As I was finishing this series, I realized I had more things to say that didn’t quite fit in the categories I had planned out. Striving for beautiful skin is more than just, well, skin deep. Keeping your skin clean and hydrated is going to go a long way, but there are other things you can do to help prevent blemishes and scaring before you get to the point of having to treat them.
Healthy Eating – We’ve all heard rumors that fries and chocolate cause pimples, and we’ve all heard rumors about the original rumors being untrue. So which is it?! Well, both. Eating fries, fast food, or a sweet will not instantly cause a pimple to form. And eating multiple fries, and fast food meals, and sweets will not give you multiple pimples. At least not directly. Indirectly is a completely different story. You see, as good as these foods taste, they aren’t exactly bursting with vitamins and minerals. And your body needs vitamins and minerals. They help keep your body balanced and functioning properly. That includes your skin. When your body is lacking some vitamins on the inside, it begins to send you hints using your outside. So hello oily skin, flakes, and zits. Eating meals with fruits and vegetables and proper proteins isn’t just for maintaining a proper weight, but it’s essential if you want to give yourself the best shot at healthy skin as well.
Exercise – Go out and get your blood pumping! Well oxygenated blood will give you that glow to the skin that everyone is so crazy over. Good circulation helps deliver nutrients (that you’re getting from those healthy meals) to you cells. If you are someone who gets skin maladies from stress, like acne or even hives, exercise and deep breathing are great at releasing stress. And when I say exercise, I’m not just talking about going out and running five miles. Of all people, I’m definitely not going to be forcing anyone to run, I loathe it. Find something you enjoy (or at least hate least). Dance, yoga, boxing, tennis, swimming, rollerblading…there are a zillion options out there. Even playing tag for twenty minutes with your annoying little brother can give your bit of a benefit. Just don’t forget to rinse off before and after. You don’t want all that hard work to go to waste simply because you forgot to take a shower and all the dirt and sweat got trapped in your pores.
Practice Good Hygiene – Earlier I mentioned how important it was to wash your hands before washing your face or putting on face lotion. It’s important to remember to sanitize your makeup as well! Wash your brushes regularly, and spot clean in between washes. I wash mine every few weeks, because although I don’t have many brushes, I also don’t wear makeup every single day. If you wear makeup more often, you’ll want to wash your brushes more often, more like once a week to once every other week. If you’ve been sick, easy your brushes even more often and disinfect your actual makeup products. And be so cautious about sharing makeup. One should NEVER share mascara, and try to use a clean brush instead of having multiple people sticking their fingers in a product.
Laundry – If you have acne, try to use gentle detergents and the correct amount. Over suddsing your duds can cause breakouts when the leftover detergent is in such close contact with your skin all day and all night long. It’s also good to switch your pillowcases frequently. You can buy fairly inexpensive satin pillowcases at even Walmart and Meijer to ensure you don’t have to do a load of four pillowcases every few days (for the record, I lowered the number of pillowcases a bit to something that sounded more reasonable. I have a LOT of pillows). I’ll go longer I between sheet washes – I aim for once a week, don’t think I mean monthly – but will sleep on one side of the pillow for two nights, the other side of the pillow for two more nights, and then switch. If I’m sick, or get wrapped up and end up getting sweaty, I switch it more often.
Sleep – Keeping a schedule and especially getting enough sleep each night is really good advice that is so hard to follow. I know I work ten hours a day, and have an hour drive there and back, yet don’t want to go to sleep as soon as I get home. I somewhat refuse to admit how early I need to go to bed for how early I need to wake up. It’s something I’m working on. Nevertheless, getting adequate sleep helps you skin stay bright and fresh, as it allows your cells to repair themselves and get a little break from the daily grind. Just like you mind dulls with exhaustion, you skin dulls, too, and these foggy signals can cause your skin to not only be dull, but then overproduce oil, or not repair itself. Proper sleep will keep everything running like a machine.
Hands Off – Don’t pick don’t prod, don’t squeeze, don’t scratch, don’t touch. Just…don’t. There is a huge risk of making the problem even worse, because your creating and open wound, of sorts, and exposing the problem to even more bacteria, which will slow down the healing process. It can be hard, but just…don’t.
SPF – Ok, ok, this really has nothing to do with acne. It’s important to keep your skin protected though, year round. Even on the rainy days and during the winter, your skin is susceptible to sun damage. I love Neutrogena’s Clear Skin sunscreen. It’s a little pricy, and I’m not sure if it actually has anything in it that makes it any different from another sunscreen made for the face, but at the same time it’s never made my acne any worse or caused pimples, so I continue to shell out the cash and buy that particular kind for my face. I will sometimes use this in place of facial lotion during the summer, but in the winter I either mix it or apply it over my facial lotion.
Having good habits will make a huge difference, and also help keep breakouts from doing permanent damage. Unfortunately, you can have the best habits in the world and still get breakouts. I had good habits and still had severe acne. Sometimes it’s hormonal. Sometimes it’s genetic. These things suck but can’t be helped. I use gentle cleansers and lotions as a means of keeping my skin clean, not treating my acne, because I think having products that are meant to cover a larger area shouldn’t have treatment properties to it, because there will be some parts of your face that just don’t need it. Using say, an acne fighting product when you have acne on your forehead and chin but not jaw or nose can end up over drying the areas that didn’t need the acne fighting, which will lead to your body overproducing oil to compensate, which will cause acne, and perhaps also make you over moisturizing with face lotion, which will suffocate pores and also cause acne. And you might think, well now I can use the acne cleanser there, except in the time your clear area has broken out, another area that formally was broken out was clearing up…so you’re back at it. And it goes on and on. So instead, I prefer to spot treat. There are a few things I use when I get a zit that bothers me.
Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion – Not only do I get regular pimples (white heads or surface bumps), but I was blessed with cystic acne as well. This is a pimple that forms under your skins surface and can be a painful, hard lump that, in my case at least, can last for weeks. Yes, weeks, as in more than one. It’s not uncommon for me to have a cystic pimple that lasts a month. Luckily, with cystic acne you get some warning that one is coming on. When I get that telltale soreness, I instantly go to my buffering lotion (side note – I know I’ve mentioned Mario Badescu products a few times throughout this series, and I want to reassure you that this is not a sponsored post. I’m just very pleased with most of the products I’ve tried from this brand). This stuff is my saving grace when it comes to cystic acne. You apply it once a day, every other day until your spot is gone. Even my stubborn month long cystic zits rarely last a week after I start treating them with this guy. There are some cons: This. Smells. Horrible! I’m not sure how much alcohol is in this, but it has to be a large amount because one whiff brings me back to getting shots at the doctors office when I was little, and the nurse swabbing my arm with those cold little pads. That’s exactly what this smells like. And, like I said, there is alcohol in this. I don’t like alcohol in my skin products usually, but because I only use this as a spot treatment on an irregular basis, I’m ok with it. I would not recommend is to be a part of your regular skincare routine. Simply use for the occasional spot treatment for a really intense cystic pimple. Also, it is verrry liquidy. There is sediment at the bottom, which you are supposed to shake to mix with the liquid, but don’t be mistaken that this will thicken it up MIT kind of makes it messy and tricky to learn to apply. I float back and forth between putting a small amount on a cotton round and touching it to my spot, or outing some in my finger to dab it on. You don’t need a large amount,so the liquid lasts a long time. But it is a bit of a learning process to find a way to apply it that works for you. And in case you missed it, this is solely for true cystic acne spots. I’ve tried this on spots that have pushed through to the surface, just because I was curious, and nothing happens. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s a waste of product hep because literally nothing happens. This is only effective on pimples that have yet to surface. This brand does have a product for whiteheads, but as I don’t get them too often nor do they really bother me when I do, I can’t say that I’ve tried it.
Eyes Lips Face (ELF) Essential Zit Zapper – I forgot to take a picture of this, so I’ll have to upload it at a different time, but I really like this product for those times I get surface pimples that I want to shrink. I used to use a similar product by Clinique, which did work, but this is the same thing with the same 1% salicylic acid, for $1! If it does the same job and works just as well, why pay the extra moolah? Plus, to be honest, both of these come in me mall containers that I’m a pro at losing, so I’d much rather lose a $1 item than one in the $15-$20 range. One minor downside is that the ELF version has a rollerball tip, which sounds great in theory, except whatever dirt or bacteria is on your skin gets picked up and put back into the container when you’re rolling it over a spot on your face. I try to either use this after washing my face (yet before my facial lotion), or I wash my hands first then roll this on my finger to get some product, and then use my finger to place it on my zit. Again, for $1 I’m willing to out up with this minor inconvenience.
Sephora Collection Rose Mask (moisturizing and brightening) – Awkward pic! In case you didn’t pick up on it after my entire post dedicated to hydration, this is important to me. With all I put my face through, all the cleansing and stress and pollution, I absolutely love a good face mask to put some life back into my skin. This one is inexpensive and quick, with results that last me a couple of days. It leaves my skin feeling soft and plump. Even though I struggle with oily skin, I find using this mask every so often really helps keep things balanced, and has never caused a breakout. It does smell like rose, and is kind of messy, but just press it to your face, using all the gooey gel as somewhat of an adhesive, and it will stay in place. I take any extra serum and massage it into my neck and chest. It’s also kind of cooling, so I like to use this before bed to help me really relax.
Carlson Labs Cod sliver Oil in Lemon – I swear by this stuff. I originally bought it because cod liver oil is supposed to be good for you health and brighten your complexion, and while looking for one I came across a video of YouTube beauty guru Jaclyn Hill recommending this particular one. I figured why not, and ordered it myself. Not only did it brighten my complexion and slightly lessen the severity of my breakouts, but I had another random benefit from this. Around the same time, I was experiencing extreme dry scalp. Like, to the point I wondered if it was eczema or psoriasis, and even consulted with my parents on whether or not I should see a doctor. Well I started taking this stuff and it went away. At the time, I didn’t connect the two, and figured the weather was getting better and maybe it had just solved itself. And then I left it at someone’s house. I didn’t have it for a couple weeks and strangle enough my scalp problems came back. Once again I was baffled. When I got y bottle of cod liver oil back and began taking it regularly again, my scalp problems cleared up. This time I put two and two together. Now I won’t skip a day. It has a olive oil like consistency with a taste I wouldn’t necessarily classify as bad, but sure wouldn’t classify as bad either. Personally the consistency was harder to get used to than the taste. I don’t have any aftertaste or feel the need to drink a gallon of water after, but I do drink a small glass of water after taking my nightly spoonful. I don’t know what, if any, the science is behind this, but I do know it’s effects are not only in my head. If anyone is considering trying cod liver or fish oil, I highly, highly recommend this.
Well, that’s it! These are the things that I come back to again and again and rely on to keep my acne as under control as I possibly can. I really hope you were able to get some good information and ideas from this series, and I wish you all the best in your skincare journey. It’s been a huge, long, frustrating process for me, and I’m sure many of you out there can relate. Eventually, things do get better, and I wish I had known all of the things I put in the series years ago.