Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Current Skin Routine

enjoying one of my daily smoothies (you can see some of leftover spots I had on my cheek)

ACNE. Ugh.

Even though my skin has never been flawless, I never thought I'd be dealing with acne in my 20s. That's why I'm sharing my skin care routine. For anyone struggling with adult acne, who feels alone: you're not alone, you're not gross. It's going to take some work but you'll get through it!

As a kid I dealt with the same tiny bumps that were on my arm, on my face. I had dry patches on my cheeks every summer, and when it got really hot out I would develop rashes on the backs of my hands. All these ailments were sometimes uncomfortable or embarrassing, but really weren't so bad.

While a lot of my high school classmates were struggling through acne, thankfully, I was spared that terror! Maybe God thought my short stature, chubby face, crazy hair, and gapped teeth were more than enough to deal with at that time? Whatever the reason, I was able to keep a relatively clear face without doing much. 

Then BAM. At about 23 I started developing acne on my cheeks. Slowly, it spread to my chin, then my jawline, and over the course of 2 years I pretty much had acne all over my face except for my nose. Sexy, right? Except by "sexy" I mean, embarrassing, painful, and gross. I figured it had to do with a shift in hormones, but I thought, "There's GOT to be something I can use on the outside that will help hide whatever's going on in the inside." Turns out, I was half right.

I tried ALL kinds of products and remedies, short of visiting an esthetician (that was my last resort). I started out using a number of washes and lotions loaded with artificial chemicals and some pretty harsh stuff.  A few concerns were raised when some of the products I was using were actually bleaching my towels. It got me thinking, "How can I be putting something this harsh on my face??" Even when I'm buying makeup I avoid buying products with harsh ingredients. I don't want want that junk on my own skin and I certainly wouldn't want to put it on anyone else's skin.

Around the same time, M and I decided to change up our diet a bit. Since we cook about 90% of our meals at home from scratch, I try to include some of the healthiest and cleanest ingredients I can. We decided to use better quality (and fresher!) ingredients while maintaining our budget. This change in our diet made me wonder why I was using products containing such harsh ingredients on my skin, when I was making such an effort to keep those ingredients out of the food we eat? Just because they weren't entering my body through my mouth doesn't mean they weren't entering my system (I know I sound like a hippy, but that's ok ;) )

I started researching natural products and remedies I could use on my skin, to get rid of my acne. I read all kinds of articles and got all kinds of advice, but I soon realized the key to finding the right products to apply to my face was this: to choose products that were right for MY skin. No amount of advice or recommendations will help, if it's not right for your own skin. If you're struggling to figure out what skin type you are, here's a guide that I found that has helped me quite a bit.

After hours and months and about two years of struggling with acne, I FINALLY almost completely cleared my skin! I pretty much only have some hyper pigmentation leftover from my acne. What has helped tremendously has been making sure to put the right things into my body as well as onto my body. 

In an effort to get large amounts of fruits and veggies into my system as easily as possible, I decided to start making fruit and veggie smoothies. I bought a pretty inexpensive personal blender to get me started. I read article upon article on spinach and kale and their skin clearing abilities. So that's what I started out with, a little bit of kale and/or spinach, about a cup of strawberries, a cup of whatever berries I could find on sale that week, a banana, and about a half a cup of unsweetened almond milk. I make myself a variation of the above smoothie just about every day. 

another way I enjoy having my daily serving of spinach!

Around the same time, I also began using this jojoba oil on my skin in place of a moisturizer. I still am a coconut oil addict but I read that jojoba oil is a lot more similar to the skin's own natural oils, so I decided to try it out on my face, and I now just use coconut oil on my hair and body. I also eliminated almost all dairy products from my diet, per the advice of this esthetician. I'm still using the Burt's Bees Acne Wash every evening before bed, but I no longer use a toner (I may add one into my routine in the future). If I do have a blemish, or it looks like I'm about to develop one, I dab a bit of tea tree oil onto it. That's it!

To summarize:
  1. I rinse my face with warm water in the morning and pat dry
  2. I apply jojoba oil to my face with a very light touch--rubbing the skin can further irritate acne prone skin and make pimples look even larger and redder!)
  3. At night I dampen my face with water, then I pour some face wash onto my palm and work it into a good lather.
  4. I gently rub my face, finishing within 20 seconds--again touching the skin as little as possible helps reduce inflammation
  5. Rinse the face wash off with warm water and a light touch
  6. I apply a thin layer of jojoba oil all over my face
  7. If I have blemishes I take a cotton swab dipped in tea tree oil and dab it onto the blemish

After about three weeks I began noticing a change. I still had some blemishes and pimples on my face, but no new ones were appearing! I kept at this new routine and slowly but surely, my blemishes are almost completely gone! I'm hoping I'll be able to slowly add dairy back into my diet, but right now I'm ok with only have a tiny bit in my morning coffee.

It took so much work and research and it still takes a lot of effort since I still have to keep this skin care routine up and I make sure to drink a fruit and veggie smoothie at least every other day, to keep the acne away. Hopefully someone else will benefit from my experience and will find some of my tips helpful and effective!