I've been in and out of the world of breakouts since I was a teenager. Oh how I longed for porcelain, glowing skin. But who doesn't? Well, <sigh> there are such creatures roaming around us. Whenever one of my friends casually informs me that she isn't wearing makeup I want to roll my eyes in envy that her mornings don't have to be spent blending, patting, concealing, setting and blending again - all for that "effortless" look.
My skin took a turn for the worse when I became pregnant with my son in 2010. Along with this surprising pregnancy, rosacea decided to drop smack dab on my nose along with a serious case of acne. Since I was unable to use treatment products while pregnant, my skin was out of control for over a year. After my hormones stabilized post-pregnancy, I started to try and manage my rosacea and acne.
Rosacea is a form of acne that affects women in their 30s-40s and lingers from then on. For most, it's not painful as much as it is annoying. The skin appears red around the nose and cheek area and along with it, tiny broken capillaries. Then there are some who can have a little more intense case and have small bumps that form in the t-zone area. To date, there is no cure for rosacea and treatment can be a long journey of trial and error.
I've put together a list of products available of off-the-counter that have helped calm my irritated and inflamed skin my dermatologist once described as "angry".
It's all in the cleanser. If it's one thing that I've learned is that products designed without fragrance, sulfates, phthalates and other synthetic ingredients do best for sensitive, problematic skin. Since most acne-prone products include chemical-based ingredients, (i.e. salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide along with other toxic ingredients) the skin can become overwhelmed and with daily use can irritate the skin and have an adverse reaction creating more breakout. That's why I seek brands with a "clean beauty" reputation so all you get is simple, effective ingredients that nurture skin. YTP's Superfood Cleanser's is one of my favorites and I've been using over the past year. Skin feels fresh, and not stripped dry.
If you are seeking a cleanser with a little more focus on acne without the toxic ingredients I strongly recommend BeautyCounter CounterControl Clear Pore Cleanser . I'm a huge fan of BeautyCounter! Their products feel luxurious but clean, simple but effective. This pore cleanser, along with the Counter+ Charcoal Facial Mask, are in my top 5 from the brand. Not only will it help get acne under control, but the skin feels pampered and clean after just one use. The charcoal mask can be used once a week or as a spot treatment as well. A little goes a long, long way with all of their products. So, if you are contemplating the price point, know that these products last an average of 4 months.
Exfoliation is a crucial part of getting the skin under control. It's important to get dead skin off so the skin can breathe and resurface newer, younger skin underneath. This toner has Lactic Acid which the one of the best treatments for sensitive skin because it is gentle yet effective. I also love this toner because it helps to reduce the appearance of pores and clean up blackheads and whiteheads. Use twice a week with a cotton pad and swipe all over the face once and toss. Do not use the same cotton pad to reapply.
If a physical scrub is more your pace, First Aid Beauty Facial Radiant Polish is a wonderful one to try. This brand is well known for being effective and affordable. Although not a clean beauty brand, you'll only exfoliate the skin once a week. It's important not to over exfoliate so as not to disturb and irritate underneath the skin.
Once the skin is feelin' fresh and clean it's time to treat the breakout. So many treatment products out there contain such harsh chemicals that you wind up creating more concerns that you'll need to treat like redness, patchy dryness or can lead to further breakout. It's important to choose a serum that will help focus on the acne without creating further havoc. I'm going to go back to my favorite all-clean beauty brand BeautyCounter for this one. CounterControl All Over Acne Treatment saved my skin when it was at its worst. There are a couple magically important ingredients that makes this product stand above all others. First, they have formulated a signature SkinBalance complex that includes wintergreen and rosebay willow which address all the heavies such as redness, pore purity and skin balance. Not only does it address existing breakout but also prevents future breakouts as well.
If the price point scares you as much as new pimple, try Dermalogica's Breakout Clearing Booster. A favorite among aestheticians, this treatment also contains lactic acid which is great at boosting skin clarity and pushing newer skin to come forward. Use these treatments only in the evening before bed since sun exposure can lead to sun spots, melasma in the future.
Last, but not least, we need to be sure to moisturize the skin and give the skin what it most yearns for - moisture! Here's a fun fact: no matter how oily your skin feels, it is craving water. It makes up more oil from the lack of receiving it. Since the skin treated to exfoliation and serums to help treat acne, the skin needs moisture to keep it all in balance. A tip in choosing the perfect moisturizer, is to keep it simple. Go for a moisturizer that doesn't include fragrance or other ingredients that promise this or that. My favorite, no-fuss moisture cream is e.l.f's Fragrance-free Holy Hydration Face Cream. This cream is actually more of a gel in texture and is as light as air. Honestly, it feels like your skin just got treated to a cloud of moisture. Use this day and/or night and let your skin drink in every bit of goodness.
Stay safe. Be well, friends. -m
*Products mentioned are recommended by research and personal experience. I have not been compensated in any way. I am not a licensed aesthetician and these products are merely suggestions.