As I mentioned in What I’m Cooking Up…blackheads and pimples are a terrible, terrible thing. Blackheads still taunt me more than pimples though, because if you DON’T squeeze them out, my understanding is that they stay in your face forever. I mean, I know that they don’t stay there forever and ever…but do you remember YOUR blackheads deciding to just walk out of your face shortly after showing up? Nuh-uh, NO WAY. I can deal with temporary pimples—mounds, even—because I know that if I fight the urge and don’t squeeze, they’ll eventually leave. I can come to terms with pimples. Blackheads? Not so much.
So what was the point of you even clicking over here in the first place? Because I finally decided to be strong and actually take the advice my boyfriend’s Korean, perfect-skinned mother gave me. Surprise surprise, it worked pretty darn well. Shinja certainly did me a solid on that one.
Anyway, here are some of what I consider the most useful ways to prevent and rid of acne and blackheads.
Step One ~ Steam
Steam is great because it opens your pores up so you can more efficiently clean your face. And I’m not talking about splashing your face for a minute with hot water—I’m talking about taking a hot bath or shower for 10 to 15 minutes with your face consistently in and out of the water. I took a wash cloth in the tub with me to wipe over my face after putting it underneath the hot faucet.
The, ahem, internet recommends that you hover your face over a pot of boiling water…but I don’t feel comfortable recommending that. I’m sure it works great! But it would kill me if someone ended up burning her (or his?) face after taking advice from my blog.
Step Two ~ (Which should only be done once a week) Exfoliate
Most exfoliator scrubs will do here, but I’m sticking with what’s always worked for me, which is St. Ives. Now that your pores are enlarged, you can more easily scrub/force out black heads. Don’t scrub your face too hard or for too long, though, because then you’ll just irritate your skin or scrub some skin off that isn’t dead yet…
Step Two ~ (On all other days but exfoliation day) Baby Shampoo— for normal skin
When I say normal skin, I mean that you have potential to break out, but your skin is generally not too dry or oily.
Baby shampoo is great because it’s mild and “tear free,” so it won’t singe your skin off with chemicals. If you haven’t already learned the hard way, like I have, then I will tell you right now that using invasive products that are too harsh will just work against you. I’m not going to lie to you, I started breaking out shortly after I began actually caring about my skin. When I didn’t do much, my skin was fine—thus, I have normal skin? Anyhow, since I certainly can’t not care about my skin after how much it’s changed over the years, I’ve found that baby shampoo is a weird-yet-fabulous answer to my problem. Not too harsh, not too watered-down.
Rise it away with the warm water and dry your face off.
Make sure to always test products before using them on your face by applying a small amount to your wrist or arm and checking your reaction after 24 hours. Sometimes learning the hard way is better than the worst way.
Step Three ~ Cold Water
Now that you’ve essentially scooped out all the dirt and oil from your face, you’ll want to close those babies back up to prevent oil/sweat/crazy things from getting back in. Washing your face off with cold water for a good minute should do the trick.
Step Four ~ Cetaphil For All Skin Types With SPF 15
I don’t feel too worried about recommending this for people with different skin than me because Cetaphil is pretty universal. It’s gentle, yet effective. I put this on daily because it prevents irritation, and protects me from the sun. And trust me, I’ll do whatever it takes to reduce my laugh lines.
I didn’t make ZapZit a “step” because it can be really drying and I know it’s riskier to use for different skin types; HOWEVER, it’s worked wonders for me. I put it on once daily, and my breakouts are measurably less frequent. It’s crazy—but consult your doctor or test it out on your wrist or arm before you start slapping this on your face.
My younger sister’s dermatologist shared some advice that I religiously follow now, and that is putting antibiotic cream on EVERYTHING: Sprouting pimples, fully-formed pimples, (self-imposed) ruptured pimples, pimples I’ve tried to pop—but failed, so now they’re huge and painful…etc. etc. It generally stops them pimples right in their tracks and/or heals those regrettable, newly-popped pimples that you find yourself organizing all your daily tasks around. Stop letting them run your life!
May I recommend Wal-sporin?
The only con is that it looks kinda greasy, so put in on before bed so it has time to work its magic overnight.
This one should be obvious…do you even need me to digress? Eight glasses a day keeps the breakouts away.
I have yet to come up with a cure-all for my stress, so I know it’s part of my breakouts’ root cause. I do like to take time out of my day to soak in the bath and play some relaxing music or a funny podcast. You’d be surprised at how much meditational music and laughter can change your mood.