I was recently at a get together where a couple of friends were bemoaning being over 30 (or close to it) and still having to worry about their skin. As a knee-jerk reaction, I started to go into a reduced version of my Skin Nazi speech about exfoliation and staying out of the sun. But no. We were on party behavior and I didn’t want to monopolize the conversation, and I figured that this might make a decent blog anyway. I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not a dermatologist and the only thing that makes me think I know anything about anything on this subject is having had to deal with it for 18 years. I’m still not breakout proof, but I’m convinced that I’ve learned something.
I’m not going to tell you that your acne is a result of your face being filthy. Real, badass acne is the result of skin growing over itself, clogging pores. However, if you’re letting your cat walk around all day and then put his paw smack in the middle of your forehead, you’ll get what you deserve.
As far as soaps go, my fave cleanser was Neutrogena’s Oil Free Acne Wash for a long time, but has recently been dethroned by L’Oreal’s 360 Clean (the peach one with bits of exfoliating rock in it). The “scrublet” that comes with it is pretty useless, but you may like it if you find my methods too…harsh.
Speaking of harsh methods and acne being caused by skin growing over itself, I wash my face with a Scotch Brite sponge. The green side. You have to be careful with a brand new one, but after a couple days, you can scrub down. Note: I once attempted a night of exfoliation by using fine-grade sandpaper in the shower. It felt wonderful in the shower, but later my face felt like it was on fire. Then, it got crusty and peeled like a mid-grade sunburn. Sexy. There’s also something to be said for a good peel-off mask. My fave is the cucumber one made by Freeman.
Don’t do it. Fingertips are havens for dirt and oil, even if you did just wash your hands. You can usually get away with letting other things touch your face (elbows, windows, plastic cutlery), but for the love of God keep the fingertips away. As I have said to many a dude, “it’s not that I think YOUR hands are filthy…it’s that I think ALL hands are filthy. I don’t even touch my OWN face unless I just got out of the shower.”
I am a realist. I know you’re going to do it sometimes. Thus, in the tradition of the free condom giveaway, I’ll just say “if you’re going to do it, be safe about it.” Make sure your hands are freakishly clean. Don’t go on suicide missions. “Suicide Missions” here being attempting to pop something that is too far below the surface. At best, you’ll end up bruising your face, making the zit look worse. At middle, you’ll end up causing irritation that will make the zit’s life longer. At worst, you’ll push the pore clog further down and cause pock marks. You’re better off just exfoliating a lot and waiting for that thing to get closer to the surface.
Even if you have the world’s greasiest skin (and you don’t, because I DO), you should use a moisturizer. It gives the ladies a good base for makeup, usually supplies SPF, and may or may not discourage skin from producing its own oil. My fave is generic Oil of Olay basic stuff with SPF 15, and in the summer it’s a thin coating of Neutrogena’s Age Shield Face SPF 110.
My fave is Neutrogena’s On The Spot Treatment, but using it means accepting that it will bleach your pillowcases. I’m also not above using Neosporin on a zit that has died and dried up, but not yet peeled off. No, really, could this blog get any sexier?
What about in between showers? If your skin isn’t super oily, witch hazel and a cotton ball is a good idea because witch hazel contains a lot less alcohol than most astringents and won’t dry you face out. However, since I have the aforementioned World’s Greasiest Skin, I do a 50/50 suicide of witch hazel and alcohol.
Don’t Smoke. Stay out of the sun.
OK, this isn’t about zits. It’s just free advice. In the long term, smoking will age you faster (one site said 30% faster, but that seems questionable, even to me). Sun will also give you wrinkles, and enough sun damage will give you age spots later on.
So, my pretties, go forth and be…pretties. Just don’t exfoliate with sandpaper. Trust me.