Piece by Piece: the science behind skincare


Morgan Kong

Staff reporter Madison Saviano explores hot topics and issues that students face in her weekly column Piece by Piece.

Madison Saviano, Staff Reporter

When most people see a pimple on their face, they don’t see it as a pustule or cyst or any of that. No, they simply see it as a spiteful pus-filled ball coming to curse them. They, and you, should see it as more, as science.

I should know, I’ve seen dermatologists and specialists galore. They’ve given me pills and pep talks and lectures, but oddly, not one of their teachings gave me the insight I needed. Instead, I had to get it from experience and while I’m glad for what it has taught me, I don’t wish it on anyone. You don’t have to learn it the hard way; let me save you some time, money, and self esteem. 

In one succinct sentence, here’s my best advice: realize that there’s hardly anything you can do but don’t stop trying anyway. 

I’ll elaborate. When I first got caught up in my affliction, I threw all the firepower at it I could with absolutely no regard for the fact none of it was helping. I picked and popped and coated myself in masks and if anyone said anything about it, I’d explode. They were trying to help but I guess I didn’t see it that way. The way I saw it, they were naively trying to stop me from doing what was necessary, even if it was a bit overkill. Lesson from that: sometimes you have to accept that, try as you might, all your efforts may still be in vain. In fact, excessive efforts actually might make things worse (seems like common sense, right?). That’s when I finally accepted that acne will come and go regardless of what topical cream you decided to lather on. Even still, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do.

You have to look below the surface, literally. Acne is much more than bumps and ridges on the skin. Yes, it’s also wells of insecurity and self loathing but beneath that there’s reason. For every breakout there’s a reason and once you discover that your skin will improve enormously. 

Here are the main reasons you’ll break out

  • Hormones 
  • Dirty pillow case
  • Excessive washing
  • Use of masks more than 3x a week
  • Face touching 
  • Diet (milk, chocolate, greasy foods) 
  • Stress 
  • Irresponsible use of products 

Here are things you can do to limit breakouts:

  • Change pillow case
  • Use benzoyl peroxide for subsurface acne (cysts)
  • Use salicylic acid for surface acne (pustules, blackheads,ect.) 
  • Consult a dermatologist if you can
  • Classify what type of acne you have and treat it accordingly 
  • Classify what type of skin you have and treat it accordingly 
  • Figure out what causes your breakouts!

P.S. Sunscreen is great because it prevents acne scars 

Remember that even if you do everything right hormones and genetics can still nip you. There’s not much that can be done about it so just do the best you can.