First motto… “Oil is not bad”. I can’t say that enough OIL IS NOT BAD. Cosmetics companies have drilled the opposite into us for ages. If you strip all the oil away from your face, your skin will respond by producing excess oil and that leads to more clogged pores and breakouts.
And a little background on my skin issues- I have acne (which is pretty much resolved), skin allergies, hyper-sensitive skin, am very prone to clogged pores and cystic acne. I’m allergic to Glycerin, some parabens and Salicylic Acid; and Benzoyl Peroxide dries out my skin so badly that I end up red with more breakouts. Ugh.
Now on to the tips…
Use a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip. My go-to choices are: Noxema (in the tub), a plain glycerin bar or Cetaphil. Good ole Noxema is still one of my personal favorites.
Wash gently twice a day and be sure to remove all makeup. If your teen wears heavier eye makeup- maybe use something to remove that first. Visine eye wipes work great or I mix up my own makeup remover.
In the evening, I suggest washing twice: once to get all the gunk of the day off, and then again to actually cleanse skin and pores.
Don’t scrub with a rough wash cloth or those darn “exfoliating” walnut scrubs and such. They are way too harsh on a teen’s sensitive skin. Plus those beads and scrubbies can settle into pores and actually create blackheads. Ick.
For a wash cloth, I use a microfiber cloth (I found mine at Wal-mart). I know they say “dusting cloths” but they are so very soft that you’ll realize why I picked them up for my face.
Use full Witch Hazel if you can find it (meaning- don’t use the diluted kind that is full of alcohol), or I found this great stuff called “Tate’s The Natural Miracle Acne Solution” at my local natural food store. It was a bit pricey ($20!) but I only use a few drops on a cotton ball after washing in the evening and before lotion/moisturizing. It does contain some alcohol plus also has Witch Hazel and Tea Tree oil.
Use something mild like a Cetaphil lotion or my favorite, 1 or 2 drops of Jojoba Oil. Jojoba is the closest oil/moisturizer to a human’s natural sebum. Hence, it doesn’t make your pores go into overdrive producing more oil. And remember that motto I mentioned “Oil is not bad”!
I have 2 personal recommendations. Both work for me although one is pricier than the other. Astara’s Blue Flame Purification mask- here’s my review. It’s harder to find, but works well. It can also be used as a spot treatment.
My favorite though by far, is the Aztec Secret Clay Mask (my review). I use it EVERY week on Sundays- have your teen set a schedule. I can tell if I skip a week because my pores start clogging up again. For acne, mix 1 heaping tbsp of the clay with equal amount organic Apple Cider Vinegar. You can also add 1-2 drops of Tea Tree Oil (very small drops, start with just 1 drop for the first time). Mix well and apply thickly on face, let it sit until dry. Wash off with the above mentioned wash cloth and tepid/luke warm water. Her face may be red/pink after the first few times. This is due to increased blood flow to the face. It’s completely normal and will fade within 30 minutes to an hour.
A side note on masks and all skin care in general: It will take at least 6 weeks to see benefits from any regimen. Be patient and encourage your teenager to continue. That’s why it takes me so long to test skin care. It’s such a looooong process. Also, after first starting face masks, your skin may break out after a few days. This is normal. It’s the skin detoxing and “blowing out” all the ick, goo and buildup.
My favorites are all sulfur based ones because they are more natural, not as drying, you use less, and they are less likely to cause irritation when used daily. Plus they seem MUCH more effective. The bad side? It seems like most stores don’t carry them.
- I recommend Murad’s Blemish Spot Treatment (from my “Other ways to treat acne” article) and Mario Badescu’s Buffering Lotion. Shake both of them well before using since the sulfur settles to the bottom. (By the way, you don’t need both, just one.)
- With the Buffering Lotion- it’s VERY runny. I put a few drops in my cupped hand, then use my finger to wipe it around on my cheeks, nose, T zone or whatever is breaking out. The bottle lasts a REALLY long time. I only suggest using them once per day- at night is best (before lotion or Jojoba) so it can work overnight. If you put the sulfur treatments on after washing & toning, then follow up with the Jojoba- the Jojoba works as a “carrier oil” and brings the treatment deeper into your pores which is another plus for Jojoba!
- I’m also a fan of Mario Badescu’s Drying Cream (for spot treating already broken out pimples). I put it on at night and by morning they are much improved. Plus you can use it in the AM too since it is tinted a bit- it works a little as a concealer.
- Tea Tree Oil can be fabulous. Start slowly, even though it’s natural, it can still be drying. Dab a tiny amount of Tea Tree Oil (using your finger or a Q-Tip) on breakouts or areas that tend to have breakouts. A little goes a long way. Wash hands after because it can make your eyes super, uh… “tingly”. I speak from personal experience.
Other Tip 1: Don’t wear any cream blush or liquid blushes (cheek stains, etc) until everything gets under control. Never use lipstick for blush while you are breaking out on your cheeks.
Other Tip 2: If teen skin is really irritated by acne and she did a thorough cleansing before bed, she can just use the soft cloth with plain water and lightly wash her face. Toner can follow, or just a bit of lotion/jojoba before makeup. Washing with plain water is always my first step if I get an allergic reaction breakout.
Other Tip 3: Does she wear mineral makeup or fluid foundation? If it’s fluid, maybe see about switching her to a TRULY pure mineral makeup, like from PRIIA Cosmetics or Purely Cosmetics. Whatever brand, just make sure there is no bismuth or other filler minerals that aren’t really minerals. Bare Escentuals does not qualify as mineral makeup, in my opinion (no offense, it’s just they have marketing money, their products are NOT what they claim them to be, and they’re over-priced).
Other Tip 4: Yes, picking at pimples and popping them is bad. We all know it. But if she’s like me, she probably won’t be able to stare at that whitehead waving at her for more than 2 minutes before she’s heading to squeeze. Instead of squeezing though, teach her the proper way to be bad (hee hee!). At your local drugstore you should be able to find a “blackhead extractor” tool. They’re usually by the tweezers- mine is by Revlon. It’s a silver tool (about 4 inches long) with a loop at each end. First, wash hands & area that has the pimple. Then use a bit of toner over the area with the pimple. Basically we are pretending to prep for surgery. You want the area clean since you are going to “open the skin”. Next use the skinny loop if it’s a whitehead (or the flatter loop if it’s a clogged pore or balckhead) and press down until it pops. Kaboom. Immediately clean the area again with toner & face wash. Be sure to wipe down the extractor tool with toner to disinfect it!
Yep, it can create scars, and I’m not advocating squeezing pimples, but if you must… this is the way to do it. keep that area clean before and after; think of it as an open wound. And the puss that comes out is bacteria that can cause further infection (since it can actually cause pimples to spread and create new pimples)- sort of like a growing virus I guess.
Other Tip 5: Hands off your face when sitting, reading, at the school desk, and whenever possible. At home, tie hair back with a head band or rubber band. Even hair products can contribute to breakouts when skin is sensitive.
Other Tip 6: Cell phones. Use a corded headset/headphones or bluetooth headset when possible. If not, make sure she cleans the cell phone sections that go up against her face while taking at least every 2 days. I use a very slightly damp (with water) cotton ball, and add a drop of tea tree oil. Wipe it across the screen, buttons whatever. So few people think of this as a contributor. But teens (and me) are on phones so much that it can push makeup right into the pores.
Other Tip 7: Have your teen wash her hair with Head & Shoulders or other dandruff shampoo a few times a week. With the left over suds on her hands, swipe them across her face. The sulfur in the dandruff shampoo works wonders against acne. These shampoos also work great as body washes to prevent back and body breakouts. I use some on a loofah every other night on my back as a prevention.
Of course, no regimen is perfect for everyone. You have to tailor things to your specific face, skin and needs. These tips are ones that I have researched extensively and tried on myself with excellent results. And don’t forget to see a dermatologist to get a doctor’s advice on your acne.