Why Everything You Know About Adult Acne is a Lie (+ 3 Cheap Miracle Products That Cleared up Mine)
I don’t know how to tell you this, but acne doesn’t stop when you turn 18 (neither do crazy hormones or bad decisions, but we can talk about that another time). In fact, if you’re as genetically blessed as I am, acne never stops. I’m 35, and while I look pretty youthful, part of my Dorian Gray appearance can be attributed to my lifelong facial friend: the ever-present pimple.
I’ve struggled with acne on and off throughout my adult life. In high school, I suffered what is medically classified as “Oh god honey what happened to your face?!?” acne, and used a myriad of medications, like Accutane and Retin-A to no avail. As I got older, my acne tapered off, but still managed to surface every time I ate a pizza roll or had a hot date.
Like most people who deal with acne, I've been told by countless dermatologists to use a whole slew of irritating creams, to take side-effect inducing antibiotics, and to always use all oil-free e’erything.
But nothing worked. My skin always got more irritated, more red, and extremely dry. I tried expensive skincare regimens; I used the products hawked by Jessica Simpson. But I couldn’t seem to get away from acne.
What's a girl to do?
About a year ago, a friend mentioned to me that Organic Coconut Oil had done wonders for his skin. “I rub it into my face every night before bed and my fine lines are disappearing,” he said. My response? “I get so many zits, I could never do that!” But hot diggity, he looked like a cherub, and I had to know more.
I started doing some research, and stumbled upon a blog that detailed oil cleansing. Oil cleansing seems counterintuitive to those of us who grew up with the oil-free rhetoric, but the theory is this: when you rub natural oil into your skin, it dissolves the oil in your pores. When you add the steam from a hot washcloth, the pores will open and all the oil, dirt, and makeup lift right up outch’ya face. Kinda brilliant, right? You’re left with clean and moisturized skin.
This all sounded too good to be true, but I gave it a go. One year later, my skin couldn’t be clearer, and I’ve dumped all kinds of expensive products like cleansers, moisturizers, and exfoliators. My skin care regimen now costs me about $10 per year, while it used to cost upwards of $200. Score!
I made one tweak to the oil cleansing method, which was to add the BeneU Silicone Facial Cleansing Brush into my oil cleansing routine — and this was a game changer. When I lost this little vibrating dude for a month this summer, a lot of my chin acne resurfaced. Two weeks after I bought another one, the acne was gone. What I love about this massager is that it dislodges even the deep, buried pimples that seem to take permanent residence between dermis layers I’m not scientific enough to properly name. This rechargeable facial massager deep-cleans your pores in a way that your fingers just can’t, and better yet, it costs less than $20.
- Before bed, I spread a nickel-sized dollop of Organic Coconut Oil onto my face.
- Next, I use the BeneU Silicone Facial Cleansing Brush for at least one minute. This brush has a cleansing side, and an exfoliating side that is supposed to diminish the appearance of fine lines. I use the exfoliating side between my brows and on those weird jowl things I started to develop in my thirties. It seems to bring blood to the surface and give those areas a youthful appearance for a few minutes anyway. Yay!
- I wet a washcloth with hot water, and drape it over my face to steam my pores a bit. Usually I’m lazy and do this for about five seconds, then wipe the remaining oil from my face. I use a new washcloth each night because I’m fancy like that.
- I only wash at night, as this works best for my skin, which tends toward dry.
- If I end up with any errant dry spots (rare, but it happens in Chicago winters), I dab on the tiniest bit of coconut oil and rub it in.
When I do get a stray zit, I attack it with Aztec Healing Clay. A jar of this clay lasts approximately forever (I’ve had mine for two years and it’s still half-full). This is the only mud mask you’ll ever need, trust me. Simply dab it on before you go to bed, and wash it off in the morning. You can also use the mask as a weekly preventative and deep-pore cleanser.
Give it a try yourself!
As with any new skincare method, give the oil cleansing method a month before you judge it. Many times when you switch skincare routines, you’ll see a great purge of acne, which is just all the gnarly bacteria you’ve been carrying around coming up to the surface to be cleared out for good.
Full disclosure: I also find my acne is much better when I abstain from coffee and dairy. But hey, try this facial cleansing method first, and see if it works for you. If you find that your acne persists, try removing inflammatory foods like sugar, caffeine, gluten, and dairy from your diet. Acne starts from the inside, and we can battle it on both fronts.