It’s what we all want: clear skin. To wake up, fresh-faced and acne-free. To have that natural glow with no redness or irritation. But what’s the secret? How do you get clear skin?
Before I delve into the juicy stuff, I first want to add a very important caveat. There are a number of steps we can all take to improve the health and appearance of our skin. But it’s also important to remember two points.
First, having completely flawless, airbrushed skin without the help of filters or makeup is virtually impossible. We’re all human. It’s not natural to look like that. Skin has pores, it has scars, it has natural oils. It’s difficult to remember this when we’re bombarded with a relentless stream of ‘perfect’ faces on Instagram.
Second, genetics does play a part. Some people will have a naturally more ‘glowy’ complexion. Others will be more prone to acne. Many will suffer from skin allergies and sensitivities. Again, it’s what makes us human, and unique. You can’t force your skin to be something it’s not.
My personal experience
Before I start sharing advice, you’re probably wondering why you should trust me. I’ve had endless battles with my skin over the years. From rosacea to dermatitis and, more recently, a frustrating battle with persistent adult acne.
I’ve done all the research. I’ve spent a lot of money on dermatologists and fancy treatments. I’ve tried various home remedies and different skincare products. I’ve also worked very closely with a number of skincare brands through my work as an SEO consultant.
I’m going to consolidate all my learnings, experimenting and insights into one blog post of tips.
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1. Use the right skincare brands
It goes without saying that the skincare you use has a huge impact on your skin. Keep your skincare natural. Start familiarising yourself with the ingredients lists on your skincare. Avoid harsh ingredients like SLS, BHA, parabens and fragrances.
It will take a bit of experimenting to figure out what is best for your skin. See if you can buy travel sizes of products to sample.
I can wholeheartedly recommend two skincare brands: Pai Skincare and La Roche Posay. There are a lot of great natural skincare brands, but I particularly love these two. I have very sensitive skin and these are two of the only brands whose skincare doesn’t make my skin feel like it’s on fire.
Pai also offers different products for different skin types. Whether you have blemish prone skin, redness, or dehydrated skin, there will be a product for you. Plus, I highly recommend their rosehip oil – just read the reviews, they say it all!
2. Adjust your skincare routine
I used to have a terrible skincare routine. It pretty much consisted of removing my makeup and sometimes putting on moisturiser if my skin felt dry. If I wasn’t wearing makeup then I’d do nothing. I never used serums or oils.
This has now, thankfully, changed. I’ve realised how much of a difference the right skincare routine can make. Each morning I cleanse my face with a gentle cream cleanser. Then I apply a moisturiser.
In the evenings, if I’m wearing makeup then I double cleanse with an oil cleanser followed by a cream cleanser. I’ll then spritz my face with a toner. Before bed I apply a serum. The serum I use depends on what mood my skin is in – dry, spotty, or red. Around three times a week I’ll follow the serum with facial oil.
3. Pillow cases
Change your pillowcases every other day. It seems excessive but it can make such a difference to your skin, especially if you are prone to acne.
As we go about our days, our hair and skin picks up all the pollutants and bacteria in the air around us. At night, this transfers on to your pillowcase for you to then rub your face in. Even if you shower and wash your hair right before bed, there are still all the natural oils in your hair which will transfer onto your face.
Change your pillowcases regularly and wash them at 60C to kill off all the bacteria. It honestly made such a difference to the number of spots on my face.
4. Your gut
I’m not going to hark on too much about diet and skin health. It goes without saying that a healthy inside will contribute to a healthy outside. But there’s no need for any fad diets or miserable dietary changes.
Just focus on getting a balanced diet and avoid overdoing it on the sugar and takeaways. Eat foods rich in Vitamin C, omegas and zinc. I’d also recommend taking pre and probiotics, particularly if you suffer from digestive issues like IBS.
It’s surprising how much of an effect your gut can have on your skin. Keep your gut happy and your skin will follow suit.
5. Boost your immune system
As well as a healthy gut, your skin will also benefit from a fully functioning immune system. It took me a while to realise, but I firmly believe that my recent battle with acne resulted from a compromised immune system.
My acne started a couple of months after I had glandular fever and I was told my immune system would take a good year to recover. I’m nearly a year into recovery and my skin has nearly healed! I’ve sped up the process with daily supplements of vitamin C.
I’ve also been trying to stress less. Easier said than done of course, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. But I find stress has such a negative impact on both my digestion and my skin. I’ll save the stress-busting advice for another post. But in short, a strong immune system will better help you fight off acne causing bacteria and other skin irritants.
6. Get regular exercise
Along the same lines as diet and immune system, regular exercise will improve the overall health of your body. Better health means better immune system means better skin.
Just remember to always shower right away after exercise. Leaving sweat to sit on your skin will be no good for combatting spots.
7. Light therapy
You may have heard of light therapy as a type of treatment for acne and other skin conditions. Unfortunately it’s rather expensive to have done on a regular basis. Luckily for us, you can buy a small targeted light therapy device.
I have always found those harsh topical spot treatments to aggravate my sensitive skin. This device is a great alternative. If I ever feel one of those horrible spots brewing under my skin, I’ll zap it with the light therapy device. I’ll zap as many times as I have time for and it really does work a treat. Perfect for those irritating hormonal spots that we can’t do much about.
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After eight months of struggling with acne, I finally have clearer skin. It’ll never be perfect. But perfect is no fun. The spots, bumps, red marks and scars on your skin are what make it uniquely yours.
Do you have any acne-busting tips? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!