I’ve been dealing with acne pretty much ever since I hit puberty. Rarely does a day go by when I don’t have at least one spot, & I still get pretty bad breakouts when I’m stressed or my immune system is low. What I’m trying to say is don’t read this expecting some kind of miracle cure – I don’t have one – but I do have a range of tips & tricks that help me keep my acne under control, & hopefully they’ll help some of you too!
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Tip number one seems obvious, but stick with me: clean your face. I get it, you clean your face, of course you do! So do I… except when I don’t. You know: it’s late, you’re tired, you’re drunk, so a quick face wipe will do, or maybe you’ll go to bed with your makeup intact, just this once… But if you have acne-prone skin that’s a risk you can’t really afford to take. Ideally you should be doing a full makeup remover, cleanser, toner routine every night, even if you haven’t worn makeup that day. It’s also important if you have acne to be really comprehensive with your face cleaning, & make sure you don’t end up missing areas as this can lead to breakouts. It’s worth spending the extra couple of minutes it takes to get around your hairline, down the sides of your nose, & under your chin – places that can often get forgotten if you’re in a hurry.
Once your face is clean you want to make sure that everything that touches your face is clean too. That means trying not to touch your face – particularly if you have open spots, washing your makeup brushes & sponges regularly – at least once a week, & keeping things like towels & pillowcases clean. I’d also suggest avoiding products that directly touch your face, like concealers that come in the lipgloss-style containers, because they can be really hard to sanitise – instead, apply them using a makeup brush which you can clean. Also avoid products that come in pots, unless you’re willing to sanitize your hands before using them, because otherwise you risk transferring dirt & germs from your face into the product where they can multiply until the next time you apply the product to your face – not good.
Tip three is this holy grail product which has saved me from more terribly timed breakouts than I can remember.
The Witch Blemish Stick
uses witch hazel extract – which is anti-bacterial – to stop spots in their tracks & I absolutely swear by it. It’s not an everyday product, but it’s great for when you can feel a big spot coming up or for major breakouts – I’ve honestly had spots disappear overnight having used this product & at £2 it’s a steal. The only thing I would say is that using this directly on open spots does risk spreading germs, so it’s probably worth using a small brush to apply it, which comes with the added bonus that it’ll last longer since you’ll be able to apply it more precisely.
My fourth tip is to get yourself a good moisturiser. I know a lot of people with oily skin are really reluctant to use moisturisers – particularly rich ones – as it can feel like you’re just layering on more oil, but I promise it’s important. Often one of the main reasons for your skin producing too much oil is that it’s feeling dehydrated & trying to counter that, so by providing it with a deep moisturiser you calm it down, & often you’ll find your skin isn’t half as naturally oily as you thought. My tip would always be to moisturise for your driest skin & use makeup for your oiliest parts, which for my oily-combo skin means using a deep moisturiser for the dryness I often get around spots & then using mattifying foundations & powders to counter my oiliness. If you’re concerned about a rich moisturiser ruining your makeup then simply use a richer one before bed, & a lighter day-time one in the morning. The Olay moisturiser above is by no means perfect, especially considering how much it costs, but I do like how rich it feels while still sinking in quickly.
If you’re still struggling with oily skin then this tip is for you: get a clay mask. Clay is great for drawing out dirt & soaking up excess oil from your skin, making clay masks perfect for acne-prone skin. My top tip is to avoid leaving your mask on too long. Instead, when you start to see it changing colour go & wash it off – its work is done & leaving it to dry out fully & flake can leave your skin feeling tight & delicate. A couple of months ago I received the Murad Clarifying Mask in a Glossybox & it is lovely, but the price is obscene. Instead I’d recommend the Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask from the Body Shop, which doubles as a gentle exfoliant when you first apply it.
My final tip is one which took me a while to get the hang of but is invaluable: be mindful of your skin. This means paying attention to what’s happening with your skin & rather than writing things off to chance, thinking critically about what could be causing any changes you’re experiencing. Often when you have acne it can be hard to notice patterns in your skin because it can feel like you’re just all acne all the time, but becoming familiar with what’s normal for you can help you identify problem products & areas where your skincare routine needs improving. A good example of this is a few weeks ago when I started to notice small spots appearing on the tops of my ears. This had never happened to me before & for a couple of days I just ignored it hoping they’d go away, but they didn’t. So I started to pay more attention to my skincare & makeup routine, & quickly noticed that in my hurry to apply my contour each morning (exams meant I was in a perpetual state of running late) I was accidentally brushing product up & on to my ear. This combined with dirty makeup brushes & lazy face washing, was causing me to break out. Simple really, & easily solved with more careful makeup application & cleansing, but proof that it’s worth paying attention to what your skin is telling you.
I hope these tips have helped some of you – I know they’ve definitely made a big difference to my skin over the years – & let me know in the comments below what your acne-fighting secret or holy grail product is, I’d love to know!