if you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know i’m no stranger to problem skin. i’m almost 29 years old, and it’s taken me until this point in my life to figure out how to handle my skin issues. my new skincare routine helps keep them at bay (you’ll hear about that soon), but they’re by no means fixed. because i still have breakouts more regularly than i’d like, i’ve developed a few tricks that i use to handle those with minimal irritation. i thought i’d share them here if anyone else is in this boat with me.
me, looking hot in my face mask.
9 tips for handling problem skin
- wash your face every night. no exceptions. this is so hard for some reason. some nights, i’d rather do anything than spend time washing my face before bed. you tired ladies hear me, right? but it’s so, so important to do. having a clean, moisturized face before bed allows your skin to breathe, and keeps those gross germs off your face (and your pillow), which makes breakouts less likely to happen.
- use face masks regularly. i would suggest picking a day of the week to use as your “extra pampering” night. then, every week on that day, spend a little extra time on your bedtime routine. instead of just washing your face, wash, exfoliate, then use a face mask. i love this charcoal mask from origins, but there are a lot of inexpensive ones from the drugstore that are wonderful too.
- keep those filthy paws off. i need to take my own advice on this one. DON’T TOUCH YO’ FACE! there are so many germs on your hands, and when you touch your face, those germs get on your face. i can’t tell you how often i find myself resting my hand on my chin or cheek during the day, or absentmindedly picking at a blemish. pretty sure i’d never get breakouts, or they would at least heal faster, if i just didn’t touch my face.
- drink as much water as possible. again, need to take my own advice on this. the more water you drink, the more hydrated you are. the more hydrated you are, the more hydrated your skin is. the more hydrated your skin is, the less natural oils it needs to produce to keep from drying out, which means less chances for your pores to get clogged and turn into blemishes. i’m trying to get better about drinking more water throughout the day (it’d be so easy, except, COFFEE). if you have a hard time getting your water in during the day, may i suggest investing in an adorable water bottle? my fave is bkr (pronounced “beaker”), because they come in a million colors (i have light green and dark purple), they’re glass, and they look damn cute when you carry them around.
- use moisturizers that match your needs. if you have really oily skin, you probably aren’t going to want to slather on a heavy cream, whereas if your skin is like a desert, that might be a good idea for you. if you don’t have the right moisturizer, you can cause your skin to overproduce or underproduce the right amount of oils, which can throw everything out of whack. it might take some trial and error, or maybe even a trip to an esthetician, but it’s worth it to figure out your skins needs and prevent the problems.
- be gentle with your skin. up until a couple of years ago, i would wage war with my skin, even when it wasn’t behaving badly. in my head, i had problem skin, so that meant i always had to try to fight it and control it. this is not smart thinking. if you’re gentle to your skin, by letting it breathe when you can, using natural products and keeping the harsh treatments to only the times you really need them, your skin will be able to find its rhythm. so even though it’s easier said than done, be nice.
- get a facial when you can. i know, this sounds frivolous, but if you have issues with your skin, this might be the very best thing you can do. and i’m not talking about getting a facial at the spa. i’m talking about getting a facial from a place where that’s all they do, and where they use medical grade equipment and products. those estheticians know their stuff, and they can help figure out where your best place to start to fi your skin issues will be. it can be expensive, but give up your latte one week a month (replace that latte with water in you cute water bottle!), and you’ll have enough to have a facial 2-3 times a year. or do what i do and ask for gift cards for christmas and your birthday.
- take vitamin d and fish oil and probiotics. i’m religious about taking my vitamin d and fish oil, and since i started taking them a few years ago, have noticed an ever so subtle improvement in my skin. i’m trying to get into the habit of taking probiotics for about a month at a time to make sure my bacteria is in a good place, because when your internal bacteria is out of whack (due to stress or illness or whatever), it can cause your skin to get really inflamed and clogged up. take it for what it’s worth, but if you’re looking for something you haven’t tried, treating your skin from the inside out along with the water could be what you need.
- when you get a breakout, heat and treat. if you’re doing everything you can to keep your problem skin under control, but you still get the occasional (or common) breakout, don’t pick at it (see #3 above) like i normally do. i have a face full of scars that will show you why that’s a bad idea. instead, if you absolutely must do something to a breakout and can’t leave it along, heat it and treat it. by that, i mean wash your face and remove all makeup and dirt. then, take a washcloth and run it under hot water until it’s kind of steamed. hold the washcloth on your blemish(es) until the rag gets cool. repeat 1-2 times. the heat and steam help open up your pores so they have a chance to get cleaned out. rinse the washcloth in hot water once more and hold it over your whole face, then wipe your face off gently. let your face air dry, then apply some kind of spot treatment to your blemishes, be it tea tree oil, a salicylic acid treatment, a benzoyl peroxide treatment, or something else. this should help sanitize the blemish and also dry it out and shrink it, which will make it go away sooner.