It has been a while since I've done a favourites blog post! Today, I'm bringing you some beauty favourites for acne-prone skin. As some of you may know already, my skin type is sensitive, acne-prone and very oily. I have struggled for almost a decade to find the skincare system which will perfect my skin, and while I haven't found my holy grail product just yet, I have found some pretty effective treatments. The following products have been thoroughly tried and tested by yours truly, and have survived my rigorous testing process! Let's have a look at some of my favourites!
- dermalogica daily microfoliant, £40.30 - This is my miracle exfoliator! As someone with very oily skin, I can afford to exfoliate on a daily basis, or at least every two days. While this product in itself is not specifically targeted at acne prevention or treatment, it definitely improves the appearance and texture of my skin, and when I use it regularly, I notice that the amount of blackheads and whiteheads (or comedonal acne, for you scientific folk!) on my skin is greatly reduced. Often, when using concentrated blemish treatments, patches of dry skin may appear in the problem areas. In order to speed up the healing process of the scarring, and to allow for smoother application of makeup (especially concealer on these areas), I use this exfoliator, and it works like a dream! Though it is a little on the pricey side, it lasts for weeks as all you need is about half a teaspoon of the powder to make enough exfoliant paste to cover your entire face and neck. This product is gentle enough for everyday use, even for dry and sensitive skin types, and is ideal for those with combination skin too!
- The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, €8.95 - A part of their acclaimed Tea Tree range, TBS's Tea Tree Oil works brilliantly as a targeted spot treatment. At the sight of a blemish forming, just dab a drop of this on using a Q-tip or cotton swab to dry it out. If you suffer from cystic acne or hormonal breakouts, this is especially effective, as it works really well on those painful, inflamed blemishes that sit under the surface of your skin. I find that it also really speeds up the healing of acne scars and reduces redness. While only available in a 10ml bottle, this should last about 4-6 weeks with daily use, and even longer if you do have breakouts regularly. I think this is quite reasonably priced for TBS, and seems to be more concentrated than some of the cheaper tea tree oil solutions I have tried. This product is supposed to be used with other items in the Tea Tree line, but I haven't had much luck with the Tea Tree Gel, and have yet to try their cleansers and toners. If any of you have had good results from any of TBS's Tea Tree range, comment below and let me know!
- Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare
- Cleanse & Polish, £14.95 - You all know that I've used Liz Earle for several years now, and that it's always been my go-to skincare line. This cleanser, again, is not specifically designed for acne prevention and doesn't contain a lot of the common "anti-acne" ingredients, like salicylic acid. However, this is wonderful for any of you with sensitive skin or whose skin tends to breakout or flake when using harsher chemical cleansers. If you are using a lot of exfoliants, masks, peels or other facial treatments, it may be a good idea to opt for a gentler, more natural cleanser such as this one. Each bottle comes with a muslin cloth, which also helps to lightly exfoliate your skin and ensures that any makeup, dead skin cells or excess sebum is cleaned away. This Christmas, Liz Earle have released a limited edition 150ml pump with 2 muslim cloths for £19.75, which would make a pretty lovely early Christmas present to yourself! (;
- Instant Boost Skin Tonic, £13.25 - This is a very light, gentle toner that accompanies the cleanser perfectly. It wins the award for the nicest-smelling skin product I've ever used, and contains several soothing ingredients, like chamomile and aloe vera. Toning is an important step in the daily skin routine of any acne sufferer, as its main function is to ensure that any residue that may be left over from the cleansing stage is removed from the skin, preventing build-up, which in turn prevents blackheads, whiteheads and spots from forming, without stripping the skin of its natural oils. Think of this toner like conditioner for your skin!
- Deep Cleansing Mask, £14.50 - Clay masks are often touted as the best topical solution for sufferers of both comedonal and papular acne. Applying a clay mask regularly prevents pores becoming clogged with dead skin cells and sebum, which is the primary cause of blackheads and spots, which are formed when these clogged pores become infected. This mask is thick and sets quickly (within about 10 minutes usually), and can be applied all over the face or in specific problem areas, like the T-zone. It is gentle enough to be used up to 3 times a week, but I usually stick to about once a week. This 75ml tube lasts for ever and comes with 2 sponges for easy mask removal. My one complaint about this product is its smell which isn't great, unlike most Liz Earle products. However, the resulting brighter, more refined skin is well worth putting up with the clayish scent for 10 minutes!
- The Foaming Cleanser contains the famous active ingredient salicylic acid, which cleanses deep inside pores and gives your skin that tingly, squeaky-clean feel. The foam also changes from white to clear once its active ingredients have reacted on the skin's surface (in about 1-3 minutes) to indicate when you should wipe off the residue.
- This is followed by the Toner, which aims to soothe irritated skin and reduce redness. This is the best oil-control toner I've ever used as it contains quite a high concentration of Zinc PCA, but it may be too harsh for those of you with dryer skin. However, it (when teamed with the Day Treatment) does keep my skin matte all day without fail, which I have never achieved with other products. It has quite a strong, chemically smell, but it isn't unpleasant, and does leave you with very clear and clean feeling skin. The website recommends using 3 pumps of this every morning and night, but I find that 1-2 pumps is usually sufficient, so the toner can often last much longer than the rest of the system.
- The Day Treatment follows the Nu Skin principle of wiping out past, present and future signs of breakouts caused by acne. It claims to improve uneven skin tone caused by acne scars, eliminate current blemishes with salicylic acid and prevent the development of dark spots. In my experience, the most obvious of these benefits is the treatment's effect on current breakouts, as I can usually see a difference in the size of blemishes after just one day of applying this. As for the effect on scarring, I'm not quite as convinced, but I imagine that with frequent use of this treatment over several months, it would probably be more effective. Again, I think that this may be too harsh for anyone with dry skin, as it has a very drying effect on my skin which is normally very oily. As it is a gel, it also tends to leave a shiny 'film' on the surface of the skin and doesn't absorb completely. Originally this annoyed me, as it would sometimes rub or flake off during the day or would cause my makeup to do the same, though recently I've been applying slightly less than what the website recommends and waiting for about 10 minutes before putting my moisturiser and primer on top of it, and this has since stopped been an issue for me, and has actually been even more effective at mattifying my skin.
- The Night Treatment is probably my favourite product in the system, and would be the one I would recommend if you only wanted to purchase one item from the set (though I'm not sure if it would be as effective on its own!) It is not as harsh as the day treatment, and focuses more on the healing of the skin, especially in skin tone and texture. It has definitely reduced the appearance of any acne scars I've had over time, and contains a bajillion active ingredients, like salicylic acid, retinol and alpha lanolic acid (which is supposed to combat uneven, rough skin texture). I especially like that you can really feel the product working on your skin, though it can sometimes border on a little bit stingy if you've only just switched back to the system or if your skin is particularly dry/sensitive (but this sensation usually only lasts a couple of seconds anyway!)
Phew! So that was a fairly lengthy post about my favourite products for acne prevention and treatment! Obviously, acne is an ailment that has a wide variety of origins and causes, some of which may not be treatable with topical solutions. I, like many others, suffer from certain bouts of hormonal acne which are treated most effectively using prescription medication or herbal remedies. But, while creams and masks may not cure this kind of acne completely, they should certainly help to prevent breakouts caused by congestion and bacteria, while also treating discolouration, bumps and scars.
As the quest for clear skin seems to be a never-ending battle for me, I'm always looking for new suggestions and recommendations. What are your best acne solutions or products? Are there any ranges you recommend, or homemade remedies that you've found to be effective?
Good luck everyone!