No, you’re not imagining it. Your skin probably is breaking out more now that we’re back in lockdown – despite your possible lack of make-up in a work-from-home setup and thefact that you probably spend less time walking through polluted city centres than this time last year.
The reasons? There's maskne, sure. But a more insidious culprit is the on-going hum of stress that provides the background beat to our days. 'A stressful event leads to a physiological response in the body which we call the ‘flight or fight response’ – it prepares our bodies to flee from danger,' Dr Stephanie Munn, Clinical Lead for Dermatology, Bupa Health Clinics, previously explained to WH.
'The stress hormones cause the release of chemicals which increase blood flow to the skin. This can trigger both rashes and redness, while the same hormones can lead to breakouts.
How? Cortisol and androgens – the stress hormones – can lead to blocked pores, which is a contributing factor to acne-prone skin. Bacteria living in human skin feeds off the oily substance sebum, which, further, is created by these hormones. This is key in acne flaring up.
When it comes to simple, at-home potential solutions, know the internet is going wild for an allegedly spot-nixing, vegan, charcoal-based soap, cleansing bar that costs less than a tenner and can be found in Boots. Here's everything you need to know, plus, what an aesthetic doctor thinks of the claims.
What is Carbon Theory?
A UK-based beauty brand, it launched in 2018 and have found fame for with the Charcoal & Tea Tree Oil Breakout Control Cleansing Bar. This is formulated with soothing shea butter, as well as the aforementioned ingredients.
Before and after shots of acne sufferers who have seen results using the bars have been doing the social rounds since the products landed in the high street pharmacy three years ago. But, since hitting the fancy supermarket's shelves just before the new year, they've spiked even more.
How do you use the Carbon Theory Bar?
The brand advises wetting the bar, rubbing in between your hands and then massaging the suds into your face morning and night, daily. The bar comes in a resealable plastic pouch, so you can take it to spin, on a weekend away or whatever, without it getting all sticky and gross.
How long does it take for Carbon Theory soap to work?
In terms of how long it looks like it takes to see results, the evangelists on Instagram are preaching anywhere from two to six months.
No doubt, some of the transformations look to be pretty remarkable.
Carbon Theory charcoal soap: the transformations
Carbon Theory charcoal soap: the expert opinion
'Tea tree is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, so it makes sense that this is a popular ingredient in many natural skincare products,' says aesthetic doctor Dr David Jack.
'Likewise, shea butter is moisturising. But, it is a fatty acid and primarily acts as an emollient in the skin – so I’m not convinced of its relevance in a product being marketed for acne.'
'Charcoal has zero significant clinical evidence for its use in acne. Indeed, all charcoal is is carbon, which is basically inert, and, if anything, could potentially clog pores.'
Whilst the transformations are impressive, it's important to remember that what works for one person's dermis may not be effective on another's. Plus, a single magic bullet to sort out acne woes is unlikely. But if a solution that's under a tenner is working for some people?
Well, all power to them.
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