Skincare Advice (Clear Skin Tips)

I am by no means a skincare guru or anybody professional but when it comes to skincare and problem skin in particular, I do feel like I know a whole lot more now than I did before.. partly due to Caroline Hirons' blog (go and follow it and you'll never look back, although your bank account might wish you had!).

I have normal-combination skin and have suffered from breakouts for the past two years or so. Never anything major but I never had a lovely clear complexion- there's only so much make-up can do. Anyway, a few months ago I had some consecutive really nasty under the skin.. issues.. on my chin (the kind that honestly looked so awful I stayed in my house for days), and I decided that I was not going to let that happen again, so I've really cracked down on everything and by following this random set of tips that I sort of came up with over time, my skin has calmed down completely. I've not had any breakouts at all since and my complexion has never been clearer. So if that's what you're aiming for, then obviously there are no guarantees, but certainly no harm can be done by following the advice below.. (I've sort of listed them in effectiveness order but as I have been doing all of these in combination, I can't be 100% sure).

Water

I have already done a post on the benefits of water, here, but I feel like this is the single-handed skincare miracle for my skin. I have really been sticking to my eight glasses a day of water and I have noticed the biggest difference in my skin when I keep to that, so if you have any acne problems or dullness, make sure that drinking lots of water is your priority.. I really can't stress that enough!!!

Cleansing Routine & Acid Cleansers

Right up there with water, a really good cleansing routine is absolutely essential to getting clearer skin. I'm going to be a massive hypocrite now after massively glorifying face wipes in a recent post- I've done a complete 180 and decided that they just weren't cutting the mustard for me anymore- sorry! Instead, what I've been doing, with amazing results, is firstly an optional pre-cleanse cleanse with a balm or oil though I don't do this too often, before going in with a salicylic acid based cleanser (my all time favourite is Neutrogena's 2 in 1 wash and mask, inexpensive but really really effective*), then after patting my face dry, I'll apply a gentle toner (Simple's Soothing Facial Toner is fine for me and one bottle lasts for ages). After that's dried, I'll use a salicylic based moisturiser (Neutrogena's Pink Grapefruit one is a winner). There are certain changes that I might make throughout the week like my biweekly deep cleanse and mask or weekly exfoliating, but the above routine is my basic one that has improved my skin dramatically.

Diet

Diet is another thing that, since sorting out, I've noticed a massive change in my skin. I don't mean a massive overhaul here, don't start calorie counting or just drinking blends- they will just make you more paranoid about weight. And weight isn't what I'm talking about here. I've basically increased the amounts of fruit and veg I have each week, cut down on junk food, milk and bread and swapped unhealthy snacks for healthier ones- out with the crisps, in with the almonds- which has made my diet more healthy yet in a more bearable way. This isn't a steadfast diet type thing in any way at all; there is complete leeway for an odd slice of cake here and there don't you worry about that! I'll be honest, at first, I didn't think I'd be able to maintain this sort of healthiness because I do have a bit of a sweet tooth but with eliminating acne as my motivation, I've not found it difficult at all!

Medication

I wouldn't have classed my bad skin as being that bad until the flare ups a few months ago, at which time I was just feeling so stressed about my skin and frustrated- a vicious cycle as you'll find out in the next tip- so I popped down to the doctors, probably not the best people to talk to about skincare issues but as dermatologists are few and far between in the UK, I had to make do. My doctor put me on Tetralysal, which is an antibiotic designed to somehow reduce acne, I think by killing off bad bacteria. I can't really say whether this is what's helped my skin as I've only used it in combination with everything else, but I would say that if you are on antibiotics then it's important to remember that these could be killing off some good bacteria too, so I like to eat probiotic yoghurts from time to time to maintain a healthy balance. Anyway, please don't be disheartened if you don't have access to/don't want to take medication as I honestly don't feel like this has been the overriding factor in my clearer complexion.

Relaxation

I really do believe that stress is a mahooosive trigger for spots, in particular those nasty aforementioned under the skin ones, and relaxation really is key. This year, I've generally been a pretty calm person but we all have those stressful last-minute exam panics, deadlines, family problems, or even stress about acne (which turns into a horrible cycle). Whatever it is, I like to just take some deep breaths and relax myself.  "Inhale positivity, exhale negativity" is a technique that has worked very well for me in the past but a candlelit bath or a feel-good film are good pick me ups for people with a little more time on their hands.

Sleep

Okay, I'm not massively sure what effect this is actually having on my skin breakout-wise but a good night's sleep is what everybody needs. I've been making sure that I sleep when I'm tired instead of getting into the nasty habit of jumping into bed and watching Celebrity Juice until an ungodly hour- guilty.

Aaaaaaaand, done! Sorry if that was too long, too detailed or just plain boring, I've been spouting off these tips to friends and family that have wanted to know how to combat their problem skin and I thought it might help others too. I hope it's been a little bit useful!

*I've linked to the Superdrug website because there are two different types of this product, both under the same name by Neutrogena, at first I thought it was just the packaging that had changed but upon closer inspection, the one that's sold at Boots has been completely reformulated. I prefer the one I've linked. 

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