The Acne Crash and Burn

Achieving clear, healthy skin often feels like navigating a maze: from magazines to lifestyle sites, forums to Instagram reels, we’re constantly bombarded by conflicting advice (not to mention product options). Acne in particular can be a challenging condition to treat, exacerbated by an abundance of misinformation and well-meaning, but misguided remedies. From overzealous exfoliation to harsh spot treatments, some common acne “remedies” can actually make things worse. In this article, we’ll walk you through the treatments that may be causing more breakouts—and introduce alternative solutions that can help you achieve a clearer, healthier complexion once and for all. 

The Pitfalls of Common Acne Treatments

Aggressive Physical Exfoliation: Our first instinct when we’re unhappy with our skin can be to try and strip it all away in an attempt to “start fresh”. But scrubbing away at acne-prone skin in an attempt to banish blemishes can do more harm than good. Aside from the potential for infection, rough exfoliation disrupts the skin's natural barrier, leading to increased inflammation and sensitivity. Abrasive physical scrubs in particular are to be avoided at all costs: this includes washcloths, loofahs, or facial scrubs made with coarse grains (even natural ones, like ground-up seeds). Even overusing chemical exfoliants can strip the skin of essential oils, triggering excess oil production and potentially worsening acne breakouts. 

Drying Astringents and Harsh Spot Treatments: It's a common misconception that drying out pimples with toothpaste, alcohol-based spot treatments, or even lemon juice will help unclog them, clearing them faster. In reality, these harsh ingredients can irritate the skin, causing redness, peeling, and further breakouts. Additionally, they may disrupt the skin's microbiome, exacerbating inflammation and compromising the skin's natural defense mechanisms.

Antibiotic or Antibacterial Treatments:One of the most common ingredients in acne treatments is Benzoyl Peroxide, a topical antiseptic thought to kill blemish-causing bacteria. While this is true to some extent,studies show that Benzoyl Peroxide can lead to oxidative damage (lipid peroxidation), which can further worsen acne. Oral, tetracycline-based antibiotics have traditionally been prescribed for severe acne cases, but their indiscriminate use can haveunintended consequences. Antibiotics not only kill acne-causing bacteria, but also beneficial bacteria in the skin (and gut) microbiome. This disruption can lead to imbalances that throw off your health and even exacerbate breakouts. Even more worryingly, the use of oral antibiotics to treat acne can lead to higher rates of antimicrobial resistance, making you more vulnerable later on. 

More Effective Approaches to Clearer Skin

Instead of resorting to harsh and potentially harmful treatments, the first thing we recommend at Kat Burki is to shift your mindset from one of fighting acne to one ofhealing it. In other words, by nourishing the skin with gentle-yet-effective ingredients and supporting its natural healing processes, we believe you can achieve clearer, healthier skin in the long-term. Here’s what we recommend:

Gentle cleansing while keeping the biome balanced:Every skincare routine starts with a cleanse, and  KB5™ Calming Gel Cleanser is perfect for melting away impurities without stripping away moisture. We’ve blended it with 92 optimizing ocean minerals to fortify and hydrate the skin, and an infusion of our proprietary KB5™ Complex: together, they work to reduce flare ups while dissolving makeup, dirt, and pollution particles. 

Vitamin therapy and gentle toning: Toners are a wonderful way to deliver an added dose of vitamins and nutrients to skin post-cleanse. Our  Super Nutrient Elixirpairs ultra-calming botanicals like Calendula and Chamomile with 1% Glycolic Acid, a restorative concentration of this popular AHA that encourages better ingredient delivery. This toner is particularly suited to acne-prone skin as it contains Colloidal Silver, an antimicrobial ingredient that helps prevent flare-ups.

Skin pH treatments for a flourishing microbiome:Since a healthy microbiome is the basis for total skin health, you may want to incorporate a pH-balancing product like  PH+ Enzyme Essence into your routine. By encouraging a slightly acidic pH level, it creates an optimal environment to support the skin's own defense mechanisms against bacteria and environmental stressors.

Healing moisture: While moisture is crucial to preventing compensatory sebum production, overly-rich creams can clog pores and exacerbate acne. Opt for a light, fast-absorbing formula like  Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream, which comes packed with healing ingredients like Reishi Mushroom, Green Tea, Ocean Minerals, and nourishing Jojoba Oil. Its star active, 15% Stabilized Vitamin C, provides skin brightening benefits that can help minimize the appearance of blemish marks later on.