I could start this off with giving you a bundle of facts about your pores and your skin like how we receive new skin all the time, (I think I read once that we shed close to a million skin cells a day) but hey, I’m no dermatologist. However, I have had skin for as long as I can remember and I’ve certainly had skin problems for at least the last ten years. If you are anything like me, you’ve never been to a dermatologist or gone on an acne pill or tried the laser treatment to remove those pesky pimples. I made the mistake throughout my teen years of picking, popping, scraping my skin in hopes of removing the imperfections. I will admit that I still fight this urge. But in the last ten years of wearing my bangs in my face to cover a blemish or caking on far too much make up in hopes no one will notice, I’ve nailed down a pretty solid routine to clear up my skin. I may be a make-up junkie (MAC, I’m talking to you), but I’m also all for inexpensive fixes and I’m sure you won’t complain.
So here we go:
We have all heard that chocolate will make you break out and fast food makes your skin look like paste and perhaps it is true for some. I know if I eat out several times a week, I won’t look so pretty the next. But I also know that one chocolate kiss is not going to give me a full blown break out. However, this is the biggest, most important tip: Drink tons of water. A TON, PEOPLE. It helps flush our bodies of toxins (yes, toxins in your skin) and it is all around good for you. In fact, drinking more water happens to be one of my resolutions. Join me!
The second most important thing to remember and I will not be able to smack into your heads enough is this: DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. You shake hands (scratch your nose), hold hand rails while walking up steps (brush your bangs from your face) , pick up a greasy chip (lean your face on your palm). STOP. We touch so much oil, dirt, and germs ALL THE TIME and we don’t even think about it! I’m not saying that you should be a germ-a-phobe, I’m simply saying stop putting the gunk on your hands onto your face. (Also, that guy you shook hands with may or may not have washed after using the restroom. DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE.)
Now that the two main preventative areas are covered, let’s go over every day skin care. I prefer St. Ives Peach Scrub- it contains salicylic acid and helps scrub away the dead skin to help prevent future problems, not to mention that it’s less than $5. Benzoyl Peroxide products work better for when I get an occasional cystic acne (which is much more difficult to get under control, but I promise I will write on these buggers, too). I happen to prefer salicylic acid over benzoyl peroxide because it isn’t quite so irritating to my skin. Short Story: Once when I was a teen, I was trying to get rid of acne on my upper lip so I left a benzoyl peroxide cream on over night. BIG MISTAKE. I had a bright red chemical burn for the next three days. My history teacher asked if I had Kool Aid at lunch and I slunk down in my chair and sheepishly lied. To make matters worse, that inflammation caused yet another break out. If you have sensitive skin and a scrub is too harsh, I recommend Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit foaming “scrub”. The consistency is more like a gel, so it’s gentle while still getting the job done. Always, always use a moisturizer with sunscreen. Garnier is a good place to look.
I’ve never been big on toners. They sting and dry out my face, but if my skin is being particularly yucky, I will put some on a cotton ball and dab it on my face prior to moisturizing. Fun fact about skin: even if you have oily skin, you can most certainly over dry your face and this will actually make your skin even more oily. Finding the right regimen for your face is tricky, so take note when you try a new routine and try to only change one thing at a time for trial and error.
So you wake up on Wednesday an have this outing on Friday and that guy you like might be there and WHAM. Right on your chin, a big red pimple. PERFECT. Do not pop it. Do not, do not, do not. Scars last a long time and are harder to cover and heal than you’d like to think. I usually keep one or two Freeman brand face masks in my bathroom. You know the ones- every major drug store has them for a dollar and change and they usually come in pretty colors. Well that stuff works wonders, people. My favorite is Dead Sea Minerals Anti Stress Mask- it clears my acne pretty thoroughly if I do one in the morning and one in the evening. It’s signature blue tint is an added bonus, as it helps reduce discoloration from acne. Any of the “pore purging” ones are fabulous, but I’d stay away from the Chocolate Strawberry… it smells like chemicals. I know, I know. I want chemicals that don’t smell like chemicals. Cake and eat it, too and all that jazz. Anyway, ash your face with warm water, give it a good scrub, then lather one of these babies on. They say leave it on for ten minutes or so. Mnaaaaa. I leave them on for as long as possible (again, salicylic acid isn’t as strong as benzoyl peroxide). Rinse. Wash with your acne face wash. Moisturize. Sleep.
Still a problem on Thursday? Sigh. This one is going to sound crazy, but bare with me. Soak a washcloth in warm water with sea salt and a green tea bag. While you are lazily sprawled on the couch reading the latest John Green novel, let the towel hang out on your problem area. The green tea helps diminish redness and the sea salt helps dry out those pores. I like to gently scrub my face afterwards, as well.
As for covering up the remnants of the terrorist of your face, keep a green tinted base or concealer on hand. Put this on first, let it dry. And when it comes to acne, powder over liquid is always a better choice in my personal opinion. I promise it will be a million times less noticeable.
What took me the longest to deal with about my relationship with my body was that even when it isn’t behaving exactly as I’d like it to, I still need to love it. So my skin is having a ruddy day. There are worse things. And cliché is cliché is cliché, but if that guy at that thing on Friday isn’t stunned by your shining personality and isn’t interested in your having read Green’s new novel, then he really isn’t worth your time. This is where you either politely nod or roll your eyes, but these things cannot be repeated enough.
*PHEW* That was a mouthful.
Coming up this week: My tricks for foundation and concealer application and the holy grail of mascara.
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