It’s horrible. It can be painful, itchy, and irritating. But more importantly, it’s red, bumpy, and it’s on your face. I suffered from acne far before any of my friends. It started in Grade 6, my first breakout, and it only got worse from there. First year university I experienced cystic acne: tough, red, painful acne that never came to a head and couldn’t be concealed. Not even with my full coverage concealer from NARS. It was bad and I was desperate to find a solution. Luckily, I did. After first year ended, I took a good, hard look at my skincare routine and my overall health and made the necessary changes.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Make sure you’re living a healthy, or somewhat healthy, lifestyle. Making sure you’re eating healthy and drinking a lot of water is going to make a world of a difference. If you’re not taking care of what’s going on inside your body, it’s going to show from the inside out.
Now onto the fun part. Because let’s be real, we all want an overnight solution so what product is going to banish those breakouts? Well, I hate to break it to you but there is nothing. Acne is not going to go away overnight but from my experience, there are different products that have helped clear it up faster than anything I have tried.
Starting from the beginning, I was using a lot of different products, a lot of spot treatments and serums and tips and tricks while having cystic acne and guess what? It’s too much! What I needed to do was simplify my skincare routine and bring myself back to basics: cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and one (MAYBE two) serums. I won’t recommend a specific brand because everyone’s skin is different, but find products with active acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide is an ingredient that a lot of companies, like Proactiv and Clean & Clear, use for their anti-acne lines. But here’s the thing. Benzoyl peroxide is not an anti-acne ingredient, it’s a type of bleach. Yes, for some people it will get rid of acne within a month but do not continue to use it. Something that harsh will only continue to deteriorate your skin cells whether or not you have active acne. Salicylic acid is much gentler and will micro-exfoliate acne to remove any impurities and unclog your pores. Instead, use a cleanser with 0.5% – 2% salicylic acid and the same goes for toner and moisturizer. Now, toner is important. You need to restore your skin’s pH level after having stripped it of its natural oils after cleansing. Same with the moisturizer. Find an oil-free moisturizer that will replenish your skin’s moisture barrier and promote healing. A spot treatment should only be used on stubborn pimples and another serum I use is a brightening serum to lighten any dark spots and old scars.
Everyone wants to banish acne breakouts in under a week, but the reality is there is no (safe) way to do so. Hopefully this post reminded you of what your skin really needs to stay healthy and that multiple serums and creams aren’t necessarily the answer. And although topical products will help your skin along the way, clear, healthy-looking skin starts from the inside. Good luck!