Okay guys, I'm going to apologize in advance for the size of this post, but if anything here helps anyone at all it would make me tremendously happy. Acne and breakouts are something that have taken a huge tole on my self esteem over the years and I know that it's the same case for many others. Please keep in mind that when it comes to skincare there is no one routine that works for everyone. It's about knowing your options and getting to know your skin's needs through trail and error.
PM: Finding a good cleanser is a pretty vital part in staving off breakouts. In the evening you’re going to want something to can completely remove your makeup and give your skin a chance to breathe. A good cleansing balm or oil is smegging brilliant at this. They’ll break down basically any makeup. I especially like the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm because it’s simple, non-fragranced, non-irritating, doesn’t leave a residue and damned effective.
AM: As for your morning cleanser... now you’ve probably heard this a fair few times if you’re a follower of beauty blogs, but I’m going to say it anyway. Foaming cleansers are not good for acne. For one thing supposedly when you keep stripping the skin of its natural oils it overcompensates and produces even more oil. But more importantly foaming cleansers are essentially soap, which is alkaline. And, annoyingly, bacteria grow in an alkaline environment. Using a cream or gel cleanser that won’t leave the surface of your skin alkaline. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Ren Evercalm Cleansing Milk, but I also used the Earth Science A-D-E Creamy Cleanser for years and that one is lovely and very affordable.
This is the exciting bit because this is where you dropkick that douchecanoe acne in the ovaries and tell it not to come back. Hopefully. Your acne treatment should do two things: kill harmful bacteria and exfoliate your skin so that dead skin cells don’t hang around clogging up your pores. There are a few ways to do this.
Salicylic acid (BHA): Most acne treatments these days contain salicylic acid because it has the ability to penetrate lipids (i.e. get into your pores) and it’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties. A lot of people have had success fighting spots with La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo. It contains a low dose of salicylic acid in a decently moisturizing base. I’m also quite keen on the AcneFree Toner because it feels gentle and non-aggravating on the skin. Both treatments are mild enough to be used twice a day.
Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid (AHA): A couple more ways to exfoliate the skin here. These two acids are seen less often in skincare targeted for acne and more in radiance boosting skincare. If you haven’t got acne, but you’re skin is looking a bit dull/congested glycolic acid can be a good go to. It’s more moisturizing than salicylic acid and it affects only the surface of the skin.
Benzoyl peroxide: You don’t see this stuff that much anymore because it is harrrsh. I tried using a 5% benzoyl peroxide treatment once and it literally burned my face. It will bleach your skin. It’s also known to have aging effects. If you can avoid using this I would, especially that nowadays it isn’t too hard to get your hands on....
Retinol: This is kind of like the big cheese when it comes to fighting acne. I’ve never really had results from BHA or AHA acids (damn, I really wanted Efficlat Duo to work for me) so I went to the dermatologist and got a prescription for Retin-A. You can get retinol treatments on the shelves too by the way. Indeed Labratories and Paula’s Choice both make them. This stuff will make you peel at first. Big time. It is intense, but I never had a reaction to it like I did to benzoyl peroxide. You basically have to train your skin to tolerate retinol treatments. I had to cut it with moisturizer and slowly increase the amount of days per week that I could use it.
Once you’ve pillaged your face with whatever treatment works for you, you’re probably going to want a damn good moisturizer to stop yourself from crumbling away. I’ve had great luck with the LRP Toleriane moisturizers, including Toleriane Ultra. They effectively restore moisture to the skin and they feel nice and soothing.
Two more things that I’ve recently added to my routine are a good physical exfoliator and a clay mask. I like the Bioderma Hydrabio Gentle Exfoliating Cream because it actually contains a large amount of small beads. I can’t stand face scrubs that feel like they have only a couple of beads drifting around in the mix. Using a physical scrub is nice because sometimes it feels like the chemical exfoliant has helped break the bond, but the dead skin cells need a little extra help exiting the premises. This Avene Cleanance Clay Mask is a nice one too because it’s packed full of chemical exfoliants as well as the clay.
Extra, Extra Bits:
Finally I just want to quickly mention a few things that no one wants to hear. Remember that your diet is everything when it comes to your skin. Bacteria feeds on sugar (that includes white, starchy foods), and if you fill your system with it, that creates an ideal breeding ground. Eat healthily and flush your system by drinking lots of water and your skin will thank you. Also wash your pillowcases every day or every other day. Seriously. This might be the most important point in all of this. Your face is lying on that pillow for 8 hours a night and if it’s covered in bacteria... well, that's not so good.