Throughout my life my greatest insecurity has always been my skin. Unlike most people I know, the gift of clear skin was not in the cards for me that being said, I have always struggled with oily, acne prone skin along with post acne scarring, blemishes & an uneven skin tone.
As I write this post I can’t even begin to imagine what my skin would look like without the issues I mentioned before, never seen it! My primary concern is hyper-pigmentation because my skin scars VERY easily. Once I get a pimple I’m almost guaranteed a scar. In the pictures you see of my skin two years ago, all of what is on my cheeks is scarring, not acne. I’ve never had super bad breakouts all at once but over time if every pimple leaves a mark (& I couldn’t resist popping them all), I was booked to have a face full of scarring.
Dermatologist after dermatologist gave me various creams & potions to try to help prevent future acne & to help remove some of the scarring I already had but nothing ever really worked. Even the popular acne medication “Accutane” did not work! I actually did Accutane twice so don’t start with me about how its a “cure”. The first time was useless, the second time it gave some results but nowhere close to the results I’ve seen others achieve. I have also tried natural remedies & natural products but to no avail.
Soo what next?
After doing my second round of Accutane, 4 years ago, I have been treating my skin issues on my own. Skincare products from Sephora & pharmacies have really saved my skin so I’m going to give you all a breakdown of how I did it. I am in no way saying I am an expert or that this is a one size fits all routine. I really just want to give someone out there some hope & possibly something I’ve tried can help somebody else.
People always thinks that having oily skin means you need to use harsh products to remove oil. I’m here to tell you that this is fake news. Having oily skin is actually not a bad thing. Our natural oils moisturise the skin and stripping ourselves of these oils away can leave your skin dry & lead to additional problems. Those of us with oily skin tend to have that natural “glow” that everyone else is always trying to get. Having your skin naturally produce more oils also helps keep you looking more youthful as you age. The key honestly is just managing the oil not stop the oil.
Some things you should always do are..
- Wash your face every morning, after exercise & night.
- Use oil-free & alcohol free cleansers.
- Use gentle foaming cleansers where possible. Using harsh products to dry out the oil will only cause an increase in oil production.
- Always moisturise. Oiliness aside, moisturiser helps keep your skin hydrated & by using an SPF moisturiser you also prevent sun damage at the same time.
- Use sunscreen daily! UV rays from the sun activate the melanin in our skin which makes us darker, hyperpigmentation included. Ain’t nobody got the time for that while trying to get rid of scars!
- Try your absolute hardest NOT to constantly touch your face. Do not pop your pimples, you’ll regret it for MONTHS when the scar surfaces. I struggle with this one but it’s a major key.
- Avoid using your compact powder to blot oil. Use blotting sheets.
- Clean your makeup brushes weekly! Particularly, your foundation sponge/brush & your powder brush. (Less frequently used brushes can go a little longer without washing.)
- Please do NOT sleep in your makeup, I’m begging you, no matter how tired you are!
- Learn your own skin. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you & that includes me and my routine/favourite products listed below.
Always consult a dermatologist before deciding to do your own skin care treatments. They can properly guide you as to what your concerns are & lead you in the right direction regarding treatment. I always recommend trying out a regimen from a dermatologist before attempting to treat yourself.
If you’ve been down the dermatologist route & are still struggling then you can continue to read & take my amateur skincare advice.
Skin Care Product Advice
- Choose oil-free or non-comedogenic products.
- Add a Vitamin C product to your routine. The regular use of vitamin C products can fight the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. Using Vitamin C in serums also helps to lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation leading to a more even skin tone.
- Consider adding a retinoid to your skincare routine. These products are vitamin A derivatives & promote cell turnover.
- Use oil-free, water-based foundations. The word “mattifying” is a friend. I don’t say best friend because depending on the weather you may not need it.
- Use toners & avoid astringents especially if they contain alcohol or peppermint because those dry out your skin leading to more oil production.
- Choose products with AHA (Alpha hydroxy acid). AHAs are water-soluble acids derivded from sugary fruits. These acids help to peel away the skins surface so that new skin cells will generate. This new cell generation will lead to a more even skin tone. They are typically safe for all skin types however if you have extremely dry or sensitive skin you will need to use this type of product sparingly to avoid irritation. Start out with twice a week to test how your skin reacts.
AHAs are good for the following skin concerns;
- Enlarged pores
- Fine lines & wrinkles
- Uneven skin tone
- Use an exfoliator 2-3 times a week. Over exfoliating can cause irritation however it is necessary to remove dead cells as having them remain on your face can lead to clogged pores.
- Use masks weekly. Depending on your concerns there are numerous masks on the market that will help. I will get into the masks I personally use later in this post.
Help Your Skin From Within
I refuse to tell you to “drink more water” because if one more person posts that as their “key to clearing up skin” I might scream.. *roll eyes*.
However, if your diet contains a lot of “junk food” (you know what I mean), try to clean it up. Eat more greens & less fried foods. Your diet directly affects your skin’s appearance & until you’ve tried it for an extended period of time (a month or more, not a week) you can’t say it doesn’t help.
Along the same lines of diet, but a different point, try to cut down on your dairy intake. I love milk & cheese so I knowww first hand that this is a difficult one. Unfortunately though, dairy can be the culprit causing your issues.
My Skin Care Routine
Morning Skin Care
The routine below is typically what I do to take care of my skin on a day to day basis. I do not use all the products at each step all at once. The products listed are all the ones I have loved over the last few years & that have helped me.
I have also noticed that switching up my products helps my skin more than sticking with the same products for an extended period of time. This has led me to find multiple products that I love in the same category.
My workouts are first thing in the morning. I only rinse my face with water before a workout. If I still feel like a zombie I use the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs & Rose Water.
After my workout, I wash my face using one of my favourite gentle cleansers.
Apply Vitamin C serum.
After cleansing I apply one of my favourite Vitamin C serums/concentrates.
Once my day serum has been absorbed into my skin, next is moisturiser. I choose my moisturiser of the day at random.
Primer & Makeup Application
After my moisturiser is all absorbed I move on to my makeup application which always begins with primer.
Evening/Night-time Skin Care
As soon as I get home from work the first thing I do is get off all my makeup. I try not to keep my makeup on for longer than necessary to prevent any avoidable pore clogging.
I thoroughly remove my makeup with wipes. I usually keep going until there is very minimal traces of makeup showing on the wipes.
After initial makeup removal using wipes, I cleanse using the Neutrogena Oil Acne Wash. I know, this product is sort of harsh & drying but it removes ALL the makeup remnants so I love it. To compensate I use a gentle, moisturising cleanser immediately afterwards.
Apply Spot Treatments
Apply Under Eye Treatment
Apply A Night Serum/Oil/Overnight Mask.
After applying both the spot treatment & under eye treatment, I apply one of my favourite night serums or night oils depending on what I think my skin is craving. These products contain vitamin C, AHA or retinoids to encourage skin cell turnover and reduce the appearance of scars.
For Dark Spots
On Sundays in between my morning & night routines I do my weekly face mask. I choose my masks for the week depending on what I think my skin needs.
Some of my typical skin needs are;
- Clogged pores
There is a mask for everything! Two of my current favourites are;
I exfoliate 2-3 times a week using my facial cleansing brush & my favourite exfoliating products.
Facial Cleansing Brush
I’ve found that cleansing my skin with only my hands is inefficient. Especially considering I have such trouble skin. I decided to try the oh so popular Vanity Planet Skin Spa Brush Set & have no regrets. Using this product along with my favourite cleansers removes all makeup/dirt from my skin. The multiple brush heads available also allows me to choose the intensity of the cleanse I want. There is a soft bristled brush (for daily use), a firm brush (for exfoliating) & a silicone brush head (for dry/sensitive skin).
Naturally, the silicone brush head is my favourite to use regularly. I definitely recommend trying a cleansing brush because you would be surprised at how much is left on your skin after washing with only your hands.
Ok lets wrap it up..
This post is long but I’ll just reiterate that I am NOT a professional in the skin care field. This regimen & list of products are what have worked for me & I don’t expect anyone to go out and buy them all (totally unnecessary). I accumulated a ton of products over the last 3 years through a process of trial & error as I learned what worked & what didn’t work for my skin issues.
Your skin is not something to be embarrassed about, you cant help the cards you’ve been dealt you can only try to treat it. Sometimes I feel like my skin is a mess & I’m not getting anywhere & don’t want to leave the house without my face on but I’m definitely proud of how far my skin has come looking at these pictures, this is a story about progress, not perfection. Hopefully my openness about my journey & sharing all of this can help someone.
If you have any helpful tips for anyone suffering from acne or hyper-pigmentation that have worked for you, drop them in the comments below & lets continue the discussion & help out each other out!
Until next time,
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