Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Answer: Oily, dry, combination, the “t-zone,” – you’ve heard them all. Am I alone in thinking none of them make sense? At least, not for my skin. I seemed to be everything under the sun. I remember standing for hours in the Walmart skin-care section reading every description trying to decide what would fix the pesky red dots popping up in random places over my face. My jawline, my forehead, my chin, even smack dab in middle of my cheeks. One time, a zit formed right under a mole on my cheekbone. Like, seriously?! Yet, other times it seemed like I had the clearest complexion in the world. So… did that make my skin oily or dry? Or both? Combination, question mark?
Here’s the scoop. First of all, your skin is not abnormal. Your hormones are going crazy at this time in your life, and yes, that even effects your skin care. You are not the only one struggling, and you are not the only one wondering what the heck is going on. You aren’t the only acne-prone person to walk this earth. You aren’t alone.
But, your skin care journey will be unique to you.
Therefore, I can give you the tips to get started, but I can’t get you to your destination. That, girlfriend, is all up to you! It depends on your dedication and the amount of time and maintenance you’re willing to put into your skin. (If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s to dedicate time to your skin. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re 53 and wrinkle free!) If you’re willing to begin your skin care journey, then read ahead! If, however, you’d like a low-maintenance routine, no biggie! Just read until you’ve had enough steps and go on your merry way.
First and foremost – SPF! People, I cannot stress this enough! It doesn’t matter if your black, white, brown, yellow, or sunburnt red. You NEED SPF. And not once a year – daily. Seriously. Don’t do anything else until you’ve bought yourself a moisturizer with at least 15 SPF in it to apply daily (I recommend Aveeno). It’s a must. This will protect you from some deathly sunrays that do more damage to your skin than you know. It also allows your skin to stay youthful longer – and who can complain about that?! So before you do anything else, go get yourself a moisturizer. If you’re worried about the oil content, don’t. There’s plenty of oil-free options that will get the job done. Just wear the SPF. You can thank me later.
Second step, double check to make sure the SPF is in the cart. OK, ready to move on? Great.
Now, to figure out what skin care line you need. Take a week off cleaning your face. Scary notion, I know, but it’s necessary for your skin to take a breather before beginning this process. If you find your acne goes away, it’s possible that you might want to consider washing your face less, or using a gentler cleanser. Sometimes cleaning your face too much creates even more of a problem by not allowing helpful nutrients to soak in before they’re washed away. If your acne stays the same or gets worse – great! We’ll get you right on track to clearer skin!
Next, you need to figure out how your period cycle effects your skin. For me, I get acne the week before blood starts to flow. For some, acne pops up during their period, some right after, and some during random parts of the month. Your hormones might even have the opposite effect and dry out your skin. When figuring out what skin care works for you, it’s necessary to know what to expect when your monthly cycle interrupts your routine.
It’s time to hop in the car and drive to the nearest drug store! Or, snuggle into cozy PJ’s and flip open a laptop on your couch to search online if that’s more comfortable for you. Head right to the skin care section, and settle in. This may be a bumpy ride. Look at all the shelves and note the different steps in a skin care line. There are cleansers, toners or astringents, exfoliants, and moisturizers, among other things. Each has a different role, and we’ll help you out with those in later blogs. For this one, we’ll focus mostly on the boring one – cleansers.
It’s important to know the ingredients you need that will help your skin out. There are two main ingredients to watch for – Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid. The first fights zits and keeps your face clean while the second clears pores and fights against blackheads. (If you don’t know the difference, look forward to more skin care blogs!) If you find that you are fighting an uphill battle with zits, look for a higher content of benzoyl peroxide. Over the counter skin products never go above 10%, so if even that’s not working for you, you might want to consider going to a doctor for a prescription. Salicylic acid will never go above 2% - that’s some strong stuff, man – so same deal with that.
Another ingredient, not usually in cleansers, is clay. If you fight against irritating red blotches, you might want to get yourself a clay mask. This calms the skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. (Wonderful for us redheads!)
Now, experiment! Buy a couple different kinds write a list of brands you’d like to get your hands on. Take your time with each one, using as the directions instruct. If one doesn’t work right away, give it a chance. After a couple weeks if you still don’t like it, move onto your next choice. Keep going until you’ve found a cleanser that doesn’t irritate, clears your skin, and makes you feel refreshed.
Did I mention SPF?
There you go, that’s the first part of your skin care journey down! Well done! Don’t worry, we’ll be updating you on more soon so stay tuned! Also, feel free to ask your friends and other women in your life what they do to clean their skin. Some of their answers might surprise you!