Last week, I began my story on hormonal acne; sharing the years (and experiences) I’ve struggled with, since having acne. Today, I’m talking all things products & services: what I’ve tried, how it’s worked and what my opinion is, when it comes to skincare and acne.
** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, product, or diet. These opinions are my own. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you.
Products For Acne
As previously-mentioned in Part One, for years, I would use skincare marketed to consumers with “acne-prone skin”. In my early-years, I didn’t pay much attention to ingredients. I believed that the only reason my acne was there was due to an overproduction of oil (which yes, that’s why acne forms), but wasn’t concerned about WHY the overproduction of oil was happening.
Most products marketed for acne contain ingredients that dry the skin out and “control oil”. But drying the skin won’t help the underlying issue; it’ll literally just dry your skin out. It’s meant to kill the acne, on the surface, which can then cause other dry-skin symptoms. Dry skin can be even more susceptible to bacteria, and cause early-aging. Aside from drying out the skin, the ingredients used to dry the skin out were ones that weren’t good for my skin, or body, either.
What’s in your products
Back in the day, I paid no attention to the ingredient list, on my products (and honestly, I paid no attention to the ingredient list on anything). I believed that if something was marketed to aid in a particular aspect, it must. And I also believed that if a product was sold somewhere, it must be safe. Forewarning: it’s not!
Do you know what’s in the products you use? Remember, just because the product “goes on the surface”, your skin absorbs everything.
Formaldehyde is a great preservative, which is important for products sitting on shelves; without some type of preservative, the product will only last a few weeks, or months. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen – a substance that exacerbates cancer growth.These ingredients either contain, or release formaldehyde: DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, quaternium 15, bronopol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 dioxane, and hydroxymethylglycinate.
Parabens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, that have been linked to numerous cancers, and reproductive troubles. It increases estrogen in the body, by mimicking estrogen, by binding to estrogen receptor cells. These ingredients can be found as: Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben.
Paraffin is derived from petroleum (the gas you put in your car, or kerosene, or diesel fuel).
Numerous ingredients are tied to cancer, liver damage, hormonal disruption, skin irritation, eye irritation, breast cancer and birth defects. It’s important to do your research, and be educated about the products you’re putting on your skin. EWG’s Skin Deep Database is a wonderful resource, to check-up on your products!
After reading about all of the harmful ingredients, in so many skincare products, I understand how easy it is to want to take the “natural route”; that’s what I did, a few years ago. However, there’s a definite difference between “all natural” and “professional-grade”, and in how it aids your skin.
Back when I first went off of birth control, I was cleansing my face with oil, because as strange as it sounds, not all oil clogs pores. At first, my skin looked amazing, so bright and hydrated, but once I began to develop acne, the oil was not helpful! I had no idea about the comedogenic scale (or which oils were higher than others). The scale is a ranking, mentioning how likely it is that any specific ingredients, such as oils and butters used in cosmetic product formulation, will clog pores. Anyone who is susceptible to acne breakouts and blackheads should avoid highly comedogenic oils, as they are likely to cause recurring acne problems. However, people with drier skin might prefer a more emollient oil toward the middle of the scale.
The scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5. Here’s how the numbers rank on the scale:
0 - won’t clog pores at all
1 - very low likelihood of clogging pores
2 - moderately low likelihood
3 - moderate likelihood
4 - fairly high likelihood
5 - high likelihood of clogging pores
After talking with a good friend of mine, who is also an esthetician, she made it make more sense: all “natural products” are safe, yes, but they also are much less-likely to give you results (especially if you’re really struggling with a problem). When I was struggling with acne, adding nothing but “natural” ingredients wasn’t going to help it improve, or in the time I wanted it to. I needed to find “safe, but active ingredients”.
favorite “safe, but active ingredients”
Mandelic Acid: An alpha-hydroxy acid, derived from bitter almonds. It helps in treating common skin problems like irregular-pigmentation, acne and photo-aging. Basically, it accelerates the skin’s peeling process (in a very gentle way), helping with cell-turnover. Unlike glycolic acid, it takes longer to penetrate the skin’s surface, so it’s much less irritating and convenient for at-home use (DermaFix).
Arcona’s Magic Black Ice contains Mandelic Acid.
Hyaluronic Acid: A wonderful, skin-hydrator! Just a single gram of Hyaluronic Acid has the impressive ability to hold up to six (yep, six) liters of water (Elle). Our bodies naturally-produce Hyaluronic Acid, however, environmental stressors, and aging, can take a toll on our skin, which causes our body to have issues naturally-producing it.
Arcona’s Magic White Ice contains Hyaluronic Acid.
Salicylic Acid: A plant-based acid, harvested from botanical sources, such as the white willow tree. It helps reduce inflammation, fades scars and red marks, shrinks large pores and prevents future breakouts from happening. Glycolic acid has most of the same benefits as Salicylic Acid, but it also comes with more harsh side effects. Benzoyl peroxide has similar acne-fighting properties, but it is less effective than Salicylic Acid and more irritating (think “acne-targeted products”) (Beauty Munsta).
Arcona’s Raspberry Clarifying Pads contain Salicylic Acid.
I’ve had experience using a few professional skincare lines:
In my opinion, having a professional skincare line is important, but having an esthetician who knows about the product (and you, specifically), is essential! It’s easy to purchase products that “sound good”, but it’s even better when someone we can trust KNOWS they’ll work!
I get it. We all need to make a living, maybe a little extra income, “work from home”, etc., but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with most MLM companies, especially ones that sell “health products” - internal and external products. This is for a couple of reasons, based on the same factor: education. Chances are, that person that’s selling you a specific skincare product does care about you, and the product, but chances also are that they don’t have significant education, or background, in skincare, or health. This is a VERY slippery slope.
Take me, for example: Acne. For someone with little education, or background, it’d be simple: recommend products designed to fight acne (like I mentioned earlier). But that’s the thing; for a lot of people (adult-woman, for instance), acne is caused by something internal, so most acne products are just going to upset your skin more, or cover-up the underlying issue.
If you do sell any type of “health product” - one that’s ingested, or applied, PLEASE take caution. Yes, I do believe you are passionate about that product; that is HAS produced results (for some). But please, be cautious of recommending. What works for someone won’t necessarily work for someone else. Bodies are unique and precious and delicate. Even if your ingredients are “natural”, it works the same. Keep doing you, though! This is, by no means, a bashing - I support you.
It’s for this reason, however, that I consult with those who DO have education, and significant background; individuals that know MY STORY.
Skincare is more important than makeup: fact! In my opinion, when you have healthy skin, you won’t necessarily feel like you have to wear as much makeup. However, the same rules apply for makeup: ditch the unhealthy, cancer/inflammation-causing ingredients, and find something that’s safe.
Again, I find that purchasing a professional-grade product is best. It might be a little more expensive, yes, but it really does well!
To be quite honest, I haven’t tried as many makeup lines, just because I’ve used one that I love, for so long. Youngblood was created, by an esthetician, who wanted a product that was safe enough to use right after skin procedures, like peels and lasers.
Debbie, at Cloud 9, in Humboldt, IA introduced me to Youngblood years ago, and, I haven’t found a brand I love more. A few years back, I tried Root Makeup, made locally, in Iowa. It was a great line, and I loved being able to support an “all natural”, local product, however, with my acne, it wasn’t doing the job I needed. I went back to using my Youngblood products, and have kept with that regiment, to this day.
Currently, most of my products are Arcona. I have a super-wonderful friend (and esthetician) who checks in with me regularly, to see if we should tweak any of the products. Depending on the time of year, I might change hydrators, but for the most part, creating a skincare routine is important!
Consistency is important! For a while, especially while I was struggling with bad acne, I kept changing products, thinking there would be a “magic product”. Halt here! There is no such thing as a “magic product”, and in Part 3, I’ll be discussing why skincare is always second to good primary and secondary foods.
Please, know that this is MY story, and MY opinion. I’m not recommending you go out and buy professional products, only; or that you stop supporting your friend, selling an internal/external product. I’m just sharing what I’ve found helpful, and reminding you to be cautious, before purchasing anything!
Products aside, I also paid for my fair-share of facial services. Some worked better than others, but it’s important to remember: no product or service is going to magically fix your acne! Regardless of if I knew this, or not, I’d come to each service hopeful that maybe this time would be different.
Peels: I do believe in peels - they help the exfoliation-process, ridding your face of dead, surface cells. There are many different kinds of peels, however, and it’s important, again, to find a practitioner that understands your story, and you. For a while, I’d frequent Skin Artisans, in Edina, which was hooked onto the plastic surgery wing. There, I’d get “Micropeel Plus” treatments, that supported the exfoliation of dead cells, while including glycolic acid, in order to help “heal and speed up” acne. They did their job, however, each time I’d go, I found that my own, personal needs weren’t. There, it seemed that acne was an “outside issue”, and they were only focused on doing whatever was possible to rid the “outer issue”. This included many products, and chemicals I didn’t feel 100% comfortable with.
I found to feel much more comfortable getting something like the “Arcona Enzyme Peel”, at Spot Spa (with my esthetician, Laurel). During this peel, safer enzymes were used, to help break down dead layers of skin, and get a kickstart on accelerating regeneration of new cells.
Photo-rejuvenation (BBL): Broadband light therapy uses a series of light pulses, lightly applied over the skin. The light penetrates the sub-skin layers and is absorbed by the blood vessels or by pigmentation (brown spots). The heat impairs the vessel or lesion and the body begins the natural healing and clearing process. I got this done, once, at Skin Artisans, a few years ago. It cost $400, and significantly-lessened my acne scars. It also hurt like hell, and was something I could only swing, financially, that one-time (I put it on my credit card). Now, after my most-recent bout with acne, I have red-scarring again, and am trying to lessen the redness using safe and active ingredients, only. I don’t have $400 to spend.
My Skin Buddy: This home-product uses red, blue and green LED light-therapy, along with ultrasonic vibrations to focus on giving a clearer complexion, brighter and more even skin tone. I like it because it’s convenient to use, and become part of your beauty-routine. I received mine as a Christmas gift, from my mom, who bought it at Cloud 9, in Humboldt (My Skin Buddy).
Facial Cupping: I enjoy cupping on other areas of my body, releasing stagnant blood/tension, and facial cupping is similar. It improves facial circulation, for glowing, firmer skin and decreased puffiness. Facial cupping may also help relieve jaw tension, sinus congestion, tension headaches, soften scars, and assist lymphatic drainage. I’ve had it done twice, at Spot Spa, with Rhea, and have noticed a difference in my skin - looking brighter and firmer. I do think it helps with acne scarring.
Vodder-Method Lymphatic Drainage: This is a simple, non-invasive therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system, to boost your skins natural detoxifying and regenerative capabilities. Your lymphatic system needs constant exercise to function properly (and drain). The treatment focuses directly on the lymph stimulation with massaging motion. I’ve gotten this done frequently, recently, with Laurel, at Spot Spa, and love it! I definitely noticed results. Lymphatic drainage is so important, everywhere in our bodies, including our face!
Next, in Part 3, I’ll be focusing on “Health From Within”, which, in my opinion, is most important when it comes to treating acne. I’ll be focusing on supplements, nutrition and lifestyle - it all plays a part.
In closing, I want to remind you that ridding acne is a process. There are so many lovely products out there, however, they can only do so much. This week, I challenge you to take a look at what’s in your facial products, and stay tuned to Part 3!