the moisturizer that changed my skin

bb avene 1.jpga bold claim, i know, but stay with me here.  for as long as i have had issues with acne, i have used the cetaphil tub moisturizer on my face – at least in the winter.  and come summer, i would switch to just an oil or something lighter, and my skin would clear up, which i assumed was because of the sun or saltwater or just relaxation that came with the summer months.  and then, a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the one constant in my skincare routine has been the cetaphil tub.

i am so lucky to be able to regularly see a dermatologist, but i always take her advice with a grain of salt.  for example, the warning that all oils clog your skin.  from my own thorough research, i know this is not true.  but when she recommend the tub all those years ago, i took that piece of advice with dedication.

long story short, this thick cream, while great for the body, is pure shit for my face.  it actually has an oil (take that, derm!) in it, as well as petrolatum and dimethicone.  i can now see how not only was this product wreaking havoc on my face because of the ingredients and most likely the thickness, the oils i would layer on top during the winter probably aided in the clogging of my skin.

after this realization, i immediately ordered the avene skin recovery cream – a lightweight but moisturizing lotion that is ideal for overly sensitized skin and skin that is post procedure.  because i use two acne topicals, one that is a retinal as well, my skin is definitely dry and definitely sensitive.  the avene skin recovery cream, while i am going through a period of dryness because i no longer have that petrolatum in my routine, is moisturizing without being heavy.  i am able to layer my beloved leo oil or indie lee squalane without any clogging (i don’t do this every night and day anymore to save my skin from too much excess).bb avene 2.jpgimmediately following the end of the tub and the beginning of the avene i have noticed such a change in my skin, from reduced redness and clogging to all over evenness.  i don’t know if i will stick with the avene forever – it’s very expensive for the small size you get and the ingredients are that “clean” – but for now it is my very special friend.bb avene 3.jpglast night i used the la roche posay cicalplast baume b5 for something a little heavier and different almost as a treatment, but i know as soon as a move away from such a dry climate a lighter lotion like the avene will be enough for me.  the la roche posay is an excellent, very very gentle balm that i use on my eyelids and lips when they are dry and cracked (does that happen to anyone else’s lids?!  UGH!).  i also now see the importance in mixing up what i’m using, as in notthe same oil and lotion combo day and night, to make sure my skin doesn’t get too clogged from something extra heavy day in and day out.  my baby wash cloths are still on hand for gentle exfoliation, as well as masks and other items.  my main goal with my skin is to be extremely gentle but still performance-driven, but i really do have sensitive skin and need to treat it with care.bb avene 4.jpg. . .

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dealing with acne flare-ups

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if you, like me, have had acne in the past, you probably get the occasional flare-up – be it from stress, junk food, climate, travel, etc.  i’ve been pretty much acne free since june, but have had a couple sizeable acne-style breakouts since then.  including last week!  i recently tried this amazing sheet mask (more on that later) and it really got me thinking about how i deal with these breakouts.  and i’m not talking about the rare pimple from your period or whatever.  i’m talking those omg-do-i-have-acne-again situations.  soooo long story short, here are my tips for handling those acne flare-ups, both physically and emotionally!

DON’T go in with the big guns // i think the first impulse whenever pimples appear is to go in with the strongest acne eliminating products available.  but generally, this is not the best way to approach the situation at hand!  i find that continuing with my normal routine with some additional, gentle treatments is key.  for one thing, all of those drying, irritating, alcohol-y ingredients will completely dry out your acne areas and make them last for far longer, even though they might be smaller sooner.  does that make sense?

if you are using any sort of topical acne creams (i use aczone – i’m sort of in love with their new packaging, is that weird?!), don’t feel persuaded to add more than your usual amount of product onto your skin.  once you have gotten over the initial brutalities of these creams, they work with your skin, not against it.  but by added an extra dollop all over, you’ll return to all the dryness and irritation you have put behind you.

DO use a good spot treatment for the first couple days // i’ve tried a good few of the spot treatments on the market – acnomel (old school product my parents’ have used forever haha!), mario badescu drying lotion, and acne free terminator-10, and tea tree oil to name a few – but the one i’m loving at the moment is the indie lee blemish lotion.  it looks and feels much like the mario badescu drying lotion, but with better, and less!, ingredients.  it’s also far more gentle and easier to remove.  i only use a spot treatment for the first few days, which is the optimum time to dry out the blemishes but not overdry them.  if you use a spot treatment every single night you have a pimple, you are just going to dry out and irritate your poor little face.  so don’t do that!!bb acne treatments3.jpgDO use a mask every few days // i love masks!  while i don’t always see results with masks, i love the process and the pamper time.  for acne (and redness and inflammation) i usually use one of the following: origins clear improvement charcoal mask, glossier mega greens galaxy pack, or freeman feeling beautiful mint & lemon clay mask.  i only use these masks on the areas that need them, followed by a thick layer of glossier moisturizing moon mask all over.  i also don’t leave detoxifying masks on for their entire prescribed time, usually 10 minutes max, because of my dry skin.  be sure to use a moisturizing mask or thicker moisturizer after your detoxifying masks, because even if you are oily your skin is probably dehydrated.  moisture is key!

a very exciting mention is the leader’s brightening recovery mask.  i don’t really like sheet masks, but i saw this at ulta last week and thought it sounded like exactly what my skin needed.  it toned down almost all the redness i had and helped to heal and relax my last couple active blemishes.  my skin was in a completely different state the following morning.  seriously impressed!  one thing i do love about sheet masks is all the extra essence/serum they include, so i made sure to let that really soak into my face, neck, and chest before continuing with my nightly routine (even if it feels sticky at first, give it time).bb acne treatments2.jpg
DO use makeup to your advantage // you guys know i’m not much of a face makeup girl.  i never wear foundation if i can help it, and if i do wear something it’s a skin tint, tinted moisturizer, or light powder foundation at most.  that being said, i am always compelled to pile on the high coverage bases when i’m acned-up.  i try my best to avoid this, however, and just be strategic about how i’m doing my makeup.  i usually keep some kind of medium coverage foundation on hand for these instances, and right now i have the l’oreal pro-glow foundation.  it’s actually quite nice and glowy, but still medium coverage and buildable, so i get all the results i want.

i apply foundation only on the areas i really need it – you’ll need a good color match! – with one finger.  yes that’s right.  one finger.  i find that by patting the foundation into the skin with my middle finger i really push the product in and make it look extremely natural.  plus, you are concentrating the coverage where you need it only.  it’s a little time consuming, but i highly recommend this method.  do the rest of your face as you normally would, and use lots of facial spray.  i guarantee your acne will be undetectable (except to you of course, because it’s on your face!).

DO pamper yourself // acne sucks.  and when it comes back to haunt you, that sucks even more.  so take your time with your skincare, drink lots of water, and get some sleep.  your flare-up will be over in a few days and now you have a few more tricks in your arsenal for the next time those assholes decide to pop up uninvited.bb acne treatments4.jpg

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dealing with acne

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dealing with acne is hard, especially when you’re 23 years old and thought your pimple ridden days were over.  truth be told, i’ve always been pretty lucky with my skin, so i think this is my retribution!  as far as keeping up morale when you feel like a piece of pepperoni pizza, here are my tricks.  it’s gonna be a looong one!

do what you can // keep your skin clean and moisturized.  keep in mind that oily skin is not necessarily hydrated skin, and that acne may cause your skin to be more oily than usual.  my skin is on the drier side, so i make it a priority to keep it moisturized.  having a clean and moisturized base will also make your makeup apply and look that much better.  while keeping your skin clean and hydrated will not necessarily cure your acne, it will at least give you the piece of mind that you are doing all you can.  i wash my face with cerave foaming facial cleanser (actually for normal to oily skin but i love the foam and it doesn’t dry me out at all) and moisturize with cetaphil moisturizing cream.  i’ve been trying out the klurskin rose hips and calendula serum, which helps with scarring and dryness, and occasionally use mario badescu drying lotion or acnefree terminator 10 to spot-treat my bigger blemishes.

see a dermatologist, if you are able to // this step is essential if you can make it happen.  a dermatologist will help diagnose the issues that you are having and recommend products and procedures that may help.  keep in mind, it could take many different products before you find something that works.  i recently saw my dermatologist, but ended up having adverse reactions to the products she prescribed (think swollen face and eyes on christmas eve.  gorgeous).  i’m obviously no longer using these products, but with my dermatologist’s diagnosis, i have been able to find some other products that i think will make a difference (i suffer from hormonal acne for the most part).

figure out how you can feel your best // i don’t really enjoy wearing foundation or a face load of makeup, but i have found some products that cover my acne to an extent where i feel comfortable.  i’m not looking for perfection, so you can definitely still see my blemishes, but i feel a lot better when i have a little bit of coverage.  as i’ve mentioned before, i’ve been using nars sheer glow in mont blanc and nars concealer in vanilla almost every day for at least a month (the foundation is new to me, but i’ve been using the concealer probably for a year).  i went into sephora a couple of times and got a ton of samples of anything that i thought was interesting and could work for me.  i settled on nars sheer glow after going through two sample pots, and i think it’s a really good fit.  it’s dewey and not cakey, is a great color match, and offers good coverage (in my terms) while still looking like my skin and showing my freckles.  i’m also trying out the dr. jart day tint, which i put under the sheer glow for a little extra coverage and glow.  it’s working really well!  think of it this way – who doesn’t love wandering around sephora and trying things out?  it’s kind of an amazing excuse to get out there and find what works best for you.

remember it’s not forever // sometimes – and this is where i’m at right now – nothing you try really gives you the results you want.  while i don’t recommend overloading your face with harsh, heavy duty acne fighting products, i do recommend doing your research and trying some things you really feel might work.  since nothing (seriously nothing) will cure your skin over night, be patient and stick to a routine that works for you.  yes, acne and even the occasional breakout can be an absolute confidence crusher, but don’t let it get you down!  this too shall pass, even if it feels like it never will.  you and i are beautiful and our pimples are merely part of our charm!

> please note, i am in no way a dermatologist or skincare expert.  what works for me may not work for you, and vice-a-versa.  please take my tips with a grain of salt, as this is simply what helps me get by.