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Understanding Acne, beneficial ingredients and treatment options with Korean Skincare

Understanding Acne, beneficial ingredients and treatment options with Korean Skincare

Understanding Acne, beneficial ingredients, and treatment options.

Article by Sade Law of Pure Pro Aesthetics


What is Acne and what are its causes?

Acne is becoming more and more prominent in our treatment rooms. In the United States alone, 50 million people are affected by this skin condition annually. It is extremely important as an Esthetician to familiarize yourself with ingredient knowledge and beneficial treatment options for your clients in order to maximize your success in your practice.

Let’s start with what acne is and where its sources lie.

Acne is an inherited inflammatory skin condition of the pores where dead skin cells shed more rapidly than normal. Normal pores shed 1 layer of dead skin cells per day inside the pore while acne-prone pores shed up to 5 layers of dead skin cells per day. This buildup causes a microcomedone, which is where all acne lesions begin. The microcomedone then turns into blackheads or whiteheads under the skin; and if bacteria is present, it feeds on the dead skin cells and oil, creating inflamed pimples and pustules. Because this is an inherited skin condition the person with acne has the potential to develop acne at any point in their life. It can be a challenging journey, but it is very important to understand when setting expectations for your clients. Acne is a manageable skin condition with proper diet, homecare and treatments, however there is no cure.

Many factors can trigger acne, making dormant acne active or causing flare ups in current acne. Understanding triggers will help clients in controlling and managing their breakouts at home. Acne triggers include but are not limited to diet, laundry detergents, sun exposure, picking and squeezing and of course hormonal fluctuations as well as birth controls.

Diet can play a huge part in managing acne. Cutting back on certain foods has been proven to improve breakouts and gut health. A few dietary restrictions include but are not limited to the elimination of dairy, gluten, sugar, fried foods, iodized salt, whey, soy, shellfish and more. Keeping a balanced diet full of water and anti-inflammatory foods are a sure way to manage acne and eliminate flare ups.

Laundry detergents, softeners and dryer sheets contain many fragrances and ingredients that are irritating to the skin. Non-scented detergents and dryer balls are recommended for acne prone clients to eliminate irritation.

Sun exposure damages the follicle causing not only skin cancer and premature aging but also hyperpigmentation. Sun protection is a must every single day, no matter if it is a cloudy day or the client works indoors. This is extremely important to educate clients on.

Picking and squeezing is a challenge many acne clients struggle with. Educating clients on the importance of keeping their hands off their face is going to make a huge difference in the healing process and maximize effectiveness of treatments and homecare moving forward. As an acne specialist I make sure to explain to my clients the difference between them extracting at home and my professional extractions in the treatment room.

Here is what I tell them:

“As an acne specialist and licensed Esthetician, I am trained to properly analyze and prepare your skin for extractions. There are times when there will be a lesion on the skin that may or may not be ready to be extracted, I am trained to know the difference. My tools and hands are sanitized, washed and your face/skin Is properly prepared for extractions. When an Esthetician extracts the skin there is much less chance of hyperpigmentation forming or spreading bacteria on the skin vs. when they are being done in the bathroom mirror. If you come across a lesion at home that you are dying to squeeze or pop, please go into the freezer, grab an ice cube, place it in a plastic/sandwich bag and rub the area for about 2 minutes. This will satisfy the urge to pick and help with the elimination and healing of the lesion, ice calms inflammation.”

Birth control can be another large contributing factor to both teenage and adult acne sufferers. Birth controls that contain low doses of estrogen can be higher in androgen hormones, this combination may aggravate acne-prone skin. Choosing the correct form of birth control can be a deciding factor in how your client’s skin is reacting. It is important to choose birth control forms that support acne, not aggravate it.

Hormones are often a contributing factor to acne in women over the age of 40. Hormonal acne occurs when hormone levels fluctuate. Androgens, such as testosterone and DHT, are hormones that regulate sebum production and stimulate acne formation. Hormonal acne is typically found on the lower face and jawline and tend to worsen before menstruation or during ovulation. Menopause or Perimenopause are common time frames for mature women to experience acne or sudden breakouts.

Now that we have covered leading causes of acne and how it is formed, let us begin discussing solutions.


Ingredients used in Korean skincare to treat acne

Ingredients in your treatment room and homecare routine are important when starting the journey to clearing acne. Korean skincare philosophy is my personal favorite and ideal route to take when clearing up my clients. Many other philosophies I have come across in my time as an Esthetician have focused on drying out acne and have in many instances compromised the skin’s natural barrier making it more challenging or impossible to treat. Korean philosophy focuses on keeping the barrier intact and in its healthiest state. Korean skincare prides itself on moisturizing the skin, avoiding harsh chemicals and chemical ingredients. Korean ingredients include fruit acids and botanical extracts that nourish the skin. Clearing up acne on skin that has a compromised or destroyed barrier is impossible. Korean skincare gives the benefits needed to succeed at clearing acne and post inflammatory pigmentation all while maintaining healthy and thriving skin.

A few beneficial ingredients used in the Storyderm line that help clear acne are Ginger, Centella asiatica, Licorice extract, Paeonia Lactiflora extract, Black ginger, Snail secretion filtrate, rice extract and much more.

Ginger is packed with a phytochemical called gingerol which is full of anti-inflammatory properties and has also been shown to help reduce the amount of excess oil/sebum the skin produces.

Centella asiatica contains wound healing and moisturizing properties and is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Licorice extract is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, controls oil production, and contains brightening properties.

Paeonia Lactiflora extract is a natural antioxidant that boosts skin clarity. It helps fight off free radicals, minimizes hyperpigmentation and stimulates collagen production.

Black ginger is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory property.

Snail secretion filtrate has many benefits in skin care and is extremely popular in Korea. It contains antimicrobial, antibacterial properties and improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation and acne scars.

Rice extract helps to regulate cell turnover by increasing desquamation which is the process where dead skin cells shed from the stratum corneum (outermost layer of the skin). This helps make the skin appear smoother and decreases acne.

These are just a few of many ingredients used in Korean skincare that are beneficial for acne and have treated clients successfully.


Storyderm Treatments

Storyderm contains several treatment options to target acne and post Inflammatory pigmentation. These treatments may be done on all Fitzpatrick’s and are appropriate for all skin types. All treatments listed are appropriate for non-inflamed and inflamed acne types.

Storyderm Jewelry Peel (Level 1 treatment): This treatment is a brightening peel containing finely refined blue diamond powder and PHA ingredients that can be used on sensitive skin. The high-molecular PHA component gently removes dead skin cells, sebum, and wastes to correct uneven skin tone and smooth skin texture. This treatment provides powerful moisturizing and radiant results. This treatment can be used on melasma, acne and blemishes not only to improve pigmentation, but also to provide anti-aging, wrinkle improvement, elasticity improvement, and pore reduction effects. This treatment is pregnancy safe as well.

Storyderm Ex Cloud Peel (Level 1 treatment): Is a triple acid, hypoallergenic cloud peeling system with little to no irritation. Suitable for all skin types. This treatment contains AHA 4.9%, PHA 1.2%, and BHA 0.2%. This treatment not only treats acne but also exfoliates, treats P.I.H, plumps skin, improves skin texture and reduces signs of aging. Due to its ingredients, this treatment should be avoided on pregnant clients.

Storyderm Princess Peel (Level 2 treatment): This spicule treatment contains white spicules, extracted from freshwater sponges as well as colloidal gold. The spicules have pointed ends on both sides, which activate regenerative mechanisms through stimulation. The porous structure effectively delivers and penetrates beneficial active ingredients from the colloidal gold into the skin to promote skin detoxification and rapid cell turnover as well as quickly improving overall skin irregularities through new cell activity. This treatment improves acne, acne scarring, skin texture, hyperpigmentation, reduces appearance of enlarged pores and wrinkles. This is an advanced and effective acne treatment with Storyderm that has little to no down-time. This treatment is pregnancy safe and can be used on all skin types excluding clients with broken or highly sensitized skin.

Storyderm Timemachine Peel (Level 3 treatment): This advanced spicule treatment contains two different types of spicules which penetrate deep into the skin and stimulate the skin for 72 hours to promote cell division and accelerate the keratinization cycle. The tritium spicule and the straight spicule systematically address the skin externally and internally using a dual peeling systems for the stratum corneum and basal layer. This treatment rapidly improves skin concerns such as acne, scarring, pigmentation, inflammation, wrinkles, enlarged pores, and elasticity. The powder formulation prevents the deterioration of raw materials and maximizes the natural effect. This treatment should be avoided on clients who are pregnant.


Storyderm Homecare:

For homecare, Storyderm carries 2 suitable lines for acne prone skin. The first line is the Clinic-A Line and the second line is the O2 White Line.

Storyderm’s Clinic-A line is specially formulated to help acne and oily skin. Ingredients such as black ginger extract, galanga extract, and AC-Complex have strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which effectively treat acne and are ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. Benefits include inflammation reduction, sebum control, pore convergence, oil-moisture balance, and acne reduction.

Storyderms O2 White line provides brightening effects to dull, dark skin and hyperpigmented skin such as melasma and P.I.H. This line is suitable for pigmented skin, dull skin, oxygen-deficient skin, and oily skin. This line contains ingredients such as Gluconolactone, Tranexamic acid, Arbutin, Niacinamide, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract and Whitening Complex.


Treating Acne In Fitzpatrick’s 4,5 & 6

One of the biggest reasons Korean skincare is so important and unique is that it obtains the ability to be used on all Fitzpatrick’s including higher Fitz. From homecare to treatments, it is inclusive to everyone. In other product lines, treating acne in higher Fitz can be intimidating due to the strong chemicals used and the percentage of their ingredients. When treating acne and P.I.H in higher Fitz it is important to have clients on tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase inhibitors are enzymes that control the production of excess melanin in the skin. They are used to treat almost every form of pigmentation. If a client is dealing with hyperpigmentation or P.I.H, they should always be on a tyrosinase inhibitor. Korean skin care contains a number of ingredients that are all tyrosinase inhibitors, all while maintaining the skins barrier. Ingredients include: AHA’s, Ascorbic Acid, Glutathione, Licorice, Niacinamide, Tranexamic Acid and Arbutin. Treating Acne and P.I.H in higher Fitz with Korean skin care eliminates the worry of burning or causing Hypopigmentation making it a more desirable treatment option for your clients.


Acne prone skin can be a challenge to manage but with proper education and resources it can become much more controllable and build your business tremendously. Making sure clients understand the importance of homecare and treatments is the first step and creates trust between the client and the Esthetician. Adjusting homecare as needed is another vital step that will need to be taken during their skincare journey to ensure the client is always supporting their skin concerns, based on its needs. Do not be fearful to dive deeper into acne and elevate your knowledge, as it will only build your business and clientele.


Sade Law, Pure Pro Aesthetics

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