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Physical and Psychological Effects on Acne And How To Prevent and Treat It

Come along as I discuss the causes and effects of acne and share my top tips and tricks to preventing and treating it!

Kasey Ma displaying the Acne Treatment from La-Roche Posay with the Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin and the Effaclar Clarifying Clay Face Mask for Oily Skin

My Negative Experience With Acne 

Acne. Hearing the word makes me cringe because I know of all the negative feelings that come with this disease. From embarrassment when speaking to important people to noticing it on the camera, I’ve always suffered a huge lack of self-confidence when a huge zit popped up on my face. I’ve tried almost every acne treatment with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, and most of the time, they’ve proven ineffective to me. The ingredients either tend to dry out or irritate my skin or my treatment just doesn’t work out for me. I needed to figure out which products or combination of products would be best to treat my skin, but I just didn’t know how or where to start.

Last week, I attended La Roche-Posay’s Acne DermClass and learned about so many things that cause acne in addition to the steps we could take to prevent it. With a discussion given by board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Baldwin, and board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Rieder, I was relieved to hear that I was not battling this skin condition alone. In fact, about 50 million Americans suffer from some sort of acne, affecting 85-100% of the population. And I have personally suffered from long-term acne ranging from blackheads to those pesky, painful cystic ones, and I felt like I could never really talk about it in public because it was just too embarrassing. However, after the Acne DermClass, I saw that so many other people just like me were also affected by acne in their lives. I learned so much about why we get acne both physiologically and psychologically, and what we should be looking for in terms of treatment.

Kasey Ma holding up a acne treatment fact sign at La Roche-Posay's acne and dermatology class!

What Causes Acne Physically and Psychologically?

First, let’s start with what exactly causes acne physically. Many people think that bacteria are the sole reason and cause of stubborn acne. Actually, most of us have the same amount of bacteria on our face living in our follicles, yet some of us have acne and some of us don’t. From what I learned, it’s not just the presence of bacteria alone that causes acne. It is when the pore gets clogged with excess oil and dead skin that the bacteria becomes an issue and triggers either an inflammatory or a non-inflammatory response. An inflammatory response can result in raised, red pimples such as cysts and pustules. Whereas, a non-inflammatory response can result in blackheads and whiteheads.  

Now, onto how psychology plays into the cause of acne and who suffers from it. 85% of teenagers suffer from some sort of acne and most of us think that it’s just part of being a teenager and that we’ll somehow overcome this disease in our adult years. However, being that it’s the most common skin condition in the U.S., Dr. Rieder stated that 1 in every 6 Americans have acne – and there’s no way that the statistic is just inclusive of teenagers. Actually, having acne has become increasingly common in adult women – 41-54% have self-reported their acne condition. 

And then, believe it or  not, there is an emotional component of acne in addition to the disease being purely cosmetic and physiological. Acne tends to produce and occur at challenging points in our psychological development. In our teenage years, we are exploring our vulnerability and trying to consolidate our identity. And in our adult years, our appearance matters to us as it correlates to occupational and social functioning. Research shows that acne and stress have a truly bidirectional relationship: acne causes stress and stress causes acne. When a person is in a stressful state of mind, it triggers cortisol levels which can exacerbate inflammation, lower the immune system, and increase oil production. Then, as a result, all of these processes promote heart, joint, and digestion issues, bacteria on the skin, and clogged pores. With letting stress overtake our emotional state of mind, it’s basically inevitable that acne would surface on our skin.

Table displaying the Acne Treatment from La-Roche Posay with the Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash, Effaclar Clarifying Solution, Effaclar Gel Facial Wash for Oily Skin, Effaclar Toner For Oily Skin, and Effaclar Mattifying Moisturizer For Oily Skin

How to Treat Acne With La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Line

I’ve tried a combination of skincare products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, and unfortunately, I have not experienced any magical formula. After attending the Acne Derm Class last week, I learned that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Dr. Baldwin discussed two acne treatments available over-the-counter that she commonly recommends to her patients, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, specifically adapalene, – two ingredients that are key in La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Line. 

What is Adapalene?

What’s really exciting to me about the Effaclar line is La Roche-Posay’s inclusion of the newest ingredient available over-the-counter – Adapalene! Adapalene is a third-generation retinoid that is proven to be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate acne.

Adapalene is the first FDA approved prescription-strength retinoid used for acne treatment. It helps prevent and clear whiteheads, clogged pores, blackheads, and acne blemishes. With over 30 years of proven efficacy in the treatment of acne, adapalene regulates skin cell turnover to help prevent and remove dead skin from clogging pores. 

Where to Find and How To Use Adapalene?

Adapalene is now available in La Roche-Posay’s new Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment. Last week, I was so excited to begin using this product. I’ve already seen differences in the discoloration of my face and my skin appears smoother and brighter. I use a pea-sized amount every evening before bed. It takes about 3 months to see the full effects, and I believe it will really help my acne in a less irritating way than other treatments have. 

Acne Treatment from La Roche-Posay with the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin and the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Clay Face Mask for Oily Skin

An Effective Skincare Regimen with La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Line

So, of course, as a skincare junkie and current acne sufferer, I had to jump in on these products and try out a regimen that would best suit me. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been cleansing my face with the Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin. Although I have combination dry/oily skin, this cleanser is so gentle, even for my sensitive skin. I’ve seen no rough patches or over-drying when using this product.

Next in my regimen, I’ve been using the Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment as stated above. I sometimes put a toner underneath it and sometimes I don’t, so the effect is stronger on my face. I have blackheads, clogged pores, and cystic acne during stressful weeks, so this product is a no-brainer for me to use once a day. I then put on the Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 30 during the day to provide a little extra moisture and sun protection.

What I love about all these products is that they are, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and tested on acne-prone skin so I know that I am using effective and safe ingredients on my skin.

Kasey Ma holding up a acne treatment myth or fact signs at La Roche-Posay's acne and dermatology class!

Changing The Way We Talk About Acne

In any case, I hope that me talking about my acne issues helps you not feel alone. If you’re stumbling upon this blog post, you must be wondering which acne treatment is right for you, and believe me, it’s hard to find, but with a lot of testing and research, I promise you’ll find something that works for you. Practice patience (and don’t stress!) and consult a dermatologist to understand which treatment or combination of treatments is best for you. 

Remember that acne is a result of the combination of genetics, hormones, our skincare routine, and our psychological stresses. Acne is not just a cosmetic condition of teenagers, and more and more adults are suffering from this skin condition as well. So, I encourage you to speak up, research, talk to your local dermatologist, or read articles like this one to help you find a solution that best fits your skin type. Good luck and remember that you are not alone!




Shop the La Roche-Posay Products!

Medicated Acne Face Wash: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Clarifying Solution Acne Toner with Salicylic Acid: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Effaclar Mattifying Moisturizer For Oily Skin: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Astringent Face Toner for Oily Skin: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Effaclar Clay Face Mask for Oily Skin: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Effaclar Duo | Acne Spot Treatment: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen SPF: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE

Toleriane Facial Moisturizer with SPF: Shop HERE, HERE, and HERE


Keep up with my updated fashion and beauty picks HERE and all my beauty blog posts HERE!

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