Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Five Things to Do to Lessen Acne

Hi ladies,

It’s hump day and I hope you are getting through the day as peachy as possible. The weather has been so awesome lately that I feel a whole lot happier. Some days, I even feel like Cinderella dancing around in the forest because after all, the back of my apartment complex is the woods.

For those who have been following me around since the beginning of this blog, you know I am a long time acne sufferer. Recently, I have noticed that my skin has become much better. For a very long time, a better skin day to me consisted of having around 10 zits. How, I would have about 3 pimples on a bad day. Amazing, huh?

So it got me thinking a lot of why my skin has been so amazing lately. What have I done to deserve such a big blessing? Believe me, having blemish-free skin is a very big blessing in my book. Although this is not a comprehensive guide to blemish-free skin, I think a few changes actually make a big difference on my outlook. As I am no medical doctor or dermatologist, these are not my advice but simply my own experience that I would like to share to you and hopefully will help you as well.

Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet, the new face of Lancôme, has amazing skin
Image courtesy Diets in Review

Are we ready for the list? Let’s go!

Change number 1: Switch to a gentle face wash or cleanser

This probably is the change that makes a big difference to me. Before I started using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, I pretty much had a big dislike on almost every face washes I tried. One was too oily- the other was too drying. One was too perfumey- the other was too bland. One was too rough- the other barely clean anything at all! Well, you get the picture, right?

So when Cetaphil GSC came along my way with a sale, I was a bit skeptical. After all, how good is this plain vanilla skin cleanser is anyways? It turned out to be really good and I reviewed it before (click here.) Plus, it is one of a few “dermatologists’ darlings” out there and you bet the derms are right.

The moral of the story: go ahead and get Cetaphil GSC, then wash it with a gentle washcloth. You get both cleansing and exfoliating that way.

Change number 2: Change your sunscreen

We all know “pale is the new tan” and wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 and above is the must. However, sunscreen and your skin may not like each other. As a result, your skin may have a minor freak out that result in some pimples. Now, there are two types of sunscreens: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens shields your skin from the sun by reflecting or scattering the lights like mirrors while chemical sunscreens protects your skin from getting burned by absorbing the UV rays that hit your face. The most commonly known chemical sunscreen is Avobenzone and the irony of chemical sunscreens is they are sensitive to heat. As a result, once exposed to the sun, chemical sunscreen's life span is quite ephemeral.

Two common physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The good news is physical sunscreens are longer lasting than chemical sunscreens. Also, TiO2 and ZnO are skin-calming compounds that are very beneficial for acne sufferers. And you guess them right: these two oxides are main ingredients in mineral makeup.

The moral of the story: unless you are allergic to metals, switching to physical sunscreen may be beneficial for your skin.

Change number 3: Wash your face after you wash your hair

I learned this trick from Allure magazine a couple years ago and it actually works very well to eliminate zits along the hairline. Before, I used to have lots of tiny but painful pimples around my face. After they were gone, the scars left behind made me look like I just had a face transplant or something. It was utterly horrendous but as the zits were so close to the hairline, nobody paid any attention unless I tied my hair back. At that time, I still had short hair and of course, to save myself from the scars I wore my hair close to my face.

The trick is very simple: after you are done with cleaning and conditioning your hair, just simply wash your face while you are still in the shower.

“Why should I do that?” you may ask. It’s very simple: your shampoo and especially conditioner leave behind a thin film of soap and moisturizer around the hairline, which is the perfect condition for trapped bacteria to grow on your trapped dead skin cells. By washing your face afterward, you eliminate that film and therefore, bacteria have nowhere to go! Brilliant, right?

The moral of the story: try it and you will see amazing result very soon.

Change number 4: Your pillowcases and the drying sheets/fabric softener

For those who have suffered from zits growing around your chin, your drying sheets may be blamed on. The drying sheets and fabric softener act like conditioner to your clothes as they keep the clothes soft and static-free. Like your conditioner, they also leave a thin layer of softener to your clothes and hence, if you are a side sleeper, the stuff actually transfers to your face while you sleep.

So what should you do? Avoid using drying sheets and fabric softener and enduring the tough, crunchy towels and jeans? Hells to the no, girlfriends! Before you transfer your clothes to the dryer, simply pick out the pillowcases and let them air dry. If you have a lot of pillowcases, you can do a load sans drying sheets and off you go. If you only use fabric softener, just switch to using drying sheets and take the pillowcases out as I mentioned earlier.
The moral of the story: although it may take more time initially, separating the pillowcases is a good move. Your face will thank you later on.

Change number 5: Read the ingredients of products that you use

After my discovery of change number 3, I was elated to see the number of zits around my hairline dwindled down to single digits. However, as time went by I realized some zits still lingered around and once one was gone, another one popped back up at almost the same spot. Weird, huh?

Being a sometimes complainer, I vented my frustration on one of my cousins who used to be an acne sufferer himself. (His skin became smooth after using Neutrogena, by the way!) The cousin asked me this question: what kind of hair products do you use? I mumbled an answer to him that I do not remember and then he gave me this big revelation: it’s the alcohol! “Stay away from the alcohol,” he said, “it does not do your skin any good.”

After that, I went to the bathroom that was choke-full of hair styling products- I had short hair at the time, I was entitled to them- and began to check the ingredient list on every single one of them. Guess what? The ones that gave me that awesomely spiky flipped out hair have SD alcohol as well as other comedogenic ingredients. It took me time to throw them away, as some of them were pricey and after trials and errors, I figured out the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The moral of the story: SD alcohol is in a lot of hair and skincare products. I would avoid it at all costs as it is drying for the skin. Also, I find dimethicone to cause blackheads to me as well. Those two are currently on my black list. For hair products, I would avoid waxy hair gels, pomade, and putty. Those tend to be stickier and can aggravate my skin more than the thinner gels or mousse.

The two brands that produce hair styling product that do not aggravate my skin are Garnier Fructise and of course, Aveda. Garnier products, which are formulated in France, are a lot cheaper than Aveda’s but they perform very well. Aveda’s products, being a high-end salon brand, are more concentrated and a little bit lasts a very long time.

That’s all for today, folks. This is a long winding post without lots of pictures but I sincerely hope the tricks will help some of you out there. If you have some other tips and tricks to eliminate acne, please feel free to share. I hope to hear from you.

Take care and stay gorgeous,
Your Makeup Blogger

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  1. I never knew about the SD alcohol thing! I've personally never had problems with it, and it's one of the top 5 ingredients in the Murad T-Zone Pore Refining gel, I think. But everyone's different - some people absolutely can't stand mineral oil and petroleum products, but I slather my face in that stuff every day :)

    And this probably sounds awful, but I don't wear sunscreen. Ever. I will probably regret that in a few years... but it's just such a hassle to me. The only sunscreen I've ever liked on my face was made by Aura Science, which is unfortunately now defunct. I should probably look into Japanese sunscreens.

    In high school, I had absolutely perfect, pristine skin. I never had to do anything to keep it that way - I actually washed my face with bar soap, and never used moisturizer. Then, in college, I sudden getting some really awful cystic hormonal acne, and I'm not talking about just a 'roided up whitehead. These were deep under the skin, red, swollen, warm to the touch, and painful. To this day I still can't figure out why - I never changed my routine (and I got into makeup precisely because I was trying to cover up my problematic skin!) I did go to a dermatologist, who prescribed me some benzaclin (benzoyl peroxide + clindamycin) and had me take a daily dose of oral antibiotics... I never did stick to that regimen. I still think the combination of learning how to really throughly cleanse my skin and using the Murad helped my skin clear up the most, though.

  2. Hi May,

    My skin can't stand mineral oil or petroleum jelly as well as SD alcohol. Also, it does not love dimethicone. And you're right, the skin is different from each other but you need to wear sunscreen.

    I love Aura Science's toner, it's alcohol free. Most stuff I use these days is alcohol free anyways.

    Maybe your skin has changed and you need to cater a different routine to it. Our bodies change during our lifetime.

  3. What I gather is that cleanliness is a huge part of makeup specially troubled with acne...also for all others I suppose.

  4. Hi Afterglow Cosmetics,

    That may be true for acne on teenagers but for adult acne, it's a bit more complicated. If you've read my latest post on this topic, diligence is the key to keep your skin clear.


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