Take a walk through the skincare aisle at your local pharmacy, and you’ll see it….the war on acne is big business. You can try cleansers, scrubs, masks, toners, 3 part skincare systems, and expensive tools. Unfortunately, none of these is a sure bet when it comes to getting clear skin.
Some people may think that getting upset over acne is silly. I mean, it’s just pimples and you’ll outgrow it, right? Clearly these folks have never suffered chronic acne or they’d know that it is a big deal. I am not talking about a pimple here and there. I’m talking about struggling with acne EVERY day. When you have this problem, it can feel like the world sees your acne instead of YOU. And usually, no over the counter remedy helps. Acne is a devious little bitch.
I was blessed. I sailed through my teen years without more than an occasional zit. I never understood why people got so upset or worried about their skin. And then I hit my twenties, and my skin went haywire. Overnight my skin became a red, rashy mess. It had the texture of sandpaper, and you could see your reflection in my forehead. I felt powerless when NOTHING I did helped. I was mortified when one of my professors offered the unsolicited advice that I try tea tree soap for my skin in front of my classmates.
I know some had it much worse than I did. My acne was probably moderate rather than severe, but it was consistent, and it is not an exaggeration to say that I tried EVERYTHING. The only thing that got it remotely under control was a prescription from a dermatologist. Even that was not a 100% solution.
Today, my skin has done a full 180. I no longer take prescription meds, and I don’t incorporate any anti-acne products into my regimen. I still get some breakouts, but nothing like before. I also still worry about the constant breakouts returning because I haven’t forgotten how powerless acne can make you feel. I’m not sure whether I’ve just outgrown my adult acne or if it has improved because I’m super vigilent about skincare.
Before (and this was the “improved” version when I was on prescription meds):
The point of telling you all of this is that there are some things that I believe make a huge difference. I’m not going to talk about any products to fight acne because, honestly, I’m not convinced any really work. I’m also not claiming that following these tips will clear up your chronic acne, but I think these habits help maintain clear skin. If you’re suffering from serious acne and it’s causing you a significant amount of stress or social anxiety, I’d encourage you to see a professional. If you’re just looking for some easy (and free!) ways to improve and/or maintain your skin, try these.
1. Consistency is Key – Once you find a skincare regimen that works for you, STICK WITH IT! Don’t try a new product every other day or you’ll never be able to tell what’s working and what’s causing a reaction. Wash your face every night (no excuses). Oh…and forget about all of the “acne” products for adult acne. A lot of that stuff targeted to teens is just going to irritate your skin and make things worse. Keep it simple (and consistent!).
2. Watch Out for Stealth Acne Promoters – There are so many things that can cause a flare up that you might not even notice. Watch how often you touch your face, and don’t even think about popping that zit! Wash your sheets and pillowcases regularly. Try to limit the amount of hair products that you use. All of these things deposit bacteria, dirt, and pore-clogging crap on your face. Try to minimize it whenever possible.
3. Evaluate Your Diet – Whenever I’m eating crap, I definitely notice its effects on my skin. Try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while limiting processed and sugary foods. Another dietary change that I think has made a real difference is cutting back on dairy. This helps a lot of people because they aren’t exposed to all of the hormones found in most dairy products.
4. Stop Putting So Much Stuff on Your Face – I know, I know. When you’ve got breakouts, you really want to cover them. But burying yourself in layers of foundation and concealer isn’t doing you any favors. It might work in the short term, but all of that make up is probably making your skin worse in the long run. Try to limit the makeup you wear on your face to the bare minimum, and remember that you’re beautiful with or without breakouts.
5. Stress Less – I know that right now you’re probably thinking (cue sarcastic tone) “Gee, Lauren. That’s a great idea! And so easy! I’ll do that right now!” I know that it’s really easy to say “stress less,” but it’s super hard to do. Find a way to do it anyway. Whether it’s exercising, meditating, or having sex, do something that takes your mind off everything that’s bothering you. I bet you’ll see improvement in your skin. And even if you don’t, at least your doing something good for your body or getting laid. Either way, you win.