3 Things That Completely CHANGED My Skincare (For ACNE)
Good skin is the one accessory that not only makes you look put-together but also makes you feel put-together. This is because good skin is a reflection of your daily habits and lifestyle choices, encompassing your diet, exercise and sleep patterns. While I'm certain we all know this by now, it can still seem like an unattainable goal with all these lovely ladies on social media showcasing their picturesque glass skin. Then... there's you, still struggling with acne, redness and dark marks.
Let me first say, that my skin is no where near perfect but it has improved so much over the past year. This can only be attributed to my extensive research and re-learning how to care for the skin.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed skincare specialist so this information does not replace speaking with your dermatologist about what will work for your specific skin care needs.
BUT... here are 3 things that I learned, that helped me completely change the way I understand skin, and helped changed the health of my skin.
1. Understanding Acne
I want to point out that here I am referring specifically to combination-oily skin types. Ahh, yes, my worst enemy. Acne. Hormonal or otherwise, it is the bane of my existence (a little excessive but it feels accurate). For years, our understanding of effective acne treatments was thought to be the more antibacterial the better. Astringent agents that dried out the pimple with harsh surfactants, alcohols, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid was the end all and be all of acne.
This truly only makes the situation worse. These harsh chemicals irritate the skin, making the skin more inflamed. This increased inflammation, combined with vigorous cleansing and exfoliation does nothing but spread the bacteria to other areas of the skin. Harsh exfoliation creates micro tears in the skin, that acne-causing bacteria latch onto and infect. The irritation causes the skin to release Corticotophin; a stress hormone, which triggers the release of Histamine which further irritates the skin. This energizes the sebaceous glands, releasing oil to repair the damaged caused by the alcohol. Continuing the problematic cycle.
Yes, it is good the dry out the pimple, but in a way that draws the impurities out of the skin. Alcohol, and harsh acids dry out the surface of the skin leaving the inflammation, and infection untreated. You want to draw out the impurities to the surface of the skin, and allow the inflamed pore to breathe.
Tip. Draw out impurities with a clay mask as a spot treatment to pimples to reduce inflammation and redness.
2. Understanding Moisture
This has got to be my new best friend. I know what you might be thinking. How the heck is more moisture supposed to solve my acne problems? Well lads and galls, the skin is made of 64% water so it makes sense that to keep the skin happy, you have to replenish your skin's natural moisture levels. The skin is designed to heal and take care of itself, that's just how its made. Our job, is to create an environment where the skin can do what it is supposed to do, and do it well.
Not only should you be drinking plenty water on a daily basis but you should also be replenishing the moisture content in the skin. No matter what skin type you have this is still important. But the type of skin your have does effect what kind of moisture you use. When our skin's moisture content is balanced, it is able to function properly and take care of itself. Acne lives in oily, dirty, irritate and dry environments. Just don't overdo it with a heavy moisturizer that can clog the pores instead of actually hydrating them.
Tip. Cleanse your skin with a mild cleanser, and hydrate the skin with a light moisturizer for the day and a heavier cream at night.
3. Boosting The Effects of Products
All products are not created equal, and depending on the budget your have, you'll have different results (by which I mean to say fast or slower results). Of course, more expensive products have higher potency because of their ingredients but it is not impossible to find lower budget products that work just as well. The truth is, no matter what -end of the department store your shop at, your skin care regime can suffer when the skin is not prepared for the treatment. As long as your prep the environment to get the most out of your skincare regardless of the price tag.
Prepping the skin involves two steps: Toning and Steaming.
Toning! I'll be the first to admit that for years I was one who completely skipped toning the skin. I thought it was just some useless gimmick water that did absolutely nothing for the skin (I was so wrong). Toner is an amazing product that helps to balance the skin's pH levels. What is that you ask? Ph level refers to the acid-alkaline ratio of a substance. Cleansers tend to disrupt that balance so the toner brings it back to a healthy medium. The skin sits at a healthy medium: 5.5. So think of the word toner as skin balancing agent instead.
Steaming! My favourite part. Contrary to popular belief, the pores of your skin do not actually open and close, since they have no muscles, the skin does soften. When the skin is softened, it is able to absorb products 10x better than when it is dry (Duh!). When you steam your face, you get your skin prepared for a clay mask to draw out the impurities of the skin. The steam softens the skin and amplified the pulling of congestion to the surface. More than that, it allows moisture to truly hydrate the skin. Just remember to lock in that moisture afterwards (since the pores of course don't "close").
The key to clear skin isn't as a laborious task as it appears. It doesn't require tons of expensive products either. As with anything else, it simply requires an understanding of how the skin works, and adjusting to cater to it needs. Listen to your skin, understand it, be kind to it and watch it flourish before your very eyes.