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Our Skincare Questions Answered by Beauty Scientist Dr. Rolanda Johnson

May 11, 2011

By Mercedes Sanchez
If you find yourself battling redness, brown spots, hyper pigmentation or adult acne, then this is for you!

As some of you may know, I’ve been keeping a quarterly adult acne diary. I won’t say I’m acne prone; however, when I get a random zit the actual pimple isn’t the problem. The real issue is the permanent red dot that remains on my face long after the zit is gone! In previous posts, I wrote about the results from prescribed and over-the-counter creams suggested by my dermatologist and unfortunately the scars are still there.

So I figured, I have to find out what’s causing this in the first place. Why have I had these scars for more than seven years, and why isn’t the prescribed medication helping? What are safe alternatives to the creams and what other options do I have? I gathered my questions and contacted Dr. Rolanda Johnson, a senior beauty scientist I met at the P&G Headquarters in Ohio last year. Take a look at our informative, in-depth Q&A below:

Mercedes: I had clear skin until I broke out when I was 17, and now it seems as if whenever I get a pimple, I am left with embarrassing blemishes. Can you explain how these red scars occur? I heard it has to do with having damaged hair follicles…

  • Dr. Rolanda Johnson: Folliculitis is the term for the medical condition that occurs when hair follicles become inflamed and ultimately infected. There are several incidences that can ca use the aforementioned damage to hair follicles. Certain skin conditions like acne can cause damage to hair follicles. When the follicles are damaged, they can be more susceptible to infection from bacteria and fungi, which can make the condition or inflammation worse.
  • If the redness on your skin from the acne turns brown, this condition is know as Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH is the darkening of skin or the over production of melanin in skin caused by trauma. If there are deeper skin issues such as damage to collagen, this can also make the PIH more visible.

How can I remove the red scars once and for all? Should I try laser surgery? How does it work?

  • RJ: First it is important to apply topical acne products that will treat the acne and cease any practices that may incite trauma to the skin. This means no pressing of the acne papules or pustules with your hands, no tweezing or waxing on or around the acne affected skin. It is also important to incorporate the proper daily skin care regimen for your acne prone skin. Cleansing with a salicylic acid cleanser followed by an acne treatment that contains an anti-bacteria ingredient, then proper moisturization is a good regimen to incorporate.

  • Now, in order to tackle the existing scarring, redness or PIH, it is important to assess your skin to determine which one you may have. If it is redness, after washing with a cleanser containing salicylic acid which helps skin cellular turn over and remove oil and dirt from the pores, lightly press a warm moist towel to the affected area to help minimize inflammation. Following this, you can then rub a salicylic acid treatment, followed by a moisturizer to continue to minimize inflammation and improve the barrier of skin.

  • Now, if your scarring is severe, it is recommended to see a dermatologist to understand what if any laser treatments may be suitable for your skin.

Being that creams – even prescribed creams- haven’t done much to remove the scars, should I stop using them? What benefits do prescribed lotions and creams have with preventing pimples or attempting to remove scars? Is it true that these creams help provide collagen? What does collagen have to do with red scars?

  • It is important to choose your creams wisely based on the needs for your skin. Creams can be beneficial to reduce the appearance of redness, hyper pigmentation as well as improve overall skin tone if used as directed. Look for creams that have ingredients such as salicylic acid, peptides and niacinamide. Peptides are tiny fragments of protein molecules that are found naturally throughout the body. Along with glycerin, peptides hydrate and enhance the stratum corneum, or outer layer of skin. This helps allow for the natural production of collagen, which can help to firm up skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Niacinamide which is also called vitamin B3, niacin, and nicotinic acid, has been shown to prevent skin from losing water content, as well as to stimulate circulation in the skin. Recent studies have shown that it also improves the appearance of wrinkles, skin discolorations and reduces redness and improves skin elasticity.
  • Collagen acts as a mirror promoting diffuse reflectance which results in what we visually observe as luminance skin. When collagen within the skin is compromised, the mirror is essentially broken, promoting more specular reflectance, as a result we can visually observe increased imperfections in the skin including discoloration, fine lines and increased texture.

Any tips for readers who are battling adult acne or scars? Any products we should try? What should they ask their dermatologists in their next appointment?

  • For those battling adult acne, be sure to assess your current products and determine if they meet your needs in terms of containing the proper ingredients like salicylic acid and niacinamide, which is not only known for improving tone but also minimizing oil on skin. Try the Olay Acne Control Face Wash which contains salicylic acid. The acne cleanser immediately minimizes excess oil and impurities that can clog pores. It fights blemishes and helps prevent future breakouts.

  • Spot treating is another mistake adult women with acne prone skin make. Be sure to treat the entire facial skin, even when you do not see the acne, and incorporate the recommended skin care regimen from above which would help to prevent the acne before it starts.

  • If your scarring is severe, ask your dermatologist what additional treatments may be suitable for your specific skin type.

Many thanks to Rolanda for her expertise. – Mercedes

Do you have skincare issues of your own? Tell us what they are, and we’ll get an expert to answer your questions.


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Mercedes Sanchez

Mercedes Sanchez is an on-air style and beauty expert, spokesperson, and the founder of BeChicMag.com — a lifestyle blog covering fashion, beauty, and travel. She's offered style and beauty tips on NBC, CBS, BET, HuffPo, Telemundo and Univision. Contact: mercedes[at]bechicmag[dot]com.

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