Subclinical acne – what it is and why you have it.
If your forehead is covered in lots of small colorless or red bumps, you may be dealing with subclinical acne. This type of acne can cause the skin’s surface to look and feel uneven, without ever developing into the typical “pimple” – pus-filled and inflamed. Rather, subclinical acne is simply congested, clogged pores.
These little bumps are caused by an excess of sebum – the waxy, oily substance that your sebaceous glands naturally produce. When there is an excess of sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, your pores become clogged, resulting in protruding follicles and a bumpy texture. Subclinical acne can occur in large numbers on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. It is usually most common on the forehead and cheeks, because the oil glands on these two parts of the face are highly active.
Subclinical acne is most often tied to your lifestyle, stress, and/or hormonal changes. So how can you reduce its appearance?
1. Up your cleansing game
Since we know that subclinical acne is caused by clogged pores, the first step in reducing them is to improve your cleansing technique. Often times, even after washing our faces, our skin is still covered in a layer of dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities!
First off, take a look at the cleanser you’re using. The best type of cleanser to use will be an oil-based cleanser, like our facial cleansing oil. Oil dissolves oil, making a cleansing oil extremely helpful. If you're not into oil cleansing, try our oil to milk cleanser, which can be rinsed off like a more traditional cleanser. Foaming or soap-based cleansers can dry out the skin, which will actually lead to MORE oil production, as your body will try and make up for what you’re stripping away!
On top of using an oil-based cleanser, another technique to utilize is double cleansing. This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if you’re used to drying cleansers – but double cleansing with an oil cleanser can make a HUGE difference for your skin. Think of the first round of cleansing as prepping your skin for the deeper cleanse. Gently, but thoroughly, cleansing your skin twice will help to clear and remove dead skin cells. Our oil to milk cleanser is perfect for your second cleanse, because it gently cleans the skin without stripping it of its own natural oils.
Do a double cleanse only once a day — preferably at night, when your skin really needs it, after a day of makeup, dirt, and pollutants!
2. Did someone say tone?
We did. Lots of times! That’s because we know how essential toning is in finishing the cleansing process. On top of helping to extract any leftover oil or dirt left on your face (which is possible even after double cleansing!), using a toner helps to balance your pH levels and decrease excess oil production. Toning can help your skin really breathe!
Our raspberry vinegar toner has a slightly acidic pH of about 3.5, which makes it great for cleansing and purifying skin. Our rosewater toner is gentler, with a pH level of 5.5, but is still great for soothing skin and helping balance sebum.
3. Lightly moisturize
Of course it's always important to moisturize. However, while you're working on clearing out subclinical acne, you want to make sure not to overwhelm your skin with anything too heavy. We recommend sticking to a lighter moisturizer, like our golden elixir, watermelon hemp oil, or texture smoothing cream.
4. Steer clear of makeup for a few days
While you may have the urge to cover up, the best option for your skin is to leave it as clean as possible. Heavy foundations and makeup can trap excess oil and dirt in your pores. If you feel like you can’t go bare-faced, then try to opt for an all-natural, lightweight facial powder that will allow your skin to breathe.
5. Don’t pick
As tempting as it is to try and pop these annoying blemishes (trust us, we know), avoid picking at all costs.
This is especially important for subclinical acne, which won't normally break the skin on its own, as the bumps are often just congested pores. Picking at them could lead to the irritation and scarring, and can cause breakouts to worsen.
The best bet is to let your skin naturally regenerate to flush out the congestion.
6. If they’re still not gone – check your diet
We’ve talked a lot about how diet affects your skin. If you are taking all of the right steps to treat your skin on the surface and you still aren’t seeing results, the issue may be in your gut. For many people, certain foods like soy and dairy can cause hormone imbalances, which lead to excess oil production and sometimes, irritation. Refined sugar and processed carbs are also a no-go, as they can be inflammatory.
We know it’s difficult, but our recommendation is to steer clear of processed sugars and dairy…especially when you’re dealing with stubborn subclinical acne! If you can, load your diet up with leafy green veggies, fibrous non-grain foods, and zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds instead.
Using a purifying face mask a few times a week can help you unclog those pores even faster. We love our chlorophyll mask because it helps deeply cleanse and clarify the skin while also supporting healthy circulation and calming angry skin.
Another great option is our sea kale clay mask, which soothes, exfoliates, and purifies the skin *without* drying it out.
8. Drink a ton of water
Drinking enough water is essential for keeping your skin clear. Our cells are nourished and hydrated by water, and dehydration can cause your skin to compensate by overproducing oil. Double certified MD, Dr. Amy Shah, told us recently that she recommends drinking between 10-14 glasses of water a day! For some extra flavor and benefits, try adding lemon or other fruit to your water.
We hope that this post helped clear up the mystery around those pesky forehead bumps – and that it will also help clear up your skin! The key factor in treating subclinical acne is to keep your pores clear – through your routine (give that double cleansing a shot!), lifestyle habits, and diet. If you have any questions at all, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!