Okay, as someone who has had acne, uneven skin tone, and a bunch of other issues with her skin for literally over a decade now, I want to start by saying that those are not inherently bad things. Yes, statistically they are associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, but that isn’t due to the skin itself. It’s due to the way our society talks about acne and other skin issues. They are often demonized or treated like a great tragedy, rather than what they are: completely fucking normal. Did you know 85% of people aged 12 to 24 have acne at some point? That’s nearly double the number of people who own an iPhone. If you have acne, you are not alone, you are not weird, you are perfectly normal and okay.
Do I love having acne? No, of course not, but I’ve worked really hard over the years to not care too terribly much. I don’t freak out if I miss my skincare routine some nights, and I don’t cover my acne with makeup every single day, even if it’s pretty noticeable. I’m trying to accept my skin as it is. Still, I do my best to take care of my skin and at least try to prevent acne from forming when possible. And lately, I made two insanely simple changes to my skincare routine that have completely turned my skin around. Like, my skin hasn’t been this smooth since I was in elementary school. I literally ask everyone I interact with to feel my face, because it’s just so nice. So what changed?
Well, as a disclaimer, I feel like I should say that I’m pregnant. Sometimes hormones associated with pregnancy make acne worse, sometimes they make it better, it just depends on the person and the pregnancy. So that could be the real reason for my clear skin. But I feel like it’s also related to these two actual changes in my skincare routine.
Change #1: Desert Essence Blemish Stick
The first change I made was buying a new skincare product: the Desert Essence Blemish Touch Stick. This post is not sponsored in any way, I receive no compensation for recommending this product, it’s just seriously amazing. It’s basically a combination of various essential oils in a denatured alcohol solution. Alcohol is not a great ingredient for dry, tight skin, but if your skin is super oily and loose like mine (hello shine and forehead wrinkles), alcohol is a great way to tighten up the pores and clear away excess oil. Plus, the essential oils are all amazing. It includes witch hazel (again, probably a bad idea for dry skin, but great for oily skin), tea tree oil, rosewood oil, lavender oil, and more. I apply the Blemish Stick all over my face every time I wash my face, so twice a day on good days, but if I’m being honest, it’s usually just once per day. It stings a bit, but nothing unbearable or worrisome, and the smell is a bit strong, but my skin feels softer immediately after applying it. It’s incredible. I found it while browsing in Kroger waiting for my prescription to be filled, and bought it on a whim. What a great whim! It costs about $9, and I go through approximately one Blemish Stick per month.
Change #2: Taking My Time Washing My Face
The second change I made was in how I use one of the products I’ve been using for over a year now: my Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser. I started using this cleanser a year ago when I accidentally left my Proactiv cleanser at my sister’s college apartment. I had recently started writing for FacingAcne.com, and I’d realized that one reason I still had so much acne while using Proactiv was because I was using the wrong ingredients to treat the type of acne I had the most of. Sure, I got occasional pimples, but my biggest problem was a constant smattering of whiteheads all over my forehead, temples, and cheeks. Proactiv’s face wash uses benzoyl peroxide, which specializes in killing acne bacteria in pimples, but doesn’t do a lot for the clogged pores that cause whiteheads. Instead, I needed a cleanser that utilized salicylic acid, a gentle but effective exfoliator that would unclog my pores. So I bought Aveeno’s Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser, which uses 0.5% salicylic acid and only costs like $7 for a three-month supply.
But after a year of use, I really hadn’t seen much change in my whiteheads. In my research for FacingAcne.com, I found out why: I wasn’t giving the salicylic acid enough time to work. Before, I would wet my face, spread the foaming wash on my face real quick, and immediately rinse it off. It turns out, this is not how salicylic acid works. It needs time to sink into your pores and really break up the oil and dead skin cells that create whiteheads. So in the last month or so, I’ve started taking a full minute to massage the foaming cleanser into my skin, and then allowing it to set for another full minute. And the change has been incredible. My forehead is relatively smooth for the first time in over a decade. I can’t even explain how different my skin looks and feels. I still get whiteheads, but they’re smaller, more subtle, and there are far fewer of them. I have more clear skin than acne-ridden skin for the first time in what feels like forever. Taking a full two minutes to wash my face is agonizingly boring sometimes, but I’ve started doing it pretty consistently, because the difference it makes is just so freaking nice.
So…that’s it. Yes, seriously, those two tiny changes have made all the difference in my skin. You should obviously do whatever works for your skin, but I was just so surprised and happy, I felt the need to share. What does your skincare routine look like? Do you feel like it works for you?