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  • Melissa


Although published in 2020, this post was written in 2018. A newer skincare routine and skin update will be posted later this year.

My skin and I have been through a lot together. I'm sure you can say the same for you and yours. Whether it was the cuts and scrapes from playing outside as a kid or picking at pimples as a teen (come on, even the best of us couldn't resist every now and then), our skin is always there to protect us even after we treat it so poorly. We only get one body, so if you haven't started treating yours right yet, what are you waiting for??

This post is going to be a long one. I can feel it.

So let's start with the basics: for most people, a good portion of how your skin looks depends on what you put inside your body. Eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising, drinking enough water, and not smoking/abusing drugs or alcohol are all important if you want your skin to look healthy. Now of course, some people's genetics allow them to have great skin even if they don't follow any of those guidelines, and some people (like me) maintain a very healthy lifestyle and still have troubled skin. Go figure.

Protecting your skin from the sun is SO IMPORTANT. I love a good tan as much as anybody, but the potentially harmful effects of sun exposure are not worth that beautiful bronze glow. Besides the fact that sun exposure can cause wrinkles, it also damages our skin and puts us at risk for skin cancer. I know it's so hard to surpass the "it will never happen to me" mentality, but think about how much these negative consequences outweigh the positives. Looking tan can never benefit your life as much as cancer could ruin it. If anything, use lots of sunscreen with a strong SPF if you are going to lay out in the sun, but please don't ever use tanning beds! There are better, safer options and at the end of the day, we need to start choosing our health over our appearance. Trust me, I LOVE laying out in the summer with the feeling of the sun warming my body, a slight breeze in the air. Throw in the sound of crashing ocean waves and it is literally my ideal paradise. You don't have to give it up completely, just be smarter about the way you do it. I always wear sunscreen and make sure I alternate periods of sun with periods of shade. Keeping yourself covered with light clothing is ideal but if you're on the beach, maybe hang out under an umbrella most of the time and pop out for some sun every now and then.

Now, on to the most complicated discussion: acne.

I was fairly fortunate as a teen. In high school, I got occasional breakouts but nothing crazy. In my first year of college, I began getting more consistent acne and by my senior year, I was experiencing the worst acne of my life. I was able to find consolation on the internet, as my googling led me down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos and blog posts about adult acne. These people's stories sounded exactly like mine and some of them were able to cure it themselves!

Quick note about me: I am obsessed with healthy, natural, organic living. I like to know what I am putting in and on my body. My diet is very clean and as much as I love sweets and junk food, 90% of the time I am eating healthy, whole foods. In the past few years, I also began to transition my skincare routine from generic products to natural skincare because our skin absorbs everything we put on it, toxins and all. The obsession went from buying moisturizers and cleansers with only natural, organic ingredients to trying the oil cleansing method.

So getting back to my internet research and finding people like me, many of the people found success with the oil cleansing method. This skincare routine consists of washing your face with a blend of pure, natural oils. I'm not an expert, even after doing it, so I won't try to throw out too many terms or the ratios of oil you should use, but I was using a mixture of oils that were said to all be beneficial for the skin and particularly for acne. Spoiler alert: it didn't cure my acne. It didn't make it worse, so I definitely can see how it works for some people but the one thing to always remember is the same thing I preach on almost every post: We are all different. No two people have the same skin. A product may work completely differently on you than it does on someone else.

When I was in high school and college, I tried nearly every generic brand like Clearasil, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, Cetaphil, Simple, Aveeno, Garnier, Biore, No. 7, Yes To, Burt's Bees, and many more. None of these did anything extraordinary for me.

Natural skincare didn't help my acne. Oil cleansing didn't help my acne. I already ate well and lived a healthy lifestyle. I tried drinking apple cider vinegar in my water which is pretty darn awful. I tried giving up dairy.

I think it comes down to genetics. I believe my body was destined to get acne in young adulthood based on my genes. I was terrified of going to the dermatologist because in my mind, prescriptions = harsh chemicals, and that's just not my thing.

Working in cosmetic retail, I was wearing a full face of makeup 5 days a week. There were times that I thought this was the reason for my acne, but the acne had begun long before I started that job. In my heart, I stopped believing the makeup was the cause. However, going to work was torture. Caking foundation over my clusters of blemishes and trying to contour over bumpy, swollen skin just made me feel uglier than having no makeup at all. I had customers stare at my breakouts as I tried to recommend products to them. Who was going to take my advice when they thought I couldn't take care of my own skin?

Eventually, I noticed my acne leaving scars and knew I couldn't keep trying to solve this problem myself. I went to the dermatologist ready to tell him my life story, detailing every product I've ever tried and every habit I had, right down to changing my pillowcase every week and washing my makeup brushes with all natural dish soap. My experience was very different than I was expecting. My consultation took mere minutes. He didn't care about learning the history behind my skin. He asked me a few simple questions and then handed me 2 prescriptions and I was out the door. I have been using the face wash and cream he prescribed me for roughly 7 months now as I write this post. Guess what? They work. I still get some breakouts but nothing even remotely close to the way my acne used to take over my face. I am confident again although I regret waiting so long to get professional help. Every time I see the little indents on my cheeks where some of my worst breakouts left scars, I know that my pride and desire to stay natural may have caused my skin permanent damage.

My acne at its worst

My acne 1 month after using my prescriptions

My acne now, 8 months after I began using my prescriptions

If you take anything from this long story, let it be this:

Everyone's skin is different in a multitude of ways and no treatment will work the same for everyone.

Don't be afraid to see a dermatologist. Sometimes prescription-grade products are the only thing that will cure acne.

If you want to try different products or methods, make sure you only change one product in your routine at a time. Ideally, stick to the same routine for at least a month. You won't see the effects of a new product until about a month after use. I had to try some things for myself before finally going to the dermatologist. Sometimes you just need to know firsthand whether or not something will work for you. Give yourself some time to test out what you want, but don't wait too long if your acne is still persisting. The last thing I wanted to do (going to the derm) ended up being the only thing that worked.

OKAY. WHOO. That was a lot. Since everything works differently on everyone (clearly the theme of this post), I will only talk about a few products.

Pictured above are natural oils and butters from Mountain Rose Herbs that I used for oil cleansing. I have made natural body butters with the cocoa and shea butter but they were pretty greasy. I've used the others for cleansing my face and removing makeup. I've recently started applying the castor oil to my brows at night and I don't know if it's just wishful thinking, but I think they are starting to look a little fuller. When using oils on the face, I've read that it's best to pay the extra money and go for the organic, cold-pressed varieties. Mountain Rose Herbs has a great reputation of selling high quality products.

The glare makes it hard to read, but this moisturizer is from the brand Era Organics and it is their 10-in-1 face moisturizer. I got it from Amazon so I don't know the actual name because it was super long. The Pixi Nourishing Cleansing Balm was a nice way of removing my makeup at night before washing my face. It is very rich so I wouldn't recommend it for oily skin. I finished it and am currently removing my makeup with my own blend of oils (I believe almond and castor oil but I honestly don't remember).

Simple Skincare has been one of my favorite brands for some time now. Even after transitioning to natural skincare, I still keep a package of their makeup wipes around at all times. I've tried many of their products and they were all pretty good. Some I loved, some were average, but none were terrible and most importantly, none broke me out. This brand is made for sensitive skin, so they avoid harsh irritants and contain ingredients that are good for the skin.

Burt's Bees was another more natural brand that was good but didn't cure my acne or anything crazy. The worst thing about my acne is that my face is also dry, so these products helped add some moisture back into my face without breaking me out. Beware that they are rather thick, rich moisturizers so don't use if you are oily.

ELF only came out with skincare within the past couple of years, but so far they're doing a pretty nice job for an affordable brand. None of these products were life-changing but I remember liking the moisturizer.

These are only sample sizes, but I got to know Bobbi Brown's skincare line pretty well while taking classes for my certification. Although it is pricey, her skincare is really good. I never used it on myself daily, so I don't know the effects it could have over time, but it really hydrates the face and made makeup go on my partners so much smoother when I was doing their makeup.

I am not a firm believer in masks yet but I think that's because I haven't tried any hydrating ones yet. This Sephora Purifying & Detoxifying Mud Mask ($20) claimed to draw out impurities and mattify the skin so I don't know what made me think my dry face needed this. It wasn't bad but I think oily skin would benefit much more from it.

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