Adolescence can be taxing: not only are you likely experiencing the cyclical bloody nightmare every month with fluctuating rage hormones, on top of that are innumerable tiny obligations like, say, deciding whether to buy the Too Faced foundation versus Benefit’s POREfessional Primer, or counting the sugar levels in the foods you eat and the drinks you drink. But perhaps the most burdensome part of being a teenager is the frustration of getting spots and feeling like you’ve got no choice but to squeeze them out.
If you didn’t know, now you know: never pop a pimple! not only does it hurt and leave scars, but it further escalates into more pimples through the dispersion of pus as well as blood. Trust me on this one; it’s happened to me, and it caused a proliferation of bumps and redness in and around my face. But fear not—as someone with acne-prone skin, I have come up with a new strategy to help diminish the appearance of spots… and it’s working.
Read on to find out about the adjustments I’ve made to my diet, lifestyle, and beauty regimen that have helped me get a grip on my acne!
You’ve probably been already told to wash your face before you go to bed. Whoever said this to you is right! Washing your face is an essential step in keeping your pores clean, and it should not just be done before you go to bed—it should also be done in the morning, or before whenever you do your makeup.
On a day to day basis, I like to use St. Ives Oil-Free Apricot Scrub to wash my face. Unlike any other facial scrub I’ve used, this one has a lot more of those ‘little beads’ that scrub off the dead skin cells on your face, and with more beads it can deeply penetrate through your pores for a more fresh and clean face. The scrub also includes 2% of active salicylic acid to fight off the nasty zits quickly. I actually like to use this in the shower, too—I tend to apply it all over my face and neck in circular motions, wetting my hands with warm water before to open up my pores, and after that I leave it on for my skin to absorb while I put shampoo and conditioner on my hair. Once that’s done, I wash it all off with water. It’s helped so much to prevent breakouts as well as save my time in the shower!
After using the scrub, I like to make sure my skin is even cleaner, and I do this by cleansing my face with the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash with Microclear Technology. It is also a salicylic acid acne treatment, but it has a more gentle approach than the scrub. I love this product because it leaves my skin baby-soft every time I use it—without drying out my skin! Like the St. Ives scrub, this acne medication also contains 2% salicylic acid, so it’s deemed effective in clearing blackheads and spots.
Another inexpensive product I use is Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner. Not only does this toner smell super pleasant, but it’s also gentle in removing impurities from my skin. The claim that it “won’t strip your skin’s natural moisture” is absolutely true: after using it, I still feel the moisture in my skin. This product works wonders, and it’s very gentle and cooling, which makes it a great item for people with sensitive or dry skin like mine.
Once my skin feels clean, I use Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions Spot Treatment before applying my moisturizer. It’s an acne treatment with 0.75% salicylic acid, and you apply it like an oil: I pour a few drops on my hand, I warm it up between my fingers, and I distribute it evenly around my face, applying more in areas with spots or in areas that are spot-prone. And, honestly, this is perhaps the best acne treatment I have ever used. As soon as a spot appears, I treat it with this product, and bam—the spot is gone within a day or two! Thanks to Burt’s Bees, my skin has never been clearer: it has reduced my spots, my scars and the redness that proliferates around my cheeks. Just don’t overdo it—using too much can make your skin dry and peel and it can cause irritation with further redness.
At the end of my skincare regimen, I finish off with Witch Overnight Clearing Serum. I never go to bed without this serum because it has helped reduce the redness and keep my breakouts at bay. It’s not necessarily a moisturiser, but it is very hydrating—seriously, applying this is like a glass or two of water for my face!
But taking care of your face is not the only way to take care of your acne problem. Taking care of your health and watching what you eat is another essential step in keeping your skin healthy, glowing and spot-free.
What to Eat
Eat lots of fruit. Bananas are my favourite to eat because they contain about 10mg of Vitamin C, which helps to boost your immune system and aids in your acne recovery. Also, banana peels have been proven to be diligent acne fighters, so don’t throw away your peels!
I also love to eat coconuts. Every morning for breakfast, I eat Bear Naked Toasted Coconut Clusters. It is a granola cluster and multigrain flake cereal that contains coconuts, almonds and flakes, and it’s made with burgundy sorghum for a delicious and natural taste. Sorghum is known to be a ‘super grain’ because of all its natural benefits to our health: it’s super high in protein, rich in antioxidants and naturally gluten-free. Coconuts are also useful for our immune system and maintains the youth and health of your skin and hair. On top of all this, it can protect you from free radicals that cause premature ageing (i.e., it helps prevent wrinkles and sagging skin). Additionally, almonds protect you from risks of cancer and heart disease and are known to support the production of Vitamin E in your red blood cells. With these health benefits in each food, you’ll be on your way to clear skin in no time!
Oh, and eat less dairy! Dermatologists have recommended that consuming less dairy may in fact help fight off acne. It has also been known that a dairy-free diet may in fact improve your digestion, make you feel less bloated and even help you lose weight. So pop that milk back in the fridge and throw away those “low-fat” yogurts!
Keeping your body healthy doesn’t just involve watching what you consume—it’s also about the kind of physical lifestyle you lead.
One great way to help you fight for clear skin is to exercise. Exercise is beneficial not just to your skin but for your entire body, as well as offering up benefits to your mental health and mood. I like to run on my treadmill for about 15-20 minutes as a warm-up each day, and I also do a lot of core exercises, but you should figure out what your fitness goals are and figure out an exercise plan that suits your needs. Bonus: not only can exercise help you lose weight (if that’s what you’re after), it’ll also help you get better sleep!
One of the biggest causes of acne is stress and low moods. How I tackle these issues everyday is through meditation and writing down my thoughts and feelings. As an artist and visual learner, I cathartically release my emotions through little illustrations and just writing my general thoughts in my notebook, and it has helped me feel so much more relieved. For meditation, I like to listen to calm sounds and imagine myself in my favourite place: an empty isolated island. Since there’s always some kind of tropical thunderstorm taking place here in Florida, I sometimes like to use the rain as an opportunity to meditate. Through these methods, you will definitely feel more relaxed and carefree!
This may sound bizarre to some, but another thing I like to do is sleep naked. It sounds strange—I used to find it weird myself—but I’ve read it has a lot of health and mood benefits and after giving it a go I’ve started to wake up feeling more refreshed than ever! Turns out, sleeping nude has proven to reduce stress, anxiety and even depression. When you go to sleep, your body temperature drops; sleeping in your “birthday suit” can help regulate that temperature, therefore allowing you to sleep much quicker. Sleeping under clothes and a thick blanket increases your levels of cortisol, which therefore would cause stress and the ordinary ‘toss and turn’ during the night. With the reduction of these, not to mention a longer and more restorative sleep, fighting acne is sure to become a breeze.
These are just a few tips and tricks I’ve started tucking up my sleeve to achieve my teenage dream of clear, glowing skin. These tricks and products have worked for me, but if you’re not sure, be sure to ask your doctor or dermatologist—then go ahead and get your glow on!
Alyson Zetta Williams