Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Basics of Acne Skincare

I've noticed that a lot of people are misinformed on how to treat acne, especially in teenagers like myself. I was doing the wrong things for a long time and it took me 2 years of researching on the internet to figure out what's good and what's bad for acne. i don't claim to be an expert, but as someone who has dealt with and researched acne for 2 years, i feel as though i should share my experiences and the things i've learned.

i guess the biggest tip i can give to anyone suffering from acne or breakouts is to be as gentle as possible. Avoid soaps, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances and colors, and solvent alcohols. here are a list of alcohols you should avoid, and i recommend watching this video to learn more about alcohols on the skin (because not all of them are the same). i would also suggest watching her other videos because they are EXTREMELY informative and helpful.
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Drinking Alcohol (Vodka, spirits, wine, etc.)- SD Alcohol (specially denatured alcohol)- Denatured Alcohol- Alcohol denat.- Ethanol, Methanol- Ethyl and Methyl Alcohol- Polyvinyl Alcohol- Just "Alcohol"- Benzyl Alcohol (only when high on ingredients list)

The reason you want to be gentle is because acne is caused by the inflamation of sebaceous (oil) glands. when you use products that irritate your skin, it will become more inflamed, which is the cause of acne in the first place. so avoid harsh products, especially products that dry and strip the skin.

*one thing i want to stress is that after putting these tips to use for about 2 weeks and you do not see much improvement, GO TO YOUR DOCTOR. sometimes there is nothing topical that you can do to fix your acne because it's an internal problem. in this case you would need medications to cure your acne.

i apologize in advance for how ugly and basic the pictures are omg

The first step to having clearer skin is cleansing. if you wear makeup or sunscreen (everyone should wear sunscreen) then i suggest doing double cleansing. the first cleanse is to remove the makeup and sunscreen, and the second is to get deep into your pores to clear out and cleanse it of oils, dead skin cells, and other things that could clog our pores and cause breakouts.

for makeup/sunscreen removal, i wouldn't recommend using a foam cleanser because cleansing twice with a cleansing foam could be too drying. instead i would suggest some kind of cleansing liquid, such as cleansing oil, cleansing water, cleansing milk, or cleansing cream. i would reccomend cleansing oil to oilier skin types because it is the best at dissolving oil and deep cleansing. cleansing water is suitable for all skin types, and cleansing milk or cream is recommendable to drier skins. please do NOT use cleansing wipes because the rubbing causes irritation and also offset the skin's pH, which causes further irritation. 

some makeup removers i would recommend are bioderma and pond's cleansing cream. as far as cleansing oil goes, i've tried a few and didn't really notice a difference but i do like the ones from HIPITCH and Kose.

for actual cleansing, i suggest using the gentlest cleanser you can find that is soap free. in my experiences, cetaphil gentle skin cleanser for all skin types and hada labo's ES cleanser have worked well for me. cetaphil is pretty popular and for a good reason. it didn't irritate my skin at all and it even helped to clear some of my acne even though it doesn't have any ingredients that are known to fight against acne. if you really want something that foams, hada labo ES cleanser is a good gentle foaming cleanser that doesn't irritate the skin. both of these cleansers effectively clean the skin without stripping it or making it feel dry. i would recommend cleansing twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. (there's no need to use makeup removers in the morning though since you weren't wearing makeup or sunscreen)

after cleansing, the next step is to tone your skin. the reason we want to tone our skin is because the skin has a pH that is slightly acidic. when it is at the correct pH, it functions well. (sometimes if i don't tone, my skin will become oilier than if i did, and i think it's because my skin is producing extra oil to correct the pH, but i'm not sure if that's why.) almost every cleanser has a basic pH, and some tap water is also basic, so after cleansing we need to bring our skin back to it's correct acidity. the problem with most toners (especially ones geared towards oily or acne prone skin) contain a lot of alcohol. the only one i can truly recommend is the face shop's blemish zero toner, which has great ingredients and is effective and toning the skin while also treating breakouts without irritating the skin. if anyone has any toners they like that don't contain mineral oil, solvent alcohols, or synthetic fragrances and colours, please comment so other people can try it!

the third step is optional, but i think it helps a lot when trying to clear up breakouts. it's the treatment step. in this step an acne treatment cream is used to more effectively and quickly clear up the skin. one of the most popular treatment creams is benzoyl peroxide which i personally have had good experiences with in the past. something to remember about benzoyl peroxide is that a higher concentration doesn't mean it's more effective. in fact, the efficiency of the product doesn't change after a concentration higher than 2.5%, the only thing is that it's more drying. so if you choose to use benzoyl peroxide, try finding one in a concentration of 2.5%. another popular treatment is salicylic acid. this is more effective at treating blackheads and whiteheads, whereas the benzoyl peroxide is better at treating cystic acne. since most of my acne has been cystic, i've had better experiences with benzoyl peroxide, but many people prefer salicylic acid. it's just a matter of what kind of acne you have and how your skin reacts. a more natural option would be tea tree oil, which is worth trying but i have not noticed great results with it. if you decide to use it, please never put 100% tea tree oil directly on your face. what i would recommend doing is mixing a few drops of it into your moisturizer, with a ratio of 1:5 at most. the treatment i'm using now is retin-a, however you need a prescription for it in most countries i think. i can't say much about it since i've only been using it for about 2 weeks, but your doctor will probably know better than me if you should or shouldn't use it. 

this picture is so awful i'm sorry

the last step is to moisturize. this is a very important step, but it's overlooked a lot of times by people with oily skin. if you don't moisturize, your skin will become even more oily and cause more breakouts. one ingredient i would recommend for everyone, but especially oily skin, is hyalauronic acid, aka sodium hyaluronate. this might seem scary to dry skins, but it's really good at moisturizing the skin. a lot of times people with oily skin lack water content in their skin, so their skin produces excess oil to compensate. hyalauronic acid locks water in the skin, so your skin doesn't have to produce as much oil. this is great for all skin types, obviously, but especially oily because it will reduce the oil. it won't get rid of the oil, but i think if you try moisturizing with hyalauronic acid you will notice your skin is less oily. my favorite moisturizers for acne are complex 15 (i think this is only available in canada) cerave, and hada labo. the hada labo might be too much for oily skin, but for combo to dry it should be ok. i especially recommend the hada labo to people with drier skin types, but it's effective on people with combo skin like myself if we just use a small amount.

the most important thing is your diet. skincare and topical treatments can help a lot, but the problem is usually from within. a lot of people develop acne due to an intolerance to wheat or dairy, so i suggest you try to cut those out or at least reduce the amount that you consume. it's also beneficial to drink lot's of water, green tea, and chrysanthemum tea. green tea is full of antioxidants and chrysanthemum tea is often consumed in chinese cultures after eating oily foods or if one has pimples (so i'm told). what i like to do is drink green tea before 3pm and chrysanthemum tea after 5pm because green tea contains caffeine while chrysanthemum tea aids in relaxation. the best thing you can do for your skin (and your body overall) is to cut out processed foods, foods containing high sugar or salt, greasy foods, and soft drinks. these foods are hard for your body to digest and therefore could cause skin troubles. i was told by my dermatologist (and i myself believe this) "we know there's a correlation between the gut and acne, but we just don't know what it is." so ultimately, the best thing you can do is eat well. something you can do is take probiotic supplements or eat foods that are high in probiotics such as yakult or activia (if you're sure dairy doesn't affect your skin.) fermented foods could also help, so give it a shot!
 aside from diet, sleeping well is also important since your skin repairs itself the most during sleep. so make sure you get in your 8+ hours of sleep! make sure you change your pillow cases (and bed sheets if you're a crazy sleeper like me) at least once a week to make sure your face isn't touching bacteria, dirt, oil, etc while you sleep.

so i guess this brings us to the end of this long and wordy post, i really hope you guys learned something from this and found it helpful if you're still reading. good luck!


  1. it will become more inflamed, which is the cause of acne in the first place. so avoid harsh products, especially products that dry and strip the skin. Manchas na Pele

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