Adult acne is not fun! Not that teenage acne is a barrel of monkeys, but it seems unfair to be worrying about wrinkles and acne at the same time! I get hormonal acne, and when I get a blemish, it seems like the spot NEVER goes away! I have one dark spot on my chin that has been there for at least 5 months now. Go away spot!
Lately, I’ve been getting tons of compliments on my skin. I’ve learned some new tricks, and I wanted to pass them on to you.
If you have old spots, you might be able to get rid of them with exfoliants, acids and/or lightening creams with ingredients like hydroquinone, but sometimes you have to go with the big gun – IPL that is (Intense Pulsed Light – or photorejuvenation). IPL treatments are a little painful. They feel similar to laser hair removal (it’s my understanding that IPL was the first iteration of laser hair removal but now it’s only used for spots and skin with poor texture). IPL is usually done in series of 5 or more. It’s over pretty quickly, and you may be red for a few minutes, but you won’t have any redness or down time the next day.
I had an IPL session a long time ago, and a more recent session with Kasey D’Amato, PA-C. I have 5 more to go! If you want to make an appointment with her, you can contact her through The Santa Monica Dermatology Group. Kasey also has her own line of anti-aging products based on magical powers of Maine blueberries. Try the Berrimatrix Exfoliating Cleanser with Glycolic and Bamboo if you’re acne-prone. Visit Airelle Skincare for more info on her products.
IPL is great, but if you’re going to keep getting acne spots, you’ll never get out of the cycle of needing IPL to treat the after effects of the zits. So, here’s what’s been working for me to keep acne at bay.
First I use a gel cleanser that cleanses without stripping or adding any oil. My two favorites right now are Phenome US Complete Blemish Cleanser with plant waters, aloe, white tea and goji berry extract (I also use this on my back to get rid of bacne – ugggh!), and Clear Start (by Dermalogica) Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash. It cleanses without stripping and it comes in a travel-friendly bottle. Clear Start is intended for teenage skin, but it works very well for my adult acne. I love the entire line. My boyfriend does too – I know this because he used up all of my BlackHead Scrub without asking! 🙂
After cleansing, use a good quality peel. I don’t mean a peel that you get at a doctor’s office necessarily, but a peel that gently exfoliates your skin cells without actual PEELING. By using over the counter peels, you lose thousands of old skin cells and loosen the “glue” that holds them together without looking like a snake shedding its skin. This renews your skin, and prevents buildup that can cause acne. I have had AMAZING results with Goldfaden MD Fresh A Peel. It’s made with lactic acid (non-vegan) and multi-fruit enzymes. I cleanse my face, dry it, and then apply for 1-3 minutes. It stings a tiny bit, but hardy noticeable. I also highly recommend Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel. It also has lactic acid (non-vegan), along with mandelic, salicylic, tartaric and malic acids. And, it’s full of fruit enzymes as well. Both of these peels can be used 2-3 times a week (depending on your skin’s sensitivity).
Now AFTER I’m done with my peel, I use a konjac sponge, sonic spin brush or micro-exfoliant to remove any residual skin cells. This may or may not be too harsh for you. I have pretty sensitive skin, and I can handle it.
Let’s start with the most gentle option – the konjac sponge. A konjac sponge is made from the konjac root (AKA glucommanan). Konjac root is often used as a vegan alternative to gelatin or seafood. You can even buy zero-calorie noodles made from konjac flour! I was recently sent a new type of konjac sponge to review – the JellySpon weak acidic konjac sponge from Korea. They produce these sponges with a weak acidic pH of 5.5 (most konjac sponges are in the 8.4 range). Your skin is supposed to be have a pH of 5.5. If it’s too alkaline, acne, rashes and dry skin can occur. Using an acidic konjac sponge makes a lot of sense when battling acne, but keep in mind that what you use to cleanse your skin along with the sponge will also affect your skin’s pH. Try DermOrganic products – the argan oil skin care products have a pH of 4.5 – 5.5.
About 2-3 times a week, I use derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub. This stuff is incredible. Micro-fine particles scrub away all the dead skin and gunk to reveal baby soft skin. You will feel like you just had a facial! After I use it, I always make my boyfriend touch my face because I can’t believe how soft it is! No irritation – just healthy, clean skin.
If I want a slightly stronger scrub, I use my Ora ProSonic Glow Cleansing System. Since Clarisonic is not cruelty free, this is a great alternative. It comes with 3 brush heads, a charger, a cleanser and an exfoliant. It has 3 speeds, and you can use it on your face or body. Clogged pores encourage acne-causing bacteria to flourish. Specifically designed to address congested pores, ProSonic’s deep pore cleansing brush head works to dislodge dirt and dead skin cells. I find it to be very non-irritating, but effective. You don’t have to push hard – just give your face and body a gentle scrub, and concentrate on the more congested or rough areas.
When you’re done cleansing and exfoliating, apply an alcohol-free toner. I am becoming a toner hoarder. I have several that I love. Right now, I mix it up between FutureDerm 7 Wonders Antioxidant Rich Water (oil free – green, white and red tea, and grape seed extract for anti-aging), Perfectly Pure Rose & Witch Hazel Toner (smells great, oil-free, no artificial color, and is very inexpensive), Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic (lightly moisturizing with aloe, calendula, cucumber, rose-scented geranium and natural Vit E), and Paula’s Choice Earth Sourced Purely Natural Refreshing Toner (slightly more moisturizing – and great for sensitive skin – with green tea, fruit extracts and light, natural oils). I rotate between these toners – don’t make me choose!
Now, after your skin is all happy and clean, I recommend a serum – or in my case, more than one serum. I have been having great results with Goldfaden MD’s Radical Difference. It’s a light gel serum that is made with antioxidant red tea and cherry extracts, along with hyaluronic acid. It’s oil free and fragrance free, and you only need a small amount for your whole face.
After that, I have been using a tea tree blend to kill any bacteria that have managed to survive this thorough cleansing! Nurture My Body Acne Clarifying Serum is a blend of aloe vera, burdock, tea tree, dandelion, comfrey, coneflower, calendula, jojoba, carrot and grapefruit extract. All ingredients are hand picked by the owner, and it’s 100% organic. Use just a few drops on your entire face to keep acne at bay.
If I’m having active breakouts, I’ll use Murad Acne Clearing Solution on the areas that are congested. The technology is a unique new delivery system, called Hydrophase, and along with Micronized Benzoyl Peroxide, it allows the BPO to penetrate the skin and provide powerful spot treatment without the irritation that is commonly associated with BPO. It features salicylic acid combined with other acne-fighting ingredients such as queen of meadow extract and tea tree oil, Acne Clearing solution not only treats and prevent breakouts, it fast-tracks the healing process by minimizing dryness, redness and peeling. Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix (with benzoyl peroxide 3.5%) is perfect for those active breakouts that just won’t go away. Use it directly on breakouts while avoiding surrounding skin to minimize over-drying.
Always use a sunscreen when you use peels, exfoliants, AHAs, acne medications, etc. They can make your skin a little more sun sensitive, and you don’t want to un-do all the hard work you’ve just put in!
Now, for something even more unique! You’ve probably heard that you should change your pillowcase frequently if you suffer from acne. Well, now there’s a pillow case called Nufabrx that fights acne! The soft, bamboo pillowcase contains blemish improving microcapsules and the bamboo fibers are naturally antibacterial helping to reduce bacteria. The second your face touches the pillowcase, these microcapsules slowly release a serum designed to help with the treatment of blemishes. These encapsulated essential oils are embedded deep into the pillowcase, allowing for a continual release of serum for up to 15 washes. Tea tree oil in the serum has been shown to be as effective as 5% Benzoyl Peroxide (the main chemical in most acne medications). Best of all these pillowcases remain machine washable (approx 6-9 months depending on wash cycles). It’s totally safe and all you have to do is fall asleep! I love mine! I noticed a tea-tree-ish scent the first few nights, but it went away in a few days. I actually liked the herbal scent. I feel so much better knowing that my face is not pressed up against bacteria all night long. I may even sign up for a regular delivery of these awesome pillowcases!
Whew – that’s a lot of products, but hopefully you will find the regimen that works best for you. And don’t forget to get regular facials – much better than trying to deal with acne on your own. I’m always here if you have any questions!