Guide to Using Oils in Your Skin Care

Oils have always got a bad rap when it comes to acne. Especially skin care for acne. If you have acne you are always advised to look for products that are oil free. Oil free moisturizers and oil free face washes have always been held in high esteem by acne sufferers. Since it is assumed that acne is caused by excess oil, oil has never been a big part of any skin care routine meant for acne prone skin.

In this post however I’m going to show you how you can use oils in your skin care even when you have acne.

skin care

Why is it that people with acne are often asked to stay away from using oil on their faces? This is because it is generally assumed that acne is caused by excess oil. This is not really true. There are people who have oily skin who do not have acne. There are also people with dry skin who have severe acne. Acne is caused by a buildup of sebum i.e oil in the pore, when the pore is blocked by dead skin. This sebum is secreted by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It is nothing to do with any oil or anything that is applied on the surface of the skin.

My journey with using oil in my skin care started with OCM or Oil Cleansing Method. I found that my face wash was leaving my face dry, itchy and red. It was not helping my acne at all. I figured out I would try OCM one day and if it created problems I would stop. After a week of no problems, I continued to do this on a regular basis and actually ditched my regular face wash. Today it has been 3 years of no face wash and my skin has never looked better. I even started using coconut oil as a moisturizer and I still have no breakouts that have been caused by it.

What Oils to Use

There are 2 types of oils to consider. One is an essential oil and the other is a carrier oil. Essential oils are very strong and should never be applied directly on the skin. They should always be mixed with a carrier oil.

Best essential oil for acne prone skin are tea tree and lavender. Carrier oils are oils like olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba, rosehip oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, evening primrose oil and castor oil. All these can be used directly on your skin without a problem.

Why You Should Try Using Oils

Oils are very versatile and can be used as moisturizers, cleansers and makeup removers. You can use the same oil if you want to, for all 3 things. That one bottle of oil can double up as a lot of things. Oils make for great moisturizers. In winter if your favorite moisturizer does not seem to do anything for you, oil can make a great substitute. It will actually soothe dry and itchy patches.

Oils also make for great deep cleansers for your skin and this is a great thing if you have acne prone skin or clogged pores. Oil can actually remove the sebum plugs that block your pores. Essential oils like tea tree oil can help heal acne while rosehip oil can help with scars.

Do Not Try This if
  • You have active acne that are broken or inflamed
  • You have cuts or open wounds on your face
How You Can Use It

Using oil in your skin care for the first time can be scary. More so if you have acne and have always been told to go oil free. Here are some tips to help you incorporate oil into your skin care. When you start out, start with carrier oils like olive, avocado or coconut oil. Initially use it only in the evening. If you live in a hot, humid climate it is better that you only use oil in the evenings.

  • Start out by using a drop of oil in your face mask. Rosehip oil will do wonders for scars while coconut or avocado will soothe red inflamed acne.
  • If you are using a face wash mix a drop of oil with it.
  • To use as a moisturizer mix a drop of oil with plain water or rose water and apply to damp skin.
  • Add a drop to your preferred moisturizer.
  • Add 2-3 drops of oil to a coin sized amount in your body lotion.
  • To remove makeup use a cotton ball soaked in oil and then use your normal face wash

Do this once in 4-5 days so you give your skin time to get used to it and see if you have any adverse reactions. Basically this time period gives you time to observe how your skin is reacting to the oil.

Once you are fine with this you can move on to Oil Cleansing Method and incorporate oil in your daily skin care. You can even make your own oil blends with essential oils that are suitable for your skin type and its problems.

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A Complete Guide to Exfoliation for Acne Prone Skin

 

complete guide to exfoliation

Acne is formed when the pore gets blocked and the oil or sebum is trapped in the pore. The sebum getting trapped creates a perfect environment for the acne bacteria to survive. Once infected the pore swells up to create a red bump. So what causes the pore to get blocked? Well, dead skin cells. So why is it that your dead skin cells hang around on your face while those of your clear skinned friend don’t? That’s because in acne prone skin cell turnover is not efficient. Acne-prone skin produces much more dead skin cells than normal, and these cells are not shed properly. They tend to stick to the surface of the skin. In normal skin, excess dead skin cells are constantly being sloughed away on their own.

The dead skin cells hanging around on your face will give it a dull look. This is also the reason some people with acne, especially adult women, tend to have this very weird combination of oily but flaky skin. This is why people with acne-prone skin should exfoliate regularly. Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells. Regular exfoliation reduces the amount of dead skin build-up on your skin. This helps reduce breakouts by preventing the pores getting clogged. Regular exfoliation will also make your skin smooth and soft and your face will appear brighter.

Exfoliants fall in 2 categories, physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants use something rough which you then manually use to remove dead cells. Scrubs and microdermabrasion fall in this category. Chemical exfoliants work by dissolving or loosening the dead skin cells by using an acid or an enzyme. Chemical peels fall into this category.

However, how do you exfoliate when you have active acne on your face? Say you have active, red and angry acne. Try exfoliating your skin when it’s in this state and you will be asking for trouble big time. The simple answer is you don’t. You use diet and face masks with honey to heal your acne. I generally recommend leaving your face completely alone when you have bad to severe acne. No touching or feeling, no applying harsh ointments, no washing constantly. Every time I have left my face well and truly alone my acne has healed well.

I know this is scary, as you feel that if you don’t do something or apply something to your face, your acne will get worse. Telling someone to leave their face alone is much easier said than done. Only someone who has suffered will understand how difficult this actually is. The constant fear is that you need to control your acne all the time or else it will control you. However, do understand that by constantly touching your face and by applying ointments or whatever you are irritating your skin and the acne. Irritation will lead to further acne and the existing acne may get infected and take longer to heal. However, once it starts to heal you can start using an exfoliant.

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So what exfoliants do you use on acne prone skin? The key here is something gentle. Things like sugar and salt should be saved for your arms and legs. Make sure the exfoliant grains are tiny, soft and preferably round. Sugar and salt are not round, not tiny, quite hard and this can be quite abrasive if used on your face. The best natural exfoliants for acne prone skin are green tea, ground oatmeal, cinnamon powder, coffee grounds and almonds.If you are starting out do so with green tea or oatmeal. These are added to a medium such as honey or oil and used as a scrub. If using honey apply the mixture gently to your face and leave it for half an hour.

Use warm or room temperature water to wet your hands. Then using only your fingertips gently move the grainy particles around on your skin. Do this only on the parts of your facial skin that have no acne. Use a light touch to feel the breakouts. Make sure you are not pulling the skin. The trick is to gently roll the particles around on your skin. Avoid areas that have acne.

Now, the next question is how often should you exfoliate? You should exfoliate skin ideally just once a week. More than that your run the risk of irritating your skin.

If you do not want to use a physical exfoliant you can consult a dermatologist about a mild peel. Most dermatologists do recommend peels for acne, but they may not work unless combined with modifications in diet. Chemical peels may be a better option for skin having active acne as the physical exfoliant may be too irritating.

Regular exfoliation will make your skin smoother and less prone to breakouts. Also if done regularly it helps reduce the appearance of scars.

WARNING : If you are on Accutane or any other medication please DO NOT exfoliate your skin. Also if you have active acne DO NOT exfoliate. 

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The truth about sensitive skin

Most of us who suffer from acne either feel we have sensitive skin or are told that we have it. So is it something that is genetic? Are we born with skin that is sensitive? Or is it something that we do that makes it that way?

I went through most of my 20’s thinking I had sensitive skin. I bought skin care products for sensitive skin and all that did was make my skin worse. As a kid, I did have skin that turned red easily but it was smooth and clear. As I grew older my skin got increasingly worse. It was red in places, dry in places, it felt tight when washed, it felt dry and tight but looked oily. And this type of skin is generally termed as sensitive skin. If you suffer from acne I am sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So what exactly is sensitive skin? Sensitive skin is skin whose uppermost layer, which acts as a barrier against the environment, is weak. How does this layer get weak? The most common factors are age and environmental stress. Medicated ointments, harsh soaps, pollution, bad diet, lack of proper hydration, using hot water to wash your face also contribute to this.

What happens when this layer is weak?  I once used benzoyl peroxide for a few breakouts on my chin and the next day my chin had hives and it was swollen and itchy. I had to go to the dermatologist and get something for the swelling and itching. Tea tree oil had exactly the same reaction. So what happened here? I had used benzoyl peroxide without any reaction before. The thing is that the years of using harsh soaps and constantly using different creams on my face for acne had weakened my skin barrier completely. So the inner layers could not deal with the strong benzoyl peroxide and therefore it reacted with the hives and the itching.

For years I used to get terrified of even washing my face as I knew that after I would feel like my face was about to crack. This is pretty strange for someone who has acne and is told that acne is caused by excess oil, .

So what had made my skin sensitive? Let’s go back to when I started getting acne at the age of 14. At this age, I started using medicated ointments and using harsh soaps on my face. As my face got oilier I washed it more, not realizing that both were connected. I took antibiotics prescribed by doctors and, applied even more ointments. None of these ointments did anything for my acne. All they were slowly doing in the background is making the uppermost layer of my skin weak. This is the layer that protects the skin and when this layer is weak, you will have symptoms of what is then called sensitive skin like stinging, burning, dryness, peeling. Fast forward to a few years later. I had chemical peels done on the advice of a skin clinic. I just cringe thinking about what I did to my skin.

When I stopped using soap to wash my face, half of the sensitive skin symptoms like dryness, redness, and the itchy feeling disappeared within days.

So the best way to deal with sensitive skin is to make the uppermost layer of the skin thicker. Doing this will not only make your skin stronger and less sensitive, but it will give it a smooth and radiant look.

So I leave you now with some tips to make your skin barrier stronger. Doing this will also make your skin less prone to acne and able to fight it better.

  1. Stop washing your face with a soap based cleanser. If you have to, stick to just once a day and that too using a very mild cleanser that does not contain detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate.
  2. Avoid toners that contain alcohol. If you must use toner use green tea or rose water.
  3. Stop using medicated ointments for at least 6 weeks.
  4. Drink 2-3 liters of water. This keeps your skin  hydrated and helps repair the skin.
  5. If you do use scrubs, stop for a while. Give your skin at least 6 weeks rest so that it can repair itself.
  6. Don’t use hot water to wash your face.

Comment below if you have any other suggestions to help deal with sensitive skin.