So, when I last blogged, I was just embarking on a path to total acne annihilation. Or so I thought.
I had put some ingredients together for stuff I thought would be a good idea:
- lavender oil (for drawing out impurities
- oregano oil (for fighting bacteria)
- tea tree oil (ditto)
- rose hip seed oil (for combating hyper-pigmentation due to squeezing pimples)
- vitamin e (ditto)
- Aubrey's soothing facial mask #4 (for ... well ... because it smelled nice)
- Phytomer's Peeling Vegetal exfoliating mask (for exfoliation)
- Glycolic acid cream (for exfoliation and pore declogging).
- Nixoderm (this benzoic acid/salacyilic acid etc mix) (for zapping zits)
- Aubrey's facial cleanser for sensitive skin.
- Aloe gel for redness reduction (it doesn't seem to work for anything else, and is quite drying if left on for a long time it seems -- maybe I'm using the wrong gel here ... hmm...)
Wow. What a lot of great stuff!!
So then I started using it, and a couple of weeks went by, and things were kind of oookkkkaaayyy, but not great. I was still getting lots of under-skin whiteheads, and when I picked those, they would sometimes turn into pretty nasty inflammations. The inflammations would go away if I lathered them with nixoderm over night, but then would turn brown, and linger forever. So, basically, things weren't totally wonderful.
Then, a couple of days ago, I was doing a vanity re-read of my earlier blog entry on how my conditioner was giving me bacne, and decided to look at the list of ingredients in my conditioner to see which ones might be the culprits. I googled "comedogenic ingredients" (Wow - there are a lot of sites about this out there) and found out that my conditioner had LOADS of comedogenic stuff in it. Sodium Laureth Sulfate was the worst among them, scoring a whopping "5" on the scale of 0-5. But there was other stuff on there too.
I was kind of surprised by some of the ingredients that scored on the scale. Almond oil, for instance. I never saw Almond Oil coming. I just assumed that since it was "natural" that it would be okay. Well, it scores a "2"! Okay okay, this means it's only mildly comedogenic -- but apparently "2" is clogging enough for me, because during my "oil cleansing" phase, I was using almond oil, and breaking out in full blown zits all over the place. Olive oil (another pal of mine during the oil cleans phase) was also a 2. Well, that explained why that little experiment failed. I was basically combining a whole bunch of comedogenic ingredients and mashing them all over my face. Even the holy grail of cleansing oils, castor oil, comes in as a 1, which is barely comedogenic, but still is somewhat!! I mean, it's not a "0", which is what you'd kind of want acne treatments to be, right??
Then I thought "huh - I wonder if there's anything pore clogging in my current acne products". I'm not sure why I'd never thought of looking at this before -- I guess I trusted that when they said "For Acne", they meant "Also Won't Give You Acne". So, just to be absolutely positively SURE, I idly picked up my Aubrey mask, and felt a sick fluttering in my stomach. There it was: Almond Oil. ALMOND OIL! In my acne mask!!
I ran to the bathroom, and began gathering all my products to bring back to my computer. It was like one of those scenes from a horror movie, where the poor protagonist keeps digging and digging, and finding body after body after body. Casualties were everywhere.
I had several cleansers on hand, two of which are from Aubrey. Both of these contain cetyl alcohol, which is a 2.
I had been using oils as moisturizers (olive, jojoba, almond!), all of which are 2's.
My beloved, BELOVED, rose hip seed oil actually (I figured out after some wikipedia research, and consultation with my friend who's a PhD in chemistry) contains vitamin A palmitate which is a 2.
My Phytomer peeling vegetal has cetyl alcohol (2), palmitic acid (2) stearic acid (2) and dimethicone (1)
My other phytomer products all had ingredients ranging from 2's to 5's!!
This left me with only lavender oil, oregano oil, tea tree oil, vitamin e, aloe, glycolic acid and nixoderm.
These are all what Guri Dan would likely call "treatments", and are not cleansers, and are not moisturizing.
So I went on a hunt in my local high-end store for anything to replace my cleanser and moisturizers. Amazingly, I've found nothing readily available.
The poor acne-ridden salesgirl wandered around the store with me, getting increasingly depressed, as she systematically suggested products (including "natural" ones, "organic" ones, and ones she had been told to use), and I systematically shot them down, pointing to the comedogenic ingredients in every single one of them (including Cetaphil -- which has cetyl alcohol). I checked out all the Kiehl's cleansers, and none of them scored well. None of the Aveda products made it, except for a hydrating mask. La Mer products are FULL of highly comedogenic stuff, as are all Aesop products. The big point of depression was the Aubrey products -- previously thought above reproach because of how organic they are. All of them have some kind of comedogenic ingredient like almond oil, or cetyl alcohol.
But what about the touted non-comedogenic cleaners? Well, I absolutely refuse to (knowingly) use anything with parabens or propylene glycol (ironic, since all phytomer products have these ingredients, and I hadn't bothered to check because I loved their marketing Sooooo Muuuch!) so Clean and Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser and its ilk are out. (plus, even the Guru Dan recommended Clean and Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser has Lauric Acid in it, which is a 4!!!). Actually, there is a product (Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser) which doesn't have any pore-clogging ingredients or parabens, BUT it does have a whopping 10% BP, which is a trip I'm just not ready to take, and apparently wouldn't work for non-inflamed acne anyway. Humph.
So, at this point, I'm going commando. I can't find a single gentle cleanser that won't actively clog my pores, so I'm just going with water. This morning, for instance, I splashed some cold water on my face, put some aloe gel on, showered, and then used a very wet cloth soaked in luke warm water to kind of wipe it off again (using only gentle, downward strokes). Then I did a spot treatment of lavender/oregano/tea tree oils (mixed together, obviously).
I'll let you know how it goes. I'm kind of interested to see how my face does now that, for the first time in 25 years, I'm not using products that are actively clogging it. Should be informative! Maybe I don't even HAVE acne! Maybe I've been giving myself a problem where there really shouldn't be one!? I mean: With products like these, who needs acne?!