Tips for Acne Sufferers
Those of you who are acne sufferers will know what it’s like to live with constant frustration. Every pimple you get rid of, another returns. It is a vicious cycle that feels like it’ll never end. Even for me, at nearly-23, I still have trouble with my acne and it is something that has made me feel self conscious for a very long time.
I know what it’s like… growing up you have so many people telling you to ‘just wash your face’ or ‘just use face wash’. They don’t actually realise how insulting that is. Likelihood is, those with acne have tried so many more products than those without. Product after product after product… What those people also don’t understand is that acne isn’t always a case of not washing your face, it happens because it is a condition of the skin. It’s sometimes unpreventable with shop-bought products. So trust me, I get it…
I find that my acne flares up when I am overly stressed, when it’s that time of the month, and when I exploit my body to little nutrition. However, I can’t remember the last time when I had a day without at least three spots on my face. I can’t get rid of them but I can put all of my effort into trying to reduce them. Below I’m going to give you some small tips that I’ve learnt along the way, which I believe have helped my skin to improve.
A flannel a day keeps the zits away
There was a time when I used to only change my flannel every few days. Now, I wouldn’t even dream of it… Flannels hoard bacteria, which means throughout the day when sat unused, they gather unwanted bugs and dust. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of using flannels that could potentially do more harm than good.
If I could, I’d use a clean flannel each time I wash my face. However, that would require washing 14 flannels (or more) per week… So I settle for one flannel per day and I think this has a significant impact on keeping my skin nice and clean. I want to avoid having excess bacteria clogging up my pores.
Change your pillow cases
Just like with flannels, pillow cases can gather bacteria too. Going to sleep is a pleasant thing, for most of us anyway. The mattress beneath our bodies holding us in, our duvets keeping us warm and hugging us all night long. Then there’s the pillow, that keeps our heads comfortable. There’s just one problem for acne sufferers… the longer that bacteria stays on your face, the more damage it can do.
I feel incredibly uncomfortable if I don’t change my pillow case every few days and I only started doing this about a month ago. I didn’t believe it when I first thought that it would make a difference, but with my recently improved skin, I believe it is a contributing factor.
Below you can see the improvements to my skin. The first two images were taken at the end of October 2018 - I was heavily stressed at this point but I also didn’t follow the rules I do now. The other two were taken in January 2019.
Reduce your dairy intake
After Christmas, I decided I would reduce my dairy intake. I’ve always had cows milk and butter - nearly every single day. My beautician told me a story of a woman whose children all suffered with acne quite badly. When they cut out dairy completely, their skin cleared up. Ever since, I’ve considered doing this but never actually took the initiative to do it - I guess the idea of giving up chocolate was too much for me!
I figured that I didn’t have to cut out all dairy products right away (and I still haven’t) so I thought I’d start with just milk and butter. I knew I needed a substitute so I tried a few different nut milks and bought dairy free butter. Most of the time now, I have Alpro Original Hazelnut milk. It’s not the most amazing-tasting milk, but it does certainly have the nutty flavour to it. If you’re after a little treat, use this milk with hot chocolate powder - it’s tasty!
My skin genuinely has never been this clear. So, why might reducing dairy intake help with acne? Obviously milk comes from cows. However, although it has calcium it also has hormones. We have hormones in our bodies and when hormones from something else adds to that, it can cause our skin to break-out. The more hormones in the body, the more our sebum production increases at the base of our hairs, therefore resulting in spots.
So, I’m not saying this is 100% why my acne has improved, but I do think it might be one reason that’s definitely helped.
You may have been told many times that wearing make-up harms your skin and that it ‘definitely won’t clear up if you wear it’. However… in my experience this isn’t so.
Yes, when I was about 14 I wore a little too much on my forehead without giving it chance to heal. However, now at my age I’ve come to realise that wearing make-up aids my skin, not harms it. You may be wondering why… Why is it that wearing make-up actually reduces spots?
Before Christmas, I did an experiment with and without make-up. On the days where I didn’t wear make-up, I noticed my skin would get worse. I believe that this was because it meant I touched my face more, leant my head against my hands and would sometimes pick at spots. When I did wear make-up however, I tried to avoid all contact with my face because I didn't’t want to ruin the way it looks.
If you don’t wash your make-up off properly and have a solid skincare routine that gets rid of dirt and make-up, then of course acne can worsen. However, if you ensure that all make-up is cleaned off, it actually can’t hurt you too much. I’m mainly talking about inflamed spots here.
I do find that the pores on my nose can clog, so every week or two I do use blackhead strips that unclog them. Other than this, wearing make-up stops me from touching my face and therefore stops any spots from forming or spreading. As long as I clean my face properly, I don’t actually cause a break-out by wearing make-up.
Wear your hair back at night
I don’t know about you, but I have SUPER thick hair. So thick that it’s quite big, wavy and can get all over the place. A con to having thick hair is that it gets greasy really easily, despite washing it every few days. Some time ago, I had a full fringe and that made the acne on my forehead consistently terrible.
Once I got rid of my fringe though, the acne disappeared. I now have a semi-fringe… and my forehead is so much better. I’ve recently started putting my hair back in plaits at night, even though they’re usually ruined by morning. The reason for this is because our hair can hold a lot of dirt, grease and bacteria. It goes through a lot throughout the day, so it’s no surprise that these things happen. If I can help it, I’d rather not have this on my face throughout the night, especially when I’ve just washed it and I’m feeling fresh.
I have found that this helps to avoid getting excess grease on my forehead and cheeks, therefore reducing break outs.
Here’s hoping those of you suffering with acne can find ways forward - I hope these tips can help make a difference to your skin!