Monday, June 30, 2014

Tricks for Banishing Blemishes

For those of us with acne (myself included), it can be quite frustrating when no over the counter acne fighting products seem to work.  I've tried many of them...natural, synthetic, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, retinol etc. and have yet to find a product that I can honestly say has helped fully banish my blemishes.  However, throughout my quest to clear my skin, I have discovered a few tricks that I must say have been rather effective:

1.  Try a probiotic.
I have a pretty weak stomach and found myself getting mini stomach viruses about once per
month over the past few years, which is pretty inconvenient and unpleasant.  In order to prevent these occurrences, I started taking a Country Life Dairy Free Acidophilus ($26 at Whole Foods) capsule every night.  Believe me...I'm the type of person who is hesitant to take pills, but acidophilus is a naturally occurring bacteria in the digestive system that helps keep your body clear of bacteria formed from consuming food.  The capsule simply helps replenish the body's supply as you would if you were to eat foods like yogurt that contain these live cultures (the pill just has a stronger dose of it).  It definitely has helped my mini viruses since I started taking it!  But one surprising side effect was that it helped reduce my the occurrence of zits as well.  As we commonly hear, acne forms as a result of bacteria.  However, we often fail to hear that this includes bacteria within the body in addition to the bacteria on the skin's surface.  Since acidophilus helps control bad bacteria in the body, it can help control its manifestations such as acne as well.

2.  Don't be scared of oils.
If you have oily or blemish-prone skin, you've pretty much been programmed to look for "oil-free" products only because oil + oil = super oily and super oily = the perfect environment for pimples to form.  The truth is that certain types of oils can be irritating or clog your pores, but many of them are actually suitable for oily skin.  Specifically, many synthetic oils and mineral oils can lead to breakouts.  Baby oil is a mineral oil and can aggravate acne.  First of all, there are often scents and fillers in baby oil that can make you break out.  Secondly, these lubricating oils are heavy, aggressive, and sit on the top
of the skin (rather than penetrate it), which can clog your pores.  Steer clear of products that have mineral oil and petrolatum as an ingredient (especially if it's listed first) because they are inexpensive ingredients that artificially leave the skin feeling soft.  However, pure oils like argan oil or grape seed oil can actually help with blemishes.  Pure oils are much lighter, more delicate, and get absorbed by the skin, rather than clog pores.  Plus, they nourish and repair the skin as well as help fade acne scars.  Josie Maran even makes a 100% Pure Argan Oil Light ($48 at Sephora) with a semi-matte finish that is more ideal for those of us with oily skin.  Don't be afraid of these types of oils in your serums, moisturizers, foundation, concealer, etc. and instead, look for claims such as "free of synthetic oils" or "free of mineral oil."
For more information on pure oils:

And sometimes you have to fight oil with oil.  Cleansing oils can actually help reduce oiliness.  How?  Oils mix with other oils, so a cleansing oil can cling to sebum (oil) on the skin and pull it out of pores as it is rinsed away.  Just like regular cleansers, they lather.  Plus, they leave your skin feeling soft without any oily residue.  They do make cleansing oils that target those with dry skin as well, so just ensure that you're not using one of these types of products.  I really like the Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Oil ($50 at Sephora).  You can also try the Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel ($28 at Sephora) if you prefer an oil-gel formula instead. 

3.  Be gentle and maintain a good moisture balance.
It's our natural instinct to try and treat acne aggressively...using a blotting
tissue every hour to eliminate excess oil, washing our faces religiously, and using "strong" products.  However, practices like overwashing and overblotting can actually make skin oilier.  When your skin is stripped of its oils, it produces more, and constant oil elimination trains your skin to constantly produce oil.  Limit face washing to twice per day: morning and night, and limit oil blotting to 2-3 times per day.  Even though you have oily skin, you should be moisturizing following cleansing for the same reason.  Your skin needs a certain amount of moisture to remain supple and elastic and if you're not feeding it moisturizer to do so, your skin will produce oil to do the job.  If you feel that creams are too heavy for you, try a lighter moisturizing gel like the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel ($26 at Sephora) instead.  Harsh ingredients like sulfates can also overstrip skin of necessary oils and cause irritation, so look for labels like sulfate-free.  Sulfates are most commonly found in cleansers and are an inexpensive ingredients that act as surfactants and foaming agents.  Give gentler products such as those designed for normal or sensitive skin a try.  I must say that after switching from a traditional benzoyl peroxide acne-fighting gel cleanser to a more soothing and softening rice-bran based face cleanser, my skin was much clearer and smoother.  The calming properties of more gentle products can reduce irritation and inflammation that causes acne.
For more information on skin, oil, and moisture:

4.  Keep your skin environment clean.
As we discussed earlier, bacteria certainly allows for the formation of pimples, so it is important to keep your pores squeaky clean.  In addition to washing your face, make sure that you're washing the items that touch your face.  This includes your pillowcase.  Grease and dirt from your skin, clothes, and hair can get all over it and transfer to your face while you're sleeping.  Also, make sure to wipe your yoga mat and telephone with a little bit of alcohol or witch hazel every now and then.  Lastly, I know it's a pain, but make sure that you're washing your makeup brushes weekly.  They touch your face every day and can transfer bacteria as well as contaminate your makeup with bacteria if they're not clean.  Simply rinse them with warm water and soap and then allow them to dry...the whole process only takes a few just need to bring yourself to actually do it.  Similarly, always wash your hands before applying makeup, especially if you're using your fingers to apply it. 

5.  Reconsider what other products you're using.
Just remember that your face comes in contact with more than what you directly put on your face.  Any body mists, hairsprays, shampoo, or conditioners that you apply can get onto your face and clog your pores.  Cleansing products like shampoos may have irritating sulfates that allow for breakouts, while thick conditioners contain fats that sit on the skin and clog your pores.  The solution is simple.  Make sure to wash your face after washing or conditioning your hair or simply sweep away impurities with a cotton ball and toner after spraying body spray or hairspray especially if you're planning on putting on makeup afterwards.

6.  Add some charcoal to your skincare regiment.
One of my favorite new products to recently hit the market is the Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal ($18 at Sephora).  Charcoal is becoming a hot ingredient in skincare because it acts as a magnet that draws out impurities and detoxifies pores.  The Boscia sponge made a great addition to my routine.  In addition to naturally antibacterial bamboo charcoal, konjac root also works to fight impurities and softens.  Since the sponge is super soften, it is gentle enough to use even around the eye area and provides the extremely mild exfoliation that is appropriate for daily use.  The Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores ($24 at Sephora) also contains charcoal and is a great weekly treat for your pores.

These measures don't necessarily replace the need for using some type of acne treatment whether it is prescription or over the counter.  Instead, it can work with these treatments in helping you reduce blemishes.  For example, I use a prescription retinoid acne treatment that helped significantly reduce but not eliminate my blemishes, and taking a probiotic helped to reduce them further.  And of course remember to practice other good skincare habits such as removing makeup before sleeping, exfoliating regularly, etc. that help ward off acne.
For more information on treating acne with natural products:

When you have acne, the focus of your skincare regiment tends to be on getting rid of it, and you often forget about taking measures to prevent aging.  However, it is important to be doing so since eventually acne will become less of a concern and aging will begin to accelerate.  First, using an eye and lip cream daily should not interfere with any acne products that you're using.  I really like the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye & Lip Cream ($49 at Sephora).  These two areas are the most delicate and susceptible to wrinkle formation and are not common areas for pimple formation as a result.  Additionally, antioxidants provide good protection against stressors like pollution and the sun that can age your skin, and it is very easy to find acne products that also contain antioxidants.  Try the bliss Steep Clean Mattifying Toner Pads ($38 at Sephora), which help refine pores, regulate sebum production, and eliminate bacteria from the skin's surface while providing antioxidant protection against aging.

For those of you who have struggled with acne, hope this helps!  What tricks to you use to keep your skin clear?

**All product recommendations are toxin-free.

1 comment:

  1. I am about to tell you about blemishes? Underestimate blemishes at your peril. Cited by many as the single most important influence on post modern micro eco compartmentalize, blemishes is featuring more and more in the ideals of the young and upwardly mobile. The juxtapositioning of blemishes with fundamental economic, social and political strategic conflict draws criticism from the over 50, many of whom fail to comprehend the full scope of blemishes. In the light of this I will break down the issues in order to give each of them the thought that they fully deserve