What To Do When Hell Breaks Loose

So right now some mystery thing is breaking me out, and I have no clue what it is. Unfortunately the downside to testing out new products all the time is sometimes my skin does not react kindly to one, and then I’m stuck figuring it out. I’m assuming it’s a product since the nastiness is occuring all over my face rather than where I used to when I was experiencing hormonal breakouts (chin, mostly).

So what do you do when you don’t know what’s wrong? Go back to basics. And by basics I mean basics. Only use products you absolutely know are not going to break you out. If you do not have a foundation you are certain doesn’t break you out, skip foundation. In fact, even if you are pretty sure it’s not your foundation, skip it. For the next couple of days I’m going to skip face makeup entirely and just do eyes and lips. Scary? Sure. Worth it? Yes.
As for skin care, use a gentle cleanser. The one I use is Purpose. It’s basically like water almost, you can rub it in your eyes and it won’t burn (not that I’m saying it’s a good idea to rub it in your eyes…), it’s soap-free, hypoallergenic, fragrance free (I think?), and available at drug stores in liquid form or bar form. It works for pretty much anyone unless you’ve got really dry skin. If you’re super dry, you may find it a bit drying. For moisturizer, I have a fail-proof one that I know for sure doesn’t break me out (Alba Botanica Sea Lipid Daily Cream), but if you don’t, try something with as few ingredients as possible, like aloe vera. 100% pure aloe vera is readily available cheaply at drugstores.
Remember your brushes. Anything that comes into contact with your face needs to be washed regularly. I just washed my face brushes with the same Purpose cleanser I use on my face. It’s great at removing makeup from dense brushes. Bacteria on the brushes could be why I’m breaking out! I don’t want to take any chances.
As for treating the acne itself, I go back to the method my dermatologist suggested for me. In the morning, I cleanse, pat my skin dry, and apply benzoyl peroxide to where I am breaking out. At the end of the day I cleanse again, pat skin dry, and apply retinoids. The retinoid I use is called Ziana. It is combined with clindamycin, an antibiotic, and it’s available by prescription. RoC skincare from the drugstore contains retinol and is easily available without a prescription. Avene also has retinol products that aren’t that expensive. If you don’t want to use retinoids or can’t, try another dose of benzoyl peroxide. Sometimes that’s too much and it can dry out your skin, but you’ll have to see what works for you.
I also incorporate a lot of exfoliation into my skincare routine, especially when I’m having skin trouble. Encouraging cell turnover encourages healing, so I make sure to never skimp on the exfoliation as long as I do it gently. Do not scrub over open blemishes! It will spread bacteria and cause more acne.
Speaking of bacteria, it’s not just on your face (duh), it’s also on your hands. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and keep hand sanitizer around for in between washings. That way if you must touch your face, there’s slightly less chance of spreading bacteria. It’s best to avoid touching your face altogether, but I know it’s hard. I do it without thinking. :\
So, that’s my method of dealing with tough times with my skin. Cross your fingers this gets figured out quickly; I don’t want to look like a mess for IMATS! Once I get things under control I will start adding things back into my routine, but for now I’m putting as little as possible on my face until this goes away.

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