Six months ago, if you’d told me I’d be writing a blog post about skincare I wouldn’t have believed you. My skin has been the bane of my existence since the summer of 2013. In high school I suffered the occasional breakout and complained about them like nobody’s business, but the summer before I was set to “start my new life” in college I was struck by the worst acne I have ever experienced.
It was no longer confined to my T-zone and had worked its way onto my cheeks. It was big and red and painful. And to make things worse, I was the only person in my family not #blessed with poreless, butter-soft, Puerto Rican skin. My acne sent me into a hole of self-consciousness that made meeting new people uncomfortable. I was embarrassed.
Now, I should preface this by saying that everyone’s skin is different… and what works for me might not work for you. But I do believe that the tips I’ve included below have profoundly changed not only the appearance of my skin, but also my relationship with it.
So here are five skincare tips that I have personally implemented to clear things up and out of my pores:
1. OUT WITH THE HARSH. IN WITH THE GENTLE.
No more benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for this girl! I know these ingredients are supposed to be the holy grail of treating acne but they hurt me to use and leave my skin irritated. I now use this cleanser once or twice daily (after workouts and/or before bed) and it leaves my skin feeling clean and calm!
2. TONE. MOISTURIZE. REPEAT.
My product arsenal is limited. In the AM: I splash my face with cold water, tone with Dickinson’s or Thayer’s Witch Hazel, and moisturize. In the PM and/or after a workout: I wash my face with my papaya enzyme cleanser. I’ll double cleanse with micellar water when I’ve worn face makeup. And then I tone with a problem skin toner. I’m honestly not sure if using a different night toner is necessary but Shea Moisture has been holding me down so I’m not going to change it anytime soon.
3. PASSIVELY TOUCHING YOUR FACE, YOU NEED TO CUT IT.
I ride the subway and hold on because the A train is no joke as it speeds from 125th to 59th. I open the door to a cute little café packed with people and laptops. I wipe my hand on my jeans because it’s raining out and the door handle was wet. I order a coffee and hand the store clerk my credit card. Then I sit down and pull out my laptop which I take with me everywhere. As I begin to work I rest my cheek on the same hand that touched the subway pole and seat and door knob and credit card. And then I act surprised when I develop a pimple on said cheek.
Stop touching your face. Seriously.
4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.
The biggest change I’ve made since taking my skin more seriously is dietary. Although I’m not vegan and don’t completely identify as plant-based, I drastically cut back on meat and dairy earlier this year and it has made a world of difference. Now, I know this might not be what you want to hear but I do believe that a lot of the hormonal imbalances we experience (aka ACNE) stem from what we put into our bodies as much as they do from what we put on them. I now know that my skin is very sensitive to dairy, grease, and refined sugar. It hasn’t stopped me from indulging in sweet treats and french fries on occasion but knowledge is power.
5. EXTRACT, REGULARLY.
I was never one to pop pimples because I am terrified of scars and have no idea how to do it properly!
Even recently I’ve given myself an abrasion or two trying to pop my own white heads. Lesson learned: quit while you’re ahead.
Instead, I now see an esthetician semi-regularly for extractions (Hi Vee!) and I’ve learned a lot from her because she notices changes in my pores even before I do. So in I go, every month, to have her clean those bad boys out.
This tip is a luxury and I am certainly very lucky to have a friend that knows what she’s doing. Invest what you can. If you don’t have $200/month for full-blown facials (I SURE DON’T) opt for “just extractions” which are much more affordable. I would 100% recommend consulting an expert dermatologist or esthetician… or a combination of the two. Whatever is within your means.
Finally, please know that acne is not the end of the world! I truly wish I had spent more time addressing the insecurities that came out of my struggle with it. Instead I let a few red bumps on my face impact my social life and self-confidence.
I now choose to understand my acne as a signal that something I’m doing is throwing my body out of wack, and instead of being bitter about how my sister can eat and do whatever she wants and never develop a clogged pore, my skin cares enough to put that warning right where I can see it! :) Take it one day at a time, be consistent, and be kind to yourself.
All love always xx