Monday, 3 August 2015
My Experience With Combating Acne + TipsEveryone have suffered acne one point of their lives. And if you haven't, you're one of the lucky ones that don't know our pain *silents cries*. The thing about acne is most people think it'll end after your teenage years, which is NOT true. The truth is that acne can happen to anyone at any age.
Does it sound super frustrating yet? (probably)
Here I'm not going to talk about what is acne because you can easily just google it. I am going to talk about my experiences and how I dealt with it.
Beginning of puberty, my face was covered with swollen red bumps and blackheads were especially prominent on the tip of my nose. It.was.self-esteem-crushing. This is the point where I told myself that I had to do something about it because it's not only painful to the touch, it's also super red and not-so-great-looking.
At this point, I started to take tiny steps into the world of skin-care, not so much into make-up at first. Thinking back, I felt like what I was doing back then made my skin-worse. Anyways, what do you do when you have acne? I wasn't sure, but my solution-then was to use skin-care products to tame it. I went to a Clinique counter (because they were wearing white-lab coats and the words 'comodegenic' and whatnot were everywhere). They recommended their 3-step program. I got the whole bunch: cleanser, toner, DDMG moisturiser.
First few days of using them: They were fine but after a week, the breakouts got worse. The hard part was finding the culprit.
Here are my thoughts: the cleanser I got was leaving my skin with that 'squeaky' feeling; the toner was basically nail polish remover in terms of feel and smell which made my skin even drier; the moisturiser was not moisturising enough after all that desert-inducing-products. #wasteofmoney
Tip: It may be tempting to swipe your skin with astringents (toners with high alcohol content) to "disinfect" acne-causing bacteria but DON'T. It'll not only strip skin of it's moisture but will also make the breakouts worse.
Tip: Also, the train of thought is that use 'drying' products can combat oily-skin types. This is also false. Oily-skin types should also skip the high alcohol content toners and replace it with lightly moisturising toners/serums or moisturisers. The key for oily-skin is to use products that are lightweight that also provides hydration. Also, don't over wash your skin. Morning and Night cleansing is enough.
I threw the 3-steps away and started on over-the-counter meds + drugstore moisturisers.
I started on 0.1% Clindamycin which helped my acne slightly but I was still experiencing breakouts.
I started on basic skin-care, which to say includes gentle cleansers/toners/serums/moisturisers in addition to the 0.1% Clindamycin. Later on I substituted the 0.1% Clindamycin with 5% Benzyl Peroxide, which worked better. I did this for several years whenever I have breakouts and it kinda made it normal I guess? I still had breakouts but they were gone quick. Though I still get the odd breakout.
Here's the thing. Clindamycin and Benzyl Peroxide is used to spot-treat. Not to put on the entire face or it'll probably fall off (not so dramatic but you get the idea haha). The spots on my face were very random back then. If you are experiencing a full face of acne, then please, do yourself a favour and consult a trained dermatologist. Sometimes, prescription medicine are needed.
If you need something none-preciptive to use all over the face, try BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids). More commonly known as salicylic acids. Don't fear the acids! They're good for you. BHAs help exfoliate your skin to remove layers of gunk beneath the layers of skin. Proven research states that it helps in the fight against wrinkles and acne. Two birds with one stone eh? Some good BHAs I've tried are from Paula's Choice. You can also read up on this seemingly miracle-ingredient there. Another one I've tried is Clinique's Mild clarifying lotion (contains 0 alcohol, has 0.5% salicylic acid at the right PH-level).
Also, with years of suffering with acne, here's a few things I've learned along the way.
Tip: My parents and friends used to tell me that eating greasy and oily stuff will cause acne. I believed them then but after long-hours of research, eating greasy food or chocolates *sighs of relief* won't affect your acne. BUT, some-types of food have also showed to cause acne such as anything dairy (such as milk) and foods rich in carbs (bread, etc). Thus, you may want to try to cut out dairy products from your diet to see if your acne lessens.
Tip: In terms of skincare, similar to oily-skin types, less is more. Don't overload it with products. Use products that are lightweight. Let me repeat myself: Alcohol is skin-death (unless it's half-down the ingredients list).
There is no such thing as "cosmetic-grade alcohol" as one of the Sales Assistants tried to convince me. There are only denatured alcohol and fatty alcohol. The latter (fatty alcohol) is completely safe whereas denatured alcohol (or ethanol) is skin-death as it'll not only dry your skin out, but will also lead to your skin producing more oil to compensate thus causing more acne. It also causes inflammation due to its irritation which then leads to acne.
Thoughts: I don't really encourage using balm cleansers or real oil-type cleansers because they're likely too emollient. Nor do I really overdosing your skin with oils (or anything too moisturising). For acne, I think minimalism is the key. Love oils? Use it moderately. Mix a little with your moisturiser. That's what I do. Or substitute your moisturiser with an oil.
Note that there are oil-cleansers out there that do not include any oils. I know, mind-blowing. They have the same texture and consistency as an actually oil-cleanser but the formulation is different and in experience, it didn't clog my skin and is gentle. An example is the Dior Cleansing Oil which I reviewed earlier this year. That's an excellent non-oil oil cleanser and I always point people in that direction if using an oil-type cleanser is a must for em'. Clinique's Take the Day Off cleansing oil is also a good option.
For me personally, I tried to cut out dairy-products and it worked in terms of less breakouts. I used to drink lots of milk everyday and I stopped doing so. But I didn't like to cut it out of my diet completely so once in a while, I'd have a glass milk. But to be honest, I can't live without butter and cheese. So that doesn't count lol. Basically, I just lessened my intake of dairy products and it worked.
Tip: If you're unexperienced in squeezing the puss-filled stuff of red hatred (it's what I named those pesky red pimples), then by all means don't do it. Go to a proper facialist for a proper extraction. If you or anyone attempt to extract the puss out and do it wrongly, it'll leave a tear and acne scar that'll last ages.
Tip: This applies to everyone but if you use make-up to conceal or just in general. Just remove it before bed. Like seriously. Remove. IT. I know sometimes it's just tiring after getting home and directly going to bed is tempting, but leave a bag of wipes on your bedside table for emergencies. It just takes a minute. Do it.
Contrary to popular belief, I don't mind mineral oils. From my experience, what I hate though, is olive oil. Olive oil for consumption is great but applied topically onto skin causes me to break out for some reason. I'm not sure if it's only me but I can't use any product that contains olive oil. Toners, moisturisers, etc. Comment if you experience this as well so I know I'm not the only weird one hahaha.
One last important tip: Always use sunscreen. Advice on using sunscreen is so underrated when discussing skin-issues. Get in the habit of using it everyday because it not only lessens the time needed for the acne/acne scar to heal but also prevents a multitude of issues such as ageing due to UVA/UVB rays as you get older or from accumulated sun damage.