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Everything you need to know about congested skin

Dr. Janet Mason, skincare expert at new British brand The Elements shares her advice.

woman wearing beauty face mask and cucumbers on her eyes What is congested skin?
“Signs of congested skin can include a combination of skin concerns ranging from blemishes and acne, including both whiteheads and blackheads, to open, enlarged, or blocked pores. Congested skin can also cause inflammation, redness, or even sensitivity or tightness triggered by breakouts”

What causes congested skin?
“Congestion can be caused by a number of factors, from sweat to over-production of sebum, build-up of dead skin cells, make-up, dirt, and environmental aggressors. Daily debris builds up and gets trapped on the skin’s surface causing bacteria to form which leads to spots, blackheads, uneven skin texture and a dull appearance. It’s also important to point out that our hormones, an unhealthy diet, lack of regular skincare routine and using the wrong skincare products can also contribute to a congested complexion”

How to treat congested skin?
“If you’re struggling with congested skin, it’s important to go back to basics with your skincare by adopting a consistent regime. A thorough yet gentle cleanse twice a day is key to help decongest pores and restore the balance of your skin. As part of your evening regime, double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and daily pollutants, followed by a gentle water-based cleanser that won’t dry out your skin. Use non-comedogenic products (meaning they won’t clog your pores), alongside ingredients that purify and lightly exfoliate. A common mistake is using harsh alcohol-based cleansers or toners which strip the skin of its natural oils. Your skin will end up feeling dry, irritated, and flaky. Another common mistake is slathering on a rich, thick moisturiser which may clog your pores.

Exfoliate twice a week using chemical acids. Opt for AHA’s like lactic, malic, and glycolic along with BHA’s such as salicylic. Just remember that whichever one you use, don’t forget to apply SPF every morning as they can increase skin sensitivity to the sun. I’d also suggest using a clay-based or charcoal product once per week to deeply cleanse your pores, absorb excess oils, and improve skin surface texture. For sensitive or blemish-prone skin types, avoid introducing strong actives into your regime as these can cause irritation. Start with a low percentage and build up to regular use over time. If you know your skin can be sensitive, begin with wash-off products as these can be a good way to incorporate new actives”

What are the best ingredients to treat congested skin?

  • Salicylic acid is well loved for its ability to gently exfoliate your skin and keep pores clear. It is a crucial ingredient for tackling congested skin and breakouts. Being a naturally synthesised BHA, it helps to clear, brighten, and exfoliate dead skin cells to prevent blocked pores and remove excess oil from the skin, preventing further break outs.
  • Activated charcoal is great for tackling oily and blemish prone skin due to its gentle exfoliating properties. Solid particles in charcoal buff the skin to lift dead skin cells and dirt away. This helps to prevent build up in your pores.
  • Azelaic acid is perfect for treating an uneven and unhappy complexion. Much gentler to your skin than any other AHA’s or BHA’s, this particular acid helps calm redness, reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and post-blemish skin, and gently exfoliate and repair damaged skin.
  • Niacinamide is a brilliant multi-functional ingredient that helps to reduce oil levels in the skin, calm redness, strengthen and protect the skin’s barrier and encourage a bright and clear complexion.
  • Zinc PCA decongests pores, regulates sebum, helps improve the appearance of skin impurities, and rebalances the skin.

3 of the best products from The Elements to treat congested skin:

The elements clear skin range group shot Deep Pore Cleanser, £8 contains 1 per cent activated charcoal, 0.4 per cent salicylic acid and 3 per cent niacinamide to give a nitty gritty clean without upsetting the skin’s barrier. Perfect for skin that’s experiencing spots, blemishes, breakouts, and pesky enlarged pores

ABC Exfoliating Peel, £8 this exfoliating wash-off formula gets to work in just 1 minute, targeting congestion, dead skin cell build-up, blocked pores and impurities and leaves skin radiant and clear. Contains 3.3 per cent natural AHA’s including glycolic acid, 1 per cent activated charcoal, 0.75 per cent salicylic acid, soothing aloe vera and bilberry fruit extract

Skin Balancing Cream, £9 one for blemish prone, hormonal, stressed and congested skin types, this antioxidant rich moisturiser harnesses the power of 0.4 per cent zinc PCA, 4 per cent azelaic acid and 4 nourishing and calming super grain extracts

Check out www.the-elements.co.uk

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