If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’ve been experiencing an out-of-character bout of acne the last few months.
I can’t be 100% certain but a variety of factors (isn’t it always a combination of things?) lead to my skin breaking out. One was that I was going through a hormonal change due to my daughter weaning herself from breastfeeding. Another is that I was not as careful with my diet. I know that food – particularly dairy and grains – have an effect on my overall health including my skin. And lastly, I had tried out a DIY oil cleanser using a few new-t0-me ingredients like sea buckthorn seed oil that seemed to anger my skin and cause some deep, painful spots.
I have been very lucky in my life to have relatively clear skin with only the occasional monthly hormonal breakout on my chin/cheek. The last few months have been eye-opening. One thing I didn’t realize about acne was that it hurts. Like, your face hurts as if you’ve just smashed into a wall. And it’s weirdly itchy? Ughhh you guys!
I am so pleased to say that my face is finally healing and I’m hoping I can put this chapter behind me for good. In fact, after just two weeks of implementing the system outlined below, I saw a marked improvement in my skin. Wahoo!
While my skin isn’t entirely clear yet, it is overall much better. I have no more painful blemishes or irritation, and my skin is very smooth to the touch, even if it still has some red spots. Those red spots are just hyperpigmentation and (hopefully not permanent) scars left over from the acne. I am hopeful that with time they will fade on their own. I have had the occasional hormonal blemish pop up but it’s run its course in a normal way.
HOW I’M HEALING MY ACNE:
Here is what I’ve been doing and products I’ve been using. Feel free to ask any specific questions you may have in the comments.
First, I have dramatically simplified my skincare routine.
I wash my face with diluted castile soap every night. I put distilled (boiled and then cooled) water and about a teaspoon of castile soap in my glass pump bottle (find similar on eBay*.) The soap comes out foamy and luxurious. I’m not sure that it’s necessary to have the mixture foamy, but I like the consistency to wash my face. I have used two kinds of castile soap — Acure Argan Oil Castile Soap and Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap*. I like them pretty equally.Both are available fragrance free if you prefer no scent at all, but I like citrus-y scents so that’s what I went with.
About a month ago I also started using Weleda Almond Cleansing Lotion (available on Vitacost, but I got it at my local health food store) a few days a week. I primarily use castile soap to wash my face, but I find that this product is very calming and moisturizing. In fact, I find myself using less moisturizer or oil on days I use it. The entire package is recyclable and the tube is aluminum. Not perfect in terms of my zero waste goals, but it has been working well for me and I like that the tube is plastic free.
If I am wearing a lot of makeup for an event or party, I first use Kari Gran cleansing oil and gently steam it off my face with a washcloth. This is rare and maybe once a week maximum at this point. I then cleanse with the castile soap as usual.
I’ve learned that my skin is much happier without daily physical exfoliation, even if it’s just from a soft washcloth after oil cleansing. I’ve noticed that in addition to blemishes disappearing and fewer spots showing up, I see less redness and reactiveness from my skin day to day due to less exfoliation.
I have been using up a few moisturizers but limit myself to using one per night instead of mixing. I gently spread a thin layer over my face and neck before bed. However, more recently I’ve just been using a small amount of argan oil* or sweet almond oil*. I wake up with smooth, hydrated skin so I think it’s a good fit for me.
I do not use a toner every night, but occasionally I will swipe a little bit of alcohol-free witch hazel on my face with a reusable/washable cotton round. If I do have a particularly painful hormonal blemish pop up, I use a tiny (tiny!) bit of tea tree oil applied directly to the spot with a corner of a reusable cotton round right before bed.
Oh how I love lotions and potions but it seems that simplicity is key in my face routine as in other places in my life.
Secondly, I drink about 100 ounces of water per day. There are lots of tips and tricks out there to help you increase your water intake, but keeping a huge (32 oz or larger) water bottle* by my side keeps things simple for me. I know I only have to drink 3 full bottles per day to reach my goal.
Lastly, I’ve cleaned up my diet, starting with a mini Whole 30. I did a “Whole 14” meaning that for two weeks I adhered to the strict Whole 30 rules. What a difference! I haven’t been perfect but since then I’ve been trying to cut back on sugar, alcohol, dairy and grains. I am doing a full Whole 30 starting May 1st just because I feel so dang incredible during and after.
My next steps are to continue down this path and hope that I continue to see healing. I am going to be adding in a couple of additional nights of oil cleansing to see how my skin reacts. I’d also like to try a few new facial oils in the coming months to see if I can speed up fading on those persistent scars/spots.
Thanks for listening, hope this has been helpful!
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