Sunday, December 5, 2010

How I Got Good Skin

I looked much the same at 13 as I look today. So (as much as I ever matured) I can say that I matured early. As a result, I never suffered much from puberty and I don't remember having any skin problems at that time. Actually, I remember that, until quite recently, my skin has been revered as one of the softest and clearest among my friends and relatives. I put it down to my never having gone through a major hormonal havoc, and partially I was right.

So you can imagine what a shock it was when I started having all sorts of problems, which, as I later learned, are nowadays labeled adult acne and are a newfound challenge to dermatologists. Adult acne is different from teenage skin problems in a number of ways and can range from mere annoyances to more serious conditions. I counted myself among those fortunate enough not to develop very bad skin, but I was still furious at all that caused it. For I knew very well that the only thing that could have messed up my hormones was the Pill I had stopped taking a couple of weeks before. From then on, with the sudden drop of "mature" hormones in my system, I was back in junior high -- the kind I'd never been to.


First I was shocked and angry and then, when I realized this did not help my skin, I started battling it. Product upon product, failure upon failure, and a newfound interest in (bordering on addiction to) various foundations and concealers. But this would not be a success story without success and instead of lamenting on my long journey through the inferno of skin problems I'll tell you about the miracle that saved my pores. It had nothing to do with my search for the holy grail of skincare products or the generous amounts of salicylic acid I kept pouring on my face. It actually happened almost overnight and I only have chance to thank for my recovery. I don't know if I'll ever be back to using anti-acne products again, but I'm just incredibly happy for the moment to bother about that. So let me tell you how it happened and outline my skin credo as of that moment.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when we were spending the weekend with friends and the "program" was fully packed with social activities, far from the confines of my bathroom at home. Looking at my skin a couple of days later I learned the importance of that. While away, I was unable to apply all I usually do to my face, and I didn't have the possibility to inspect myself in the mirror and feel annoyed by my skin. As a result I kept to a much more natural method, washing my face twice a day thoroughly with a good wash and applying foundation with my fingers instead of a brush or sponge. And, in keeping with good manners, I kept my hands off my face as it can be really annoying and weird if someone keeps touching their face all the time.

And, miraculously, when I looked at my skin a couple of days later it was clearer than ever. I've kept it that way ever since and my new "regime" has been very successful in doing so. Here's what I learned.

If you don't clean your applicators (brushes, sponges, etc.) after each use, you'd better not use them at all.
Otherwise it's like smearing bacteria all over your face. This applies to eye shadow applicators as well, if you have an infection or anything. If you can't clean them, better use your fingers.

Keep your hands (and everything else) off your face.
This is crucial. I've never been one to fidget or scratch when nervous but I can't say I've always been cautious not to touch my face. But lately I find that whenever I pay attention not to my skin is all the better for it. And it's important to understand that even if your hands are clean they contain far more bacteria than your pores can deal with. Also, since I don't have bangs I haven't had a single breakout around my forehead. So all my experience backs up the general opinion expressed by dermatologists: don't expose your skin to more bacteria than absolutely necessary.

Exfoliate gently.
I used to use all sorts of exfoliators but nowadays I keep to the chemical ones or a gentle buffer from time to time. Rough textures can damage your skin, leaving it irritated or even scarred. Go for gentle, rounded beads and soft pads. Or avoid physical exfoliation altogether, as I have, and apply a wash containing salicylic acid or the like.

Go for the right treatment.
It might sound paradoxical but actually my skin has never been oily. Even when my hormonal system resembled that of a 12-year-old boy, my skin was rather on the dry side. I could call it combination except that dry patches could show up in my T-zone as well. So for me applying anti-acne product upon anti-acne product was rather a double edged sword, as it made my skin a little clearer but a lot drier too. But lately I've found a new way to keep my skin balanced. I use some of the products but combine them with a regime of moisturizers that help my skin stay healthy  and in need of less exfoliation.

Look at the causes.
Skin problems in adulthood can be caused by a number of factors. It's essential that one identifies the causes before applying any treatment, as these can vary according to the nature of the problem. Paying attention to your habits and lifestyle can help you to better skin. I'm not saying that I believe in the often mentioned effects of food on your skin, but to be honest I don't eat anything that I consider totally superfluous or unnecessary. Some additives can definitely cause breakouts, just as some people might have similar problems with some spices. It is important to take an honest approach instead of blaming skin problems on fate.

I'm not saying that I know a lot about skin. But I've had my fair share of problems lately and I thought I might throw in my two cents on a topic that is often discussed on forums and blogs. I hope it was helpful.

Thanx for reading! ;)
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