My way to clear skin in five steps

This year, I made clear skin my goal. I was tired of breaking out all the time. I thought to myself that with thirty, surely there must be an end to it at some point! So I set out to finally find it.

Fast forward to now, my skin’s the best it’s ever been since before puberty! I almost can’t believe it myself. It’s remarkably clear and almost never breaks out any more. The last few zits I had were in sync with critical points of my menstrual cycle. But even those were quickly subdued within days. In short, I finally have my skin all under control, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy with it than I am now.

Here’s my skin care routine.

First: Double-cleansing

double cleansing,

For example with The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter and the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Foam Cleanser. But I also love the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm and SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser.

Double-cleansing is designed to clear the skin from dirt, sebum, sweat, and even waterproof make up and sunscreen as thoroughly as possible.

The first cleansing step with an oil or balm cleanser efficiently removes oil-soluble products, dust and dirt. The second cleansing step with a water-based cleanser gently removes residues. This ensures a clean slate upon which to layer your skin care and better absorption. Also, this keeps your pores clear from debris so they won’t clog.

At the beginning of the year, I used to use micellar cleansers in place of foam cleansers in order to avoid water. But the truth is that micellar cleansers are just not as thorough as regular foam cleansers. Nor are they actually more convenient for daily use. They are intended for situations in which you have no access to water. More importantly, however, they leave traces of surfactant on the skin. So during the summer I switched back to normal foam cleansers again completely. My pores now clog significantly less which in turn has decreased acne outbreaks.

[Read about double-cleansing in more detail here.]

Second: Exfoliating

exfoliation, BHA,

For example with the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant and the Shiseido Cleansing Massage Brush. The COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is on my wish list.

Exfoliating the skin occasionally with either chemical or mechanical peelings is important for a number of reasons: rejuvenating and brightening dull skin, and removing debris and dead skin cells to maintain clear pores.

In the spring, I experimented with using AHA daily in order to unclog my pores and clear my whiteheads. But I quickly discovered that BHA is much, much better suited for the job.

BHA works much in the same way as AHA: it sloughs off dead skin cells, brightens the skin, fades post-acne marks and leaves the skin more radiant and even. But on top of that, it is lipophilic and can therefore dissolve even hardened sebum, waxes and oils inside of the pores. Because it is furthermore anti-bacterial, it also brings zits to a head and gets them to heal and disappear faster. Since using BHA from the beginning of summer onwards, I have successfully cleared my face from clogged pores and whiteheads completely! The only caution to take is not overdoing it and risk over-exfoliating.

[Read more about exfoliating your skin and more about BHA.]

Third: Moisturizing

moisturizer,

For example with the Scinic Aqua All in One Ampoule and/or the Sebamed Clear Face Care Gel. Dry skin types might appreciate the Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer.

Moisturizing is a really crucial step regardless of skin type. It means replenishing your skin’s moisture levels, rebuilding its protective lipid barrier, and soothing it. The key is just finding the right moisturizer for you.

A good moisturizer consists of both humectants and emollients/occlusives that draw, bind and seal water into your skin. Ideally, none of the ingredients should clog your pores, and your moisturizer should also contain neither alcohol, fragrance nor other irritants. The only differences? Oily skin types need a higher concentration of humectants to restore water to the skin. Dry skin types, however, need a higher concentration of emollients/occlusives to soften and nourish the skin.

[Read more about humectants and occlusives here.]

[Find a list of the most common humectants and occlusives in skin care here.]

The reason I recommend the Sebamed Clear Face Care Gel in particular, however, is because on top of everything it has a pH-level of 5.5. This is very close to that of our skin, and makes a huge, significant difference.

Restoring the skin’s natural pH-level helps to replenish its natural acidic moisture barrier. And this barrier is crucial for the health and integrity of our skin. It protects us from irritants and bad bacteria while fostering good bacteria. This directly translates into clear skin in the long term, as the risk of dryness, damages and irritations is diminished.

[Read all about the importance of pH-levels on Skin and Tonics here.]

Fourth: Spot-treatment

benzoyl peroxide,

For example with the Benzaknen 5% Gel with 5% benzoyl peroxide.

I find having an effective spot-treatment in dire emergencies an enormous relief. But for most of my life, the perfect spot-treatment eluded me. This year, however, I finally found it in benzoyl peroxide, a topical antibiotic that fights the strain of bacteria responsible for inflamed acne.

Benzoyl peroxide is so effective in fact that it’s actually banned in some countries, including Japan. But in Germany, you find it in concentrations from 1 – 10% in pharmacies. Myself, I use a gel with 5%. Obviously, there are a few things you should know about benzoyl peroxide.

First, it’s a pro-oxidant. This means that in contrast to antioxidants, it does not fight but produces free radicals.

[See why free radicals are bad news for our skin here.]

Second, it is drying. But dryness is irritating to the skin and so will only aggravate your acne as sebum production increases. So don’t use benzoyl peroxide regularly, excessively, and not on your whole face.

How does it work?

The secret is to use only a smidge of the benzoyl peroxide on your spot consistently over several days as the last step of your routine, and voilà! By attacking the acne bacteria responsible for your outbreaks, benzoyl peroxide calms down the inflammation in your pore, brings down the swelling and redness, and the zit will disappear gradually and painlessly. Or if applied in time, it can even prevent the inflammation to rear its head completely. It’s pretty good stuff.

And last: lifestyle

The thing is that spots can be caused by a plethora of different stuff. For example, hormones, skin intolerances or irritation. But some of the reasons can be exceptionally banal: dirt and bacteria on our hands, sheets or towels. Consuming sugary snacks and drinks, dairy.

Here is a few easy things everyone of us can do to prevent pesky spots:

  • Change your bed sheets and face towels regularly!
  • Wash your make up brushes as often as possible!
  • Don’t touch your face with your hands during the day!
  • If you must touch your face, wash your hands beforehand!
  • Clean and disinfect your phone often!
  • Curb your sugar intake!
  • Avoid dairy products!
  • Drink lots of water!
  • Exercise and sweat!
  • Don’t take cleansing your face lightly, do it at least every evening!
  • Be nice to your skin!

What has helped you to achieve clear skin? Share in the comments!

 

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5 comments

  1. I squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice to a cup of warm water and drink it first thing every morning. I’m not sure how this connect to acne healing, but it really helps clear my skin by a lot.

    Like

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