So, you have landed on this post because you are looking for tips for acne skin care in this spring cleaning season. Here is my little quick tip for you, short and sweet:
In this season, do not forget to also spring clean your skincare collections!
To help you come up with effective spring clean solutions, I’d like to share with you today what skincare regimes are crucial, what types of products you should buy (if you don’t have them yet), what to keep and what you’d better stay away from. Specifically, we will be discussing:
- Five basic skincare routines that you can’t skip to protect your acne-prone skin
- Why they are necessary
- How to select the right skincare products
- Oh, I’ve also included a checklist at the very end of the post to help you get the job done more easily ; )
Let’s get rolling.
As you can tell the name, a cleanser’s job is to remove dirt, oil and dead skin cells. This is particularly important for acne-prone skin because it helps clear off bacteria and revitalize the skin.
Ideally, an effective cleanser:
- Contains ingredients that can actively fight and destroy acne-causing bacteria, such as tea tree oil.
- Does not include harsh chemicals, which, when absorbed into the blood stream, can result in toxic buildup. Additionally, these ingredients can dry out the skin, promoting more oil production and potentially leading to more acne breakouts.
- Is pH neutral, has no artificial coloring, and is fragrance-free. The pH of our skin’s natural layer is about 5.5. Therefore, products with a pH greater than 6 are more alkaline than the skin and will over-dry it, another trigger for oil glands to produce more sebum and cause the skin more susceptible to acne.
The role of a toner, a step right after you cleanse your skin, may be considered to be “less important”. Some people may even skip it. A good toner can re-balance the skin’s pH level, remove last traces of oil, dirt and dead skin cells, shrink pores and deposit active ingredients within the toner deep into the skin layers. It may also help other skin applications (e.g. a moisturizer) penetrate more effectively. According to Dr. Alicia Zalka, a Yale-affiliated dermatologist, applying toner to the skin is a necessary step especially for people with acne-prone skin. This is because it can control the skin’s oil production and help the skin better absorb nutrients to facilitate the healing process.
When searching for the right kind of toners, here are three quick tips to help you select an ideal toner:
- Make sure you avoid alcohol which can strip away the natural oils in your sensitive acne-prone skin.
- Opt for natural ingredients that have soothing, calming and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Be aware of the ingredient called glycolic acid. Some dermatologists recommend acne-prone and oily skin use toners that contain glycolic acids to help remove excessive oil and keep the pores clean, because glycolic acid can penetrate through the epidermis and work with the skin at a deeper level. However, because of its ability for deeper penetration, it can also cause more irritation as well. Even though Environmental Working Group labels its “Overall Hazard” level as “low-to-moderate”, it also shows that this ingredient is even restricted in Canadian cosmetics. Therefore, we have to pay close attention when it comes to allowing glycolic acid into your daily skincare routine. In this case, it’s wise that we do what Dr. David Bank, a dermatologist based in Mount Kisco, New York, suggests: “use one for a few days the first week and see how your skin feels.” Stop using it immediately when it irritates your skin and consult with experts for solutions and alternatives.
Are you using products containing benzoyl peroxide as your spot treatment and enjoying the benefits this ingredient has given you? It is not a surprise that it works effectively on your skin. Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) takes effects by releasing oxygen to the pores of the skin to kill the acne causing bacteria which cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment. I bet you have also done your research throughout the internet and found that people are sharing their successful stories of using BPO as well.
However, how safe and effective is this ingredient? On one hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has “included BPO as a generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) topical acne drug products” since 2010. On the other hand, it will be still up to us to decide how safe and effective this active ingredient is. Here is why:
- It may cause skin irritation (such as redness, swelling, itching, burning, and peeling) especially for people with sensitive skin.
- It may cause your skin sensitive to sun exposure.
- Even though BPO itself will not directly cause cancer, BPO as a tumor promoter increases tumor formation, growth and conversion of benign tumors to malignant tumors after exposure to a tumor initiator such as a chemical or UV radiation.
- It does not solve the root problems. Once spots are cleared up, you will have to carry on with a maintenance treatment, which suggests that your acne skin is not truly healed as you may have to reply on this ingredient.
For me, I would personally avoid this chemical in my skincare collection and turn to natural ingredients for rescue plans. They can be as effective and very affordable; and have few side effects. Why don’t you give them a chance, too? One of my favorite go-to resources is tea tree oil, which may kill bacteria and fungus. According to National Institutes of Health, applying a 5% tea tree oil gel appears to be as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide for treating acne. Even though the oil may work more slowly than benzoyl peroxide, it is less irritating for facial skin.
A good mask plays an important role in healing problem skin and maintaining good skin. Facial masks can remove dead skin cells, open and clean the pores, exfoliate and moisturize the skin, and balance the skin’s pH levels as well. Below are some personal tips I’d like to share with you:
- As always, avoid masks that contain harsh chemicals.
- Look for ingredients like aloe vera and cucumber, because they together make a perfect anti-inflammatory combination to sooth, cleanse and moisturize acne-prone skin.
- Search for clays like bentonite and kaolin. Bentonite clay known for its ability to absorb and suck all toxins and oils out of the skin, whereas kaolin clay can fight acne by drying the skin and increasing localized circulation, which can contribute to fighting inflammation.
This is especially important for acne-prone skin, because dry skin can lead to more sebum (oil) production, which can cause more acne breakouts. What’s also important is that a good moisturizer serves as a base for foundation to help prevent makeup from penetrating and clogging your pores.
A moisturizer can come in two forms: oils and face lotions/creams. Oils can be more easily absorbed by the skin than lotions or creams, and are able to moderate the skin’s oil production in the long term. Counter-intuitively, oils do not make you feel oily at all. Applying a few drops of organic face oils and slightly massaging your face afterwards will only leave you with nourished and hydrated skin. I have personally been using face oils in the morning and in the evening for about a year now, and have been enjoying the benefits they give me. If you prefer lotions or creams, makes sure you choose those containing oil-free and natural ingredients with soothing and calming properties to help heal the skin.
Spring Clean Checklist
After reviewing these five areas, are you ready for some cleanup right now? To help you kick off the spring cleaning for your skincare collections, here is a simple checklist for you. Enjoy!
- Include a cleanser that fights and destroys acne-causing bacteria such as tea tree oil.
- Set aside cleansers with harsh chemicals.
- Set aside cleansers or soaps with pH greater 6.
- Set aside toners with alcohol.
- Include a toner with calming, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties such as witch hazel, cucumber, aloe vera and chamomile.
- Use toners with glycolic acid in moderation; or avoid it totally if you have sensitive skin.
- Set aside spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide.
- Replace benzoyl peroxide with natural ingredient with anti-bacterial properties like tea tree oil.
- Look for ingredients such as cucumber and aloe vera for soothing and calming benefits.
- Look for ingredients such as bentonite clay and kaolin clay for cleansing and healing benefits.
- Include a natural face oil such as argan oil, vitamin E oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and almond oil for deep nourishing.
- Only use face lotions or creams made with natural ingredients without harsh chemicals.
Hope you enjoy these skincare tips and find them helpful and actionable. If you would like to learn more about basic skincare for acne-prone skin. Don’t forget to check out the free guide below.
The stage is back to you now. Is there any good ingredient, organic product or other helpful skincare regime you would like to share with me and anyone else who’s reading the post? Please comment below if you have anything to share.
P.S. Later on, I will be also sharing more spring acne skin care tips. Stay tuned.