Hello ladies and gents, I’m sure you know me…
Wait, you don’t? Well … FUUUU!
I’m just kidding, I’m four cups of coffee in and the electric sass is REAL. My caffeine addiction aside however I’d like to talk to you today about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart as it has been a life-long struggle for me ever since I was very, very young.
That issue is having acne prone skin.
Whether it’s little lumps, blackheads, boils, cystic pimples – what have you, I’ve struggled with all of it at one point or another, and for a long time I thought the only thing I could do was cover it up with makeup and hope it didn’t rain. For most of my high school days I wore foundation every day to hide my shame, and on the days I didn’t, I walked with my head down in utter shame and hoped no one looked at me. It was awful and it fucked my self esteem up its tiny, tight pancake booty without any lube. Once I got older and came into my own money, I began trying every acne-prone product on the market, from cleansers to spot treatments and even extracting tools.
I figured having acne prone skin meant I needed the harshest, acne killing products that I could afford: acne cleanser, salicylic moisturizer, acne-prone toner, acne clearing solution, and spot treatment. Sounds like an army fit to fight acne right?
What I didn’t know back then was that being acne prone didn’t mean that there was only one issue to be addressed; in my time of using super harsh products, my skin became irritated, dried out, and actually worsened my acne problem. Sure, I had no more little red bumps anymore, but I began getting under-the-skin cystic pimples that would turn into monstrous boils once they rose to the top of the skin. It was brutal. At that point, I couldn’t even put on foundation because of how patchy and dry my skin was. Plus, how to you cover Pluto with concealer?
It wasn’t until I began reading into the issue further that I realized that a lot of acne sufferers aren’t just dealing with acne issues: they’re dealing with....
SENSITIVE SKIN ISSUES!
Not only that, but a lot of them are actually doing too much to treat their acne. At this point in my life I’ve finally, FINALLY found a regimen that works for my sensitive, acne prone skin, and I am going to share that regimen with you today long with some helpful tips and facts about treating finicky acne. Hopefully somebody out there finds this helpful. Even if you don’t necessarily have acne prone skin, everybody gets a zit or two once in a blue moon so you still may find some tips that work for you. Because we've all been at the point where we feel like....
*I should mention also that all of the products mentioned in this take are bolded for those who are interested in checking them out. It should go without saying that I am a lowly G@G editor and am not endorsed by these product companies as I am sure they don't even know that I exist. With that said let us get to the take.*
Cleanse Gently but FIRMLY
You do not need the harshest of the harsh cleansers, nor do you need to scrub your skin raw in order to clear up your face. In fact, dermatologists recommend that you do not over process the skin as it can strip away the skin’s protective layers, irritate pores and rob the skin of valuable oils that actually HELP keep your skin healthy. People have the misconception that acne is caused by “dirt”, when in reality it’s caused by access skin cells, increases in IGF-1 & testosterone, over production of oil/sebum, abnormal growth of the skin lining the hair follicle, bacteria, over processing, etc. So throw away this concept of dirt getting in your skin, because as the saying goes: “If dirt caused acne you’d have it on your hands and feet.”
It’s recommended that you use a gentle, PH balanced daily cleanser instead of an overbearing acne cleanser, but let’s be real: that won’t work for people who have really bad acne. What I personally find works for me is having two cleansers going at the same time.
I have a large bottle of extra gentle daily cleanser (I use Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser) and then I have a bottle of that bad ass cleanser with the benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in it. Specifically, I use Murad Acne Clearing Cleanser OR (if I don’t feel like ordering it) Spectro AcneCare Wash. What I essentially do is use my gentle cleanser every day, and only use my turbo-acne fighting cleansers when I have a flare up. Even then, I’ll typically only use it once a day to avoid excessive drying, unless my flare up is really bad. In my experience, gentle cleansing of the face works a lot better than using harsher products because it minimizes irritation (which can worsen redness and inflammation) and it reduces unnecessary dryness while still removing impurities in the skin.
Avoid Picking & Popping MOST of the Time
Yes, I get it: as a sufferer of OCD I know how hard it can be to leave pimples alone, and sometimes, you get those stubborn pimples that will NOT go away until you pop them and treat them. I get it, I don’t expect anybody to have the willpower to leave their acne alone 100% of the time, but you should ideally aim to leave it alone 90% of the time.
It should go without saying that popping pimples can only further irritate them and spread germs and bacteria around your skin which can encourage new pimples. Not to mention the risk of dilated pores and scarring – which doesn’t equal out to an even complexion to say the least.
If you can help it, avoid popping and picking as much as possible. But, if you give into the urge, make sure to properly clean the area and then use a spot treatment or something of the like to deal with the repercussions.
Tone & Moisturize
It isn’t just as easy as washing away the gunk unfortunately, you need a full regimen to keep your skin from flaring up or becoming dried out. Plus, as an acne sufferer, you likely have issues with say: dullness, enlarged pores, oil, etc. A proper moisturizer and toner can help with all of these issues. Try to take into account what kind of skin you have and what you use as a daily cleanser: if you already use a ton of acne-medicated products, you can always benefit from something a little gentler, like toner and moisturizer made for sensitive skin. Remember, it isn’t about the harshest of the harsh; it’s about nourishing your skin. However if you find you need the extra protection then you can use a toner that is specifically geared towards acne prone skin, as it’ll likely contain a low concentration of salicylic acid.
Now, whatever moisturizer you choose, I suggest that no matter what, it contains sunscreen of at least SPF 15 to protect your skin. I personally use Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer with SPF 15 for combination-oily skin. However, you could also consider a moisturizer that also treats uneven skin tone or dark spots to help with that redness and scarring.
For toner I personally bounce around depending on how my skin is behaving, but a few that I like to use are: the Neutrogena Pore Refining toner and the Burt’s Bees Rose Water & Glycerin toner.
Exfoliate with CAUTION
Exfoliating is essential for the skin, and not just the skin on your face; if you are a sufferer of body acne and clogged hair follicles, body exfoliation is a great way to treat it. But, for this take, we’re focusing on the face.
There are many ways to exfoliate the face: exfoliating cleansers, chemical exfoliants, exfoliating pads, and of course costly cleansing tools. Whatever your preferred method is, exfoliating provides you one benefit: the removal of dead/dry skin cells and impurities (blackheads & hard deposits). The problem acne prone individuals can run into with exfoliating is over-exfoliating to try and quicken the results of impurity removal. This is a problem because it can actually damage and strip away layers of the skin and cause serious irritation and even encourage new pimples. So, limit your exfoliating to a maximum of 3 days a week. Now if you’re using a cleansing tool like the Clarisonic, then opt up for a gentle daily brush head instead of an exfoliating one if you plan to use it every day and follow the recommended use instructions provided.
Other than that, for your typical methods just remember: small circular motions and a little patience to take your time and do er’ slowly, because your skin isn’t your enemy – it’s like your perfect girlfriend that turns into a colossal bitch when she’s on her period; she just needs some TLC, a little patience and understanding, and she’ll calm the fuck down if you treat her right.
I personally have been using a combination of an exfoliating anti-aging cream (the name escapes me) and Saint Ives Apricot Scrub.
I am a sucker for a good quick-fix for surprise pimples, don’t get me wrong, but even spot-treatments and things of the like can be abused and cause you further guff. They’re concentrated formulas meant to rapidly reduce pimple size and redness, which is wonderful, but like all acne fighting medication they can irritate and dry out your skin if you use them too much. Besides, I don’t know about other chicks, but I almost feel like if I overuse a spot treatment that its effectiveness will diminish.
So I recommend that you only use spot treatment on those stubborn pimples once a day, preferably at the end of the night after you’ve completed your regimen. This way, you’re more likely to leave the pimple alone and hyper-focus on how quickly the solution is working. My personal favorite spot treatments are the Clean & Clear Acne Spot Treatment and the Murad Acne Spot Treatment.
Now, I’m sure most of you are thinking: holy shit RJ, that is a ton of fucking products, I can’t afford that nor do I have the patience to take all of these steps. Isn’t there an easier way?
Well, for some, maybe. I know from personal experience that I don’t NEED to tone or spot treat every day, and that a cleanser and good moisturizer is often enough for me to be good with my skin. I personally take the extra steps however as it not only yields better results, but the results are more long lasting and preventative.
Also, if you are young and you can’t afford the products that I personally use, you don’t have to worry. There are a lot of affordable brands that you can get that won’t cost an arm and a leg, just keep in mind the types of products I suggested and find what works best for you. Other than that, my final tip for this take is simple but important:
Keep up with your regimen and you will see results sooner than later, just do your best not to get lazy and I promise you that a difference will be noticeable. Just keep at it until you get comfortable with the daily grind of fighting acne crime (ha) and you will not regret it.
That is my time for today though G@Gers, as always I hope you have a great week and I am excited to see your input.