When you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin, it’s hard to feel like yourself. Whether you’re seeing more wrinkles around your eyes than you have before, or you’re suddenly having breakouts again (which you thought you left behind in high school), seeing changes in your skin can take a toll on your confidence.
And when you have issues like wrinkles, redness, or acne, you might wonder what you’ve been doing wrong. Am I eating too much junk food? I moisturize daily—why is my skin so dry? I never spend too much time out in the sun—where are all these wrinkles coming from?
The good news is, face skin problems like these are simple to treat—and prevent. With the right tools and treatments, common skin issues can be remedied without invasive procedures or medication with difficult side effects.
In this blog, we’ll cover five of the most common face skin problems, including what causes them, how to treat them at home, and how an integrated approach can help you feel confident in your skin again.
What Causes Face Skin Problems?
Before we jump right into different types of face skin problems, let’s talk about some factors that can contribute to our skin looking less-than-glowing. Oftentimes, many of these factors are outside of our control. Factors that are within your control are typically easy to correct and modify.
Hormones in both men and women have a huge impact on the look and feel of your skin. For women, healthy levels of estrogen keep your skin looking plump and firm—until you hit menopause when your estrogen levels begin to decrease. That’s when women typically notice more dryness. The female hormone progesterone can also cause acne breakouts at any stage of a woman’s life.
For men, the male hormone testosterone actually helps prevent skin from aging or losing its elasticity. However, testosterone can also increase oil production in a man’s body, causing him to have more acne or breakouts.
It’s fairly common knowledge that stress can wreak havoc on your body, causing everything from stomach issues to hair loss. It can also greatly affect your skin. The stress hormone cortisol boosts oil gland production, causing more acne and clogged pores, and can also aggravate skin issues like rosacea, eczema, and redness. (Not to mention, lack of sleep due to stress can cause dark circles under your eyes!)
Aging is a natural part of life, but it can take a toll on our skin. As we age, the epidermis (outer layer of skin) becomes thinner, and the number of cells that contain skin pigment decreases. Lack of moisture, sun exposure, and other factors can make our skin’s appearance worse as we age.
Depending on where you live, the environment can have a huge impact on your skin. Dry climates like Arizona (home of Ethos Integrative Medicine) can further dehydrate your skin, while smoggy cities can clog your pores. No matter where you live, however, you can take steps to make sure your skin is healthy.
According to many dermatologists and medical doctors, diet can have a significant impact on your skin. Having a balanced diet is the best way to prevent sudden clogged pores or breakouts. It’s also important to get the right nutrients that help your skin, like collagen, vitamin C, and biotin.
Common Skin Problems
Now that we’ve explored common causes for face skin problems, let’s look at exactly what some of those issues are, what typically causes them, and how they can be treated and prevented.
We’ve all been there—waking up and looking in the mirror hoping to see a fresh, well-rested face, only to see a huge pimple on your cheek. Acne comes in many shapes and sizes, from blackheads (clogged pores that have been exposed to air, making them appear dark or “black”) to cystic acne (large, painful bumps filled with pus that typically develop in the dermal, or lower, layer of skin.) There are plenty of face washes, acne creams, and medications on the market that claim to target or cure acne, but what if none of them work well for you? Let’s take a look at what else can be done to treat and prevent acne.
So many factors can cause acne, not just on our face, but all over our bodies. Wherever you have pores, you can find acne, including on your back, chest, neck, and scalp. While acne is typically thought of as something only teens and adolescents get, they can happen at any age (teenagers tend to get them more often because their hormone levels are elevated, which causes clogged pores more easily.) Pimples can be caused by hormonal changes, stress, diet, or even factors like what sort of makeup or moisturizer you use.
Unfortunately, giving your pimple a squeeze won’t solve your acne problem. When you pop a pimple, you might make the problem worse by spreading the oil and dead skin cells from the pimple to the rest of your skin, causing further breakouts. Popping pimples repeatedly can cause them to get infected, which can leave scarring on your face. We don’t recommend popping your pimples. Instead, here are a few ways to treat and prevent acne:
- Wash your face twice a day with a mild soap. Don’t use an abrasive washcloth or scrubber—instead, simply use your hands. Cleansers with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are effective at preventing acne. Do not use cleaners that contain exfoliants or beads, which can further irritate your skin.
Use non-comedogenic skincare products. Non-comedogenic means that your pores won’t get clogged by the ingredients in your skincare products, like moisturizer or foundation. Look for products labeled non-comedogenic or containing ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin C, and glycerin.
If you want to prevent acne altogether, you may want to talk to your doctor about what could be causing your acne in the first place, especially if it’s chronic or always appears on the same part of your face. You might determine that hormone imbalances are causing your acne, or that you need to change something in your diet. At Ethos Integrative Medicine, we often treat acne at the source by providing hormone therapy that can clear your skin (and even help you feel better!) Our team of experts helps patients with acne by offering personalized solutions on what types of moisturizers to use and what supplements to take to keep their skin healthy inside and out.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles are a fairly common form of aging in your skin. They happen when the cells that support your skin, called collagen and elastin, start to break down. Environmental factors, lack of moisture, and certain facial expressions (think “laughter lines” or “worry lines”) cause these. While most of us don’t desire wrinkles at any stage of our lives, they are normal and don’t cause harm to the skin. In many cases, they are also reversible!
Fine lines and wrinkles are typically caused by aging but can happen to anyone at any age. Other factors can include frequent sun exposure, smoking, or making certain facial expressions like smiling, grimacing, or raising your eyebrows. Fine lines are considered precursors to wrinkles, which are deeper and are typically harder to get rid of. However, both fine lines and wrinkles can be treated without invasive procedures, and prevention can be as simple as putting on moisturizer every day.
Home remedies for fine lines and wrinkles include serums that contain retinoids, which increase the production of collagen in your skin. However, retinoids are most effective only for fine lines, not deeper wrinkles. We recommend botox and Xeomin treatments, which drastically reduce the appearance of wrinkles, or microneedling, a non-invasive procedure that stimulates collagen production on your face.
It can seem difficult to prevent fine lines and wrinkles when things like gravity, the environment, and aging all seem to be working against you. But there are a few simple things you can do to prevent fine lines and wrinkles as you age:
- Avoid sun exposure. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out and get some rays! Wear non-comedogenic sunscreen on your face when outside for long periods of time, or wear a hat to protect your face and neck from the sun.
- Moisturize. Your skin needs moisture to stay elastic and firm. Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer on your face after washing every day.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water every day will also improve the elasticity of your skin and prevent it from dehydrating. Fruits and veggies are also great sources of hydration, and of other vitamins (like Vitamin C) that keep your skin youthful and glowing!
If you’ve ever dealt with conditions like eczema or rosacea, you know how uncomfortable it can be—not just because both conditions cause your skin to itch, but because you feel like everyone is looking at the redness on your face. Skin redness is a common condition with many causes, from too much sunlight to allergic reactions. While most skin redness resolves on its own, other chronic conditions can leave you feeling self-conscious about your skin.
Rosacea is a condition that causes the small blood vessels in your skin to expand, causing redness or flushing, usually in the face. It can also make skin dry and irritated. Eczema is a condition that can happen anywhere on the body that simply causes dry, painful, itchy skin. Both conditions are usually diagnosed in childhood.
Other causes of skin redness can be reactions to medications, allergic reactions, breakouts, psoriasis, or more serious diseases like Lupus or shingles.
Skin redness can be easily treated once you know what’s causing your discomfort. Topical creams that contain hydrocortisone can ease itching and even improve the appearance of redness. Certain facials, like chemical peels, can ease the appearance of redness of skin with ingredients like aloe vera. However, if you receive a chemical peel, you may want to stay out of the sun for a while, as your skin will be more sensitive.
It’s difficult to prevent redness in the skin, especially when it’s caused by underlying skin conditions. Using cleansers and moisturizers that contain ingredients like aloe, chamomile, and cucumber can help soothe everyday redness. Preventing more chronic skin conditions like eczema or rosacea involves keeping your skin protected from harsh conditions (like extreme heat or cold) and avoiding using harsh soaps or detergents in your everyday life.
Dull, Tired Skin
Whether it’s the dry, gloomy days of winter or you’ve had one too many sleepless nights, dull, tired skin can happen to anyone. No matter how good your skin routine is, so many factors can lead to dullness. The good news is, there are so many great solutions and ways you can keep your skin glowing year-round.
As we mentioned before, so many factors can cause dull, tired-looking skin. If you’re not drinking enough water, your skin might look dried out. If you’re not getting enough sleep, that can cause a tired look on your face as well! Dullness can also be caused by too many dead skin cells or buildup in your skin. If you smoke, you might also notice duller skin, since nicotine constricts blood vessels and prevents nutrients like collagen from getting where it needs to go.
Like many face skin issues, at-home treatments like daily face cleansing, non-comedogenic moisturizer, and makeup that’s kind to your skin can all help brighten your face. If you want longer-term solutions, getting a chemical peel or exfoliating facial at your dermatologist or aesthetic doctor can brighten your skin using rejuvenating ingredients (plus, who doesn’t love a relaxing facial?) Non-invasive procedures like microneedling can also pump up collagen production in your face, leaving behind a healthy, natural glow.
Methods used to treat dull skin can also help you prevent it—use a moisturizer every day, stay hydrated, and protect your skin from harsh cleansers, chemicals, or makeup that clogs your pores. A good diet (or supplements added to your routine) can also make an impact on your healthy glow!
Freckles are cute on babies and kids, but as we grow older, discoloration on our faces can feel embarrassing. You might find yourself caking on pore-clogging makeup just to cover up dark spots (also called hyperpigmentation) on your face. Luckily, there are plenty of treatments for face discoloration, and they don’t involve surgery or medication.
Most dark spots or discoloration of the skin is caused by melasma, a harmless condition that causes small brown or dark-bluish spots to appear on your face. Melasma is more common in women, especially women who are pregnant or on hormonal birth control. However, melasma and hyperpigmentation can be caused by other factors, like increased sun exposure, genetics, or exposure to blue light (like your smartphone or laptop.)
Talk to a dermatologist or aesthetic doctor if you have melasma or hyperpigmentation you want to get rid of. Spot creams can help women who are pregnant or on hormonal birth control (after pregnancy or use of birth control, hyperpigmentation typically resolves on its own.) Non-invasive solutions include chemical peels that contain ingredients like collagen peptides and fruit-based enzymes that can help even out skin tone.
Preventing melasma can be difficult, but if you take a few precautions, you might be able to lessen your chances of getting dark spots on your skin.
- Avoid screen time. That might be impossible in this day and age, but limiting your exposure to blue light can prevent hyperpigmentation on your face. Unplug before bedtime so you’re not tempted to check your phone—then get your beauty sleep!
- Wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin from UV rays can prevent melasma. Wear non-comedogenic sunscreen on your face or wear a hat to protect your face from the sun.
- Talk to your doctor. If you are pregnant, on birth control, or have other hormonal issues, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent hormone fluctuations from affecting your skin.
Benefits of an Integrative Approach
When it comes to having healthy, glowing skin, you sometimes might think a quick fix is the way to go. You might think that a new moisturizer from the drugstore or a regimen of acne cream will solve your problem. While it might help for a while, quick fixes aren’t good long-term solutions.
Taking an integrative approach to the health of your skin can lead to long-term results so you don’t have to stress out over the latest skincare trends (your wallet will thank you, too!) At Ethos, we recommend talking to an aesthetics doctor. Unlike a typical medical doctor, they won’t simply listen to your symptoms and prescribe medication. They will sit down with you, discuss your concerns, and seek a solution that goes deeper than just your symptoms.
For skincare, that could look like recommending certain supplements that support skin health. Or come in monthly for microneedling, which will keep your skin glowing and smooth. It might even be as simple as coaching you on what foods will help you prevent clogged pores and what sort of moisturizer is best for your skin.
Be Yourself In Your Own Skin
In this blog, we covered five of the most common skin issues, from acne to hyperpigmentation. Chances are, you’ve dealt with at least one of these face skin problems before! Using what you’ve learned from this blog, you can feel confident that if an issue arises, you’ll be back to feeling confident in your skin in no time.
If you have more questions about how an integrated approach could help your skin stay young and healthy, check out what we offer at Ethos to help you look and feel great!