I have spent the past week researching tirelessly and adding to the knowledge I already have. I feel fairly confident that I have worked out a routine that will work for me, and could work for most people. No acne routine is “one size fits all” but I feel there are basic principles everyone should follow.
Personally, I do not feel that anyone needs a fully natural or unnatural skin routine. From what I can tell, for people with bad acne the fully natural route will not cut it. From my experience as well, it has not.
The basic principles of my new skincare routine are as follows: cleanse deeply, exfoliate, anti-inflammatory, protect and hydrate. Everyone has different opinions on how to take these steps, but I want to keep it as simple as possible for two reasons: money and irritation. I don’t think that you need any medicated cleansers if you are using a medication already, doubling up won’t change anything.
Here are the steps I have come up with
- Cleanse with oil: oil cleansing takes a bit of time to adjust, but it honestly makes so much more sense. If you wash with oil, it takes off the excess but won’t strip your skin. I think it’s really important to not strip your skin if you are going to be medicating. If you can’t hack oil cleansing a simple foaming cleanser should do the trick, I’d recommend just castille or a Green Beaver cleanser.
- Toner: I make my own homemade toner containing witch hazel, rubbing alcohol (only a little), glycerin, rose water, water and essential oils of choice. Another idea is using ACV. I like this as it feels really cleansing and soothing. I will have to see where this fits in, but at least for those odd times I need to clean in between or maybe after I exfoliate sometimes.
- Rosehip for anti-inflammatory: Rosehip has many great regenerative properties and can help heal acne scars because of the Omegas it contains. I have been using it on and off but plan to start using it more often. It can be irritating to acne prone skin and if this is the case for you, then you definitely will want to use it every other day or so. Other light oils that could help include Vitamin E, Jojoba and Safflower. I like rosehip because it is very light and would be good for extra moisturizing after an oil cleanse. Other things people use are salicylic acid, ibuprofen or aspirin masks, A sample of Mario Badescu products also led me to Balsam of Peru oil. It seems to really help in the toner lotion they gave me, so this could be something to look into as well.
- Exfoliate: You have endless options for this one but the cheapest is baking soda and epsom salts. I just tried it and my face got a little irritated, but it feels very clean. You can mix it with water, or oils. Another option would be african black soap and coffee grinds. Again, this may not be an everyday thing if it is irritating but exfoliating is a must because acne is partially caused by dead skin build up. You want to wash the gunk away, but you don’t need to scrub your face like crazy or use scrubs with huge beads, that could just scratch and irritate your face which isn’t what you want.
- Protect: I have not tried it as of yet, but I have read good things about benzoyl peroxide. It seems to work for most people, as long as it is used correctly. You apply the most to problem areas and all over to begin with. You want to start off using very little and work up, maybe use it every other day to start. This will irritate and peel your skin beacause it is healing it. I think I need this becase my acne is under my skin and built up. Another one people like is salicylic acid, however I am only going to try this if I feel I need it later. It is often used in the exfoliate/anti-inflammatory step so I think I’ve got that covered. Here in Canada the best options seem to be either the acne.org one or Dr. Song from Amazon.com. Other suggestions are the purple Spectro or Benzagel. I ordered some coupons for Spectro in case I need it.
- Moisturize: This will be a must for sure after I start using chemicals but if you are using an oil cleanse you shouldn’t need much. Glycolic acid is a recommended ingredient and I can’t figure out if it’s the same as vegetable glycerin. In any case, glycerin has many benefits as well so I plan to mix up a night cream containing it as well as some of the oils I have. I am undecided if I want to mix tamanu and neem in, or just apply them first. I find these two oils to have good healing properties and I am hoping the tamanu will also help heal scars.
Once or twice a week I also plan to do masks and detox baths. These should help draw out anything cleansing has missed. The exfoliating with baking soda and epsom is actually less harsh than you’d expect and dissolves quite quickly with water. A face mask I saw that sounds good if you don’t want to use clay or herbs is: fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and organic tumeric (the latter is naturally an anti-inflammatory) OR Honey, aloe and vitamin E.
In addition to my routine I want to start a food journal and see what triggers acne as well as take supplements. I already take Fish oil, Royal Jelly and Probiotics (got some gut stuff to work out also and it all goes back to yer gut). There are many things that seem to have worked for people including vitamins A, D, and B3 (or B12 or B complete). I was going to take a vitamin but I have decided for now to be more diligent about getting nutritious things like Spirulina in so I can get at least a decent amount of vitamins. I ordered Cod Liver oil this time, so perhaps I will get my D and A from that. I am also going to try Selenium which is kind of an underground thing people use for acne. Apparently, acne causes or may be caused by lack of antioxidants and this as well as others (See info here). It seems like 100 microrganisms a day is a fine amount.
Now, I know that I am taking a lot of different supplements but because none of them are actual vitamins, two are organnsms and two are sourced from food I don’t eat, I think I am okay. However, if anyone has evidence that’s over-doing it, by all means shoot me a message!
In addition to allllll this, there are some natural oils and such that work for me in homemade lotions and alone. I like tamanu and neem to heal and protect, especially when my skin feels tight. Camphor, ylang yland and vetiver all seem to help (camphor also helps with my anxiety) as well as the classics tea tree and lavender. Evening primrose has been nice in salves, but I haven’t tried it alone. I have a comfrey salve coming in also. I like coconut oil but you have to be careful because apparently stuff like that can also clog your pores. Emu oil is very soothing but quite expensive. (any alternatives out there?) I have also been wanting to try Manuka Honey but it does cost a pretty penny so I’ll have to wait on that one for now.
The biggest thing to keep in mind with acne is that there is no one cause. Horomones, diet, lifestyle, location, skin care…they all impact how your skin looks. Try to stay healthy and avoid any chemicals you can, especially with skin products. I would never buy anything from a drug store for my face (with exceptions, especially makeup). Some people can get away with treating their body like crap, but I’m sure they dont feel great. Treat your body as a temple and the rest will come.