Understanding the Causes and Treatments of Acne by Dr. Natalie

Understanding the Causes and Treatments of Acne by Dr. Natalie

After the interest in our blog about how phones can cause breakouts, we have enlisted Dr. Natalie Lindner, founder of Natalie’s Cosmetics, to explain the causes and treatments of acne in depth.


Acne and blemishes are one of the most prominent skin conditions, often going hand in hand with emotional distress and a lack of confidence. It is essential to differentiate between acne and blemishes/breakouts. Acne is a clinical condition, of which there are several subcategories, whereas a spot/blemish/pimple is a symptom of acne. To confirm an acne diagnosis, a certain frequency and severity of blemishes have to be chronically present.

What is acne?

Acne is a condition affecting the skin's hair follicles and oil glands. Under your skin, your pores are connected to glands that make an oily substance known as sebum. Sebum is essential to moisturise our skin, however when hormonal changes (due to puberty, menstruation etc), pressure (from a cell phone), lack of exfoliation (build up of dead skin cells), occlusive skin care products (for example coconut oil) cause oil, sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria to be trapped along the hair follicle, this region becomes inflamed, produces pus as a reaction of your immune system, redness and swelling.

What can I do to prevent a spot from forming?

- What side do you talk on your cell phone? Do you talk on your cell phone often? Do you use a headset or do you use earpieces? It is essential to point out that your screen is loaded with germs and dirt and the constant pressure may lead to inflammation. This inflammation is presented as a pimple. The same goes for headsets and over-the-ear headphones. Add a Clen screen protector to your daily routine to sort this issue out and make sure your phone is germ free!
- Are your make-up brushes clean? Is your pillow case clean? Is your scarf clean?
What type of make-up are you using? How thoroughly do you remove your Make-up? Are you using the wrong cleanser and stripping your skin of its natural pH?
Is your skincare hydrating but non-occlusive i.e. not encouraging the production of acne lesions by clogging pores?
- How is your diet? Are you hydrated? Are you stressed? Are you sweating/exercising a lot?
- Are you undergoing hormonal changes? Hormonal contraception?
- Stop touching blemishes, but learn how to treat them! A great way of avoiding this is to apply a hydrocolloid patch on the blemish. This absorbs moisture, flattens the blemish and prevents bacterial contact.


Treatment regime by time

A non-stripping gel cleanser removed with water and a microfiber cloth, hydration serum (for example containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin), antioxidant serum (Vitamin C/Niacinamide), non-occlusive moisturizer and an SPF+.

An oil cleanser to dissolve SPF+ and makeup, a non-stripping gel cleanser (removed with a microfiber cloth + water), hydration serum, acid/retinol based serum, finished off with a non-occlusive moisturiser.

Zinc/Clay/Acid Masks may be applied 1-3/per week. Apply hydrocolloid patches on a blemish.

Treatment regime by severity

Mild to moderate breakouts: Cleansing and exfoliating (Acids) - get a good skin care routine going!

Moderate to constant breakouts: benzoyl peroxide, which actually kills the bacteria, over-the-counter retinoid like retinol (speeds up the cell turnover).
Constant deep, inflamed lesion: Acne - see a dermatologist and a medical facialist.


Key ingredients to focus on:

Azelaic Acid (dicarboxylic acid)

- Azelaic acid can be derived from grains like barley, wheat, and rye, its lab-engineered form is typically used in skincare products because of its stability and effectiveness. Its numerous benefits include: exfoliation (unclogs pores and refines texture), antioxidant, reduction of redness and bumps. Numerous studies show how powerful azelaic acid is at reducing blemishes and post-acne marks.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)

- BHA works on both the skin’s surface and deep inside the pores. It’s oil soluble, so is best suited for normal to oily skin prone to bumps, clogs, blemishes and enlarged pores. BHA also has natural skin-calming properties, so it’s gentle enough for skin that's sensitive or prone to redness or rosacea. This well-rounded, gentle ingredient is even suitable for bumpy skin prone to milia, while improving the look of dull, dehydrated skin.

Vitamin A - Retinol 

A Vitamin A, that can be found as: Retinoic acid (prescription only), retinaldehyde, retinol and then retinol esters (e.g. retinyl palmitate, mildest/least irritating). Powerhouse ingredient that can improve a variety of skin concerns, most related to visible signs of ageing: It’s skin-restoring, wrinkle-smoothing, an antioxidant, improves acne and improves sun damage/pigmentation.
Vitamin A can cause irritation and peeling of the skin, thus it is essential to start with a mild retinol ester and build up a tolerance by increasing the usage.


Zinc, which boosts immune function, may help control that inflammatory response. What's more, because zinc regulates cell production and turnover, and can help reduce the amount of natural oil your skin produces, it may prevent pores from clogging in the first place.

Dr. Natalie's Purity lotion can be used for the face, and contains Gluconolactone, Azelaic Acid, Organic Chamomile, Glycerin and many more.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Dr. Lindner!