Saturday, March 7, 2015

kick acne's booty!

Today let's talk about acne! Many people have asked me about my acne-busting remedies. If you've known me for at least four years, then you'll know that I struggled with acne for the majority of my college experience. Adult-onset acne is real and it's a huge bummer, but in my experience, there are certain steps you can take to care for your skin, and also heal your acne without harming the parts of your skin that are perfectly well and blemish-free! It seems as though the majority of acne products on the market are very harsh, astringent, stripping, and irritating. In my opinion, they should be just the opposite. In the midst of a breakout, I want to treat my skin gently and with care, so that it can heal and get back to its normal state as soon as possible!

Before we move on, it should be noted that while I have spent tons (tons!) of time researching natural skincare and kicking acne's booty(!), I am not a medical professional. If you want advice specifically tailored to your needs, I recommend visiting your dermatologist and beginning the appointment by telling him/her that natural skincare is an important part of the process to you.

RULE #1: Be committed to your skincare regimen. Please, please, if you take only one tidbit of information from this post, let it be this rule. Your skin loves consistency. It likes to be fed the same beautiful and loving routine day in and day out. If you truly want your acne gone, commit to the process. That said, if you aren't someone who's willing to devote tons of time to your skincare routine (fair enough!), then only introduce steps that you're truly willing to take on a daily (sometimes twice-daily) basis. Don't go to bed with your makeup on. Your skin will pay for that decision in the morning.

RULE #2: Say goodbye to dairy. I know it sounds painful, and it is. I'm a cheese and ice cream lover if there ever was one, but dairy is a nightmare for acne-prone skin. I went on a 30-day, dairy-free cleanse, and it revolutionized my skin. I slowly started adding dairy products back into my diet, but in much smaller amounts. I found that the cleanse reset my skin and introducing the products back in slowly didn't seem to offend it too much.

RULE #3: Find thoughtfully made products. You might be surprised to learn that regulations for beauty and skincare products are pretty shabby. What that means is that toxic ingredients might be are! more! than! likely! being pumped into your beloved products and you're none the wiser. As a matter of fact, the FDA only requires intended ingredients to be listed on a product's ingredient list! Unfortunately, that means it's our job to find and use brands that care about consumers and champion transparency and honesty as part of their platforms. These are the products I use and recommend (for acne-prone skin or otherwise):
  • Face wash (night time only): This one by Acure is gentle and non-irritating, an acne victim's dream.  A pea-sized amount of this product will do the trick, which means this cleanser is incredibly affordable. Apply the cleanser to dampened skin and rub into skin in a gentle, circular motion. It is important to cleanse your skin for at least 30 seconds before rinsing. Rinse with cool water seven times (or more!) before gently drying your face.
  • Toner (night time only): I promise that good old fashioned witch hazel is the harshest version of toner you want to use (read: it's incredibly gentle). A small amount on a cotton pad or in the palm of your hand spread across the face will remove any remaining traces of dirt and soothe your irritated skin.
  • Moisturizer (morning and night): This moisturizer from Enkido is extremely tailor-made for sensitive, troubled skin and soothing to boot! I like to apply a thin layer all over my skin directly after toning.
  • Facial oils (morning or night): Many people believe that it's counterproductive to apply facial oils to acne-prone skin, but that's simply not the case. Many facial oils provide tons of nutrients and help repair skin quickly. They are such a nourishing way to care for skin! In the winter months, I apply two pumps at night and during warmer months, I apply one pump at night. I'm not afraid to apply about a half-pump in the morning (under makeup) if my skin is particularly dry. Apply after cleansing and toning. This can be mixed in with moisturizer if desired. I like this one, this one, and this one. Facial oils can seem like an investment, but a very small amount is required and they are a sure-fire way to pack a punch when it comes to caring for skin.
  • Makeup remover: I like to cleanse twice more than I like using makeup remover, but if I've worn a particularly heavy eye look, I'll simply use coconut oil to remove it. Do this before cleansing.
  • Face mask: The magic of a face mask cannot be underestimated. I use one once a week depending on the time of year and my skin's particular needs at that time. I recommend really tailoring this to your special, specific needs. I love this one and this one. I've also heard good things about this one. Apply your mask after cleansing and exfoliating (see below), but before toning, moisturizing, and applying oils.
  • Exfoliant: Your skin needs to be exfoliated — not too often and not too abrasively! Help your skin by encouraging cell turnover. In my opinion, the BEST exfoliant is baking soda. DO NOT rub your skin too hard. That will only aggravate those spots. Exfoliation should be a slow and gentle process. Scrub your skin very gently (with a little vigor!) in a circular motion to get the most out of this step. If baking soda isn't your thing, try this product instead. Complete this step after cleansing, directly before applying a face mask. After rinsing the face mask, tone, moisturize, and oil up as usual. Exfoliate once a week and never more than that.
  • Specialty products: I think it's best to leave your zits alone (read: don't zap them with "miracle" products). If you must pop your whiteheads (confession: I do!), use this tool. If you want a spot treatment, put a little bit of this mask on your zits. If you are in desperate need of quick and easy zit disappearing, use this (but only if you must! It does not have the most stellar ingredient list, but I did use it in the weeks leading up to my wedding!). In a pinch, I like a blemish stick like this one.
RULE #4: Care, care, care. The jury's still out on this one, but it's completely obvious to me. Your skin reflects the state of your insides. Drink a bunch of water. Nourish your body with fruits and veggies. Stay away from things like cookies, white flour, sodas, sugary foods and drinks, and highly processed foods. Life is meant for living, so have these items every now and then if you want to, but get in the habit of limiting them.

If you can't already tell by the lengthy essay above, I am really passionate about natural skincare. If you have any questions, it would be my absolute pleasure to chat! Good luck! xo
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