For full transparency, I want to begin by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post and the reason why I am starting with this statement, is because when I was desperate trying to clear my skin and seeking for advice on the web a couple of years ago, I came across a lot of posts giving advice on using certain products that some people were paid to recommend (even though they didn’t work). I ended up spending money and wasting time using things that didn’t actually work and that frustrated me a lot but not only that, it gave me trust issues when it comes to reading recommendations online. I am not saying that everyone does this, but I wanted to share with you REAL advice, from things that I actually use and that helped me clear my skin…
I’ve always had relatively good skin but two years ago, my Dad passed away suddenly and the stress and grief caused my skin to react all of a sudden. I had never suffered from real acne problems before but from one day to the next, my skin started to react and I had no idea what to do or how to control it. That was my first encounter with Cystic acne. I didn’t really know what to do, I had never suffered from cystic acne before and if you do, you will know that its a complete pain in the ass. It grows deep in your skin, it takes so long to go away and worst of all, it could cause some scarring. I read a lot, I mean A LOT of articles about this, I watched every YouTube video I could find regarding this topic and I tried all the home remedies I could think of. It took a while and a lot of research but I finally got to a point where I don’t even need to use foundation anymore. I finally reached my skin goals and even though I still get breakouts every now and then (mainly during my period), I feel like maintaining this skin care routine has REALLY helped me.
Obviously every skin is different and what worked for me doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone, but I do believe I have gathered good products to take you on the right direction. A few of these are very random but bare with me, they all played an important role.
DRINK WATER: First and foremost, your best friend when it comes to reaching your skin goals is to drink water, over two litters a day if possible. I used to drink A LOT of water when I was in high school and when I first moved to Holland but for some reason, I lost the habit a few of years ago. Perhaps it’s because I started traveling like crazy and I hate using the toilet when I am out and about in the city (public toilets and so on, I know you get me). Even though getting into the habit again has been a bit hard, I am trying to drink as much water as possible these days.
DIAPER CREAM: Perhaps the most random advice I will ever give you, but I came across this tip on a YouTube video about a year and a half ago. Why diaper cream you will ask? Firstly, I searched for one which had ZINC OXIDE as the main ingredient. Think about it, diaper cream is used to ease the redness and rash on babies butts right? The active ingredient is zinc oxide, which amongst a lot of other benefits heals epidermal wounds, burns, rashes, skin oiliness, infections and acne, calming and soothing the skin. You can get this at any random pharmacy but make sure that the diaper rash cream you buy has Zinc Oxide as main ingredient.
HOW YO USE; What I do is apply a small amount over the breakouts/pimples about an hour before going bed and after cleaning and moisturising my skin. I leave the cream on all night though (like an overnight mask), just be aware that this cream is quite thick and really white so it might go on your pillow cases, but it’s easy to wash off (don’t use your fanciest ones). It really does help bringing the redness and swelling down the next morning but you gotta be patient and use it for a while. Believe me, it DOES work. I use Desitin that I buy at American pharmacies.
ZINC SUPPLEMENTS: Same reason why I applied the diaper cream (Zinc Oxide), brought me to start taking zinc supplements. Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties so it helps with the acne from within as well. I take supplements every morning but I don’t take the full pill, I cut it in half and take the other half the next day. Remember that as a woman, the limit of zinc you should take per day is of about 40mg, but you can find all that information on google.
VITAMIN C SERUM: I found out that Vitamin C is one of the most amazing ingredients you can add to your skincare routine and it has really helped me with the redness and hyper pigmentation I had. Vitamin C is anti-inflammatory, and a vitamin C serum can both help clear up acne and reduce the redness associated with it—as well as improve skin texture.
There are A LOT of Vitamin C serums out there, perhaps your favourite skincare brand also has one so lookout for it. The one I have been using for almost a year is this one from Kiehl’s.
DERMA-ROLLING: A friend of mine who’s an amazing cosmetic doctor gave me this tip and even though micro needling sounds extremely creepy, it’s not as scary as it might seem. Derma-rolling is basically a small cylindric micro needling device with hundreds of tiny needles, which create micro pathways in the skin for the product to penetrate better. Not only does this help the product penetrate better into your skin, but it also helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, as micro-needling stimulates the production of natural elastin and collagen, improving the appearance of scars.
I did a lot of research on this before I jumped on the bandwagon and I must have watched about 20 videos on Youtube on how to do it properly STEP BY STEP. It seems like a very scary thing to do and as someone absolutely terrified of needles, I am here to tell you it’s not as bad as you might think. I do recommend you to watch “How To” videos on YouTube before doing it.
I normally do it AT NIGHT, once every two weeks. I also recommend you to start with the 0.5mm needle size and then work your way up if you need to. I believe that the right needle for acne scarring is the 1.0mm but I advice you to start small. You can use the same derma roller up to 3 times but you need to disinfect it before and after using it. Once you have used it three times, throw it away and use a new one. Be aware that your face will look red straight after you do it but don’t panic, its normal and you will find it looking glowing and radiant the next day. I buy mine on Amazon.
RETINOL (trentoin) CREAM: This one is the absolute Holy Grail of my skincare routine, although its a tricky one and requires a little reading before you start using it. But why? I will try break it down as best I can. “Retinol stimulates the production of new skin cells, it also helps fading dark spots resulting from photo-aging, hyperpigmentation, hormonal changes, and blemish scars. Prescription-strength retinoids renew the skin and treat acne, reduce appearance of fine lines, and help with skin discoloration”.
I got a Retin-A 0.025% (trentoin) cream prescription from my dermatologist, as you can’t buy it without a prescription -at least not in The Netherlands-. This was about two years ago and I remember he specifically told me to follow these steps very carefully;
–First and foremost, pure Retinol (trentoin) cream CAN’T be used every day (at least not at first), it can be quite harsh on your skin as it gets rid of the free radicals and about one or two skin layers. This is because it stimulates the production of new skin cells, so think about it in the same way a snake looses its skin, to make way for a new layer afterwards.
–He specifically told me to use it ONCE a week for the first two months, and then TWICE a week after, building up to perhaps three or four times a week, but ALWAYS AT NIGHT.
–Once you start using Retinol cream, you MUST USE SPF during the day, religiously!. I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your skin with sunblock if you are using retinol creams, as the cream leaves your skin quite exposed in the process of regeneration and you need a SPF to protect it.
I have good news for you though! I shared all my Retinol cream knowledge with my cousin in Mexico and she bumped into this Retinol Cream from La Roche-Posay. The good news is, that this cream already has the SPF included AND you can also use it during the day, but thats not all, you dont need a prescription to buy it. I didn’t know about this cream before so I got myself the face cream and the eye cream about two months ago. I use these during the day and still use the prescription Retinol (trentoin) cream about two to three times a week at nights (I only used it once a week when I first started).
I can seriously say that the Retinol cream has been a game changer in the process of clearing my skin, but I must warn you because the first times you use it, you might experience some redness depending on how sensitive your skin is. I’ts very important you follow the steps and also read all the “how to’s” before you start using it, to make sure you have sufficient knowledge and don’t end up irritating your skin due to overuse. If you have a dermatologist, it might be best to ask him/her as they can advice you better and also prescribe it.
And voila! This is how I cleared my skin and I really really really hope it helps you too, as I know how much skin issues can affect your self confidence, mood and happiness. I have been wanting to write this for so long, but I wanted to wait until I was SURE that the results were consistent and I could maintain them.
I would love to share tips with you guys and hear tips from you as well, in fact, I would love to be able to create a small community as a support system, not just talking about beauty issues, but also more personal things. What do you think? Should we set it up? I would love to know your opinion.