Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Out Damned Spot! My personal experience with Acne & how I prevent it...

Being a pre-teen is hard. When you're a girl who is taller than all of the boys in her class, with curly, frizzy hair and big, thick feel super awkward. The summer between 5th and 6th grade I started noticing tiny little bumps forming on my nose...blackheads!! NASTY!! My sweet mother went out and bought me a 3 step system, (the name will remain anonymous) to put me on a healthy skincare regimen. I remembered the 2nd step in the system burning and tingling my skin...I figured it was "killing" the pimples so I put on more. All the system succeeded in doing was drying out my skin and getting pushed into the very back of my linen closet. I still had acne and now I had flaky skin on top of it.
Around sixth grade I started sneaking makeup. My mother thought I was WAY too young to wear makeup but I quickly learned makeup could "hide" flaws. Concealer was my best friend...and when I discovered foundation you would have thought I'd struck gold! I didn't look at product ingredients...all I cared about was that it covered my acne. At the end of the day I would wash my face and all the beige water would wash down the drain and I would feel so naked without my makeup. I would look at my bumpy, red skin and feel very ashamed and angry. The acne was getting progressively worse because I was caking on SO much foundation and I couldn't face the world without it. I didn't want ANYONE seeing me without my makeup.
The acne was getting so bad that I knew I had to do something about my SKIN...that makeup was only going to cover the redness but not the bumps. I read teen magazines for advice, and started scouring drugstore shelves for the next magic facial potion that would fix me. I did mud masks, scrubs, cleansers, treatment gels, creams, high end brands and low end products. I would sometimes MIX products that probably shouldn't have been mixed...trying to design a miracle concoction. Most of the acne product I applied would tingle, and make my skin very tender or red. I always thought more was better, and the process being painful meant it was "working".
As I got deeper into my teens I backed off on wearing SO much makeup. I learned to read labels...looking for things that were fragrance free and non-comedogenic. I also started treating my skin more kindly. After educating myself that over washing your face will actually INCREASE oil production. Scrubbing your skin too much can over stimulate your skin. I admit I used to go tanning to "help" my acne...however, it only helps temporarily. It will temporarily dry up excess oils in your skin...but then after the oil tries to overcompensate for the moisture loss in the skin. I stopped PICKING...that was what made mountains out of mole hills. Picking spreads acne bacteria to one part of the face to another. It creates scabbing and scarring...I am so lucky that my skin healed.
These days I have many of my facial clients and random people tell me what beautiful skin I have. They never believe me when I tell them that I had acne...and sometimes still get a couple breakouts. These days I have a game plan on how to fight acne in a gentler way and I am going to share some of MY favorite tips with you. I am not a Dermatologist...I am an Aesthetician with 10 years of experience. If your acne becomes severe and you feel you have tried everything see a Dermatologist specializing in Acne treatment.

Healthy Steps for Clear Skin:
1. A Gentle Cleanser: My Favorites are Naturopathica Aloe Cleanser, Cetaphil Cleanser (foaming or non-foaming) and Johnson & Johnson Purpose Cleanser. Wash 2x a day. And after sports or heavy activity.

2. Pumpkin Enzyme Treatment: My favorite: Naturopathica Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. I prefer enzyme exfoliants over heavy scrubs for active acne. It is less stimulating on the skin...much more gentle. Use it 1-2x per week.

3. Clay Mask: My favorites: Naturopathica Purifying Clay Mask and DDF Sulfur Clay Mask. Clay Masks are wonderful used 1x week in oily/acne prone areas only. Also great for spot treating a blemish overnight.

4. 100% Pure Aloe Gel: My Favorite: Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel. This is a great oil free, soothing hydrator when acne appears to be red or inflamed. Just apply a thick layer to the skin for 10 minutes and wash it off.

5. Oil Free Moisturizer: My favorite: Avene Cleanance K. A good moisturizer that controls sebaceous secretions, great under makeup, dries to a matte finish and hydrates areas as needed. No aroma and non-comedogenic.

6. Sunscreen: For oily-acne prone skin I like Ayur-Medic SPF 30 Tinted formula for summer. Always apply when you will be exposed to the sun.

7. AHA Serum: My favorite: Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Gel. Alpha/Beta Hydroxy Acids will refine the look of pores, fight acne, and even out your overall skin tone and it also encourages collagen production.

8. Spot Treatment: My favorite: Mario Badescu Pink Drying lotion. As long as you don't have a Sulfur allergy, Sulfur is great for bringing down redness, inflammation and kills bacteria. If you DO have an allergy to Sulfur I also recommend Origins On The Spot Acne Treatment with Salicylic Acid. Apply these treatments ONLY on spots.

9. Supplements: Now this part is optional and I am in no way PRESCRIBING this to anyone. I just had a GREAT experience with this supplement. ACNEASE Herbal Tablets. They are based on Chinese Medicine and help bring overall balance to the body which they claim affects the beauty of the skin. I can say that I noticed a HUGE difference in the clarity of my skin when I took the tablets. I wanted to try this before trying Accutane or a harsh antibiotic. It really helped me...even with cystic acne breakouts! My only complaint is that it is a bit pricey. However, I love that it is natural and I really felt good while taking it. It did not have any side affects which was a relief.

10. Exercise and Water: This is pretty self explanatory. Water is essential for the health and beauty of our entire body. It is very important to stay hydrated. Exercise helps increase blood flow, increases circulation and also causes us to perspire. Perspiration is our skins' natural cleansing mechanism and is very healthy for flushing out toxins. Be sure to gently wash your face after workouts.

These are my tips for what has worked for me personally. I found these things out through trial and error but now I have a great system designed. Treat your skin with kindness, be gentle and be patient. Acne is an angry condition so if you counter it with treatments that are soothing you will get results. The key is to be diligent in maintaining your skincare routine. Beautiful skin is natural for some and a bit more of an effort for others.

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