If you have acne like I do, then you might look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what you would even look like with clear skin.
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable even going out without a layer of makeup protecting you from the shame and embarrassment of having to carry a face full of acne around all day. When acne doesn’t seem to go away, no matter what you try, it may be time to consult a dermatologist. However, there are a few things you can do to help keep your breakouts at bay, or at least prevent damage to your skin. Here are a few of my personal do’s and don’t’s:
1) Do Moisturize.
I had a very strong aversion to moisturiser for a long time, because my sensitive skin would respond with constellations of spots if I even dreamt of applying a cream to my face. For this reason, I believed that moisturizing would always cause a breakout. Actually, it turns out that moisturizing is a vital part of a healthy face-care routine, as hydrated skin will loosen up clogged pores. Overly dry skin will cause your body to overcompensate with an excess of oils, which may worsen your acne.
It can be a process to figure out which cream is the best for you, but with a little trial and error, your skin will thank you. I’m currently using a moisturizer which contains a mixture of tea tree oil, lavender, calamine, and witch hazel. Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, while lavender and calamine have a very calming effect on the skin. Witch hazel is an astringent, so this helps to contract pores. This combination of ingredients has done wonders for my face.
2) Do change your pillowcase and towels often.
We know how dirty clothes can get, but I think we forget sometimes how much bacteria winds up on our bedsheets and towels, which come into contact with our faces every day. It’s essential to change out these household items often. You can even change your pillowcase every day if you have severe acne and access to a ton of pillowcases, but I tend to do so every other day. Your face will be grateful for not having to lie on top of dead skin cells and oils all night, and might reward you with a few less spots. The same goes for towels. If you don’t already use a separate towel for your face and body, do that. I change my towels at the same rate as my pillowcases.
3) Don’t accidentally give yourself a chemical burn.
Okay, this sounds like silly advice, but hear me out. If you’re desperate for clear skin and you don’t want to turn to harsh chemicals, you’ve probably read about all kinds of DIY face masks and solutions. Some of these mixtures are really quite useful, but just remember to read carefully before you treat your skin. Cinnamon can cause chemical burns if applied in too large a quantity, I know this from experience (I don’t always have access to common sense, it seems). Also, you may have heard of using lemon juice to brighten skin and help dry out breakouts. Lemon juice is actually great in some ways, because it’s antibacterial and it has lots of vitamin C, but it also has citric acid, a 2 on the PH scale. It can also cause hypersensitivity to the sun, so it should never be applied before heading out into daylight. At the very least, you don’t want to cause unnecessary damage to your skin over a breakout. Do your research.
4) Don’t stress
Again, this may seem obvious, but we’ve all heard once or twice that stress causes breakouts. More than just the stress of life, one of my problems has always been stress over the issue of acne. I would apply makeup to cover up what I thought was a horrendous mess, distressed by the persistent appearance of new spot after spot, only to find at least three new zits rearing their heads by the end of the day. Overdoing it with makeup and not having a proper skincare routine will throw you into a cycle of concealing new breakouts. Look, having acne isn’t fun but it doesn’t have to derail your life. Let your skin breathe a bit, let yourself breathe a bit too. If you struggle with embarrassment surrounding your acne, remember: if someone doesn’t want to speak to you because you have acne, then you probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.
I know it can seem daunting to have to take such care of your skin, while some people don’t even have to wash their face. But in reality, proper skincare is important to all people who want to maintain healthy skin. You’ve only got one face, treat it well. And if you’re really really worried (and able), please do see a dermatologist.