We’ve all been there: staring down a pimple in the mirror—or a whole battalion of blemishes—a new product clenched in our hands, hoping this will be the secret weapon. Instead, it’s just another round in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.
When battle-weary patients walk into the office of Dr. Robin Schaffran, BalmLabs’ chief dermatologist, they are often “despondent, very frustrated, and usually in product overload.” No wonder. The internet is bulging with popular skincare routines that require a dozen or more steps. Many include ingredients that are best suited to teenage skin, not adults facing the dual fronts of acne and aging. And when the promised results don’t occur straight away? The temptation to pile on more products can be irresistible.
“By the time they see me, they have spent a lot of time, spent a lot of money, and gotten nowhere,” Dr. Schaffran says. Compounding the problem, these patients may have inflamed skin that has become sensitized to anything they put on it.
Fight smarter, not harder
Fortunately, your skin needs only two things to recover from the onslaught. The first is a downsized routine centred around gentle yet highly effective ingredients. BalmLab’s 3-Step System has you covered, with its Gentle Foam Cleanser, Power Elixir, Serum Hydrator—all formulated with plant-powered actives specifically designed for adult acne-prone skin.
The second is patience. Dr. Schaffran says it’s critical to give new products four to eight weeks to produce transformational changes in the skin. During that time, a lot is happening under the surface that may not be immediately apparent, so let’s take a closer look at the healing process.
Veteran acne-fighter that you are, you probably know Breakouts 101: oil and dead skin cells can accumulate inside pores, promoting bacteria growth that leads to whiteheads, blackheads, and other types of pimples. The bacteria may trigger inflammation, with its telltale signs of redness and swelling, and harsh products can further irritate the skin, causing roughness, peeling, itching, stinging, or burning.
One of the earliest changes you’ll notice after starting your new BalmLabs routine is its calming effects. The Full Spectrum Hemp-derived CBD can work quickly—sometimes within days—to relieve inflammation and soothe skin. The CBD gets a boost from Bixa Orellana Seed Extract, which has been used in South America since ancient Mayan times for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, and niacinamide, which may reduce redness while tightening the appearance of pores.
Many acne sufferers are phobic about moisturizers, fearful they will clog pores, but well-formulated products will add moisture without aggravating breakouts. And hydration is essential. If skin is stripped of its natural oils, pores may produce excess oil to compensate.
It won’t be long before your skin thanks you for ditching the astringent that’s been drying it out since high school. Hyaluronic Acid is the star here, a humectant that draws considerable moisture into the skin, plumping out the fine lines that dehydration exacerbates. The result is skin that looks hydrated and healthy, but never greasy.
Improved Pore Function
Those with acne-prone skin often suffer a one-two punch: the overproduction of oil plus pores that struggle to bring that oil to the surface, where it can be removed. Dead skin cells also plug pores and give skin a dull and blotchy appearance. Salicylic acid is a commonly recommended remedy but can be much too irritating and drying for adult skin.
In contrast, Natural Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) offer gentle daily exfoliation, sloughing off dead cells at both the cleansing and toning stages. Skin looks smoother and brighter, and because other actives can more easily penetrate the skin, they become increasingly effective over time.
Improved Skin Barrier
A strong outer layer of skin is your shield against bacteria, pollutants, and other baddies. Picture the skin like a brick wall, the bricks held together by natural lipids and ceramides. This mortar disintegrates with age and can be damaged by UV exposure, chemical products, and other assailants, making the skin barrier thinner and weaker. As moisture evaporates more readily, it becomes a struggle to keep skin hydrated.
Enter Squalene, a powerful emollient with anti-aging benefits that helps strengthen the skin barrier. After Hyaluronic Acid adds moisture to the skin, Squalene acts as a protective coating to lock it in. The anti-oxidant properties of Squalene and CBD also fend off free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules created by sunlight and pollution that can attack the skin barrier. This duo disarms free radicals while smoothing the surface of the skin, guarding against future damage, such as dark spots and fine lines.
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Dermatologist Q+A: Can I remove my blackheads safely at home?