Skin Care Update

Wednesday January 13, 2016 comments   

skincare products

Back in October I posted about my skin having a terrible acne flareup after a bad sunburn. Soon after I updated with thoughts on having extractions done at my dermatologist’s.

I posted a photo of my skin the next day. Here’s an updated version of then and now.

My skin cleared up in December finally. Along the way I tried a lot of different products, many which I did not like and will skip talking about. Benzoyl peroxide & salicylic acid did nothing or made things worse. And I realized I’m mildly allergic to benzoyl peroxide which I discovered after using the prescription cream my dermatologist prescribed me. My skin was dried out. So dried out that it was over-producing oil in an effort to save itself. The oily itchy bumps were a cry for help. I didn’t learn about this until my extraction day. The extraction itself was moot. Most of the clogged pores returned a couple of weeks later.

These are my current holy grail items. The products I purchased and saw real results. I had to add in a new item one by one. Test them individually to keep track of what was helping and what wasn’t. I was more aware of ingredient labels than ever before.

First comes calming

My skin was incredibly itchy whenever I’d sweat. Those red oily bumps were a nightmare under the florescent lights of an office meeting. The first thing I did was find a way to calm my skin. I fell in love with the 7 Wonders Caribbean Coconut Calming Mask available at Ulta. I bought countless numbers of them. At first I used them every day. Then every other day. And now sparingly whenever I see my skin looking a bit dry.

I also picked up a 100% rose water spray. Alteya Organics Bulgarian Rose Water. I had tried versions with extras added (aloe, herbs, collagen,) but the pure stuff was the only truly soothing spray I found. Luckily it was the cheapest as well! I can use this spray whenever I like for a quick moisture burst.

A face wash that works without over-drying

My old cleansers upset my skin so badly after the flareup. I tried out so many different cleansers with no luck. Then a friend suggested Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser. This stuff is so gentle. washes away clean, works with my clarisonic well, but doesn’t over dry.

When I wear heavy makeup I have always needed a double-cleanse or else my pores would clog. I started using NUDE Skincare Purify Cleansing Wash. It’s a jelly that turns milky and removes makeup really well without being harsh. When I started using it I saw a lot of my blackheads disappear.

Oil-free moisture

My skin has always been sensitive to oil. Not just mineral oil but celebrated oils such as argan or grapeseed. So for daily moisturizers I needed oil-free. These moisturizers are actually old favorites that my skin still liked. Eventually I’d like to return to an spf+ lotion but currently I’m using a separate spf when needed. Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation is the everyday lotion I use under makeup often after applying SANA’s Soy Milk Emulsion to my forehead and chin.

I use SANA’s Soy Milk Cream when I’m feeling a little dry on no-makeup days or at night and Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF when I’m going to be outdoors.

The real treatment

These are the heavy duty performers of my skincare routine. These are the products that gave me immediate positive results. I knew that if my skin needed moisture, and I didn’t respond well to oil-based daily lotions, I’d need to find some other way. I had a sample of Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil and it was the first oil that didn’t break me out. My skin felt so supple in the mornings after using this. Plus it faded my scars rather quickly. It’s a retinol with the added benefit of a moisturizing oil. I had a cleanser & a cream with retinol from my dermatologist but both of those caused my acne to get worse. I blame the other ingredients (a drying cleanser and benzoyl peroxide.) It is hands down my favorite product.

Next to tackle the bumps, texture, and clogged pores I tried a 5 pack of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta┬« Universal Daily Peel and liked it a lot. I used these every few days, maybe once a week now. Instead of using the Luna oil I’ll use this and the next day blackheads will be gone and any tiny pimples will be hurried along to heal. I tried the extra strength version but it was too strong and made things worse.

The last bane of existence were the big, swollen, giant pimples. I had 4 major ones on my forehead that lasted months. Every time they’d pop they’d just return again. I received the Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask as a Christmas gift and it was exactly the last phase my skin needed to overcome this huge ordeal. The mask pulls out clogs from deep in the skin. As disgusting as it sounds I know it works because as each zit came to the surface I noticed each had 2 or 3 layers of “clog.” You know… each time you’d squeeze it was like a whole ‘nother zit popped… gross. Gross but over. Seeing what felt like permanents zits finally heal and leave felt so satisfying. I still use this once a week. I have a few texture spots on my chin I’m working through eliminating for good.

The runners up

DHC’s cleansing oil was one of the many things I tried when looking for a non-drying makeup remover. I bought this little guy at Urban Outfitters. Very affordable. Works great. Nothing special but definitely works well.

The Tony Moly pore cooling mask I got at Ulta. It’s a pore-tightening mask so I didn’t use it too much because tightening = drying. But even though it’s a drying type mask I never felt like my skin was left too dry or stretched. It’s really softening actually. Was nice to use after my skin had initially calmed down some.

Final thoughts

This was just my skincare emergency journey and I know not everyone’s will be the same. I wanted to share what’s been working for me. My combination skin (oily t-zone dry cheeks) was in desperate need of deep moisturizing. For me the most important thing was retaining as much moisture as I could while adding in extra amounts.

I also know many of these items are very expensive. The type of product is what’s most important. The calming mask contains chamomile and coconut oil.

The Luna Sleeping oil can be broken down into 2 main parts; retinol and oil. So a good alternative would be a retinol serum plus a facial oil that your skin responds to in a positive manner.

The Omorovicza mask is a mud mask and I’d only recommend the splurge if your acne is the worst it’s ever been. Otherwise a good alternative would be to try the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. It’s less than $10 and you could add a drop of tea tree oil or neroli in while mixing it up. I plan on picking it up myself when the Omorovicza runs out.

I did try some physical exfoliaters but boy that made things so much worse! Chemical exfoliters were much more gentle at attacking the texture. And as for Glam Glow I had to terminate using any of their products. They only made my skin itchy or worse after the sun damage. Before I had 2 of their masks and the cleanser and loved them but in a damaged-state my skin responded very negatively to all of their products.

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments. I’m not an expert, and everyone’s skin reacts differently, but if you think we have similar skin and have experienced a similar situation maybe my experience can help in some way. I’m just happy to report that I’m on my way to getting my old skin back!


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Notes on My First Extraction Facial

Thursday October 15, 2015 comments   

tools and products for beauty facials

I said I would update about this so here I am! I had my first extraction + facial ever yesterday. Now I gotta say that this is just my experience. I know there are a 100 different ways this could have gone down. I also know some medical aestheticians are fully against extractions while others do them 100% of the time.

I had mine done at the same dermatology office that I received prescription retinol cream from 2 weeks ago. This office is a cosmetic and dermatology clinic so they go beyond just skincare there and into botox, etc. I thought the procedure would be more cold and clinical but rather it was much like that of a spa massage. Celtic music in the background, lavender scented mists, and shoulder/neck massage included.

The extraction itself hurt. It doesn’t help that the pain is on your face so it feels more intense. I would say that it hurt more than getting my tattoo or piercings due to duration. Coupled with how problematic my skin has been it took a while. Afterwards I had a chemical peel done. That was fine. Normal stinging, disinfecting feeling. Hot towels, creams, and a cooling coconut scented mask and I left feeling supple and renewed.

Later that night the red scars began to show out of the pinkish plump skin. My skin was sore; almost bruised feeling. Today it’s about the same. Sore with a few new zits that have risen to the surface. I was told I could wear makeup right away but I decided to skip it when I went out last night. Judging side-eyes be damned I really did not care. Though I will likely wear makeup to the office tomorrow and definitely when I go out this weekend. I’m sure I’ll have the red spots for a few more days.


Would I get a professional extraction again? No.
It was too harsh and the damage is too overwhelming to tempt me into trying it again, even elsewhere. I can do extractions I need at home if I’m so inclined. While I don’t think the aesthetician did a terrible job, I just don’t see paying a bunch of money to have someone else to blame for creating new zits is worth it. I also think she over-extracted. At the time I had 1 zit and a handful of blackheads on my forehead. I saw she tackled some spots that were really just larger pours. And I’m a bit worried she might have caused pox scars which I rarely ever get (we’ll see.) The swelling in my forehead and nose are still bad the next day as you can see. Yeah… there’s hardly a part that isn’t red and super swollen.

Would I get a chemical peel/facial again? Yes.
I wouldn’t do it often but maybe once a year I could see a benefit in it. I like the low-grade peels you can buy on the market and the medical grade stuff does seem worth the extra time and costs.

Regret? Not really.
I don’t regret the appointment entirely. I learned a lot of valuable information from discussing my routine and products with the aesthetician. She offered a more detailed understanding about how and why I had this acne flare up while my doctor just threw a prescription at me and told me to come back in 2 months.

The aesthetician told me the blackhead flare up looks related to the skin being stripped of too much oils. She mentioned having oily skin herself (which true or not made me trust her) and when I mentioned all my lotions and cleansers were oil-free she felt more sure that my issue was thirsty skin. Which makes sense given that the sunburn is what triggered this mess in the first place.

And oh the sunburn. She pointed out that I had been using a nightly chemical exfoliator weeks before getting out in unusually intense sun. AH! I didn’t even think about that! Of course! I should have chosen a higher SPF than my usual stuff because now my skin was more photosensitive! This really helped put things in perspective.

It’s not easy to find a way to get extra moisture when you have sensitive, acne-prone skin. But over the years of all the things I tried, Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Oil has given me the most moisture and least amount of zits I’ve ever seen. So I bit the bullet and purchased a full-sized bottle. Hopefully this will be the extra balance my skin so desperately needs.