Recently I have talked to a lot of ladies about their skin care woes. It seems like everyone is having major breakout issues this summer. And after having the same talk over and over again, I decided to skip my scheduled post for today and talk about how to care for oily/acne-prone skin.
First off, to all my readers will this temperamental skin type, I wish I could reach through the computer and just give y’all a big hug. Dealing with acne can really mess with a person’s self worth, and it is not a fun experience. When I hear from people that they don’t want to go out in public or they sometimes just cry because they can’t seem to get their skin under control, it makes me furious that there are not enough honest resources out there for handling acne. I am not professional trained in skincare, but the 17+ years I have spent managing my skin make me feel like an expert. Mainly because I’ve had A LOT of realizations and breakthroughs that have led to much better skin than I ever thought I would have.
Just a couple years ago, I was routinely dealing with cystic breakouts that no amount of camoflauge makeup could conceal. Now I smooth on a tinted moisturizer or BB cream, and I’m all set. I want everyone to have the joy I feel when I look in the mirror and my skin is bright and smooth and youthful. So I present to you My Love-Your-Skin Guide to Blemish Control! Note – holding an adorable baby isn’t a rule for clear skin, but it will help you forget about your skin woes when you’re kissing on those chubby cheeks! 😉
There is no skin type that takes more of a beating than the acne-prone. We steam with hot water, scrub with harsh exfoliants, strip with alcohol-laden astringents, slather with drying lotions, and pick and prod at pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. The madness has to stop! Acne-prone is senstive skin, and you need to treat it as such. The first thing you will notice when you stop waging a war on your skin is the immediate reduction in redness. You actually have some nice, even skin under all those pimples once you stop irritating it!
This is probably the biggest shock to the oily/acne-prone bunch, but removing all the oil from your face just leads to more oil and more pimples. When you strip away all the moisture, your skin is signaled to create more sebum. Sebum keeps your skin and hair moisturized, but too much of it causes breakouts. So when you cleanse away all the oil, use an oil-free moisturizer (if that) and dab on overly drying acne treatments (like benzoyl peroxide) you are just telling your skin to create more oil and, thus, more acne. Which is why it feels like a never ending battle! Switch out your cleansing gel or soap for a cream cleanser. Even better. Start using a cleansing oil. The oil cleansing method will show some immediate results for acne-prone so if you’re not afraid of putting a little oil on top of that oily face, you need to try this. You can keep your oil-free moisturizer as long as it contains sodium hylauronate or hylauronic acid. But just for the AM. PM skin needs something heavier so find a light cream or face oil (see the trend with the straight up oil on your face) for bedtime.
And JUST put them in the area where you have an active breakout. Spot treatments are not meant to be preventative so putting them on clear skin will just increase oil production in that area. I mentioned in Green Beauty 101 how benzoyl peroxide is not my friend. Neither is salicylic acid (and other BHAs). If you’re lucky it will just cause mild stinging and irritation. But beauty is pain you say? Leave the pain for waxing and workouts, skincare should be luxurious and relaxing! But back to why BHAs are a no-no. Overtime, BHAs will dry out and thin your skin causing more acne-causing sebum plus early signs of aging. Better spot treatment options include sulfur, charcoal, and clay. While these options are drying in general, they do not dehydrate skin in the process. I’ve also had much better luck with no scarring when using sulfur versus benzoyl peroxide.
Some cosmetic lines have smartened up and started marketing their anti-aging products for acne-prone skin. Which makes sense because if you look at the ingredients, you will see loads of benefits behind softening fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Gentle exfolatiants like lactic acid help with wrinkles and also expedite the process of healing blemishes. Gentrle exfoliation is HUGE for acne-prone skin as it needs clean pores without the irritation that comes with normally exfoliating scrubs. Collagen is benefit to fill in fine lines, but it also fills in acne scars! And vitamin C for age spots works just as well for acne spots. If you are a long time sufferer of acne, you eventually get to the point in your life where you feel like you have to choose between acne products and anti-aging products. But you don’t! Grab that brightening serum, exfolating pads, and lightweight oil, and say, goodbye to your acne and signs of aging! You also should worship at the church of SPF. Even on rainy, gloomy days where the closest I plan on getting outside is looking out a window, I wear SPF. Once you skin isn’t left without a shield from the UV rays, it can retain that hydration it needs to stay clear and blemish-free.
This rule is the simplest to understand. You are what eat, right! Keeping your body hydrated by eliminating beverages containing caffeine, alcohol, and added sugar will do wonders for your skin. Drinking anything other than water is more of a luxury than a necessity (no, you don’t NEED your morning latte!). And eating a more plant-based diet will show some pretty immediate effects on your skin. I’m not saying you need to go 100% vegan, but you definitely don’t need meat or dairy at every meal or even every day. If you need some help figuring out how to eat healthier, here is a general outline of my daily meals:
- plain ol’ fruit first thing in the AM when I’m hungry like a banana, apple, or berries
- something heavier like a meal shake or rolled oats or yogurt & granola/nuts/seeds (all vegan and gluten-free)
- lots of veggies and a lean protein for lunch such as a garden salad with quinoa or garbanzo beans
- more veggies and lean protein (maybe a starch) for dinner like chicken, salmon, steak and asparagus, green beans, or sweet potato
Taking different vitamins and supplements like the products offered by HUM Nutrition will help your body get the things it’s missing from our diet. Maintaining the exact diet you need to get loads of vitamin C, zinc, biotin, and omegas is sometimes just possible. Or fun. Everybody needs a cheat day, and you’ll feel less guilty about it and you won’t notice it on your skin as much when you’re taking your vitamins. Eating healthier can require a huge lifestyle change for some, but you will see the effects on more than just your skin. When you’re feeling happy and healthy, a pimple here and there just doesn’t feel like as big of a deal anymore 🙂
Getting enough sleep each and every night is crucial to having better skin. Sleeping is not only the time for your mind to sort outing everything from the day, but the time for new skin cells to grow and replace older skin cells. Plus, one day without proper sleep shows with dark circles under your eyes and lackluster skin. Aim for seven to nine hours (no more, no less) for the best skin possible.
Physical and mental health is really the overall key to getting clearer. If you haven’t already, you need to find SOMETHING that you enjoy doing that also gives you a good work out. I love hiking because I see those steep hills as a challenge. I’m also a closet-competitor so if I’m hiking with someone, I’m secretly trying to stay a one step (or more) ahead of them the whole time. And this leads to a great workout surrounded by something beautiful. After I’m done with a hike, I don’t head straight home. I take a seat and reflect on the world around me, how lucky I am, and how happy I am to get to enjoy this life. When you get older, acne is normally more stress-induced making it seemingly harder to treat. You stress out, you break out, you stress out because you’re breaking out, you break out some more – this is basically my life story. But every day that I make health and wellness a priority, I see clearer, brighter skin, and a genuinely happy Lauren smiling back at me in the mirror.
Good luck to you all on your journey to clear skin! Share with me your suggestions and stories about what works for you to keep your skin looking beautiful!