Welcome to one of the most requested blog posts so far! If you on here for the first time I'd recommend you first read two blogs to get a little back story. The first one is "Healthy Gut=Healthy Skin" & the second one my personal journey "A balanced belly & Happy Skin." This blog post is specifically chatting about what products have worked best for me. If you are on any acne medication please confirm with your Dermatologist before using these products. If you'd like you can read more about diet, my acne episode & gut-skin axis in the other two blog post. Right, Let's get to it...
So often when we are breaking out, feeling really oily and congested we start using products that contain lots of foaming, sebum regulating, astringent type of ingredients. Now, not all of those ingredients are necessarily bad, but if used two or more times a day it can become a little bit irritating to the skin. This leads to a compromised barrier or impaired barrier. In this diagram you can clearly see the difference of a healthy barrier vs an unhealthy one. On the left you can see everything is intact, cells are nice and plump, even water distribution & the barrier prevents invaders from entering. On the right you can see cracks, water evaporation, invaders & pollution entering leaving your skin feeling tight, dry or itchy.
Let's get your barrier a little stronger:
I first began by stopping all my foamy cleansers. For over a month I used calming, barrier repairing cleansers. They were either a milk or gel/cream consistency. Now I can already hear you saying "but ooof, I really don't want to use a thick cleanser" I know, I know, this was me too, but it's just for a week or two. I can honestly say by removing a squeaky clean cleanser out of my routine & brining all the other components back to basics I saw a great change in my skin within a few weeks. Going from this to this...
Cleansers I would recommend to help heal your barrier:
This is the cleanser I used. It is a soap free cleanser formulated for lipid impaired skin. It cleanses thoroughly but deeply, without drying out the skin and maintains a healthy skin acid mantle.
Esse Probiotic Skincare Sensitive Cleanser (10% off if you use "AMANDA" at checkout)
Second option is a great one too. I usually use this when I try other new products because sometimes it can get a little too much and I just need a gentle cleanser. It aims to minimise the chance of allergic reactions. It contains Lactobacillus as your probiotic and Aloe Vera Gel to soothe and calm the skin.
This is a top favourite amongst many beauty influencers! It effectively cleanses and hydrates without disrupting the protective skin barrier. It's a non-foaming lotion, with 3 essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Ceramides are lipids that help form the skin's barrier and help skin retain moisture. Ceramides also help the skin protect against environmental aggressors like irritants, and pollution.
This is also an influencer favourite. It gently removes impurities from the skin without causing irritation or dehydration. It is formulated for dry sensitive skin and rosacea-prone skin, so I wouldn't use this for more than two weeks as you might find it too heavy. Key ingredients include moisturising Glycerine and Ethylhexyl Palmitate to help prevent over-drying. Also their famous La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water which reduces sensitivity with its soothing, antioxidant properties.
Then moving on to exfoliation:
This is a fundamental step in all skincare routines, however finding the right one when your skin is a little compromised and breaking out can be tricky. It's important to stay away from very abrasive, mechanical type of exfoliators as they can cause spreading of bacteria which results in more inflammation & breakouts! #nothanks We don't want to skip this step as often breakouts can be caused by keratinolytic plugs. This is basically dead skin cells blocking your pores, trapping sebum and bacteria causing a p.acne lesion or otherwise known as a pimple. Now we want to avoid this as much as possible, therefore exfoliating 2 times a week is really important.
Here are my top chemical/enzymatic exfoliators:
It is a non-abrasive exfoliating serum. Cathepzyme's activity is limited to the Stratum Corneum (top layer of Epidermis) so there is no unnecessary interference with the lower layers of the skin and virtually no skin barrier disruption. Cleanse skin with an appropriate cleanser, pat dry and apply exfoliating serum to the face for a maximum of 3 min. No longer, rinse with water.
It contains papain (papaya) and Bromelain (pineapple) fruit enzymes which help digest dead skin cells, leaving a smoother and brighter skin. An old time fave.
Oh my word - I will always love this product! It is a wonderful exfoliating powder for all skin conditions. It contains their unique Rice-based powder formula which activates upon contact with water, releasing Papain, Salicylic Acid and Rice Enzymes that micro-exfoliate dead cells, instantly leaving skin smoother and brighter. Everyone can benefit from this one...
This is Skin Functional's latest launch. I have had the pleasure of using it a few times and I think its a great gentle exfoliator, it leaves the skin feeling instantly smooth and soft. Assists with managing breakouts without drying the skin. It contains Salicylic Acid which helps exfoliate excess dead skin cells, encouraging new skin turnover which brightens the complexion. Clearing blocked pores by dissolving the plugs that clog pores and cause breakouts.
Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel Although this is a cleanser it works really well as a gentle exfoliator in this instance. It really worked wonderfully for me, gently exfoliating while cleaning the skin. It contains papaya and grapefruit which removes excess oil, removes impurities to rejuvenate the complexion, leaving the skin bright and refreshed.
Targeted Treatments/ Serums:
Like I said, stick to the basics & remember less is more. Under this heading I am literally only going to recommend three products that have worked for me and will always be somewhere in my routine now and again. These three products contain some of the best ingredients fighting inflammation, pigmentation, redness, breakouts and so on.
My oh my! I cannot get enough of this product. It contains 10% Azelaic Acid which is a potent anti-inflammatory which reduces redness, post-break out marks, stubborn blemishes and soothes irritation. I particularly love the fact it reduces the production of keratin which can lead to blocked pores and breakouts. I use this in the evenings and you wake up with the most radiant & glowing. Just get it... trust me. It's safe for all skin types, even rosacea skins.
It is the best anti-blemish cream specifically formulated to target marks left by congested, blemish-prone skin in acne sufferers. It has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of blemishes, unclog pores and refine skin texture. I personally love this product and it's ingredients. It contains Niacinamide which is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredient. Salicylic Acid to help exfoliate the skin & Linoleic Acid which helps improve sebum quality while Zinc regulates your sebum production. I mean... a great combo of Ingredients!
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is a wonderful ingredient to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. A 10% concentration of this vitamin is supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance visible aspects of sebum activity. This formulation is alcohol, oil, silicone, nut & gluten free. I have loved my little bottle and it really does work wonders. It is a little tacky but works! I find its excellent on razor burn bumps or for any other irritation on the skin.
Yes even oily skins or breakout prone skins still need to lock in moisture and hydrate - even more so! In order to regulate sebaceous secretions we need to balance both oil and water in the skin. In that way your oil glands aren't over secreting oil to compensate for the water loss in the skin. Moisturisers should be kept light, not overly active & just as calming as your cleanser.
Here are my top picks:
Replaces depleted ceramides to preserve the skin’s protective layer which prevents the loss of moisture, shields the skin from environmental aggressors and fights against premature ageing. I can honestly say this is a bloody good moisturiser... super lightweight, affordable, hydrating, balancing! #oof (If only this was out back in 2019)
Esse Probiotic Skincare Hydro Moisturiser (10% off if you use "AMANDA" at checkout)
A balanced skin microbiome will result in improved moisture retention and a fuller, healthier skin. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid to boost moisturisation even more. This is the moisturiser I personally used back in 2019 that helped soothe and calm my skin.
It hydrates, smooths and protects the skin, improving barrier function. The key ingredients include Gluconolactone, a Poly Hydroxy Acid (PHA) that helps to prevent and reduce signs of ageing which includes fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and rough texture. Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), an antioxidant protects the skin from free radicals and premature ageing. I used this during lockdown & absolutely loved it. Full review on my Storie highlights.
This replenishes essential lipids so the skin is balanced and comfortable.
Super lightweight, oil-free moisturiser that helps hydrate the skin and restore its natural barrier. Formulated with three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid, this moisturising lotion features patented MVE Technology for long-lasting hydration.
Last but not least, SPF:
Probably the most important when it comes to the future of your skin. It prevents pigmentation caused by your breakouts & prevents post-inflammatory pigmentation which you really don't want as it's often so stubborn to treat. Not only does it prevent pigmentation it also protects your skin from DNA damage caused by the harmful UV rays. If DNA damage occurs collagen and elastin starts to slacken, free radicals go a little out of control and you start to look a lot older than you'd like. So please - SPF always!
My current favourites are:
Environ RAD SPF15: This is a great anti-oxidant sunscreen! I have been using it everyday twice a day for over 3 months and I can't complain. It contains all your UV protectors as well as Vitamin C & E for added benefits. It's super lightweight & doesn't leave sticky residue on your face. Its super easy to wear and that makes putting SPF that much easier. (Pop on to their website to see their closes stockiest to you.)
The Heliocare SPF's are the bomb! They in a gel form, a super lightweight formulation that is quickly and uniformly absorbed to protect the skin against daily environmental challenges.
They don't leave any nasty cast what so ever!
So thats it...My tips to a blemish free skin. Please note that these are products I've tried and tested on myself and have personally worked for me. So I do hope this will be a great guide for many of you. If you are currently on Roaccutane, Oratane or Acnetane please confirm these additionals with your Dermatologist before hand and most importantly follow your prescribed skincare.
Sending all my love & Heres to glowing healthy skin!