Ever since I was a teenager, I have struggled with very difficult skin. My skin is both oily and dry at the same time (a frustrating combination), and it’s highly prone to breakouts. As the breakouts were much worse when I was younger, I used to wash my face a lot. I would go out and buy the latest face wash that I saw in magazine ads, plus the latest acne creams, hoping to correct my pesky skin problems.
It took me a while to learn that all of the washing and acne treatment I was doing was actually making my skin worse. Here’s what happened.
I tried washing my face with different cleansers, soaps and face washes in attempts to get rid of the oil. This made my skin feel tight and dry. I thought this was preferable to the oil slick at first, but I realized that just a couple of hours after I washed, my skin would get more oily than ever… while still feeling dry! I tried using countless moisturizers after I washed my face in hopes of ameliorating the oily/dry swings, but most of these moisturizers just made my face feel greasy. Plus, they smelled weird.
The acne treatments were the worst. I used to rub benzoyl peroxide creams all over my face when I was a teenager, to try to kill the evil breakouts. While this did subdue the zits a little, it also made my skin drier than ever, and made my complexion look pretty terrible. Also, the benzoyl peroxide never really took care of my acne problem. It would make my existing pimples dry up a little faster, but new ones would spring up as soon as the old ones were gone.
I did, through much trial and error, find a skincare routine that works for me and keeps my breakouts to a minimum. Before I get into that, however, I want to talk a bit about why all of those face washes, cleansers and moisturizers were such a nightmare.
The problem with most skin care products
The main problem with most face washes, cleansers, moisturizers, creams and other personal care products you see on store shelves is that we don’t know exactly what is in them. Sure, there may be a list of often-unpronounceable ingredients, but this list is not guaranteed to cover everything. This is because the FDA does not regulate what goes into most skin care products, which fall into the category of “cosmetics” as far as regulations are concerned.
Because of this lack of regulation, manufacturers can pump virtually any substance into their products, and many of these ingredients can be hidden as trade secrets under blanket categories such as “fragrance,” for just one example. There are approximately 82,000 chemicals that are registered for use in personal care products in the United States, and many of these have not been adequately tested for safety in humans.
It has been found that many personal care products contain ingredients that are potentially dangerous, especially when used in the long-term. Some of these ingredients include carcinogens, pesticides, endocrine disruptors and chemicals that are toxic to the reproductive system. Check your product labels for any of these ingredients… and these are just the tip of the iceberg. When you rub products that contain these ingredients into your skin, they are absorbed and end up in your bloodstream. They then have to be filtered out by your liver, which can become overloaded.
I was constantly using these chemical-filled skin care products when I was a teenager — it’s no wonder my skin kept getting worse and worse! Today, my skin care routine is very different from what it was in those days, and my skin looks much better as a result. Here’s my recipe:
Wash your face once per day
There is such a thing as over-washing your face, even with natural soap. If you wash too much, your skin can become very dry, as you need some of those natural skin oils to keep your skin hydrated. I wash my face with soap once per day in the shower. That’s all it needs. If I wash more times than this, my skin gets dry and then it gets oilier faster.
Use witch hazel to tone and degrease
If my face gets dirty or oily between washings, I soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and use it to cleanse my skin. Witch hazel is natural and refreshing, and it gets rid of the oil on my skin without drying it out. It’s also good for clearing up breakouts, so if I have acne, it helps a lot.
Coconut oil to the rescue
To moisturize my skin, I turn to organic extra virgin coconut oil. This oil makes my skin feel amazing. It moisturizes my skin without making it oily (it actually makes my skin look less oily than when I don’t use it), and it helps soothe and heal breakouts, as well. I apply coconut oil to my face several times throughout the day. When I need to refresh, I splash some cold water on my face, dry it off, use a bit of witch hazel if it’s really oily, and apply a thin layer of coconut oil.
Patience and lavender for breakouts
Although I get far fewer breakouts now than when I was a teenager, I do still have acne prone skin, even as an adult. When breakouts occur, I’ve found the best thing I can do is to leave the pimples alone. Popping makes them worse (I’ve learned this the hard way over and over). Most of the time, I find that just using witch hazel and coconut oil helps breakouts to clear up quickly on their own. If they’re really bad, try dabbing on a bit of lavender essential oil.
That’s my skin care story — I hope it helps you! What natural methods do you use to take care of your skin?
— Tanya Mead