I've mentioned it a few times now but my skin type is very oily, which has caused me no end of problems since I was about 10 years old. I'd nearly go as far as saying that having issues like spots, blackheads, large pores and oiliness have lead me to my passion for makeup - I began using concealer to cover my blemishes at the age of 12 which gradually moved on to foundation, powder, eyeliner and so on, and by the age of 16-17 I was wearing a practically full face of makeup, even to school. Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't going all out contouring and winging my eyeliner or anything like that, that has only come in the last few years, but I was certainly wearing a full daytime-look makeup, often focusing on my skin to make sure it looked clear and wearing a bright colour on the eyes with lots of mascara!
In a way, I can appreciate the fact that I've learned a lot about makeup over the years from trying things out and discovering what I like and what suits me, but I still wish I never had to deal with the skin problems I had so I didn't have to wear makeup to school, I really was only a child and I was always assumed to be older than I was, which is great when you're 17 and getting served in a pub, but not really great when people thought you were 10 years older than you are! Strangely enough, the tables have turned now and I'm often assumed to be slightly younger than I am, which is very nice! But getting back to my skin problems; here's how I've dealt with them over the years, and what I do on a daily basis to try and combat these issues.
- Contraceptive Pill - I'm going to get this one out there straight away because if you're a girl and your skin problems are really getting you down, the contraceptive pill is a godsend. It all comes down to hormones; girls who suffer from acne may have slightly more male hormones in their system and the point of the contraceptive pill is nearly like tricking your body into thinking it's pregnant, which means more female hormones come into the body and the male ones are lessened - acne symptoms disappear quite rapidly! Now I'm not a doctor and I don't claim to know the ins and outs, all I know is that it worked for me for years and it works for most girls, so if this is viable for you, definitely go and see your doctor. There are different types and your GP can recommend some and talk you through the pros and cons. I also think that it's not a bad idea to be on the contraceptive pill at the age of about 16+, for obvious reasons, but that's just my personal opinion!
When I was 24 going on 25 I decided to come off the pill, having been taking it for about 7 years, for mostly health reasons, and because I was now older I thought that maybe my previous skin issues would have subsided, at least a bit - not a chance! The oiliness, spots, blackheads all came back in full force and within a month I had the same spotty oil-slick skin of my teenage years, which was very frustrating to say the least! It was nearly worse because I had just completed my makeup course and wanted to put all my new skills to use, but I had to spend more time focusing on getting my skin in good shape. Somehow, I've managed to get my skin in good nick now, so this is just a little bit about what I do every day, and for me it obviously worked:
- I wash my face in the morning and evening, even after a night out, without fail. Even if I'm not going anywhere and won't be applying makeup, I still do my full routine. I use Dove soap because it is mild and causes no irritation, just the normal one, although I have found that the sensitive one has a slight drying effect with can be good for drying up any spots.
Don't bother with any of the fancy-pants fruity smelly ones, just go for the original or the sensitive (I love the smell of the original one anyway). I just use it once in the morning but I'll use it twice in the evening when removing my makeup (once to remove the makeup and once to clean my face). I use an oil-based eyemakeup remover to remove my eye makeup, I find they dissolve eyeliner and mascara better if applied to a cotton pad and held over the area for a few seconds. I'm currently using the L'Oreal one but I have used the Johnson's one and the Boots Botanics. I use a toner after removing makeup in the evening; it should be all gone but running a cotton pad that's damp with toner will just make sure. I don't use a toner in the morning as I don't feel it's necessary for me. I follow this with an eyecream in the eye area and moisturiser over my face and neck. I am in need of a good eyecream, I've been using the Simple one for ages and it was fine but I feel I need a bit more of a specialised one - I'm 26 now and I'm really getting into wrinkle-prevention and looking after my skin, so I'll let you know if I find a good one! The moisturiser I use varies between the Boots Botanics oil-free one to the Monu Revitalising moisturiser which I got in my Glossybox and actually really like - it's rich but not too heavy and my skin does feel soft and healthy after using it, so I may stick to just that one for a while.
So that's what I do to look after my skin on a daily basis. My skin has cleared up quite significantly but I'm not sure if it's this routine that did it or my skin is just changing as I get older. I'm just going to give a quick run-through some of the things I've tried in the past year - some which have worked, some which haven't and one or two that have made things worse! Just a quick note before I start - I've found that a harsh, chemical approach doesn't work for me, mild and gentle is better, and you do need to persevere with treatments as you generally won't see improvements straight away.
- I have used HRI Clear Complexion Tablets, which I got in Boots and are probably quite widely available. You take these tablets 2-3 times a day and after about 2 weeks of using them I definitely noticed a difference. They didn't clear up my skin completely but they stopped me getting spots so often and cleared up the ones I had a bit quicker. There are pretty much no downsides to using this product - they're herbal and work from within the body, so you may need to check if you're allergic to any of the ingredients but I was happy to take the risk and had no problems. I only stopped using them because my skin seemed to be clearing up by itself anyway (I forgot to take them the whole time I was home in Ireland in February but my skin stayed clear).
- I have used Sudocrem since I suffered from acne in my teens and I still go back to it; I find that if I apply it before bed, the spot is dramatically reduced in the morning. It has a drying effect and it's antibacterial so it can literally dry the bacteria out of the spot and help it to disappear quicker than if you just left the spot alone. If you're applying a spot treatment such as Sudocrem or any other gels or creams, apply them to the whole area around the spot as it will be infected too and spots may appear there later from bacteria spreading - nip it in the bud!
- Witch-hazel, tea-tree oil and other spot-fighting remedies - I have used gels and other types of products that are well-known for their antibacterial and healing properties, and I'm sure they do work for some people but I've found they have little effect on my skin. The problem with some of these products is that you may need to apply them several times a day in order to get results, and if you're out and about with any sort of makeup on, it's not really feasible. They need to be applied to clean skin, which for me is first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If you don't wear makeup very often then they could work but I know myself I wouldn't have the time or patience to dedicate to them.
This product is actually not bad, the night-time part of it does have a half-decent healing effect!
- Scrubs are a no-no for me, at least physical ones (the ones that have grainy rough particles inside). I don't understand how these products can be aimed at people/teenagers with oily skin and spots, if anything they make the problems worse, at least for me they did. Another issue I have, albeit on a smaller scale, is sensitivity in some areas. It's not that I'm sensitive to lots of products but I have broken capillaries in small doses on my cheeks and around my nose, and scrubs do nothing go help. Scrubs also cause irritation to spots as they constantly take the heads off them, preventing them from healing and possibly causing them to become more infected. Anything rough, whether it's a facial wash or even a facecloth, will not help you - stick to a gentle approach and it'll serve you better; this goes for all aspects of skin care from removing eyemakeup to applying moisturiser. Gently does it!
- Definitely do use moisturiser! I felt for years that my skin just didn't need it as it was producing enough of it's own moisture, but I've recently come to find that applying moisturiser actually counter-attacks oiliness. The theory is that all skin types require moisture, from within (as in drinking water and staying hydrated) but also from a topical level (as in applying a suitable moisturiser). If you don't apply moisturiser because you think it'll make things worse, the oil-glands in your skin will over-compensate by producing excess sebum and actually making your skin oilier, so it has the opposite effect of what you wanted! Oily skin types may find that an oil-free one works best for them, but I recommend using a richer one at night at least.
- Oil-absorbing sheets are a definite must for me, they are very widely available and you don't have to pay a lot of money for them, although MAC does them so you can if you want! The ones I use are just Superdrug's own brand and I keep them in my handbag all the time. Say you get oiliness around lunchtime every day - resist the urge to powder as you'll only be applying product in top of oil, the oil will get onto your brush or applicator and will then go back into the product, sealing the top of it and ruining it! Save your skin and your makeup by using an oil-absorbing sheet to soak up the excess moisture before it starts breaking down your foundation, it has a mattifying effect and helps your makeup last a heck of a lot longer and really is the best thing to use to combat oiliness in the day, or even on a night out!
I've also talked before about the mask I use, Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel, so I won't go into that again. This is just everything I've been trying, I'm still going to try out different products because I'll never be 100% happy with my skin; I still have to deal with oiliness and the scars of old spots which aren't fading too quickly. But I'm much happier with my skin now, it doesn't rule my life like it once did. I really feel for anyone who has skin problems, it's not nice and can be a bit depressing, but just know that you're not alone and you can do a lot to help. Hopefully someone will have learnt something by reading this and can try out something that works for them, but all I can say is to keep trying because different things work for different people and you will find something to suit you eventually! Please leave comments if you have any more tips or questions.
Thanks for reading!