Happy Sunday! So I thought I'd change it up a bit this time and provide my personal insight on how I keep my skin clear! Now everyone has probably told you, to have clear skin you "use moisturizer" or "wash your face twice a day!" This always wasn't the case for me.
My skin was always acne-prone when I was growing up. I already started having whiteheads around my chin since the 4th grade. Getting these removed cost me hundreds of dollars every time I visited a dermatologist. As I hit puberty, the whiteheads disappeared, but everything else appeared! Cystic acne, blackheads, you name it. I had bangs for a bit to hide my forehead acne, once those gradually disappeared, I had terrible cystic acne on my cheeks for the first half of my high school years.
After almost 9 years of trying out different skincare products and religiously taking care of my skin, I am very happy to be writing about my "secrets" for clear skin!
1. Start From Within
During my years in middle school, one of my main causes of acne (besides hormones) was refined sugar. I cut soda out of my diet in 2013 and have stopped drinking it ever since; I also only sparingly eat refined sugar (maybe a cookie once every couple of weeks). One of the hardest things for me was to cut out any fried/fast food, but doing so really improved the quality of my skin! I no longer have random breakouts when I consumed fried/fast food. I have also cut out red meat (such as pork and beef) and not only it has improved the quality of my skin, it has also improved my health! Find out what in your diet is causing you to break out and with a bit of self control and motivation, you can quit and your skin will thank you in the long run. If it's not so much your diet, keep reading!
2. Find An Acne Cream & Stick To It
I took me multiple years to find something that fit for me and unfortunately it had to be prescribed (I wish I found something OTC so I wouldn't have to visit the doctor every time). I use Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Gel. Now this acne gel is a little bit different because it KILLS bacteria on your skin to PREVENT acne from forming. This gel keeps my acne at bay to prevent it from multiplying. I've tried Proactiv, Neutrogena, Clean and Clear, etc. I have also tried Epiduo and I found this prescription to be way too strong; my skin has peeled and burned using this formula. The Clindamycin gel has been the only acne cream that has been working for me so far. I've used this gel for over 4 years now and haven't run into any complications with it!
The reason I say to find an acne cream and stick to it is because the skin on your face is much more sensitive than the skin on your body and it takes a while for your skin to get used to a product (so don't test out a bunch of different things on your face). To make sure that an acne cream fits you is to first patch test; you can patch test anywhere, preferably on your arm. If it doesn't irritate you, then introduce it to your face. I recommend trying it out for a week and if you see changes/nothing is painful or burning, then continue to use it! But a side note, the gel isn't the only thing I use to keep my skin clear. I recommend you build a skincare routine and use your acne cream alongside it, your skin will thank you!
3. Oils Are Your Best Friend
One of the best things you can give to your face are natural oils! They contain NO alcohol, NO fragrances, and NO chemicals. So why use oils? Natural oils have the ability to kill and eliminate bacteria from your skin as well as soothe any irritations. 1 or 2 drops will get the job done. My favorite about natural oils is that they can be found in your local supermarket! Easy to find, easy to use.
Tea Tree Oil
– Antimicrobial & antifungal properties to kill bacteria on your skin
– A natural antiseptic & anti-inflammatory to soothe irritated skin
– Ability to treat infections & open wounds
Tea tree oil is very effective in treating acne because of the natural abilities it has to kill bacteria on your skin! 1 to 2 drops onto the affected area will kill and get rid of acne very quickly.
– Antimicrobial, antioxidant, & antibacterial
– Ability to reduce stress & anxiety
– Can improve quality of sleep!
Lavender is the oil I use when my skin becomes inflamed. The natural properties will soothe your skin and reduce inflammation. Not only does it help fight acne, it can also reduce dark spots that are caused by acne scars. It can also heal dry skin because of how moisturizing it is. Inhalation of this oil alone can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and reduce anxiety, and overall giving you a more relaxed mind and body.
– Rich in antioxidants & hypoallergenic
– Keeps the oil levels on your face balanced to prevent excess oil (which can cause acne)
– Contain iodine, which fights bacteria
– Contains vitamin E, which protects against skin cancer
– Can reduce the appearance of fine lines & signs of aging
This is one of my favorite oils because I can also replace your makeup remover! This oil doesn't clog pores and will protect and clean your skin. It will overall improve the appearance of your skin!
– Can kill bacteria and be very moisturizing for your face
Coconut oil is my favorite go-to oil. It's very versatile and can be found in almost every household. I use this oil in my hair and on my body as a moisturizer. Avoid using it on your face since it is comedogenic. If your face is sensitive, it can clog pores.
If your skin is sensitive, I recommend to dilute essential oils with your moisturizer. Add 1-2 drops into the amount of moisturizer you'll be applying on your face. You can also dilute essential oils with carrier oils (coconut and jojoba oil). Remember, a little goes a long way!
4. Invest In A Physical AND Chemical Exfoliator
People always say to exfoliate your skin once in awhile...so, what's the difference?
A physical exfoliator will help remove dead skin cells, giving you a brighter and smoother complexion. This works with the outer layer of your skin, sloughing off dead skin cells and debris. I recommend using a physical exfoliator once or twice every few weeks, maybe even less if your skin is sensitive. Exfoliating will also help your skin absorb acne cream or moisturizer better.
I currently use: Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel. This gel works with the oils on your skin to "peel" off dead skin! Not only does it make your skin smooth and even, it also can brighten it over time. Honestly, this is one of the most satisfying products I own because of how well it works. You WILL see results with this product!
On the other hand, physical exfoliators only tackle the outer part of your skin and cannot penetrate deep into your pores. Therefore, making them less effective than a chemical exfoliator. A chemical exfoliator can penetrate deep into the skin, cleaning pores and everything a physical exfoliator may have missed. Because of their active ingredients, chemical exfoliators can remove even more dead skin cells and even promote healthy cell regeneration.
I will be using: Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid. This will be my first serum that I am introducing into my routine! (I'll have a review about it soon.) Although this is a serum, because of the high acidity, it will act as a chemical exfoliator for me as well. With 20.5% of pure vitamin C, this will lighten my acne scars and any hyper-pigmentation that I have and overall brighten and smooth out my skin.
Consistent use of a vitamin c acid will give you brighter skin over time. It takes patience!
If you are struggling with clogged pores and blackheads I recommend: Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. This exfoliator contains 4% BHA which will deep clean your pores, removing any debris and clogged pores, and blackheads that you may have. It also contains Willow Bark Extract and Niacinamide to brighten your skin and remove dead skin cells as well.
If you are new to chemical exfoliants or have sensitive skin, slowly introduce them into your routine by diluting them or using them every other day at night. I recommend to use it at night and always use sunscreen because your skin will be more sensitive due to the chemicals!
5. DO. NOT. POP. PIMPLES.
Or even touch your face, I don't recommend doing either. Popping pimples can be potentially dangerous because it can lead to infections. When you pop a pimple, you're tearing the skin, opening it to bacteria, not to mention the pain as well! Popping pimples can also cause acne scars and discoloration, which is even harder to get rid of than actual acne itself. If your pimple is already inflamed, popping it can cause the inflammation to be worse. Every time you try to pop it, you are bothering the skin around your pimple and it will cause more redness and swelling. Let the pimple naturally run its course (apply any oils or acne cream if you have it) and consistently keep the inflamed area clean.
6. Wash Your Face At Least Once A Day
Whether you've been out or inside all day your face does produce oil and catch debris throughout the day. If you wear makeup, PLEASE wash it off throughly before you go to bed. Sleeping with makeup on will clog your pores and cause break outs. Your skin repairs itself every night and with all the makeup on, your skin will absorb your makeup which contains chemicals that can damage your skin. Washing your face will allow your skin and pores to breathe, as well as give you a clean canvas to apply your routine.
I currently use: The Face Shop White Seed Exfoliating Foam Cleanser. It contains white lupin seed and white daisy to give your skin a white and brighter complexion over time. If I'm not using a mask the night before, then I normally only wash my face with lukewarm water in the morning and I cleanse at night. Over-cleansing can be abrasive and can ruin your skin's moisture barrier.
7. WEAR SUNSCREEN
I really cannot stress this enough. The sun is extremely damaging to your skin and will cause so many problems in the future. Trust me, you can still get Vitamin D while wearing sunblock, it'll protect you getting sun damage. Wearing sunscreen will prevent your skin from being exposed to UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays can trigger the development of skin cancer and melanoma and wearing sunscreen daily can prevent premature aging.
I use: The Face Shop Natural Sun Brightening Sun Block SPF 50. This sunscreen doesn't have a white cast so you can apply it without looking ghostly. I recommend choosing a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more and applying it everyday. Ideally, you should be applying it every 2-3 hours, more if you are outside for a prolonged time.
Sunscreen will protect your acne from getting inflamed and protect acne scars from becoming darker.
8. Drink Water EVERYDAY
This one should be a no-brainer, but I'm telling you, IT WORKS. This is honestly one of my biggest secrets of maintaining clear skin. I drink about a 1 liter to 1.5 liters a day (that's equivalent to about 4 bottles of water, I should drink more...) Your skin cells are made up of water and like any cell in your body, they need to be hydrated! If you aren't drinking enough water, soon enough it'll become dry and flaky and eventually you will develop pre-mature wrinkles much quicker. Drinking water will give you bright and clear skin, and overall give you a more youthful complexion.
Other tips to keep your skin clear!
– Sleep on your back to prevent your face from constantly touching the pillow. This can cause breakouts (if your skin is sensitive) and can cause pre-mature wrinkles!
– If you do sleep on your face, change your pillow sheets often to prevent bacteria from spreading. I sleep with a towel on top and flip it. (Fold the towel in half, flip it the next night, then flip it backwards, and repeat. This should give you 4 nights before you change the towel.)
– Always wipe your phone with alcohol after a phone call, doing so will prevent bacteria from spreading on your face.
– If you are using a face moisturizer, use it as a hand cream also. If you do accidentally touch your face, your skin won't become irritated or breakout because of the moisturizer.
– Avoid fatty, greasy food. (You can do it!)
– Get a full night sleep every night. Your skin repairs itself every night and it needs the hours to do so.
– Avoid using pore strips. These are aggressive on your skin and can break your skin's capillaries, leading to enlarged pores.
– Don't use toothpaste or aspirin on your face as a quick remedy, the chemical properties are very harsh on your face and will damage your skin. I recommend honey as a quick fix! Honey has antibacterial properties that can kill acne in an instant.
– Read the ingredient list. I quicker you find out what chemicals irritate your skin, the better you are at picking out products that do not contain it, leading you to clearer skin!
– Develop a skincare routine! This will take awhile to learn what your skin needs, but is doable. (I will write a blog post about a routine in the future, so stay tuned!)
Overall, have fun with it! I know acne-prone skin can lower your self-esteem, but clear skin is achievable! I am not a dermatologist or anything, these are just tips I have learned by taking care of my skin over time and want to share with everyone! My inbox is always open if you have any questions at all.
(I am not sponsored by any of the brands nor am I affiliated with any of the brands listed above. All of the pictures are taken and edited by me unless stated otherwise. Thank you for reading & take care! ♡ - Annie)