Sal’s Skincare Tips

I get tons of compliments on my skin, and they always make me chuckle. I am prone to whiteheads, blackheads, AND cystic adult acne under my chin, so I consider my skin to be a major pain. But it is relatively even in tone, has little scarring, and bounces back from all three kinds of acne beautifully. And I’m inclined to believe the observing public on this one, since my own views on my skin are certainly skewed.

I’m gonna share some of my skincare discoveries, practices, and preferences, and would love to hear if anyone has had similar experiences or can recommend other techniques!

I don’t tan: I don’t go to the beach, sit out in the sun, tan at a salon, spray tan, or do anything at all to alter the color of my skin. This means I’m mighty pale for most of the year, but I’m A-OK with that.

I don’t drink or smoke: Not something everyone can adhere to, but it does wonders for my skin’s elasticity.

I don’t eat sugar: OK, OK that’s a GROSS exaggeration. But when I first found out that I was glucose intolerant, I cut out all sugar and carbs for two weeks. And kittens? My skin cleared right up. When I started downing candy and pastries again, I got spectacular breakouts. Fats and oils are rough on my skin, but sugar is the real killer for me.

I don’t use foundation: I know there are a thousand foundations that are formulated to prevent breakouts but ALL makeup makes me break out. With the exception of  the occasional dab of Concealer. And it makes sense to me that limiting the number of substances that touch your acne-prone skin would also limit breakouts.

I wash with Cetaphil: I know this product is totally polarizing, but I love it. Gentle, effective, and I FEEL clean when I use it.

I use a moisturizer with SPF 15: Every single day. Though I use a sunblock-free one at night.

I exfoliate once per month: Exfoliation is highly personal, and everyone should find her own level of frequency. I scrub once per month with Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Gentle Scrub and that works great for me. Any more often, and my skin gets raw and red and dry.

I change my pillowcase frequently: I sleep on one side, flip and sleep on the other, then change the pillowcase for a new one. The fewer oils I sleep in, the better.

I have a towel for my face: Separate from the one for my body.

I take a hormonal birth control pill: Brace yourselves for TMI. My dermatologist initially put me on a low dose of antibiotics for the cystic acne. It worked great. It also started a chronic yeast infection that lasted for A YEAR. So I ditched those, changed my diet and went back on the pill. Cystic acne is hormonal, so even though hormonal birth control makes me feel wonky at times, I’m willing to suck it up. Also, my period naturally lasts 9-10 full days and since I’m premenstrual for another 5-7, that means more than half the month is sucked up by period-related stuff when I’m off. I resisted for a long time, but I’m happier on the pill. And so is my effing painful cystic acne.

I eat tons of raw vegetables: I have no scientific proof that raw veggies are good for my skin, but anecdotally, they are magical. If I eat several servings of fresh, raw vegetables every day, I feel energetic and alert, and my skin just glows.

Even with all these precautions, I break out pretty regularly. My hormones are sensitive and powerful even when mitigated by the pill, and I am prone to anxiety and stress, so it’s just unavoidable sometimes. But caring for my skin this meticulously keeps things as in-check as they can be.

So! Do you do any of these things yourself? Do their opposite and get great results? Who else has cystic acne? How do you cope? Anyone swear by a breakout-free foundation? Have dietary changes ever improved your skin?

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