. First step to getting rid of this habit is awareness: start paying attention and try to “catch yourself” touching your face. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed how often you actually do touch your face. A good side habit is to wash your hands more often.
- Change sheets regularly – Especially pillowcases. O good rule of thumb is to change pillowcases every 2 – 3 days.
- Stop picking your face – I know the feeling, you wake up in the morning and there’s a huge zit on your face. There’s no you can go out looking like this, can you? Unfortunately popping that pimple can lead to scaring and that’s way worse than a single pimple. So what are the options? We could just do our routine and let it heal and in most cases it would be the best approach. But when it’s not an option, we need to learn how to do it properly. Here’s a great video from acne.org that explains when and how you should pop a zit.
These are our 3 main clear skin habits we’ll focus early on. Diet, stress, vitamins, sleep and exercise – all of those play a part when it comes to clear skin and we’ll get to them when we’re ready. For now, let’s focus on the core and build the momentum.
Face clearing routine
But just preventing new acne is not enough, we need to fix skin issues we already have. This is where professional products come into picture.
We mentioned in the bad habits section how important it is to wash and cleanse our face but at the same time not overdo it.
So what’s the magic number? How often do we need to wash our face to get the best results?
Twice a day, morning and evenings – yes, it’s that simple.
Unfortunately, if you ever tried researching an acne clearing routine you know how many options there are: cleansers, moisturizers, oils, treatments and every other type of cream and lotion you could think of, for skin types you never even knew existed Sounds familiar?
One would think that you need to have a chemistry lab in your bathroom to have a clean face. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
Let me share how I approach this problem:
Instead of spending endless hours figuring out ins and outs I found the best product and got their full kit. Usually those kits already have all the necessary components included and the supplies last for a month or two.
UPDATE FEB, 2015:
I’ve tried quite a few products and most of them worked but if I had to recommend one, it’s without doubt Acne.org Regiment Kit.
I won’t go into details, but simply said as far as I’m aware that’s the best product out there and dealing with acne.
On the other hand, if you’re really keen on building your own routine from various products I’d suggest going straight to acne.org, they have forums and sections dedicated to that sort of stuff.
Whatever you do, make sure to have clear expectations – clear skin doesn’t happen overnight (at least in my case, maybe you’re among the lucky ones ) and oftentimes it gets a bit worse before it gets better. Still, it’s a worthy investment.
To finish off, I’d just like to revisit why it’s important for us to have acne-less, beautiful skin for a man. Skin is our biggest organ and a major indicator of our health, so clear skin not only looks good but also increases our attractiveness on a very instinctual level.
Not to mention the boost in self-esteem and confidence. As someone who struggled with acne for most of my live, I know how frustrating acne can be and how much better you feel when it’s handled.
So seriously, if this is acne is still something you’re struggling with, don’t just close this tab – go through the steps, start implementing correct habits, get yourself a proper routine. Results won’t come overnight, but they will come eventually and then it will be worth all the effort.