At Mokosh, we believe it’s important to cleanse and nourish oily and acne-prone skin using the gentlest ingredients and processes. We have developed detergent-free cleansers and moisturisers to keep the skin calm, minimise pore blockage, protect and restore the skin’s barrier function and help normalise sebum composition. Before going into the how and why of our approach to managing oily and acne-prone skin, it’s worth reviewing why acne occurs in the first place.
What is acne and what causes it?
Acne is inflammation centred around the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for secreting sebum onto the skin. During adolescence, sebum production increases dramatically, resulting in increased oiliness, and a high incidence of acne.
Acne typically begins with a blockage of the sebaceous gland opening, or pore. This blockage is usually caused by an over-production of sebum, abnormal shedding of keratin, and a build up of dead skin cells. Inflammation can follow. When inflammation is present, the affected area becomes painful, red and swollen, and may be complicated by the proliferation of bacteria known as Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) which can lead to an escalation of inflammation.
Linoleic acid levels in the skin are important
It’s important to note that sebum from oily and acne-prone skin is not only over-abundant, it’s also deficient in linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids. This deficiency of linoleic acid in the sebum is thought to be a key factor in the development of acne because:
- linoleic acid is needed to form the skin’s barrier. When linoleic acid is lacking, the skin becomes more susceptible to invasion by irritants and harmful bacteria.
- a deficiency of linoleic acid is known to result in the over-production of keratin - one of the key causes of pore blockage.
- linoleic acid can reduce the activity of hormones in sebaceous glands, resulting in reduced sebum output.
- linoleic acid can inhibit the growth of Cutibacterium acnes.
Overall, a deficiency of linoleic acid promotes acne, whereas adequate levels of linoleic acid can diminish some of the triggers for acne.
Oxidation of squalene in sebum triggers acne
One of the most abundant lipids in sebum is squalene - an unsaturated lipid. When squalene is oxidised, it can trigger inflammation in the skin, setting off acne. Squalene oxidation can be caused by exposure to UV light, cigarette smoke, ozone and pollution. Delivery of antioxidants to the skin is thought to slow down squalene oxidation and can therefore reduce the incidence of acne.
Treatment of acne
When acne is severe, it’s important to seek medical attention to reduce the risk of permanent scarring. There are a range of treatments available through your GP or dermatologist which can reduce the hyperactivity of sebaceous glands, cut down sebum output, and limit the severity of acne.
Looking after acne-prone and oily skin with our certified organic skin care
We have designed a range of products to care for acne-prone skin. Our formulations are based on the latest science, targeted at minimising the triggers for acne. Here are the products and skin care routine we recommend for oily and acne-prone skin.
We have 2 cleansers - both are free of the detergents that can strip away precious linoleic acid and other protective lipids from the skin.
Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil makes use of the oil cleansing method. It is made of 4 botanicals oils chosen for their high content of linoleic acid and ability to penetrate the pores. Because oils bind oils, this product mixes well with sebum without harming the skin’s barrier. The skin is first warmed with a cloth soaked in warm water to help liquefy sebum trapped in the pores. The oil is then gently massaged over the skin for a few minutes to sweep up excess sebum as well as dirt and pollutants. In addition to replenishing linoleic acid, it is rich in antioxidants including beta-carotene and vitamin E, which can help calm the skin and reduce the squalene oxidation that triggers inflammation.
Facial Cleanser, Exfoliator & Mask can be used after the Makeup Remover as a double cleanse, or alternatively one cleanser can be used at each end of the day. This is a blend of 10 plant powders that are rich in antioxidants, water-soluble vitamins, humectants and molecules that promote calm skin. It is mixed with water to a paste and massaged very gently over the skin using minimal pressure. This results in a gentle exfoliation, releasing the superficial cell debris that can block pores. It is then rinsed away completely. The skin is left soft and clarified. It may also be used as a detoxifying mask - simply leave on the skin for 5-10 minutes and then rinse away thoroughly.
Pure Hydrosol Toner is an alcohol-free toner, made using a blend of two hydrosols: damask rose and lemon balm. Both hydrosols are renowned for their skin calming benefits, while the pH is optimal for restoring the skin’s ideal pH of around 5.
Elderberry & Chia Seed Beauty Serum is our lightest moisturiser, and made up of 10 nourishing oils rich in linoleic acid, other essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. Just a few drops is needed - simply pat onto lightly moist skin or after spraying with toner. Although application of an oil may seem counterintuitive when the skin is oily, the important point is to apply the right kind of oil - one that will help replenish linoleic acid.
Bakuchiol Revival Serum is a recent addition to our range. Bakuchiol is considered a natural alternative to retinol. It has been shown to have similar anti-acne effects to retinol, but with less irritation. Our formulation also contains botanical oils rich in linoleic acid, and is extremely light - ideal for oily and acne-prone skin.
It’s important to understand the process of acne
We hope you have gleaned a few insights into how acne occurs, and why our formulations can help to take care of oily and acne-prone skin. We believe it’s important to minimise harsh treatments that can set off inflammation and damage the skin’s barrier. At the same time, delivering important nutrients like linoleic acid and antioxidants in a pure form, without the synthetics, is key to keeping this skin type at its healthiest.