One fateful morning, I woke up to small bumps all over my cheeks and chin. At that time, I was in the second grade, and was too young to even know what acne was. After freaking out to my mom that I had developed some sort of horrible rash on my face, I was subjected to my first ever dermatologist visit. I say subjected because I, like most acne sufferers, have come to associate the dermatologist’s office with embarrassment, shame and the ever constant complaint that yet another new product “just didn’t work for me.”
Now in my mid twenties, I am just coming to the realization that acne prevention is not about some “miracle cure.” It is also not about perfection. Acne is genetic and hormonal and quite frankly a pain in the ass. Unfortunately, there are just certain things that lay outside of our control. Like my ever constantly monthly breakouts, or naturally oily skin. I can’t do anything about the fact that I was born with large pores, or fair and sensitive skin. Coming to terms with the fact that I will never have Barbie doll poreless skin has been a rough road, but owning up to the things that I can’t change has saved myself a lot of grief.
However, I have also come to the realization that skin care is a daily choice, a routine, and is not to be taken lightly. While there are plenty of things regarding my skin that I can’t do anything about, there are also things that I can control. Realizing what those factors are has been life changing. Thus, without further ado, my list of routines and life changes that have reduced my chronic acne to a mild (mostly) easy to deal with minor annoyance.
· Change your pillow cases regularly. I’m not kidding-this tops the list because each and every night you lay your face down on a pillow covered in heavens knows what, and all that dirt, oil and makeup can and will plug up your pores
· When it comes to washing your face-easy does it. I use cetaphil for sensitive skin and it has done wonders for me. After years of using harsh face washes that only succeeded in causing irritated and dryed out skin, gentle easy cleansers twice daily really is enough.
· Benzoyl in limited amounts in your friend. As far as spot treatments go, Benzoyl Peroxide is top notch, however too much can dry out your skin and can cause pimple rashes and irritation. I use it sparingly and it really helps to clear up those obnoxious spots that insist on hunkering down for the long haul.
· Your diet does matter. I can’t believe some dermatologist are still sticking to the notion that what you eat doesn’t cause acne, it’s flat out wrong. I have noticed a direct correlation between dairy, sugar, lack of water and acne flare-ups. Do your self a favor and see for yourself.
· Skin picking is a problem. As a chronic picker I realize that I come across sounding a tad bit hypocritical, however the number of times that I have picked at a seemingly small blocked pore or bump and ended up with a giant sized lump has to be in the hundreds by now. If you can’t ignore those small blocked pores, invest in some pore strips (I like the Biore charcoal ones) or a good face mask that you can spot treat while you are hanging out around the house (I like Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Mud Mask).
· Careful what household items you use on your face. There are a lot of blogs and articles out there championing the use of lemons, vinegar, baking soda, ect as DIY masks. While Im sure some of these skin care recipes do actually work, do your research first. No one wants to end up with a bad rash or burns from a badly begotten facial science fair experiment. That being said, I do often use a mixture of milk and nutmeg as a spot treatment as well as to lighten discolored marks. It is gentle enough not to cause any damage and does help with redness and inflammation.
· The dreaded cyst conversation. While my acne has mostly been on the moderate side of the spectrum, I am no stranger to those hard, painful under the skin lumps that just wont go away not matter what you do. I’ve jabbed them with needles (please don’t do this, it has NEVER worked for me), I’ve doused them with rubbing alcohol (again-stupid, stupid, stupid), I’ve cried over them, complained about them and even gotten cortisone shots (probably could work but I was left with an indentation that hasn’t gone away in 7 years). What has worked is when I catch them early and ice the living daylights out of them. This method has reduced cysts that could last weeks down to about a week life span when I ice them twice daily. Unfortunately jury is still out about best topicals but I have heard good things about Renee Rouleau Cyst treatment.
Most importantly, remember that at the end the day, your worst critic is you and more than likely the damage that you see in the mirror most people wont even notice. Your skin does not define you, how many pimples you have at any given time won’t make or break your life. Take it from someone who has spent enough time counting them to know. You are beautiful no matter how many blocked pores you have and it is time to realize that. I hope some of these tips have been helpful and if not, at least breath easy with the realization that there you are not alone in your struggles, not by a long shot.
-If you are having problems with severe acne, don't let my post dissuade you from visiting a dermatologist. Whilst my own personal experiences have not been positive and I have personally sought after solutions that do not require taking medication for my acne, there is still plenty that a doctor can do to help.
-While I am aware that there is no scientific studies to date that correlate diet with acne, my own experiences have shown otherwise. If you are skeptical try out a mini experiment on your diet and see if you notice specific foods contributing to acne flare-ups.