I haven’t blogged in a long time—I don’t even want to think about how much time has passed without a single blog entry! I’ve been so busy this semester with developing lesson plans, responding to emails, and grading papers that I haven’t had time for reading or writing. I can finally breathe, relocate my creative flow, and find my center again. I’ve begun reading again, spending more time with my family, and focusing on my health and well being. With that in mind, I wanted to write a post about my experience with battling acne.
Just Between Us…
Anybody who knows me well knows that I’ve struggled with acne for a long time. At 30, my adult acne is far worse than any skin issues I had as a teenager. I have hormonal, cystic acne, which is painful but fairly predictable. Just like anyone else, I’ve simply wished for “normal” skin, not perfect skin. I’ve packed on layers of makeup, which just exacerbates the problem by suffocating pores and looking cakey.
I’ve tried everything. My skin has never responded favorably to topical products, and I was definitely that person who tried something new during every grocery or pharmacy run. For women, the pill can only do so much, depending on your body, and antibiotics are tricky because they can interact with the pill.
Since I turned 30 earlier this year, women’s magazines—along with my well-intentioned mother—have urged me to begin a new skin care regimen, which should include a night cream. I listened, and it resulted in almost immediate breakouts each morning. We’re all told that we need to moisturize anyway, right? Otherwise, skin becomes dry and tight, which can be a nightmare. We should also apply something with SPF every day, regardless of region, season, or weather conditions; sun protection is essential. I’ve also been seeing lots of blog posts about winter skin care products and routines—even though it feels more like spring time right now.
Until recently, I had been using a scrub by St. Ives, followed by Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer (around $15—not great!). I’ve also spot-treated using tea tree oil. I tend to trust at-home or DIY projects as opposed to items plucked from shelves at stores…the same items that claim to bring you happiness in the form of popularity, landing a date, you name it. Obviously, I’m not crazy about products whose advertising is shoved down our throats.
My point is this: I’ve used products that claim to treat acne, but my acne has persisted. I’ve experimented a lot with “fixing” my skin, so here’s what I’ve done recently, with amazing results:
I can remember being introduced to this wonderful stuff by my mother when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old. Noxzema is a classic product, trusted by so many women who slather it on to remove makeup after a long day, or it can even be used as a mask. Some claim that the smell is abhorrent, but I find the eucalyptus refreshing and invigorating.
I also stumbled upon this new trendy item from Japan called a Konjac sponge. Ulta offers a charcoal one (perfect for acne prone skin) for $18, but I found one from Earth Therapeutics for $5 instead. This sponge is miraculous; I felt a difference in my skin after only one use. The Konjac sponge is made of plant fibers, so you just replace it when the fibers begin to wear down. It’s 100% natural, so you can even toss it in your compost bin when it’s worn out. It’s so soft and gentle, I even pass it over my lips when I wash my face. It comes with a string attached, so you should hang it in a well ventilated area to let it dry between uses.
I’ve also added Noxzema’s Ultimate Clear Anti-Blemish Pads to my routine. I figured I’d give this product a go, since I’m so happy with Noxzema’s Deep Cleansing Cream. Twice a day, after washing, I rub a pad all over my face, concentrating on my acne-prone areas. The smell is pretty strong, and these pads do tend to dry out my skin after a few days, so I continue to use my Cetaphil moisturizer when my skin seems to need it.
I can’t say enough about staying hydrated. DRINK WATER! And drink lots of it. If you drink soda and eat junk food all day, your skin will have something to say about it. No product or skin care routine can replace a balanced diet that includes water, nuts, fish, etc.
Get enough sleep! Lack of quality sleep can adversely affect the overall health of your skin.
Take Evening Primrose Oil three times a day with meals. Women use EP oil for inducing labor, but it’s also great for endometriosis, PMS, and menopause. It would seem that it’s a female-oriented herb, but I don’t see why men can’t reap the benefits for their skin.
Also, including coconut oil in your diet somehow can do wonders for your skin. I add a spoonful to my morning coffee; it acts as a natural sweetener and even leaves your lips feeling super moisturized after each sip. Coconut oil contains fatty acids and is antibacterial, meaning that it can end those annoying bacterial breakouts so many of us experience. If you’re not crazy about the taste of coconut, you can try cooking with it rather than adding it to coffee or tea.
Since I began this skin care routine (Noxzema cream + Konjac; blemish pads), I haven’t had any breakouts. I had grown accustomed to waking up with new acne around my jawline. In addition, when removing makeup at the end of each day, I’d discover new breakouts emerging on my cheeks and chin. I had days when my skin was too embarrassing for me to leave the house, and applying makeup was too painful.
Learning that acne is technically a medical condition really doesn’t help in the way of trying to feel normal when fighting acne—and that really is the right word in this case: “fight.” When acne becomes part of your daily life, it’s the enemy, but we usually have no idea why it’s terrorizing us. I felt for a long time that I was doing something wrong in terms of my health, as if I deserved bad skin.
Everybody’s skin is different, and what cures one person’s acne may not work for you. My hope in writing this is that my battle for clear skin helps even one person who feels that there’s no hope or remedy for their acne.