Why Do I Still Break Out?
As much as I hate to admit it, even with my plethora of products and access to doctors and treatments, I still struggle with breakouts. I know I am not alone, and there are definitely bigger issues in life than zits, but that doesn’t mean it is not annoying.
The struggle is real, and if you are someone who still breaks out, then read on for the tips I have learned to help keep my skin semi-happy with significantly fewer breakouts:
If you are doing everything right in terms of skin cleansing and correct product usage, then your problem is likely diet or hormones (or both). Learn what foods trigger breakouts by taking away known provokers, like sugar and dairy. For me, personally, sugar is my biggest culprit — and I have a sugar addiction. When I eat processed sugar like candy and cookies and cake, I am guaranteed at least one zit by morning. So, is the sugar worth it? No, but I still eat it.
Without fail, a week before my period, I always end up with a large pimple in some really obvious place on my face. For some reason, at the end of summer, my hormones really went into freak-out mode, and I ended up with adult acne all over my jawline. It takes weeks — sometimes even a month — to go away. I don’t have a cut-and-dry solution to hormonal issues, but I do know, for me, visiting my doctor and getting on medicine that helps to regulate my hormone imbalance has significantly cleared up my skin. I still get the occasional pre-period zit, but nothing like what I used to have. I realize not everyone wants to take medicine, so think of this as a last resort, but I, personally, am happy with my choice to deal with it medically.
Learn about the ingredients that trigger your skin. For me, vitamin C is a huge trigger. I don’t know why, but I always seem to get closed comedones when using a product with active vitamin C. Also, oils. Yes, I am aware that acne-prone skin can benefit from oils, but there is definitely a purging time. For example, jojoba oil is touted as one of the best oils for combo/acne-prone skin, yet for it to regulate your sebum production, you will purge. If you are not interested in going a month with breakouts, steer clear. Educate yourself and know your skin by spot treating areas with certain products before using them on your entire face.
There is a huge beauty debate currently going on about fragrance and essential oils, which are often used in place of fragrance in healthy skin products. Some people say that both fragrance and essential oils disrupt the skin barrier. For those with sensitive skin, this can cause freak-outs, which, for those of us with acne-prone skin means breakouts. I removed all fragrant products, including those with high levels of essential oils, from my skincare routine, and I noticed a huge difference in the milia and closed comedones. I recently gave a product line formulated with essential oils a try, and within two days, my cheeks and forehead were littered with tiny closed comedones. Again, know your skin and educate yourself on the ingredients. But to be safe, stay away from fragrance entirely.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but using a clean washcloth each time you wash your face is essential. You can buy in bulk on Amazon (24-pack for $16). Also, never rub your face dry. Pat it dry so that you don’t spread bacteria.
I love a good hair oil as much as the next girl, but my skin doesn’t. Same with thick conditioners and post-wash leave-in moisturizing balms. My ends need hydration, but my skin gets mad…and then it tends to react with pimples (especially along the hairline if I have used a shampoo that is too moisturizing). A few tips here: First, when taking a shower, wash your face, back and chest after you have shampooed and conditioned your hair. There is also a new haircare line made specifically for people prone to acne. Seen Skin Caring Shampoo and Conditioner is a dermatologist-designed hair line that won’t clog pores.
Finally, and I swear by this tip, change your pillowcases every night so that product, and bacteria doesn’t transfer from your hair to your face while you sleep. It seems annoying, but breaking out is definitely more frustrating. I opt for silk pillowcases for anti-aging reasons, but if you are into cotton, that is fine too.
I have friends who tell me they don’t use retinol, and I literally yell at them. Not only is it the best anti-aging ingredient, it is also ideal for skin texture and tone and breakouts! Yes, retinol — especially prescription-strength — has changed my skin and significantly reduced my comedones and blackheads. If you choose to use a retinoid (and you should), I suggest finding one with little-to-no additional ingredients. Definitely make sure that retinol is at the top of the ingredient list — otherwise, it won’t work. Sometimes retinoids have mineral oil or other such pore-clogging ingredients to counteract the dryness of retinol.
The trick is to build your skin up to once-a-night use. Start with twice a week, let your skin adjust, then go to three times a week, and so on. If you keep your nighttime routine simple (wash, moisturize, retinol, eye cream), you should see a dramatic difference in one month to six weeks. I apply moisturizer before my retinol because I use a prescription strength, and I want it to spread easily onto the skin. This has worked wonders for me, but find what works for you. Always use sunscreen when using a retinoid.