At Adaptology it is our mission to help everybody achieve healthy skin, that is why we have made this ultimate guide for specific skin concerns, featuring everything you need to know about common skin concerns and their solutions.
In this guide, we will help to identify your skin concern, explain the causes of the condition and discover which products, routines, and foods will help you to find a solution.
We will provide expert tips and advice to help people with every skin condition on the journey to healthier skin. Along the way, we will dispel the myths and misconceptions common in the world of skincare by giving you access to all the information you need to understand a range of common skin concerns.
It’s time to show your skin some support.
What is a skin condition?
A skin condition is any problem affecting the skin’s health, appearance or texture. This usually comes in the form of redness, bumps, inflammation, irritation, or swelling, but may manifest itself in other ways. Everyone’s skin is different after all!
These conditions can change throughout the course of your life as they are affected by many physical and mental factors such as stress, pollution, climate, hereditary conditions, exercise and diet.
Skin concerns can be incredibly stressful, but we’re here to help by providing the best solution for your skin problem in one handy guide.
What are common skin conditions?
There are many different types of skin problems, concerns, and conditions. These can range in severity and symptoms but it is important to identify which skin concern you have before you can effectively begin to treat it.
How long your skin condition will last also varies from person to person, as some can be short-term whereas others are lifelong conditions. We have included information on when to see the doctor about your skin condition or if it can be managed by changing your skincare routine and lifestyle.
Below are a list of the most common skin conditions, why they occur and how to manage them:
What is sensitive skin?
One of the most common skin conditions is sensitive skin. This is when skin becomes easily inflamed and irritated, but the cause of this inflammation can differ from person to person.
Some people have undiagnosed allergies to certain ingredients and that’s why the skin has come out in redness and irritation. If your redness seems to occur after using, or consuming a certain ingredient it might be best to consult a doctor to take an allergy test. If not, read on...
What can trigger my sensitive skin?
Everyone’s skin is different, but these are the most common triggers for sensitive skin:
- Skincare products like scrubs, fragranced products, exfoliating acids and heavy creams.
- Exposure to extreme winds and cold.
- Household items such as detergent and dyes.
- Physical exfoliation from friction.
- Diet and lifestyle.
- UV radiation.
- Changes in temperature, such as a sudden heatwave or chill.
Why is my skin sensitive?
Sensitive skin is often caused by the immune system's response to certain types of skin stress.
Immune system response
If the body perceives that it is under attack then chemicals called cytokines are released which initiate the immune system and cause inflammation which leads the skin to be more sensitive.
Some people are born with a hyperactive immune system and so this inflammatory response can occur frequently, even when the body is not under any direct threat. This is often seen in those with paler skin who genetically have a weaker skin barrier layer.
Another cause can be that the immune system is already compromised and so inflammation occurs to alert you about the other stresses happening in the body. This could be due to poor digestion or a food intolerance, which will leave the immune system in a heightened state. If you think you have a food intolerance, it might be helpful to visit a nutritionist to try to improve your digestion.
Nutritional deficiencies can also cause inflammation in the body. The body produces inflammatory and anti inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins using essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6.
Inflammatory prostaglandins are made from Omega 6 and anti inflammatory prostaglandins are made from Omega 3.
Because our diet is very high in Omega 6 oils (found in most vegetable oils and processed foods) and low in Omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish and certain seeds and nuts) an imbalance develops. Supplementing with Omega 3 essential fatty acids can be helpful to restore balance between these chemicals and ease inflammation.
Moreover, mental stress and lifestyle imbalances can cause the immune system to overreact. Stress causes the production of adrenaline and cortisol, which are both pro-inflammatory, and also depletes the body of vital nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system.
This can be addressed by stress management methods such as meditation, daily movement such as yoga and getting 8 hours of sleep
How to treat sensitive skin?
- Rule out food sensitivities and improve digestion by going to your doctor, taking an allergy test and by booking a session with a nutritionist
- Take a good quality Omega 3 supplement.
- Keep your diet’s sugar levels consistent as a fluctuation can cause an overproduction of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Reduce lifestyle stress.
- Reduce potential skin stressors such as irritating chemicals, and use products that defend against environmental stress.
- Be very careful about introducing new beauty products into your routine. Always do a patch test and introduce one by one to check for reactions. Only use what is necessary to minimise exposure to different irritants.
What routine is best for sensitive skin?
If you have sensitive skin, it is best to stick to a gentle routine that doesn’t contain too many products or synthetic ingredients. Even if your skin is sensitive it is still important to cleanse and remove the daily build up of grime.
- Choose a cleanser with minimal harsh chemicals and no artificial fragrances, that can gently nourish the skin whilst removing makeup. A cleanser with a balm texture may also be less irritating for the skin.
- Next, it is important to follow up with a toner that strengthens the skin’s barrier layer and ingredients that support the microbiome. Toner’s are great for increasing hydration and keeping the skin soothed.
- After toning, choose a serum that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients that reduce redness and have a calming effect on the skin such as CBD, vitamin C and cherimoya.
- It’s crucial to avoid chemical exfoliants such as salicylic or glycolic acid and replace these with hydrating acids such as hyaluronic acid.
- Finally, finish with a light-weight, non-irritating moisturiser, ideally this should protect against aggressors such as pollution and UV rays.
Although you won’t see results straight away, keeping to a gentle routine consistently should help to reduce redness and build the skin back up to full health.
What is acne?
Acne is a very common skin condition that causes the formation of spots or blemishes on the face, back, legs, arms, chest and shoulders.
The condition is usually treatable, but treatment length is variable depending on the severity of the breakout.
What causes acne?
Acne is most commonly caused during puberty when raised levels of testosterone are converted in the skin to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5 alpha reductase. This stimulates the skin to produce oil and can block the sebaceous glands (hair follicles) when it mixes with dead skin cells, causing whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.
Blemish prone skin produces more skin cells than non-acne prone skin and these tend to stick together, especially if there is excess sebum, into a plug which can develop into inflamed spots if the trapped oil gets infected by bacteria.
Acne can also be triggered later on in life by a hormonal imbalance, diet, pollution or stress.
How can I treat my acne?
If your acne becomes painful then it is advisable to speak with your doctor and see what they can prescribe.
However there are steps you can take to manage acne. Some lifestyle factors that can improve your acne include:
- Try to get at least 8 hours a night of sleep.
- Keep your diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates or sugar.
- Cleanse gently twice daily, use an acid exfoliating cleanser and a lightweight oil-free moisturiser.
- Exercise 3+ times a week.
- Drink 2L of water a day.
- Add probiotics to your diet.
- Make sure your diet is high in healthy fats such as fish and nuts, for a high level of omega 3 and omega 6.
Which ingredients are best for helping acne?
- Salicylic acid helps skin to shed dead cells faster and reduces inflammation, making it harder for spots to form and speeds up blemish recovery time. Although the term ‘acid’ can be off-putting, it actually has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, fighting blemishes at the root and clearing the path for radiant skin.
- Retinol increases the production of collagen and stimulates the regeneration of blood cells in the skin improving skin colour and texture.
- Niacinamide is needed by your skin to make several enzymes (NAD+ and NADP) that are used in reactions that repair damage, make new cells and function in a healthy manner. This reduces the appearance of pores and blemishes.
- Hyaluronic acid provides effective hydration, this regulates your skin’s oil production system in turn leading to clearer pores and less breakouts.
How to reduce acne - Your blemish busting routine?
The most important thing is to stick to a solid routine with consistent ingredients.This should minimise current breakouts while protecting against new ones forming.
Our skin coach Kelly recommends a simple 4 step routine:
1. Cleansing: Make sure you’re using a gentle, oil free cleanser that contains acne-fighting ingredients such as Salicylic acid. Don’t scrub any irritated areas of the face as this can actually cause more oil to form, instead opt to double cleanse if you’ve had a very active day.
2. Use a toner: Often overlooked in skincare routines, toner is a crucial step to lock in hydration while minimising pores. Apply to a cotton pad or ball and smooth over the face and neck, this can also help to remove any remaining impurities that would clog pores.
3. Follow with a serum: The most concentrated part of your routine, a serum should reduce signs of blemishes by exfoliating the skin. Look for serums with a high concentration of ingredients, such as Niacinamide.
4. Moisturise: You may think the last thing that oily skin needs is more moisture, but this is a crucial step on the road to healthy skin. Apply a light, oil-free moisturiser all over the face and neck to hydrate without clogging pores.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness and/or visible blood vessels in your face. Some people also experience a burning sensation when they wash or touch their face and small, red bumps can also occur in some cases.
There’s no cure for rosacea but the right skin management can make the symptoms less visible. Although it can occur at any age, rosacea typically develops in your mid-thirties and is more prevalent in women although often more severe in men.
What are the symptoms of rosacea?
- Flushing/blushing- One of the first symptoms of rosacea is feeling hot and flushed on the cheeks, a deep blush can accompany this and it is often an early warning sign.
- Irritated eyes - Often people with rosacea experience dry, swollen eyes and can have red, irritated eyelids. This can lead to a condition called ocular rosacea.
- Swollen nose- More common in men, in time this condition can cause the nose to permanently swell as the skin thickens on and around it.
- Redness - The most common symptom of rosacea is a persistent redness in patches of the face, occasionally with exposed blood vessels.
- Small red/ pink bumps- Some people experience small bumps forming on the face, these can be filled with yellow liquid.
What can trigger my rosacea?
- Alcohol consumption, specifically red wine.
- Sunlight and wind exposure.
- Hot beverages and spicy foods.
- Cardiovascular exercises.
- Some types of makeup.
- Dairy products.
- Blood vessel dilating medications.
How to help rosacea?
Rosacea is an incurable condition, however, it can be managed to lessen the signs and symptoms.
A gentle skincare routine that is non-irritating and non-abrasive is advised for those with rosacea. Never use rough exfoliants or too much force. Equally luke-warm water for cleansing is recommended.
Using SPF factor 30 everyday is another effective way to stop rosacea from getting worse by protecting the skin from excessive UV exposure.
A rosacea diary to track personal triggers such as alcohol and certain foods can also be very helpful as flare ups occur on a very individual basis.
What are the signs of ageing skin?
From the age of 25 we begin to notice the effects of the ageing process, these can manifest as fine lines, wrinkles, facial sagging and loss of volume in the face.
One of the first signs of ageing are wrinkles around the eyes, referred to as crows’ feet and laughter lines. These are dynamic and are formed as the skin moves, but as time progresses these will become deeper and more defined.
As the skin ages it slows down its production of collagen, the protein that keeps your skin plump, this leads the skin to become sallow and skin sagging occurs. This may be more noticeable in areas where the facial muscles are frequently used or exposed to the sun.
Ageing skin can also lose its elasticity and firmness, leading deeper wrinkles to occur.
What causes ageing skin?
- Hormonal changes- decreasing levels of oestrogen causes less cell communication.
- Poor blood supply, leading to less nutrients and oxygen reaching the surface of the skin and dullness to occur.
- The sun is a huge factor in premature ageing, it causes uneven pigmentation and sunspots.
- Pollution and smoking expose the skin to damaging free radicals.
- Having a bad skincare routine can age the skin faster by causing it unnecessary damage.
- Ageing is a completely natural process which occurs to everyone, some people simply get more signs of ageing than others.
How to reduce the signs of ageing?
Try using an SPF of at least 20 or higher daily, depending on how long you are outside for. This will help to keep your skin healthy and can help to prevent signs of ageing such as premature ageing, sun spots and discoloration of the skin.
Use a more moisturising SPF and try to avoid those that are high in alcohol as they can easily dry out your skin.
Stay hydrated. It’s great to feed your skin through rich moisturising face creams, but it’s really important to keep drinking water and hydrate your skin that way too.Try drinking 6-8 cups of water a day.
Look for foods that are going to nourish your body and skin. Antioxidants are great foods for anti-ageing and can be found in a lot of our daily meals. Try including foods like garlic, nuts, and spinach in your diet alongside a lot of protein rich foods such as fish. Even wine has antioxidants so could be included in your diet.
Keep your skincare routine simple but focussed on effective ingredients that reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Start with a cleanser as this will remove your daily build up of grime and increase the brightness of skin. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C and high altitude rosehip oil as these will help skin to have a more youthful and brighter appearance.
- For the best results follow with a toner that increases cell turnover as ageing slows down the cycle of cell renewal and this can often cause skin to look dull.
- Next, use a concentrated serum that focuses on collagen and elastin production to give the skin a plumper appearance.
- Finally, it is crucial not to forget moisturiser, choose one that protects as well as nourishes the skin defending against both UV rays and blue light pollution.
What is Eczema?
Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a condition where patches of the skin get itchy, dry and inflamed. This often appears with a red rash and can affect people from infancy to old age.
This is often accompanied by a persistent and strong desire to scratch the skin. During a flare up skin can be dry, cracked and sore.
What are the symptoms of Eczema?
Symptoms vary from person to person, in some cases the symptom is a small area of itchy, dry skin, whereas in others it can be widespread and cause a large area of inflammation.
What causes Eczema?
Eczema is often an inherited condition, and cannot be passed on through close contact.
The skin is often unable to retain moisture with eczema, this dryness can make the skin hypersensitive to triggers such as:
- Soaps, detergents, fragrances and shampoos.
- Skin infections.
- Hormonal fluctuations.
- Extreme cold and dryness.
- Pet fur, dust, mould and other allergens.
- Wearing wool or synthetic fibres close to the skin.
How to manage Eczema?
There is no cure to eczema but often the condition improves as you age.
Other treatments include:
- Using a moisturiser everyday.
- Wearing a bandage to prevent scratching.
- Topical steroid creams.
- To avoid scratching, try keeping your nails short and clean.
- Wear light, breathable clothing that covers the area without irritating it.
- Minimise eating dairy such as eggs and cow's milk.
- Recognise your specific eczema triggers and try your best to avoid them.
Why do I have dark circles?
Dark circles occur under the lower eyelid, they can often be accompanied by eye bags and are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
Skin naturally loses collagen over time and this causes the skin around your eyes to thin and discolour.
What causes dark circles?
They are caused by a number of factors such as:
- Fatigue - sleeping both too much and too little can cause dark circles to form. Skin can become dull and pale from sleep deprivation.
- Too much screen time - Screens cause a strain on your blood vessels and enlarge your bags.
- Allergic reaction - This can cause your eyes to puff up and irritation can lead to excessive rubbing of the pupil and eye area.
- Dehydration - If you don’t drink enough water then your face will appear sunken and bags will be more pronounced.
How to reduce dark circles?
- Use something cooling on the eye area such as a chilled eyemask or pop a flannel in the fridge and lay that over them.
- Get 8 hours of sleep
- Exercise 3+ times a week
What is skin pigmentation?
Skin pigmentation is a condition which affects the colour of your skin, when your cells get damaged it affects the melanin production causing patches of skin to become darker than the surrounding areas.
What causes skin pigmentation?
Skin pigmentation is very common and can happen to all skin types. It materialises as dark areas on the skin and is caused by an overproduction in melanin, the pigment that gives the skin colour. It can be part of a natural condition but is equally exacerbated by some elements.
- Sun damage - Overexposure to the sun can cause age spots to develop as the sun damages the skin.
- Chloasma - Often caused by pregnancy, chloasma is the occurrence of darker spots on the face caused by hormonal changes.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - After acne and the inflammation that this causes the skin, hyperpigmentation spots can occur after the skin heals.
- Medical Conditions - In some cases, pigmentation is a symptom of a much more serious medical disease such as Addisons. Speak to your Doctor if your hyperpigmentation is chronic and has developed without cause.
How to help hyperpigmentation?
There are a few steps you can take to manage your hyperpigmentation:
- Avoid too much sunlight - Always wear SPF of at least 30 and keep yourself shaded from the sun’s rays. Avoid going out in the sun between 12-2 as it is most powerful then.
- Limit touching your skin - Avoid picking at a spot and allow it to heal naturally so you don’t aggravate the skin and cause pigmentation spots.
Which ingredients help to reduce hyperpigmentation?
There are many ingredients which reduce the symptoms of hyperpigmentation, and can reduce the appearance of dark spots, here are just a few:
- Vitamin C - This has been known to have brightening properties and fade dark marks caused by pigmentation. Using a moisturiser or serum with this in could help to reduce the symptoms of hyperpigmentation.
- Retinol - Retinol increases natural cell turnover causing skin to rejuvenate quickly and dark marks to fade faster.
- Niacinamide - Also goes by the name of vitamin B3 and has been proven to even out skin tone and lighten dark spots.
What is dull skin?
Dull skin appears flat in texture, this may be due to uneven skin tone so light is reflected less evenly.
What causes dull skin?
There are many factors that can cause dull skin, here are a few of the most common reasons your skin might be dull:
- Sun exposure - While skin may initially look glowing after a sun tan, this is a sign of sun damage to the cells and long-term can result in the skin looking aged and dull.
- Dehydration - If the top layer of skin doesn’t have enough hydration it will appear dull and fine lines will be more visible.
- Pollution - Exposure to free radical air pollution can damage skin cells, leading to premature ageing, dullness and pigmentation spots to form.
- Age - When skin ages it produces less collagen this can lead fine lines and age spots to form which reflect light less evenly and make the skin appear dull.
How do you help prevent dull skin?
In order to prevent dry skin naturally, it is crucial to exfoliate both with physical and chemical exfoliants.
Exfoliating regularly with ingredients such as AHA’s helps to remove dead skin cells from the pores gently. It is key to remember not to use any ingredients that are harsh and drying on the skin as this will only increase its dull look. Examples of these ingredients include: isopropyl petroleum and mineral oil.
Increase your exercise rates and the blood flow to the surface of your skin, this will lead nutrients to be evenly distributed across the body and leave your complexion brighter and glowing.
Avoid cigarette smoke as it sallows the skin, causing premature ageing and damage to the cells.
Ensure that you moisturise regularly with creams that contain ceramides as these help to repair and rebuild the skin’s barrier layer.
It is also important to consume plenty of water to hydrate the skin and eat a diet that is high in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6, such as oily fish (salmon and sardines), flaxseed, chia and walnuts. Essential fats can also be beneficial when applied to the skin.
What is keratosis pilaris?
A very common skin condition that causes small bumps on the skin, these can improve with the correct treatments. These bumps are usually painless and the same colour as your skin but they can also be red or brown.
What can I do to improve my keratosis pilaris at home?
In most cases, keratosis pilaris does clear up over time on its own. However, there are steps you can take to improve its appearance and texture.
- Keep your skin moisturised - Moisturiser is a crucial part of any skincare routine, it protects your skin barrier from dryness and other harmful pollutants such as blue light, UV, and stress.
- Use a light, non-abrasive exfoliant.
- Stay away from extremely hot showers or baths.
- Be careful after showing to gently dab not rub the skin dry.
- Avoid heavily perfumed cleaning or body products.
We hope our ultimate guide to skin concerns was useful, and helped you to identify your specific condition and the best solutions for it. Let us know if there are any other skin concerns you would like us to add to this blog to help you on your healthy skin journey.