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I am extremely suspicious of Botox. I suffer from migraines. While I always say that I may be able to get insurance to cover injections for migraine control while smoothing out my worry lines, I probably will never do it. We all age, and I want to age gracefully. My peels and potions will help me do that. I don’t feel the need to inject toxins into my face.

Apparently, a Chicago plastic surgeon is treating acne with Botox injections. This report has been out for a bit, but I just caught on via this post from the really great blog over at Beauty Schools Directory (seriously, the blog is fab and not only for students looking for a cosmo school). He did a study, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, that showed patients experienced a decrease in sebum production and a reduction in pore size. I do want to point out that this study was conducted on 20 patients, 17 of which said they saw improvement. I don’t know too much about the study, or how controlled it was, because I am too cheap to buy the article on line and can only read the abstract.

needleAnyway… Personal biases about Botox aside, my initial reaction is why try to inhibit sebum production? I really do think oil really draws the short straw when it comes to the acne conversation.

Acne is not caused by oil alone. In fact, the oil on properly functioning skin actually helps keep skin protected from environmental pollutants and also serves as a natural moisturizer. Further, the bacteria that cause acne is found not only on inflamed areas of the face, but also areas of unaffected skin. So what gives?

When the bacteria and oil get trapped under the surface of the skin (i.e. clogged pore), the bacteria is now deprived of oxygen. Without oxygen, the bacteria thrives, inflaming the surrounding tissue and essentially causing that zit (ok, there’s more too it than this, like rupturing under the dermis, etc, but let’s leave it here for the time being). So, while the bacteria is thriving in this particularly oily, anaerobic environment, it is NOT functioning in another area that is oily and exposed to air. Which is why we always talk about exfoliation.

I am seeing a teen acne client now, who has tried every acne product on the market. She came to me with the tightest, driest skin, riddled with inflamed red bumps. Extractions were so difficult to perform without out potentially damaging her skin, that I kept them to a minimum.  I put her on a new cleansing routine that eliminated all acne topical treatments for the time being.

When she came to see me after several weeks, she still had the acne, but her skin was not dry and tight and the acne had migrated towards the surface. She was not pimple free (nor did I expect her to be) but this time I was actually able to extract more of the existing acne and as well as some blackhead formations.

I know it’s killing her that it didn’t completely disappear, and I believe she will need to add in a BP or SA spot treatment eventually, but what I need to do first is get her skin back into balance before I add back in more aggressive acne treatments. The complete removal of the natural oil from the surface of her skin was causing the dead skin to trap the oil coming up through the pore, which was exacerbating the acne.

Essentially, healthy skin is balanced skin and when you start inhibiting your oil production you are throwing this balance completely out of whack, and quite likely exacerbating the problem.

As for the Botox… Without knowing the subjects involved in the study, I can’t really say. Perhaps they do have super oily skin that’s throwing their balance off, and the removal of the oil is necessary. But at 500 bucks a pop, there are certainly cheaper ways to treat acne. So I am not sold on this method.

Curious, would you Botox your acne away?

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allure-cover-lp_e_b531446b815d841fa57ff7ac29559923Oh Allure! Why do you break my heart? I always rip open the new issue when it arrives, anxious to read the “beauty bible” and am always so disappointed. The March issue came this morning, and the cover tag of “Stressed Out Skin?” pulled me in, only to hurt me within the very first paragraph.

In analyzing the skin of our over stressed masses, writer Sarah Van Boven says “Not only does stress cause our sebaceous glands to pump out more of the oil that bacteria thrive on…” Or, Oil = bad. 

Oil on our skin, for the most part, is a good thing. We need it to help kill the bacteria on our skin (oil=acid; bacteria cannot thrive in an acidic environment). However, there is one more piece to the acne puzzle. Oxygen. The problem is when the pore gets clogged by dead skin and dirt and oxygen cannot reach the bacteria to help kill it. Oil alone is not the sole culprit.

Strip away that oil and you will have to read the Sensitivity part of this article: “The epidermal barrier that locks moisture to the skin is the same thing that keeps irritants like pollution, allergens and chemicals out.” Guess what that epidermal barrier is? The one you just stripped away because of your acne.

I suppose I should learn by now not to get so excited when the damn magazine shows up.  But it’s kind of like porn. Excited by the promise yet ultimately deflated by the actual experience.