Unfortunately I can't give you any golden words that will magically clear your breakouts. I really wish I could - I myself battled with acne for most of my life (and occasionally still am today). There are many causes of acne, and most of them are underneath the surface... so often, products won't help much at all.
If you're like me, and have tried every anti-acne product under the sun, and still haven't seen any significant changes in your skin, chances are that you have HORMONAL acne, caused by chemical changes in your body. You can't control it naturally, and it's definitely not your fault. Although topical products like cleansers, exfoliants, creams and moisturizers can help soothe and get rid of existing blemishes, they won't help prevent new ones from occurring. All you can do is regulate your diet and lifestyle. For me, going on birth control pills helped significantly.
For many other people however, a set skincare routine can do wonders. Tips:
- Wash your face EVERY morning AND night. Always remove your makeup before bed, to remove the day's dirt, oil and bacteria.
- Don't be too harsh on your skin. If you wash your face too hard or too often, you will strip the skin of it's natural oils... initially making it feel dry, which causes the skin to overcompensate by producing even MORE oil. Keep it gentle.
- ALWAYS use moisturizer before you apply your makeup. It doesn't matter if your skin is oily or dry - it needs moisture to remain healthy. Healthy skin will be clear skin.
- Make sure you wash your makeup brushes often - weekly at the LEAST. Dirty brushes will not only carry dirty makeup, but also dirt, dust, oil, and bacteria from one day's face to the other. Make sure you're not only washing the makeup out, but disinfecting them as well.
- Wash your pillowcases... oil and dirt from your hair, face, and whatever else happens in your bed will get stuck there every night. You don't want too much of that on your face!
- Drink water, eat healthy food, and exercise. These healthy living habits not only make your body happy, but make your skin happy too. You will flush out toxins, and encourage a healthy pH balance in your skin, which can help make it clear. (See this post)
- Use a facial mask one or two times a week. Masks can remove toxins, deep-clean your pores, and help control oil. Plus there's nothing like giving yourself a good facial!
- Exfoliate once every other day to remove dead skin cells, which could be blocking your pores. DO NOT over-exfoliate (see bullet number two).
- Stop touching your face! Every time you pick a zit, or simply rub your skin, you transfer whatever's on your hands (oil, dirt) to that area. Popping pimples also spreads the nasty stuff that was inside your skin, and chances are you'll get a couple new blemishes in the same area a few days later (not to mention acne scars!)
- Don't rely on makeup to help with your acne. There are many liquid foundations out there that claim to help clear your skin - and although they do contain salicylic acid, there isn't nearly enough to get rid of breakouts. ALL MAKEUP CLOGS PORES; the term "non-comedogenic" is not regulated by federal law, so anyone can slap those words on their packaging and they don't necessarily have to mean a thing.
Products I Recommend:
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser - $8
This is a fantastic cleanser for all skin types, but particularly those with acne-prone skin. Cetaphil is incredibly gentle and won't irritate or strip the skin, but it also won't make the skin too oily. It removes all of your dirt and impurities and really leaves your face perfectly clean.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash - $6
This is a great basic cleanser for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It contains salicylic acid, which is an ingredient known for getting rid of blemishes; it's also deep-cleaning and won't add any oiliness to your face.
Dickinson's Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner - $5
This is a miracle product for soothing acne. Witch Hazel is a plant, that when made into toner creates it's own natural alcohol (not stripping or drying!). Witch hazel reduces redness, kills bacteria, clarifies pores, and can help with swelling. Apply this with a cotton ball to your face at night, and in the morning your skin will be incredibly soft and glowing.
Clean & Clear Finishes Mattifying Moisturizer - $6
As I've stated above, keeping the skin moisturized is key! This moisturizer not only makes the skin happy and smooth, but also controls oil production throughout the day, keeping you shine-free. Also contains SPF 15 to keep you protected from the sun!
Simple Hydrating Light Moisturizer - $6
This moisturizer is great for sensitive skin, and contains natural ingredients to soften the skin without irritation. This feels very light on the skin, and doesn't leave your face feeling greasy.
Queen Helene Mint Julep Clay Masque - $4
This is one of my favorite anti-acne products! This contains a high content of sulfur, which naturally kills bacteria and dries up pimples, however it smells great and feels great to put on! This reduces redness of blemishes, cleans out pores, and helps control oil.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Fight & Fade Gel - $6
Often, zits can leave behind dark marks, for long after they themselves have disappeared. This gel helps not only fade the redness and discoloration, but also prevents new blemishes from appearing.
Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 - $5
This is my overnight miracle for truly stubborn spots. The high concentration of benzoyl peroxide (my ingredient of choice) kills acne from the start, and can help shrink existing blemishes quickly.