Skin Care: My New Regimen
Since I was a teen, I have struggled with my skin. During puberty, I had acne x10. I felt like my face was always dirty because I would get such huge and painful pimples. I had whiteheads, blackheads, bumps and horns (as my father called them) that would pop up all over my face. Even if I didn’t mess with them, they would burst and leave scars. To make matters worse, I started to get acne and scarring on my chest and back. I just couldn’t win. I would scrub and scrub with my fingernails, buff pads and anything else abrasive I could find.
Finally, near my senior year of high school, my skin started to clear some. Some of the scars faded, but my battle with my skin did not end. I wanted blemish free skin that had a “matte finish” like the paper I printed on for my design classes. My face was always shiny and oily and I still had pimples. I tried wearing foundation because I thought that it would soak up the oil, but it felt like it soaked up the oil and then broke up and slid around on my face. Not a good look and as a photographer, having foundation all over your equipment is no bueno. Add to this that I was still getting scarring on my chest (not good when you wear v-necks) and on my face. People used to ask me if I burned myself with a curling iron, because I had an acne scar in the middle of my forehead, not to far from my hairline. How embarrassing is that to have to tell someone “no, I had a huge pimple/horn that burst and scarred me.”
When I changed my lifestyle to a healthier one two years ago, I hoped that my skin would respond. Nope, it was still the same. I eat lots of fresh produce, very minimal processed foods, I try to eat seasonally and I drink close to 96 fl oz of water a day. Didn’t matter, although my health in general has gotten a whole lot better, my skin was still oily and riddle with pimples. I pretty much gave up…until now. I decided to institute a skin care regimen just like I do for my hair. I have one for my hair to keep it healthy and promote growth, so why not do one for my skin? I started experimenting with various things. I made hair washing day a spa day to pamper my hair and skin. I steam my hair, I steam my face and did the lemon facial that I have previously posted about here.
The biggest difference in how my skin looked and felt was when I started using African black soap, toning and moisturizing. What a huge difference! Every other week or so, I do a bentonite clay mask. This mask pulls out all of my black heads and any other impurities and leaves my face feeling soft. Everyday I cleanse with African black soap (the real stuff), tone with witch hazel and moisturize with jojoba oil. African black soap is touted as a great cleanser for acne prone skin (I love it as a shampoo as well, see here) and witch hazel is a great astringent and toner. Witch hazel closes the pores and constricts the skin, which helps keep moisture from escaping and leaves skin less prone to bacteria, dirt and grime. Jojoba oil is very close to the natural sebum (oil) that our hair and skin produce, so it makes a great, light oil moisturizer.
I can’t say that any one product is the big factor in this change in my skin, but I think the key thing for me is toning. I have cleansed and moisturized in the past, but I have never seen results like this, until I started toning. I think that that is the key difference. By closing the pores and not allowing them to stay open to allow moisture to escape and bacteria, dirt and grime to seep in, my face is no longer as oily and my acne is subsiding. My face feels smooth, and although I still do not have a “matte finish,” my face no longer looks like I have been frying chicken all day in the hot sun. If you struggle with acne and oily skin, I recommend trying this method of cleansing, toning and moisturizing. It’s probably a good idea to wear sunscreen as well, if you are in the sun a lot. Everyone’s skin is different so the particular products I use may not work for you but try doing all three steps and see how your skin fairs after a couple of weeks. I have also been experimenting with lemon juice as well at night. It’s supposed to help fade scars.