Characteristics Of Skin Congestion:
Often associated with spots and breakouts, congested skin actually consists of several different problems. It can start from all sorts of bumpiness under the surface of skin, through blackheads and/or whiteheads, angry inflamed breakouts through enlarged congested pores all the way to general thick and dull appearance and lack of healthy glow. Sounds like a big problem, but with a bit of TLC it can be rectified fairly quickly.
Let’s get “under” the skin to understand the essence of the problem.
Your skin’s oil glands constantly produce the sebum to lubricate our skin and hair. It is disgusting but it’s for the greater good! Sebum’s job is to protect your skin against environmental damage and prevent it from drying out by sitting on top of it and locking the moisture inside. But then life comes into place. If we mix that natural sebum with dirt, pollution, sweat and makeup, not to mention naturally shedding dead skin cells – all that mixture gets trapped in your pores. At the same time, oil glands keep producing the oil and blockages are inevitable.
Contrary to the old myth, congestion doesn’t only “happen” to people with excessively oily young skins. It can affect any skin type, young or old, to a different extent. It means you may have all symptoms of it, or just one to still classify your skin as congested.
Let’s take congestion elements apart.
Blackheads are little (or bigger!) plugs made of oils, dead cells and sebum that seal the pores. Us, professionals, call them open comedones, because due to exposure to the air, the gunk inside darkens, leading to aesthetically unpleasant looking black dots on the skin.
As opposed to blackheads, whiteheads stay under the skin surface and are covered by skin debris, so oxidization can’t take place, and they remain lighter in colour. But these can get very large and are not as simple to extract so avoid them at all cost!
Pores are home to sebum naturally. In babies, as much as in elderly people. The problem begins when they become polluted with debris, and by that I mean non-exfoliated dead skin cells, remainders of makeup, pollution and excess oils. If we let that state continue, we’re on the best way to allow for blackheads and whiteheads to appear, and, in the long run, lead to breakouts and acne in the long run.
Acne and/or breakouts
This is not a sub category of skin issues. It is more so of a parent category with a lot of children. Whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, post extraction scarring, abnormal excessive oil production, debris, stinky sebum etc. Acne is your main enemy. Treat it like you would treat the villain in a film.
There are many causes of congestion, each factor contributing to the problem differently, so let’s familiarise ourselves with some of the most common reasons for this evil.
1) Accumulated toxins
Blood and lymph supply the skin with nutrition. That is good, but also, unless toxins produced in our bodies everyday are not eliminated properly, they also transport toxic waste material through the skin for elimination through sweat, at the same time contributing to congestion, acne, etc. So remember, unhealthy lifestyle, processed foods, junk food, poor diet lacking in nutrients, irregular sleep pattern.. they all have toxic influence on your body and will have to come out somehow, sooner or later. So prevent rather than treat before they show their beautiful artwork on your skin ;)
2) Oils and sebum
Excess of oil and sebum in the skin in conjunction with other skin debris, creates blockages in form of clogged pores, but if bacteria and lack of sufficient exfoliation come into the picture, you end up with more severe problems, like e.g. breakouts or even acne.
3) Pollution and dirt
Pollution from the air builds up on your skin during the day, especially if you live/work in an urban area. The more polluted the area in which you live, the more skin pollution you are likely to experience.
It is inevitable, but it happens whether we like it or not, so our job is to remove it effectively, every single day. Add daily dirt from e.g. touching your face with your hands.. AND oil, and you end up with millions of bacteria thriving on your skin. So is double cleansing routine combined with appropriate resurfacing products a good idea? Yes. Splashing your face with water does NOT work as it won’t cut through all of that build up accumulated during the day.
4) Lack of water to flush out the toxins
Our skin is very smart. If you decide not to satisfy its needs, it simply starts producing more oil to make up for the water loss. Toxins have no way to flush out so they stay in the skin. You end up with congestion. As simple as that.
5) Dead skin cells
Our skin naturally exfoliates every few weeks, getting more lazy and sluggish as we age. This natural process creates a layer of dead skin cells over the surface of the skin. If not removed (read: exfoliated away!), the skin is going to loose its natural glow. Or, even worse, for people with excessive sebum production, it will lead to blockages, and, in turn, congestion.
6) Inappropriate skin care and non-mineral makeup
Majority of department stores skincare brands contain mineral oils that occlude the skin creating a film on it, so that it feels nice and soft, but the skin actually can’t breathe anymore. Watch out for skin oils, waxes and butters, they are your enemies if you’re struggling with congestion. Rich creamy cleansers and oils – that’s a tricky one. Ask your therapist ;)
When it comes to makeup, go mineral all the way! But, and it’s a BIG but, look at the percentage of minerals in an actual “mineral” makeup product. There should be at least 60% of pure minerals, whereas some so called “mineral” makeup brands use as little as 10% and still call themselves “mineral.” Sounds bad but it’s true. AND they also use cheap minerals as fillers and those are not so good to our skin and actually cause blackheads. So beware! The difference you’ll notice will be surprising, you have my word for it. And why? Pure minerals sit on top of the skin actually protecting it from the environment, whereas non-mineral products are primarily wax based and those waxes mixed with your natural oils act like cement creating perfect environment for the bacteria to thrive. Disgusting but true! Believe your skin therapist.