Since my skin can’t seem to make up it’s mind as to what nasty, inconvenient problem it wants to have, I’ve been through dry and flaky, true combination, oily, and now oily and acne-prone. I made it through my teen years with only the occasional blemish to come close to 30 with a raging case of acne and redness. My stylist once said I had a “Strawberries and Cream” complexion which I know now is a nice way of saying “Deathly pale with Rosacea!” Well my skin woes have led to trying lots of products and different routines which means I have lots of advice to share. I figured I’d break it up into different posts for different skin problems.
If you suffer from acne, you’ll need a skincare routine to combat it. Most of us with acne who either can’t afford or don’t want to go the Rx route need to use at least a two-pronged approach to fight it. Keep in mind that just making pimples go away may not be enough for you. Oil and clogged pores contribute to forming of pimples. With acne comes redness and scarring that also need attention. The thing to do is to find a combination of products that work for you. A good example is proactiv- it’s simply a combination of common, over-the counter acne-fighting ingredients and it works because they are used together all at once. I think making your own kit is always better though! I want this to be more about the ingredients and the types of products- I’ll mention what I use in most cases but as long as the ingredients are right it doesn’t matter what you get- I use the generic versions of almost everything and they work great.
A common and effective ingredient in many acne-fighters is Salicylic Acid. It can be found in many cleansers, exfoliating cleansers for face in body and acne pads like Stridex. I personally use all three. I use the cleanser daily, the pads after removing my makeup and the exfoliant about 3 times a week in the shower.
Benzoyl Peroxide is another ingredient that is really common in drug-store acne-fighters. It’s more commonly found in spot-treatments. I use a 10% gel made by Clean and Clear immediately following the use of the Stridex pads. The Salicylic Acid opens the pores and enables the Benzoyl Peroxide to absorb. I’ve found it much less effective on it’s own or before the pads. Together they may be enough of a treatment for people with mild cases of acne or occasional breakouts.
Another main ingredient of some skin cleansers that is less common and not usually found in drugstores is Charcoal. Lush and Mac both have popular charcoal cleansers but if you google charcoal in cleansers you’ll find a variety of options!
Toner or astringent can be used after Cleanser instead of pads. Witch-Hazel is a common ingredient found in toners to fight acne but is also soothing to the skin. Alcohol is a common ingredient in toners- toners basically dry/tighten the skin and shrink the pores.
Pore Strips- These are pretty neat! They seem to rip the crud right out of the pores in your T-zone. There is no ingredient to look for. They are best for blackheads and don’t seem to work well on acne and do nothing for redness, in my experience.
Sulfur- Removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores. It is best used in combination with other acne-fighting ingredients and I recommend using it in a mask. There is a brand available in drugstores called AcneFree that makes a good sulfur mask.
Oil-free makeup remover- taking off your makeup every time you wear it is a MUST! Seriously. Sleeping in your makeup clogs pores and contributes to aging. At the least put a packet of disposable facial cleansing cloths next to your bed for the occasional night when you forget to remove your makeup. Really though- try to remove it properly every night. Use an oil-free remover on your face and for waterproof mascara and tough eye-makeup, using an oil-based remover is okay as long as you cleanse and rinse thoroughly afterwords.
Oil-free moisturizers- If you already have oily or acne-prone skin using a moisturizer with oil isn’t a good idea- it will only clog up pores and cause more problems. Why use it at all? It will help prevent aging and there’s a formula for everyone- brightening,soothing, complexion-evening, wrinkle fighting, spot correcting, etc.
In between morning cleansing, shower-treatments and the nightly regimen if oil is still a problem try carrying those oil-absorbing sheets. They really do work! Rice-paper works just as well and you can get it at Sally’s beauty supply pre-cut and packaged or at an international food market. Urban Decay makes a gel called De-Slick which you can dab on over your makeup or alone to zap oily spots. They also make a De-Slick powder- it is like all blotting powders which are a white, very finely milled powder usually in a compact that you swipe on and it absorbs the oil without adding color. Lots of Makeup Companies have a version of this product. If neither of those sound good to you Urban Decay also makes a De-Slick Spray which doubles as a makeup setting spray but it can be used alone as well.
To create your own regimen try using a couple of these products in the morning, a few in/after a shower and some in the evening. I cleanse in the A.M, use toner & moisturizer before makeup. I use blotting papers and powder for touchups during the day. In the shower I exfoliate (2-3times a week) and after every shower I moisturize. At night I remove makeup, wash my face, use the pads and the gel and twice a week I skip those two and use a sulphur mask instead. This is what works for me. You may need less products, or you may find charcoal works better for you than sulphur, whatever- we are all different, but at least if you have these problems we’re pretty close and can help each other find what works!