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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

The Pretty Files: Acne and Breakouts

When I sat down to plan this month’s Pretty Files, my plan was to write about self tanners. As a vampire-pale human summer is my nemesis and the idea that a self tanner might keep me from blinding the planet was very inviting. I lined up what I wanted to try and some techniques to consider when something got between me and the quest to not look like death. My skin, normally smooth and calm, exploded into angry pimples and acne. I have a constellation of painful and angry on my chin and a swipe of evil on my cheek.

Dude. Not okay. Self tanner can and will wait because you can’t tan jacked up skin. This month we’re talking acne.

I feel like it’s a fairly safe bet that if you’re reading along you know what acne is so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What you may not know is that not all acne is created equally. This goes beyond the various types (pimples, cystic, etc.) The location of your breakout actually can tell you a lot more than just the type.  Face mapping, a technique that combines Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, is becoming more and more widely used to determine what your acne is trying to tell you. The Beauty Gypsy has a great article about it. Nuts and bolts, where your pimples are tells you a lot. The acne on my chin could be indicative of stomach issues, while the ones on my cheeks could be linked to issues with my respiratory system.

Image Credit: The Beauty Gypsy

And guess who is presently having stomach issues and whose allergies have gone insane? That’s right, me. I would never have made the connection had an esthetician friend suggested I check out face mapping.  So now I’m trying to address the tummy troubles and take my allergy meds to see if it helps. Maybe face mapping will work for you, too (though please be sure to seek out a medical professional if you really think that something is wrong.) But now that I have some clues about why I’m having breakout I have to heal the existing pimples. There’s a lot of things on the market with that as a goal so I’ve taken the time to try some things and give you some suggestions.

The first step is to cleanse gently. I have a regular skincare routine. I’ve worked hard for years to figure out what cleansers and toners and such work for my face the majority of the time, but I have struggled to find something that is gentle and kind to my face when it is red and inflamed with breakout. My usual cleanser doesn’t cut it, but acne-focused cleansers are often too harsh and just irritated the skin more. When your skin is aggravated you want to treat it kindly, not bombard it with harshness and I think I have found a really lovely product that not only gently cleanses, but also removes makeup (including stubborn eye makeup!) without roughing up your face. Key West Aloe’s Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser is an amazing product that has made its way into my rotation. It removes my makeup without stripping my skin so my regular cleanser works better in calm skin times, but is a great cleanser for when my face can’t even. The aloe in it even calms down some of the redness, an added bonus.

The second step is to address the actual blemishes and treat them accordingly. This is tricky. Salicylic acid treats by chemically exfoliating the skin and benzoyl peroxide is a powerful antibacterial that can also irritate the skin. I don’t like using either of them too often or during the day. What I do like is to treat in the evening, when my skin is clean and I can relax. I also really like a mask (it forces me to have some downtime.) To that end I have really been loving the Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment. It soothes, it calms, it heals, and it punches the crap out of acne. You can actually see it drawing impurities out of the skin and the best part? You can use it as a spot treatment. It’s a pricey treatment, but if you’re using it as a spot treatment (which is how I recommend it if you have limited breakout) a tiny bit goes a very long way. This was another suggestion from a skincare professional and I’ve been really happy with it. Can’t afford or don’t want to go this route? A charcoal mask of any sort really helps.

The final step is to replenish your skin’s moisture. Thirsty skin produces more oil to makeup for it and excess oil can cause acne. You want to make sure that you are keeping your skin balanced, even when it is being angry. I don’t have a specific moisturizer suggestion here other than to find one that contains mineral water. Mineral water is calming and it really helps. Try to avoid moisturizers that contain oil, but definitely don’t skip out. Your face needs comfort and nothing is more comforting than moisturizer.

As always, if you have major concerns or experience severe issues consult a dermatologist. Cosmetics are no replacement for sound medical advice, but in general following these simple steps (gentle cleansing, direct treatment, and moisturizing) will help get your skin back into condition.  And once things are in condition we can talk about that tan.

Next month? We’re definitely talking self tanner. Until then, stay pretty!

Do you have a tried and true acne treatment that you swear by? Let me know in comments!

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One Comment on “The Pretty Files: Acne and Breakouts”

  1. Sarah Feud September 9, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    I agree, most regular acne cleansers are harmful to most skins. To everyone in the same boat as me who is struggling with acne, I personally swear by this method:

    Once in the morning and once in the evening do this:
    Pour 1 tablespoon of pure apple cider vinegar (organic) with at least 9 tablespoons of water into a bowl. Take a cotton bud and apply to individual spots and inflamed areas.
    Apple cider vinegar can prevent the acne bacteria from multiplying, help fade
    away red marks and even scars and help to bring the skin into its normal pH

    But most importantly, dont ever use any non organic products such as proactiv and such, that stuff is pure poison and there only to make money to companies. I used to have a very bad acne problem, I still have a minor acne problem, but I am getting there. You can read my story and methods that worked and didnt work for me, on my blog here.

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