The Proactiv+ System


Top Tips to Manage your Skin

1. Cleanse gently and wisely

While deep cleansing sounds desirable to purify oily blemish-prone skin, over-washing
and harsh cleansers can do more damage than good – by stripping away the protective
barrier, skin is left dry and vulnerable to bacteria. Avoid using soap too – the high pH of
soap will dry the skin and cause a compensatory surge in oil production, leaving skin in
a confused state with an undesirable combination of dry and greasy patches.

Choose a cleanser containing helpful anti-inflammatory ingredients such as salicylic
acid to help soothe inflamed pimples, and gently massage over the entire face and neck
for at least 60 seconds (to allow any active ingredients to take effect). Avoid cleaners
and toners containing harsh alcohol-based astringents and ingredients such as witch
hazel, which typically cause a sting on application and make the skin appear red. Small
flaking patches might indicate you’re over cleansing, so ease back and then gradually
increase the frequency of use as your skin adjusts and gets used to the product.

2. Make salicylic acid your star ingredient

Salicylic acid may sound like a harsh chemical, but it is actually derived from willow bark
and is completely natural. Salicylic acid is one of the most effective breakout-fighting
non-prescription ingredients and is a great choice of exfoliant for those with spot-prone
and oily skin. Salicylic acid targets pimples by sloughing away dead skin cells that clog
pores and lead to breakouts, and also minimizes pore visibility.

It is often compared to another active ingredient called benzoyl peroxide, and while salicylic acid won’t destroy bacteria, it won’t cause irritation, redness and peeling (like benzyl peroxide can) and it will dampen down any inflammation. And as a bonus, salicylic acid can decrease pigmentation and improve collagen production, which is good news for those wanting to ward off the signs of ageing!

3. Moisturise!

A common misconception is that moisturizing is bad for oily skin prone to breakouts. It’s
true that many creams and lotions contain ingredients that can block pores and make
breakouts worse, so never put a product designed for your body near your face.

Look for products labelled 'non-comedogenic', which is a fancy way of saying they don’t
contain ingredients that block pores and lead to the formation of blackheads and
whiteheads. Hydrating the skin with an oil-free moisturiser will not only counteract the
drying effect of many spot treatments, but also loosen the pore-blocking sebum (skin
debris and grease) leading to clearer and healthier skin overall.

4. Give it time and be optimistic

Sometimes your skin can take a while to adjust to new products or active ingredients.
Direct your attention away from the guide on the bottle and focus only on your skin. If
you experience signs of irritation or over-drying, try reducing the application to every
other day (or even less often) for a couple of weeks before gradually increasing back to

Remember that it can take 4-6 weeks for breakouts to diminish, so you need to
persevere with a new product for at least this long (and ideally a bit longer) before really
deciding whether it is doing the trick and clearing your skin.

5. Keep your hands off!

As tempting and satisfying as it is, squeezing a pimple really is the worst thing you can
do so keep your hands off! Pressure on an inflamed pimple will push the contents of the
grease gland (oil, bacteria and dead skin cells) into the surrounding healthy skin which
causes damage and more inflammation.

Squeezing can lead to a temporary darkening of the skin (so called ‘post-inflammatory
pigmentation’) that can take weeks, even months to settle, and scarring, which can be
permanent and difficult to treat – not cool. If you really find it difficult to resist squeezing,
instead try applying a warm compress (like a clean face cloth) to the pimple for 5
minutes to reduce any swelling and then apply a for example a` salicylic acid-based

6. Review your make up choices and clean your brushes

It’s a fact that as breakouts worsen, the more make-up we use to try to conceal the
problem. For pimple-prone skin, making the right cosmetic choices and regularly
cleaning applicators are essential if future breakouts are to be prevented.

Mineral-based make up products are a good option as they contain ingredients such as
titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and silica that mop up excess oil without blocking pores.
Also, switch to a concealer that contains a blemish-fighting ingredient such as salicylic
acid to not only reduce the visibility of blemishes but also help reduce the size.And just
as would be the case if you didn’t wash your face each day, make-up brushes
accumulate a daily layer of pore-clogging product, dirt and bacteria – your skin’s worst

Aim to cleanse your brushes at least once a week using baby shampoo or a
professional brush cleaner to keep them in tip top condition.

7. Keep off the sunbeds

Another common misconception is that a few 10 minute sessions under a sunbed will
kill spot-causing bacteria and clear skin. In reality, sunbeds can make breakouts worse,
and more worryingly, some people become dependent on having a suntan as they feel
it reduces the visibility of pimples and red marks.

If the risk of developing skin cancers (including life-threatening malignant melanoma)
isn’t enough to make you steer clear, remember that sunbeds emit unfiltered ultraviolet
light (including UVA) which also leads to collagen breakdown, causing premature
wrinkles, permanent brown marks and leathery skin.

8. Review your contraceptive

One for the ladies! Breakouts are triggered by excess oil (sebum) production from the
sebaceous glands, which are under the control of a group of hormones called
androgens. Along with dead skin cells, sebum can clog pores and promote the growth
of bacteria that cause inflammation and breakouts.

A woman’s ovaries and adrenal glands normally produce low levels of androgens but in
some women with breakouts, the body may be producing too much. However, for most,
blood hormone levels will be normal and breakouts develop because the grease glands
are more sensitive to the effects of androgens.

Sadly, for men, there is not much that can be done to stem testosterone levels without
having undesirable effects (loss of sex drive, breast development etc.), but for women,
combined contraceptive pills can help. They contain a low dose of oestrogen and
progesterone, and different pills contain different versions of these two hormones – but
beware, if you’re not selective, some can actually cause breakouts.

Ask your GP to review your birth control and avoid progesterone-only pills, implants and
injections where possible. Switch to a combination pill that contains a skin-friendly
progesterone – this will reduce the sensitivity of the grease glands to testosterone and
stop excessive oil production.

9. Review your diet

For many years, the jury was out as to whether there was a link between diet and
breakouts – the hard evidence was simply lacking. But over the past decade, many
dermatologists now agree that hormones in cow’s milk may stimulate oil production and
promote breakouts.

Similarly, foods with a high glycaemic index can cause a spike in blood sugars, causing
a rise in hormone levels and sending grease glands into an oily overdrive.

Try reducing cow’s milk intake to just 1-2 servings per day (or choose an unsweetened
alternative like almond milk), and cut out fatty foods high in omega-6 fatty acids and
refined sugars (generally found in all the foods you know are bad for you!) – even if your
skin doesn’t dramatically improve, your waistline will!

10. Make contact with a dermatologist

Having even the odd pimple, never mind persistent breakouts, can really knock your
self-esteem and confidence. If you feel that it is putting restrictions on your social life
and you feel you’re not keeping things at bay, see your GP and request a referral to a
dermatologist. And this isn’t just for people with severe breakouts, some people can
have only mild breakouts but it can make them very low and has a negative effect on
body image, which is a reason to seek help from a professional.

Most importantly, if you have any signs of scarring, don’t delay - make an appointment
with a dermatologist right away as once established, scarring can be difficult to treat and
an unpleasant long term reminder of a treatable condition.