Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How I Cleared My Acne

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Of course I need to start with saying what worked for me isn't going to necessarily work for you. None of these products are magical but by sticking to a strict daily regime I've seen a dramatic improvement with the consistent use of these products. I guess we'll start with the back story of how I was horribly plagued with acne as a teenager and it just carried through college. Now as an adult, I'm less prone to large clusters of them but I would get small clusters of tiny bumps or single, huge, red monsters. It's annoying, especially comparing my skin to others so I've been in a long battle to find the fix for my acne. I've tried a ton of different things and finally I can confidently say I've found what works for me. How did I know that my acne has cleared? Besides the overall glow of my skin now, the key indicator was that I've had an extremely clogged pore on my right cheek that has just vanished. It was just a tiny bump that clearly wasn't a pimple but nonetheless a blemish that would not clear up which I've had for close to 5 years now and after maybe a month or so it had finally smoothed out and is on the mend.

Now don't get me wrong, I still get the occasional blemish, primarily hormonal ones which you can't escape, but overall my skin is smooth and clear for the majority of the time. Even when I do get these bumps they are small and usually run their course within a day or two. Also I get pimples far less commonly on my forehead or cheeks now.

  • African black soap. This stuff is made from a blend of ingredients that will cleanse your skin without harsh chemicals. It is made up of stuff like cocoa pod, roasted plantain skins, and oils. Basically what makes it soap is the ash from the plantain skin reacts with the oils to create soap while traditional soaps use sodium hydroxide to trigger the reaction, a much harsher ingredient for your skin. What's important to know is that black soap does not treat existing acne but rather it purges deep down to aid in excessive oil production as well as the bacterial growth that causes acne. The vitamin e and a in the soap also aids in fading dark spots so it makes for a great preventative and post treatment step. People use this soap differently cutting it with oils or facial cleansers, I just use it like a traditional bar of soap. I simply lather it up in my hands and apply it to my face. This has made a world of difference in the amount of blemishes that surface as well as aided in the fading process. A bar of soap is inexpensive too and will last you a long time.
  • Cleansing Oil. A big part of blemish free skin is making sure you really grab off all the dirt and makeup from the day without stripping your skin of its natural protective barrier. I saw a huge improvement in how clean my skin was and less irritated when I switched over to the double cleanse method of using an oil to take off my makeup. The oil really grabs onto everything more effectively than any soap based cleanser while at the same time leaving my skin hydrated since it is oil instead of a harsh soap that strips your skin. The oil really just melts off your makeup eliminating a lot of the need to scrub at your face. I have oily skin and haven't had an issue with excess oil because I always follow up with my soap mentioned above to then make sure I remove the excess. The difference is really in the reduction of the scrubbing and how an oil is more effective at removing residue from the day. My favorite is the Garnier Cleansing Oil both for the price and effectiveness, but I believe that cleansing oils in general have been a great help in the fight against acne.
  • Mario Badescu Glycolic Gel. I've talked about this product, and the next two products, to death. So in hopes of bringing in something new I will attempt to go into the science of why this product is so helpful. And when I say science, this means deciphering the product descriptions for you! This stuff is essentially a chemical peel. It is a thin oil free gel that is formulated of naturally exfoliating glycolic acid and alpha hydroxy acids. These ingredients speed up cell turnover and breaks down dead skin cell to reveal fresh new skin. This is why it's important to use sun protection and use these types of products sparingly. The two main ingredients is grapefruit extract (AHA) and the glycolic acid. This has been the best form of a chemical exfoliant I have found for my skin. It's only to be used twice a week on areas of skin that aren't acne-erupted. This has made a huge difference cleansing my face and preventing eruptions with my usual trouble spots.
  • Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. This works to fight existing acne and I alternate between using this stuff and the serum below every other day. It especially targets under the skin acne and also works to prevent future breakouts. The key ingredient in this product is the high alcohol content that will rapidly dry out your skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin I don't recommend this because after using this you aren't suppose to apply anything else on top otherwise it will compromise the drying effects of it. It's not an instant answer but with consistent use you will see an improvement in your skin and the amount of acne that even forms.
  • Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum. A simple salicylic acid gel. Typically benzoyl peroxide works better with my skin so I was surprised when I was seeing good results with this stuff. This is used on the off day from my buffering lotion and works to treat existing acne as well as prevent future breakouts. Salicylic acid is a known acne fighting ingredient that penetrates the skin to break up the acne causing gunk.
  • Clarisonic Mia 2. I have the Mia 2, but any Clarisonic with the acne brush head has changed my skin dramatically. I've found that using this brush just boosts any cleanser that I happen to be using. I use this every morning and find that my pores are so much cleaner and my face is smoother. I've tried both the acne brush head and the deep pore brush head and found that the acne one works a lot better. It gives a deeper level of exfoliation for my skin.
  • Drinking more water. It really is as simple as that. Increasing the amount of water I drink throughout the day has helped my skin stay plump and hydrated making it the perfect canvas to soak in all the targeted help. Drinking more water also helps to curb cravings for acne causing foods and in general has helped with how oily my skin gets throughout the day.

Two bonus items I want to mention is what has helped with post acne scarring and discolorations. For a more gradual everyday aid Garnier Clearly Brighter Dark Spot Corrector. This stuff was the first stuff I used to help even out my skintone and it did a phenomenal job vanishing even the darkest acne scars that people said would never leave. The dark spots are actually gone, I can't even tell you where they used to be anymore. This stuff is a nightly moisturizer that you apply a thin layer over your skin. It takes awhile, sometimes up to 8 weeks to even see a difference and close to a year before I can confidentally say something vanishes. For a more heavy duty approach Derma e Scar Gel has significantally reduced surgery scars, so just imagine what it can do for the surface scars that acne leaves behind. This works a little quicker than the Garnier stuff but with all scar vanishing products, it takes patience and consistent application. These are the two items that have worked for me so if you have any stubborn scarring or dark spots I say give them a shot!

Initially I was going to tack on at the end products that didn't help, but then the list just started growing from there so I decided to just go for a second post. Stay tuned for that write up on Friday! This post was also getting quite long so it seemed better just to cut it here.

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