Updated: Jun 26, 2019
Do not misunderstand me. I do not have perfect skin. I don’t even have a basic understanding of how to apply make up to cover up my imperfect skin. I am not the person to seek skincare advice from. Regardless, I’m going to propose to you ten things that may help you with your “problematic” skin, and if they don’t work, you know who not to ask advice from a second time.
I work in a medspa. A medical spa. A place that combines luxury relaxation techniques with needles, lasers, acid, blood, and something called “dermaplaning” which involves scraping the skin on your face with a straight razor. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things have their place and deliver anticipated results, but sometimes when you call things what they are, it’s amazing what we will do in the name of “beauty”. Now, I am not going to write a ten million word post about my opinion on beauty, why inner beauty is more important, or how our lack of self-love leads us to obsess about our appearance. Outward beauty does matter. We can say all the truths about the importance of appreciating the inner beauty, but it will never replace the understanding that we have set certain beauty standards for others and, more importantly, for ourselves. What is your definition of beautiful, realistically? What is that one thing about your physical self that you would like to improve? Those are good questions, the answers will give you direction towards how you want to present your appearance. Does applying your make up or dressing a certain way make you feel more confident? Good, that’s okay, that’s called style. Style is important. Our style of speech, dress, scent, and hair says a lot about how we see our inner ourselves. It is important, but DO NOT let it OVERWHELM you. Keep it simple, keep it you.
Here is a list of some things that can simplify the steps to healthier skin:
Identify the area of concern
Often acceptance is the first step towards treatment. Take a good look at your skin in a well-lit room without any make up on. What issue do you feel stands out the most to you? Pick one and begin there. What is your area of concern? Acne? Dark spots? Fine lines? Not so fine lines? Melasma/hyperpigmentation? Scarring? Dry skin?
Evaluate the possible reasons why the issue exists
Are you stressed? Do you habitually touch your face? Are you getting older? Are you genetically predisposed to certain skin conditions? Are you going through a hormonal shift such as pregnancy, puberty, menopause, or andropause? Ask yourself: Is it really a “skin condition”, or is it a temporary issue? Evaluating those things will help you figure out where to take the next step. Are you dealing with a temporary issue that could require nothing more than a lifestyle change, or are we looking at something more severe?
Seek professional help
I believe both questions above should be answered by having a professional assess the area of concern. And I mean PROFESSIONAL. I’m not talking about a medical esthetician. They certainly have their place but that place is not dealing with severe skin issues. Go to your dermatologist. If you don’t have one, get one. Just go. It’s your face, it’s the first thing everyone sees.
Go back to the basics - like “acids and bases” basic.
Products are overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I love product shopping. I love the packaging, the promises, the newness, and the hope. But sometimes using or switching to new products weekly or monthly just intensifies the problem. Not to mention the price of all of those unfinished products sitting in your bathroom somewhere probably adds up to or exceeds the cost of that dermatologist appointment. Remember peroxide, witch hazel, alcohol, coconut oil, white vinegar, petroleum jelly, and baking soda? Before we had a million products to choose from we used "nature’s bounty" to help us clean, refresh, remove stains, and replenish. Let’s get back to that.
(As an example: My current skincare regimen consists of a nightly washing with Dr. Bronner’s mint castile soap, patting dry, and applying one cotton ball soaked in witch hazel in sweeping upwards motion working against my pores. In the morning I rinse with cold water and start my day. This may not work for everyone. It didn’t always work for me. But it’s working now and I’m sticking with it.)
Where do treatments fit in?
When should we spend money on getting those wrinkles smoothed out, those dark spots lasered off, acne peeled off in sessions, or that dry skin replenished with a moisturizing facial? The Answer: When you can actually afford a good quality treatment and if your dermatologist (remember you were supposed to go see one?) recommends it. If you enjoy getting facials and it doesn’t exacerbate your condition, then by all means treat yourself to one! If you are seeking results through treatment, here a few treatments I have tried myself and recommend:
SkinPen (also called as micro-needling) removes the first layer of your skin with micro needling in a sweeping motions which opens up channels in your skin to allow moisturizers, PRP (well get to that later), or vitamin C treatments to soak in and help stimulate healthy new skin growth. There is a two day social downtime, nothing extensive, but you are responsible for home care which should be a rescue cream, additional PRP, or the SkinFuse kit which is sold in partnership with the SkinPen treatment.PRP is an amazing treatment that uses your own blood plasma to stimulate your own cells to produce collagen. Remember falling and scraping your knees when you were a kid? Remember that sticky substance that covered your scrape before the scab started growing? That’s your plasma, and as you well remember it helps produce beautiful, shiny new skin. Before a treatment of SkinPen or fillers, an RN can draw your blood, spin it down in a centrifuge, and extract the first layer from the tube which is your plasma. They can either “activate” it with calcium chloride before they inject it back into your skin to give instant volume to flatter areas on your face, or they can apply it topically to your open channels after SkinPen. Both techniques speed up recovery and social downtime by one or two days. PRP is a fascinating natural approach to regenerating and healing skin.Neuromodulators (also known as Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin): There is a time and place for them. My brief thought on the matter is that if you are getting noticeably wrinkled skin “before your time” and you are self-conscience, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about smoothing them out. Neuromodulators are also used to treat migraine headaches, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) in many areas on the body, as well as treat ptosis’ (drooping of the upper eyelid), fasciculation (brief muscular spasms) and many other fascinating medical issues. Before you judge, rationally consider the benefit of treatment, do your own research and determine if neuromodulators are right for you.
Again, if you are aging “before your time” and look like a melting candle, then fillers may be right for you. Find a physician or RN that has years of experience and whom you trust and book a consultation with them before you make your decision. The natural face is always the most attractive face, but there is nothing to be ashamed of in prolonging a naturally youthful look that fits your facial symmetry.Lasers: The only experience I have with lasers is laser hair removal. And because I will never recommend something I have not tried myself, there isn’t much I can say about facial lasers like Fraxel, IPL, Photofacial, or DOT. I have personally seen other people achieve amazing results with Fraxel as it is an extremely effective way to get rid of scarring or melasma, tighten (slightly) fine lines, and remove sun spots. If you can afford a series of treatments, I would seek a consultation with an RN or a medical esthetician whom you trust. Mistakes do happen, and skin may not always react to treatments just as the medical esthetician predicted so with any treatment you are at risk of getting a burn, scarring, or little scratch marks on the treated skin.Peels: the most noticeable and effective treatment I have ever done was a take-home sample of Biopelle’s 50% glycolic peel. It got a little touch and go for about 30 minutes after applying and (what I thought) was neutralizing the peel. The peel didn’t neutralize and I had never had a peel before so I let it burn my face until I became “frosted” which happens when your face starts to turn white during the treatment. Which is bad. Thankfully my intro to chemistry class came in handy when I remembered that in a pinch baking soda is a perfect neutralizer. I woke up the next day with a scabbed-up face, but after two days of not touch or picking my skin, revealed completely smooth, clear skin I had never seen before.
All in all, treatments have their place. Do you NEED them? No. Can they be beneficial? Yes. Are they worth the price? The value and the beauty are in the eye of the beholder.
Products: Are they worth it?
Yes, some of them. When in doubt reach for your trusty, more natural “household” products listed above, but it’s not a bad idea to find a few tried and true skincare products to keep stocked in your bathroom for yourself and guests. These can include the following: Cleansers. Find a non-drying, non-greasy non-wreck-your-face cleanser. Often easier said than done, but I have found some go-to products I love. I am prone to “combination” (read: oily) skin, but these cleansers and products have yet to strip my skin of its natural oils or leave my skin feeling greasy. Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, IS Clinical Cleansing Complex, Eminence Clear Skin Cleanser, Clean and Clear Morning Burst Wash, Alaffia African Black Soap, and Camamu Turmeric Tonic soap (an excellent anti-inflammatory). What next? Not everyone is going to have the same skin issues as I, but for combination skin I recommend IS Clinical Active Serum, witch hazel, Eminence 8 Greens Serum, CareLine Young Moisturizing Cream Gel, Eminence home peels (use biweekly only), Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 (use with caution) and Jergen’s skin firm body lotion (applied in a small amount to the face can leave it feeling refreshed, smooth and clean). The Active Serum and witch hazel have proved to be the most effective in helping me with break outs and moisture balance. I've included some pictures of my favourite products.
I cannot stress it enough. You should know this by now. It’s rhetoric. Do you drink a minimum of 62 oz. of water a day? No? Then no complaining. Your skin issues, not to mention an endless list of other health issues are more than absolutely the result of dehydration. Drink up, people.
If you’re not interested in reading another post about diet, the second only to water that can do nothing but make your life amazing is a good, real, effective probiotic (As Dr. DeSilva of Nutraceuticals says “Don’t give probiotics to your enemies”). Do your due diligence, don’t take my word for it, independent research is a beautiful thing; find out why probiotics will change your life and your skin. Which probiotic do I recommend, you may ask? The Caire Institute Intestinal Flora Restore found here, and Garden of Earth probiotics found here or at your local Sprouts Grocer. Eat your yogurt and drink your kefir if you prefer, but you are risking the fact that your skin issues may be the result of dairy inflammation. Try a probiotic and go dairy-free!
Stop touching your face. Change your pillow case often. Don’t dry your face on the public and/or family hand towel. Do not use a physical reusable exfoliating device like a loofah, Clarisonic, or exfoliating brushes or sponges unless you can guarantee it’s bacteria free between washing. Which you can’t, so stick with an exfoliating scrub (like my absolute favorite Strawberry-Rhubarb Dermafoliant by Eminence skincare).
Do you stress about your face? Do you have stress in your life? Do you stress? Yes. We all do. Take that into account. We are imperfect but beautiful creatures surviving out there in this wild world. It’s going to take its toll. Bear with yourself, and remember that confidence lends a beautiful air to your face no matter the physical condition of your skin.
For more information on hair removal, aging gracefully, inner beauty, personal style, a daily diet, or anything I have mentioned above leave me a note below and I would love cover the topic more thoroughly in my next post.
This is an un-sponsored post. All brands, whether product or treatment, mentioned in any of my posts are honestly reviewed based on my personal use.