This is what I know to be true about my skin: It is warm toned and pale; it is prone to breakouts; it is excessively, annoyingly oily; it is riddled with imperfections from scars and exaggerated pores; it is the only skin I’ve got and I’ve only just started taking really good care of it.
By extension, starting to put real effort into my skincare made the transition to putting real effort into my makeup very simple. I liked my face enough to spend time looking at it in the morning, to play with darker lipsticks and bolder lashes because I didn’t mind the idea that it might draw attention (and scrutiny) to my appearance.
It took me almost two years to get to a place where I can comfortably go without foundation and not spend the day stressing over the redness or the acne or the scars, to feel like whatever was happening on my face wasn’t going to be the focal point for whomever I interacted with that day, to transition from trying new drugstore acne treatments every few weeks to investing time and money and most importantly knowledge into the health of my skin.
So to recap what I’ve gone over at length since I started writing this blog, arming myself with the following information made choosing my skincare and healing my aggressive acne much less of a battle than it had been for the years I’d let the drugstore dictate my treatments.
Benzoyl Peroxide VS Salicylic Acid
Benzoyl Peroxide is meant to treat the bacteria that causes acne. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that helps encourage cell turnover and keeps skin cells from sticking together. These are common acne treatments.
AHA VS BHA
Alpha hydroxy acid (glycolic and lactic acids) and beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) are chemical exfoliants, used to keep dead skin cells from remaining on the surface of your skin and clogging pores, and they encourage faster cell turnover. They help diminish scars and hyper pigmentation, stimulate collagen, and normalize the lining of misshapen pores. These are typically treatments for dullness, uneven texture, dark spots, and wrinkles.
Oleic Acid VS Linoleic Acid
Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid (omega-9) and linoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid (omega-6). Acne prone skin has been shown to produce sebum low in linoleic acid. If you suffer from acne, avoid skincare products higher in omega-9 and seek out products with ingredients high in omega-6.
I use a topical benzoyl peroxide cream to treat any monstrous blemishes that pop up unbidden, but I can write with pleasure that this happens infrequently now. I use a mild AHA after cleansing, morning and night, to remove dead skin and diminish my left over acne scars and enlarged pores and hyper pigmentation. I use Rose Hip Seed oil, only at night, to nourish my skin and balance the composition of fatty acids in my sebum. These aren’t the only products in my skincare regime, but they include a few of ingredients that made the greatest impact on the health of my skin. The result has been fewer (to more frequently none!) active pimples and smoother, softer skin with an increasingly more even texture and tone.
My complexion certainly isn’t perfect, though I can’t think of a single real human person I know who can make such a claim, but my skin is healthier by far than it was two years ago and I think I’m healthier as well, because I spend much less time being self-conscious of my face.