Dermala Blogs

We know how tough it can be to get accurate info on skincare. We cut the fluff and tell you what actually works, based on science and customer experience.

Busy? Try to slip these clear skin tips into your schedule

Let’s face it. Life can be incredibly crazy and stressful sometimes. With balancing school, internships, work, family and friends, finding time to properly care for your skin and health can seem impossible, but it’s important to remember that self-care should be made a priority in your everyday life. Putting your health first ensures that you have the energy, mindset and confidence to give your best at everything you do. Here are a few tips and tricks for keeping your skin healthy and clear during these hectic times.

Remove your makeup and wash your face

After a long, busy day, nothing sounds better than some Netflix and chill followed by immediately passing out on your bed. However, taking the extra five minutes to remove your makeup and wash your face before bed is so important for your skin. Removing the dirt, oil, and environmental toxins that accumulate on your face throughout the day will help to keep your pores unclogged, which is an important step for preventing breakouts. Not all cleansers are made the same, though. Harsh cleansers can actually lead to an increase in oil production, disruption of the skin barrier, irritation and breakouts, so look for a cleanser that will clean the skin without stripping it dry. And, if you’re feeling extra energetic, follow cleansing with a treatment or toner and some moisturizer!

 Get enough sleep

Sleep is not only essential for proper health and development, but studies also suggest that a lack of sleep can affect skin health as well. When your body is stressed, such as from a lack of sleep, it produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol. Increased cortisol levels cause an increase in inflammation, and interfere with DNA repair, which can worsen your acne and disrupt skin barrier function. Not getting enough shut eye can also affect your mood, make it hard to concentrate, and increase moodiness and psychological distress. Even though everyone knows sleep is important, one third of young adults are not getting the hours of zzz’s they need every night. So, no matter how tempting it is to cram in that last-minute studying or scroll through those last few posts on Instagram, make it a priority to get enough shut eye each night.

Try to keep a (mostly) healthy diet

When you’re busy and stressed, junk food tends to look even more appetizing than usual. However, foods high in sugars, unhealthy oils and fats lead to feelings of sluggishness, mental fatigue and increased inflammation, and this unbalance tends to show itself on the skin. So, while it’s tempting to eat easily-available, processed foods during those busy weeks, remember to try and make it a priority to include some wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and lean proteins into your diet that will energize and fuel your body to help you tackle that to-do list.

A gut-healthy recipe to start your day

Kefir-Berry Smoothie Recipe

What’s a great and easy way to start your day? With a healthy, microbiome-friendly (and very delicious) morning smoothie! A smoothie filled with prebiotics and probiotics is an excellent way to have a filling and fast breakfast that nourishes your microbiome and promotes radiant, clear skin.

First, let’s clarify how prebiotics and probiotics differ and why they are both important for your health. Probiotics are bacteria that are similar to the "good" bacteria that live inside your gut. These micro-organisms, though tiny, play an incredibly important role in our health. An imbalance of the "good" and the "bad" bacteria in the gut can lead to improper digestion, weight gain, and skin conditions. The good news is that we can rebalance our Microbiome by supplementing our diet with probiotics in any form. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or through foods like yogurt, kefir and Kimchi. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are foods rich in fermentable fibers that feed the good bacteria in your body. In other words, prebiotics are the food for the probiotics. Like probiotics, prebiotics can be taken as supplements or found in foods like asparagus, bananas, and whole grains.

This Kefir-Berry smoothie recipe is a delicious and easy way to get a daily dose of prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins and nutrients to keep your skin healthy from the inside out. Just say ahh!


¼ cup old-fashioned oats

¼ cup Blueberries

4 Strawberries

½ a Banana

¼ cup plain Kefir

1 Tbs ground flaxseed meal

½ cup almond milk

A large handful of kale or spinach leaves

Optional: Ice (if not using frozen fruits)

Blend everything together and enjoy!! You can also add less milk to enjoy this smoothie as a bowl and top it with your favorite toppings :)

Skincare tips for those cold weather months

Stay hydrated

Cold weather zaps away moisture and this is not good for our skin. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse oily skin with moisturized skin, but they shouldn’t be considered the same. Colder months can really dry out the skin, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to a decrease in skin oiliness. Skin can still be oily but low in hydration. In fact, dry, irritated skin can lead to an increase in oil production leading to clogged pores and breakouts. This is why it’s so important to keep your skin moisturized during the colder fall months. It’s best to apply moisturizer right after washing your face and applying your acne treatment to lock in hydration. Depending on the dryness of your skin, it also might be a good idea to switch from a moisturizer to a cream to provide a stronger barrier for increased skin hydration. This will also help improve your skin barrier function to make your skin more tolerable for acne treatment products. And, we can’t stress enough that the best way to hydrate your skin is to hydrate your body. Drink up that water!


No matter what time of the year it is, if you have acne-prone skin, you need to exfoliate! Clogged pores lead to acne and daily, gentle exfoliation works to remove dead skin cells and keep those pores unclogged. Again, gentle exfoliation is key since too harsh of an exfoliant can irritate the skin and cause redness, dryness and worsen acne. Chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and glycolic acid at lower concentrations work the best for daily use, but of course, always follow with a hydrating moisturizer. As an added plus, daily exfoliation will help brighten your skin and reduce dark spots and acne scars over time if used consistently. Just don’t overdo it. Gentle is key!

Switch to a gentle cleanser and acne treatment

Dry skin can lead to a weakened skin barrier and, therefore, make your skin more sensitive to topical acne treatments and increase redness and dryness. Many commonly used acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide and sulfur can really dry out your skin, which can lead to more redness and irritation than when used in the summer months with higher humidity. This is why, especially for fall and winter months, you want to use a gentle cleanser with a lower pH and an acne treatment product that is gentle and hydrating. 

Eat well

Cold weather and thick sweaters can make that second helping of pie much more enticing during the fall and winter months.  Sweets high in sugar and fats, and delicious salty soups and breads are all fall favorites but remember to have everything in moderation! Foods high in sodium and sugars can contribute to breakouts so if that extra piece of pumpkin bread is just too irresistible, remember to drink lots of water and fill the rest of your meals with wholesome nutritious foods.

Keeping it clean

Developing a clean skin routine is an essential part of any acne treatment and prevention method. Nevertheless, figuring out a routine can often be more challenging than people think. Here, we will explain the essentials of such a routine and point out common mistakes to avoid. 

Wash it off!

Throughout the day, your skin secretes oils that may promote breakouts when left unchecked. This issue is particularly common on your face, which has about twice as many oil glands compared to the rest of your body. Dust particles, smog, sweat and makeup, further exacerbate the skin’s proneness to acne breakouts. As a result, it is important that you wash your face regularly to make sure your pores remain clean and unblocked. Too much washing or using harsh cleansers, on the other hand, may cause problems like over-drying the skin and weakening your skin microbiome, the collection of friendly, supportive bacteria on your skin that can help you fight acne. A good rule of thumb is to use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser to wash your face twice a day - once after you wake up and once before you go to bed. In addition to that, you should wash off sweat after you exercise. Harsh cleansers can be irritating and strip the skin of both the bad and the good bacteria, leaving your skin more prone to acne. A gentle cleanser with microbiome-rebalancing components and calming plant extracts will, on the other hand, target the bad bacteria without over drying and help make your skin happier in the long run.

Your skin’s unlikely foes

Although washing your face regularly is essential, there are additional steps you can take to ensure your skin remains healthy by reducing its exposure to harmful elements in the first place. For instance, you should wash your pillow covers, makeup brushes, hats (pimples on your forehead, anybody?) and towels frequently to shield your face from bad bacteria that live on them. For similar reasons, you should also pay closer attention the cleanliness of your phone. It may even be smarter to start using headphones when making calls to limit your contact with the bacteria-ridden phone screen.

One more piece of the jigsaw

Making sure you wash your skin regularly is a vital step towards long lasting results. However, it should not be the only thing on your mind. Rather, you need to adopt a holistic acne plan that goes far beyond your skin. Treating and preventing acne essentially means striking a body-wide balance by combining good skin hygiene with an effective topical treatment and a healthy diet supplemented by probiotics, vitamins, anti-oxidants and other key nutrients. The whole-body approach is something you should bear in mind regardless of the specific treatment method you choose. So make your skin and gut happy and balanced. Your skin will thank you.

Could it be a gut problem?

Could your acne be a gut problem? It is well known that gut bacteria are important for your health. These bacteria digest your food, provide necessary nutrients and vitamins, train your immune system, and prevent bad bacteria from overgrowing and causing disease. What is less well-known, however, is that your gut health can also have an effect on your skin health!


Over 80 years ago, dermatologists, John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury, suggested a relationship between your gut bacteria, and your mental and skin health called the Gut-Brain-Skin axis. The Gut-Brain-Skin axis suggests stress and low fiber diets can lead to an imbalance in your microbiome allowing bad bacteria to outgrow the good bacteria in your gut. This leads to the release of toxins, which cause inflammation throughout the body. For people who are more susceptible to inflammatory skin diseases like acne, this release of toxins can cause worsen your acne.


Since the time of Stokes and Pillsbury, many scientists have further studied the proposed Gut-Brain-Skin axis. Trials have also shown that supplementing topical acne treatments with oral probiotics resulted in a greater reduction of acne lesions than when topical treatments were used alone. These findings support the hypothesis of Stokes and Pillsbury and suggests nutritional supplements and a healthy diet can be used to support skin health for acne sufferers. 


Foods that could cause breakouts

Acne and breakouts can be associated with many different factors like sleep, stress, hormones, and diet. Generally, it is believed that dairy and foods with high glycemic indexes like white bread, rice, soda and added sugars can contribute to breakouts and worsen acne.


Acne Fighting Foods

There is less direct evidence as to what foods help prevent breakouts, however, foods high in vitamins and minerals, lean proteins, fiber, probiotics and healthy fats are all believed to aid in maintaining clear skin by reducing inflammation throughout the body. For vitamins and minerals, look for foods high in selenium, zinc, and vitamins like nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, meats and beans, which together supports immune system health, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and other inflammatory causing agents. Probiotic supplements containing gut-healthy strains like lactobacillus and bfidiobacteria directly add healthy bacteria back to your gut and foods high in fermentable fibers like whole grains and vegetables feed the good bacteria in your gut to make sure they thrive and stick around. These good gut microbes break down the fibers into nutrients and vitamins necessary for our health. Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids like fatty fishes, flaxseed, walnuts and avocados can also help lower the occurrence of acne by decreasing inflammation throughout the body.


If you have been struggling with inflammatory acne, taking probiotics and changing up your diet could be a helpful change to get one step closer to getting rid of your acne.

The Importance of Skin hydration when Fighting Acne

One commonly forgot about aspect when fighting acne is the importance of skin hydration. It’s important to note that oily skin does not mean your skin is hydrated. Skin can be oily and still be low in water content. In fact, dry skin can induce the production of more oil leading to clogged pores and breakouts. This occurs because dry skin compromises the skin barrier leading to irritation, which then induces hormones to activate sebaceous glands to secrete more oil and repair the irritation.

Many commonly used acne medications can also dry or irritate the skin, especially during dry winter months. One way to keep your skin hydrated is through your diet by drinking lots of water and eating lots of water rich foods like fruits and vegetables. It’s also helpful to use a daily moisturizer to hydrate your skin and reduce irritation. Moisturizers work by both drawing water to your skin and by holding the water in the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. Since moisturizers are effective at holding water in your skin, it’s best to moisturize your skin after washing your face to help trap the water in for optimal hydration.

With so many moisturizer options out there though, how do you choose the right one? Many moisturizers contain both water and oils. If you have oily skin, you don’t necessarily need to avoid putting oil-based moisturizers on your face, but you might want to look for a moisturizer that is more water-based than oil-based. For acne sufferers and those with acne prone skin, it’s best to find moisturizers labeled as non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic or won’t clog pores. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid are great for skin hydration and do not clog pores. What’s your favorite moisturizer to pair with your daily acne treatments?

What type of acne is this and how do I treat it?

Acne can be complicated, frustrating and very annoying, but almost everyone has dealt with it at some point in his or her life. Even though acne is a part of everyday life, it can be difficult to understand what type of acne you are experiencing, what’s causing it and what the best treatment path is.

 So exactly what is acne?

 Acne is a skin-disease that occurs in hair follicles when the follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells and oil. There are many different types of acne that can be classified as either non-inflammatory or inflammatory acne. Non-inflammatory acne consists of blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones). Blackheads occur when a pore is clogged but the top of the pore stays open, resulting in the characteristic black color seen on the surface. Whiteheads also form when sebum and dead skin cells clog a pore, but unlike blackheads, the top of the pore closes up resulting in a small bump protruding from the skin.

Clogged pores create the perfect microenvironment for the bacterium P. acnes to thrive and multiply. When these bacteria that are usually harmless on the skin infect clogged pores, inflammatory acne can occur. Papules, pustules, nodules and cysts are all forms of inflammatory acne. Papules and pustules occur when the walls surrounding your pores break down from severe inflammation. Papules are generally hard, clogged pores that are tender to the touch and usually pink in color, whereas, pustules are filled with pus and are typically red in color with a yellow or white bump on top. Nodules and cysts are the most severe types of acne. Nodules occur when the acne lesion becomes even larger and more inflamed and resides deeper under the skin than papules and pustules. Cysts are even more severe than nodules and reside even deeper under the skin.

Treating non-inflammatory acne

 Consistent use of topical treatments is best for treating blackheads and whiteheads. Topical treatments containing AHA’s and BHA’s like glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid that remove excess oil from the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells should be used daily to remove blackheads and whiteheads on the skin and prevent future ones from forming. Dermala’s Acne Treatment Pads combine a gentle concentration of salicylic acid with our SE Microbiome Complex to provide daily exfoliation for your skin.

Treating inflammatory acne

Topical treatments to remove oil and dead skin cells should also be used on a daily basis for preventing new papules and pustules from forming. Additionally, antibacterial treatments like benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and Dermala’s SE Microbiome Complex are used to kill excess bacteria in the follicle, which is contributing to inflammation of the lesion. However, unlike antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide, Dermala’s SE Microbiome Complex is naturally derived from the good microbes on your skin and specifically kills the acne-causing bacteria without the side effects.

How long does it take to see improvement?

Each person responds to acne treatment differently, but in general, results can take up to 12 weeks to see improvement with consistent product use. It’s also important to note that your environment can contribute to breakouts if you already have acne prone skin. Different foods you eat, makeup or conditioners you use, or how often you clean your sheets can all irritate your skin and contribute to acne. It’s important to observe what different daily activities worsen or improve your acne so you can combine your acne treatments with behavioral changes to ensure the best results.