Hi my loves! Being human and having all the glories of owning an outer layer of skin, comes along the various different struggles of owning skin that we all go through at some stage in our lives. From the mild spots or little blackheads to full-blown, red, deep-under-the-skin acne I have had and suffered through it all. Thinking back to the horrors I experienced as a young pubescent teenager I thought it would be very appropriate and helpful for me to create a post about the best ways that I have learned how to take care of, as well as maintain, my skin.
My Skin Journey
I was 14 years old and in Grade 9 in high school when puberty decided to grace me with its presence. Compared to all my friends, I was fortunate to have started menstruating much later, however, when it did eventually come it almost felt like my whole world was turned upside down at the quick rate that my body had begun changing. My sympathetic* (insert sarcasm here) father had warned me that he had suffered with terrible acne as a teenager and that I would most likely be blessed with those very same genes. He was not wrong. Around the age of 15 or 16 years old I started developing acne and it ended up getting more severe as the time went by. I tried every trick in the book from washing my pillow case every few days, keeping my hair out of my face, not eating anything fried or oily, trying all the latest facial products, going for monthly facials and excessively scrubbing and exfoliating my face but none of it worked. My skin was horrible and my self-esteem and my confidence went right out of the window. I was left with huge, painful purple and red blotches under my skin that even hurt to sleep on, and it got to a point where I would cut my hair so short (but still long enough to tie up) that even when I tied it half my hair would hang in my face and hide my tumultuous graffiti skin.
During all of this my mensies was making its odd appearance every few months when it felt like it and eventually my mom took me to a doctor that prescribed me the birth control pill in an attempt to regulate my period and help to clear my skin. Unfortunately, the specific pill that I was prescribed wasn’t suitable for me and it caused me to gain a huge amount of weight, so now I was fat and ugly. I told my mom that I couldn’t deal with it and quit the pill. The weight shedded quickly and I was back to my usual weight but still… the acne! So we tried a new route and went to a well-known dermatologist, who was prescribing every teenager in town with Oratane. This medication dies out your body and skin eradicating any natural oils in your body which is usually the cause of acne, as oils clog pores which lead to pimples. He ended up prescribing me with the same medication with a high dosage and after a few weeks I was as dry as a prune and my acne was starting to clear up. However, my appetite had dwindled and I lost so much weight, I couldn’t be out in direct sunlight, I suffered from severe backache and my already bad eyesight had worsened. The side effects were horrible and so my parents decided that after five months I would not continue for the last month of the course. Having not completed the full six month course the acne started coming back and I returned to the doctor and he prescribed me a lower dosage and I managed to complete the course, to the detriment of my overall health.
Eventually, after years of struggle and heartache my skin had cleared up in time for my grade 11 and matric years. I remember being at ballet one afternoon and my dance instructor, Bess, looked at me while I was dancing and said to me how beautiful and glowy my skin had become. It was the most amazing feeling to have someone compliment me about my skin after everything that I had gone through just to get it to look normal. Unfortunately, the acne left me with some light scarring, from all the squeezing, was well as enlarged pores which now end up causing white and blackheads. All in all, I am so grateful that my skin has gotten to a point that it is healthy and clear and to a point where I know exactly how to maintain it and how to manage any future breakouts. I sympathize with people who suffer with serious acne, and a lot of the time it can be deeper than just bad skin. Sometimes we need to swallow our pride and seek the right professional help, even if it might be pricey. My problem was that I had a very irregular hormonal imbalance which was why I struggled for such a long time when it could have been solved much sooner. Healthy, beautiful skin comes from taking care of npt just your skin on the outside but also your body on the inside and as a whole. So, with all thagt being said, here are the ways in which I take care of my skin!
*Please note: everyone’s skin is different and therefore will require different things in order to be healthy. The main aspect in which you need to focus on is whether your skin is oily, dry or a combination of both. Once you figure that out, you need to listen to your skin and give it what it needs in order to have the best balance for your skin-type.
My Products and Daily Routine
Step 1: Remove Makeup
The first thing I usually do is take off whatever makeup that I have on from the day. I don’t wear a full face of makeup very often, I usually just have my brows and mascara on, but even so it is so, so important to make sure that you take all your makeup off before you go to sleep. Your skin rejuvenates itself at night when you sleep so it needs to be able to breathe freely and makeup prevents that as it blocks your pores. I have very sensitive skin and I struggled for a while to find a makeup remover that was strong enough to effectively remove makeup but was gentle enough to not leave my skin burning and irritated. Johnson’s Face Care Daily Essentials Refreshing Cleansing Lotion works well with my skin and it has a creamy formula, unlike a lot of makeup removers, which leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized after removing any harsh makeup. I use this with Cherubs & Me cotton pads. I like these ones best because they are strong and durable so they don’t break apart while wiping your face but they are still gentle and, again, don’t leave my skin burning and feeling irritated.
Step 2: Cleanse
After removing my makeup I then wash my face to remove any excess oil and dirt from the day. I like to use the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Stress Control Daily Scrub from the MicroClear range. It contains gentle microbeads that help to gently exfoliate and remove stubborn dirt and oils from your skin. It is not good to over exfoliate your skin as it can cause little tears in your skin and make your skin sensitive and more susceptible to acne, however, this is gentle enough to use daily and helps me keep my white and blackheads under control. For me personally I find that it is of vital importance that I wash my face twice a day: once in the morning when and before I go to bed. That way you control the amount of oils, dirt and sweat linger on your skin. The less dirt and grime, the healthier and happier your pores will be!
Step 3: Tone
After washing my face I gently dab dry with a paper towel or a separate face towel. Using a different towel to the towel you use for your body helps to keep from transferring the dirt and germs from your body to your face. I then tone my face using the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Blackhead Eliminating Cleansing Lotion. I put some toner onto a cotton pad and gently wipe down mmy face and neck, wait for it to dry and then apply my next products. A toner usually contains some form of alcohol which helps to remove any really stubborn leftover dirt and oils on your skin and in your pores that cause the little bumps under your skin, like white and blackheads. It also disinfects, tightens and evens out your skin and helps to reduce the size of your pores. I never used to use a toner as a teenager and if I had any idea all the great affects it would have had on my skin I would have started using one a long time ago! Toner has really changed the game when it comes to having smooth, soft and even skin.
Step 4: Moisturize
When it comes to skin, moisturising is one of the most important things you could ever do! Whether it is from drinking water or simply absorbing it, skin craves moisture to stay soft, smooth, subtle, and it is how it retains its elasticity. I make sure to use a moisturizer that is creamy and is easily absorbed by the skin. One of the biggest mistakes that people with oily skin make is skipping a moisturiser as they believe that their skin is already oily and does not need any extra oil. However, that just makes it worse. Oily-skinned people have over-active oil glands and avoiding adding moisture just triggers oil glands to work overtime to make up fpr the lost moisture. There are a lot of skin care ranges that make oil-free moisturizers that do the job minus the extra oil. I have naturally normal to combination skin, which means that my skin is normal besides for my T-zone area (my forehead and nose) that sometimes may become oily. Personally, I like to use Nutraderm Moisturising Cream. It is an effective creamy moisturizer that is fast absorbing and nourishes my skin but is also lightweight and amazing for people with sensitive skin. My dermatologist suggested this product to me when I was on Oratane and it worked perfectly for me as it was soooo incredibly moisturising, so it has easily become a staple in my skin care routine!
Step 5: Protect
Besides for moisturizer, the next most important thing your skin needs is protection! Protection from the sun. Sun damage is a serious thing and can leave you with an uneven skin tone caused by pigmentation and discolouration. The sun also ages your skin faster so in order to keep your skin even and youthful I suggest you add some SPF into your life ASAP! SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and the higher the SPF the higher the protection from the sun. I use the Bioderma Photoderm Sunscreen that is Max 50+ SPF for maximum protection. It is hypoallergenic which helps for people like me with sensitive skin and it very creamy so a little goes a long way. The only downfall with sunscreen is that they tend to be a little oily and some can leave you with a greyish cast on your body. I like to mix a little sunscreen with my moisturizer in the morning which helps to ease out the oily-ness of the sunscreen.
Masks and Scrubs
I feel that doing a mask and an exfoliation once or twice a week is beneficial to your skin, depending on what masks you use and for what reason. Exfoliating your skin helps to remove dead skin cells and dirt that build up and clog up your pores which can then cause spots. Keep in mind that any products that you use won’t work overnight and will need you to be dedicated and consistent. You will only start to see results after about 3 weeks to a month of use. A great face mask that I would recommend is the Freeman Feeling Beautiful face masks that you can get from Dischem. I personally use the Charcol and BlackSugar Mud Mask which smooths, purifies and moisturizes the skin, as well as the Apple Cider Vinegar 4-in-1 Foaming Clay that acts as a mask, scrub, cleanser and toner for radiant skin. I usually remove my makeup and cleanse with toner before applying the scrub or mask with a clean foundation brush that I keep aside specifically for masks. I let the mask sit until it has dried and jump in the shower and wash it off with warm water. The apple cider vinegar foam mask is amazing! I love how smooth, clean and fresh my skin feels after using it, however, it is quite rough and shouldn’t be used excessively.
I have different products and methods that I use when removing my makeup, usually depending on how much makeup I have on. When it is just my daily eyebrow makeup and mascara I tend to stick to using my Johnson’s Face Care Daily Essentials Refreshing Cleansing Lotion and my cotton pads, whereas when I have a full face of makeup on I prefer to use Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Facial Wipes. It only takes me one wipe to get a full face off and they are so soft and gentle on the skin, with the benefits of them being moisturizing and they smell amazing! When I have really stubborn or waterproof makeup on I also like to use my Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser. It removes the toughest makeup with minimal effort and reduces pulling and tugging on the skin. When my skin is feeling more tender or dryer than usual I like to use Woolworths Organic Odourless Coconut Oil, which is a little messier, however the results are just as good and the benefits of coconut oil are so bomb! Coconut oil is natural with no added chemicals, it is super hydrating and gives your skin a beautiful natural healthy glow. During Winter I like to massage some coconut oil into my skin after cleansing and moisturising just incase my skin is feeling dry. It also works great under foundation and prevents foundation looking and feeling cakey and dry
How I deal with Pimples
Over the years my period eventually naturally regulated itself, however, in February 2015 my gynecologist found that I had a very large cyst in my ovary and put me on the birth control pill to try to manage it. unfortunately, the cyst was too big and burst which landed me in hospital for four days. So I have been on the birth pill, Minerva, for about two years to control the growth of cysts and an added benefit has been that my hormones are consistently regular now: which means healthy acne free skin! I do get the occasional breakout however it will usually be caused by things such as lack of sleep, lack of water, too much stress, or touching my hair and face too much etc. So when I do breakout the best thing is to leave them damned pimples alone! To not scratch or squeeze because that will lead to scarring and uneven skin tone. I like to leave the pimple be and make sure that my phone, pillowcases, hair and hands are clean and usually after a few peaceful days of silent protesting it will go away. If I feel like it is more stubborn or a bigger pimple that I’d like to have visiting I usually dip into my essential oils and grab the tea tree oil and a clean cotton bud. I dot the oil on the pimple every night after I shower and leave it on – the tea tree oil dries out the area which helps to get rid of big stubborn spots. A mistake that many people make is doing a scrub and trying to exfoliate the infected area which only makes it much worse. Your skin has just become inflamed and sore from being blocked up and needs time to heal itself, so do not attack it!
So there you have it! All my skin care products along with my routine and tips and tricks to how I keep my skin looking and feeling healthy, smooth and acne free. I have managed to find a great mix of different products that work well together and give my skin everything that it needs in order to keep a healthy balance. I still have my odd days where I have breakouts but they are minimal and manageable as long as I remain consistent and dedicated with my routine. As soon as I start slacking off is when I start to notice little breakouts. It is so important to keep your skin clean and if you are sticking to your routine but still notice breakouts try drinking more water, less caffeine (and alcohol and smoke, for you rebels out there :P), sleeping earlier and stress less! Like I said, your skin is not only a reflection of what you do on the outside, but also what is happening on the inside. I hope this helps and good luck with your skin journey. Remember, we have a lifetime to live but only one skin to do it in, so take care of the one you’ve got!
Lots of love,