For those of you that have known me for a long time you’ll know that I used to struggle with acne for many years. I would say from the age of 20 to about the age of 32. I honestly thought that it would never go away. My acne was the worst during the time of my fathers death and toward the end of my marriage and divorce. Obviously stress had a lot to do with it. My skin felt a lot better after moving away from the cold dry weather of Colorado, to the warm desert in Cabo. I felt as though it produced more oil and felt more radiant (even with acne ) -still not the ideal skin type. After many years of suffering thru it I decided to be proactive. I tried the holistic approach by doing a cleanse for 3 months, which made me feel great, but didn’t help my skin. Finally I flew up to L.A. and met with a dermatologist. She researched all of the products I was putting on my face and gave me the following list of the ingredients that I should steer clear of:
1. Vitamin E
2. Parabens – (I found them in my mascara and many other products) are a preservative incorporated into many cosmetics to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination. Most common:
Methly paraben, Proply paragen, Germall, Formaldehyde, Dowicil, Butylparaben, Sorbic Acid, 2 Bromo-2 Nitro-3 Propanediol
3. Benzoic Acid
5. Propylene Glycol
6. Benzophenone : in sunscreens and some cosmetics
7. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS): used as an emulsifier in cosmetics, foaming dentifrices and even foods. Here are the common names:
Avirol 118, Carsonol SLS, Conco Sulfate WA, Cycloryl 21, Detergent 66, Dipon LS, Duponol C, Emersal 6400, Emulsifier No. 104, Maprofix LK, Orvus WA Paste, Product No. 75, Reweopol NLS 30, Richonol A, Sipex SV, Standapol WA-AC, Stepanol WA 100, Sterling WA Paste, Sterling WAQ-Cosmetic, Sulfopon WA 1, Sulfotex WA, Texapon K12, Ultra Sulfate SL-L.
What worked for me was to get rid of all of the expensive face washes that I tried for many years and started using Cetaphyl to wash my face and now I use an oil that has lavender and camomile to moisturize my skin. I find that the oil gets into my pores and mixes with my natural oils instead of clogging them like some water based lotions. The oil does’t feel oily after about 5 minutes and makes my skin feel great. I rarely break out now and no longer have to worry about scaring from bad break outs. I use Clinique foundation and don’t wear makeup that has red in it. (My dermatologist said that the pigment that is used to make certain cosmetics red is an allergen.) I am also careful about the ingredients in sunscreen and mascara.
If you still find yourself with acne after ditching products with the above listed ingredients then read on:
If you have acne:
- Around your mouth– Acne around the mouth can be caused by a reaction to your lip products or from traces of toothpaste left of the skin post- brushing. If you notice small blackheads, or white bumps in the corners or edges of your mouth, it could be caused by an irritation from your lip gloss, or from the bacteria that is living on the applicator. Be sure to regularly clean off applicators on your lip products using a baby wipe and a spritz of rubbing alcohol. And follow the guidelines for the life of your lip cosmetics (usually 18 months) and throw them out and replace them often enough. Traces of toothpaste can also cause irritation around your mouth- so be sure you thoroughly rinse and dry your mouth area after every brush. And follow up with your lightweight moisturizer in these areas.
- On your cheeks near your ears– If your acne is concentrated on the cheeks near your ears, a dirty cell phone is often the culprit. The glass surface of your phone can contain thousands of bacteria spores that thrive in the warm environment of a battery-heated surface. Think about what your hands touch throughout the day, then every time you pick up the phone to text or check Instagram- you transfer those germs to the phone screen, then smear that all over your face… Gross right!?! The fix for this is simple. Pick up a box of alcohol cleansing pads next time you’re at the pharmacy and keep a stash in your car and purse. Wipe off the phone on all sides at least once a week, but I try and do it 3 times a week and I have noticed a huge change in my zit situation. I do it whenever I’m waiting for something, like a meal to arrive at my table, or when I’m waiting for my daughter at the bus stop… It takes very little time, but is such a good habit to form.
- Along your hairline– Hairline pimples can be caused by excess soaps and cleansers that aren’t rinsed off fully during your cleansing session. I learned this the hard way when I started regularly cleansing at night. I was proud that I was in the habit of nightly cleaning but as I got a little lazier I realized that I was leaving extra product on my skin around the perimeter of my face, and as a result I started getting pimples in my hairline. Whiteheads form in the hairline very easily because the pores on your scalp are much larger than the skin on your face. So if you’re noticing regular zits just beyond the hairlines border- add an extra rinse to your process. I added a snugly fitting sports-type headband to my washing regimen, to hold the hair firmly out of my face while washing.
- Within your eyebrows– eyebrow pimples are often caused by irritation after waxing or tweezing. If you often breakout after a visit to the brow spa, try adding an antihistamine to your regimen. Take a low-dose antihistamine (such as kids Benadryl) before you head to the salon for a wax. It will help your skin from breaking out in an allergic type response from the waxing. Or opt for a post wax anti- inflammatory like Advil to keep redness and swelling at bay, and use an astringent to clean the skin such as witch hazel. If your waxing technician applies a soothing oil to the skin after your wax, ask if she can swap it out for Aloe Vera, or just bring a small bottle of your own to use instead. And finally avoid lots of makeup on these areas until they’ve had 2 days to heal and your brow/lip acne will be a thing of the past.
- Only on one or both sides of your face on the jawline and neck- If your zits have a home only on the far sides of your face and neck, it could be a sign your not washing your pillowcase often enough. Side-sleepers can struggle with acne along one or both sides of their face, while the forehead, nose, & chin remain blemish free. The pillowcase is another Bactria harboring love-fest and you can understand why; that warm environment breeds skin sabotaging bacteria like nobodies business.
***Remember that I am not a dermatologist, and I do not claim to know the answers to all of your acne problems. But my experience with adult acne and my training in the beauty industry have helped me to understand these causes of my own acne as well as some of my clients. I believe this is sound advise that will help, but beyond these tips genetics and hormones also play a big role- so teaming up with a doctor my still be necessary to fight your acne completely.
Feel free to comment if you have more questions.