I’ve always struggled with acne. For as long as I can remember I was turning down sleepovers, social outings with my friends, and loathing school because of what was going on with my face (or my back or my shoulders). It was, quite possibly, the hardest thing about my middle/high school years. Girls, let me tell you something though, no one really notices—it’s just a zit.
I had many friends with clear skin. I envied them entirely too much when they didn’t have a bedtime routine that took nearly 20 minutes or didn’t have to worry about all their makeup melting off when it was hot outside (because they weren’t wearing any) and I wished, with all my might, that I could have skin like theirs. Looking back, that was so much of my energy wasted. My mom and dad used to coax me all the time when I had a bad breakout that it could be much worse. I could have an illness that prevented me from going to school or I could not have the ability to use my arms and legs (drastic, I know) but think about it…it’s just a zit.
And for those who care about that zit or blemish or mark or bruise and draw attention to it or make fun of it, I urge you to reevaluate and think about the last time you were ever insecure about something. It is important to remember, “If you don’t’ have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” and “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” Sometimes we all need a little reminder, but those lessons don’t disappear after elementary school.
Here are seven seasoned tips from my lifetime of dealing with acne. Girls, I’m so sorry to say that it won’t ever go away, but it’s not something that should ever prevent you from living your best life.
After exercise, head for the shower
No ifs, ands or buts. If you have access to a shower or, at the least a sink, to wash your face or whole body it’s the best thing you can do for your skin. Sweat from exercise clogs your pores and causes a build up of, for a lack of better word, things that you don’t want in and around your skin.
I was always bad at being diligent with this. I would often lounge around after soccer games in my sweaty uniform hours after the game was over. I didn’t mind the sweat but I didn’t realize just how bad it was for my skin. I’m sometimes still guilty of this, often waiting almost three hours after my workout to head to the shower but I will say that when I am diligent about it, it makes a BIG difference. Plus clean skin feels so good!
Drink lots of water
While studies are a little contradictory on this subject, our skin is an organ and our bodies are 60% water. Without efficient amounts of water our organs, cells and bodily functions suffer. A study from the University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Medicine and Public Health found that many people report that increasing their water intake gives their skin a more radiant glow and those who suffer from acne have reported the same results.
Healthy nutrition, healthy skin
Just like we need proper nutrients to move and exercise well, a healthy diet filled with a variety of nutrients will improve skin health. Specific vitamins and minerals that help with skin health are Biotin (ex: salmon, avocado, almonds, etc.), Vitamin C (ex: oranges, broccoli, strawberries, etc.), Zinc (ex: shellfish, red meats, some nuts and legumes), Copper (ex: meats, nuts, seeds, etc.) and Vitamin A (ex: sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, etc.)
Additionally, according to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics high glycemic index/glycemic load diets and frequent dairy consumption are leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. While dairy is a part of a healthy diet and high glycemic index foods (meaning foods such as white bread, instant potatoes and candy/chips) in moderation are okay, those suffering from severe acne and who eat large quantities of these foods could try cutting back a little to see if it helps.
Time in the sun
I used to think that sun “cured” my acne. It seemed like every time I got a little tanner my breakouts seemed a little better. Oh how flawed my logic was. Not only is too much sun exposure damaging to the skin and increases risk of skin cancer, it is also not “helping” acne in any way. It just makes the skin around the blemish darker, thus making it stand out less. Plus, too much sun without sunscreen can lead to potential future scars. So wear your sunscreen ladies!
More severe, don’t be afraid to seek a dermatologist
I started seeing a dermatologist when I was in elementary school. Whenever I had an appointment I was embarrassed and scared of what my friends would think so I made some excuse. I told them I was going to the dentist or the physician—I never told them I was seeing a dermatologist for my acne—gasp! If your skin is not getting better with over-the-counter products it’s important to seek a professional. Just like with any other medical condition, they can help. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, my dermatologist has had me try many different things and some have helped while some have not but it’s comforting to know that I have someone with a wealth of knowledge helping me with my skin care routine.
Oh I know it’s tempting, but do not touch your skin! No picking, peeling, popping or scratching of any type. I have struggled with this and continue to struggle with it but all touching your face does is make whatever is there more noticeable, more inflamed and will take longer to heal. Not to mention, you don’t want whatever is on your hands (dirt, germs, etc.) to travel to other parts of your skin that are a little more sensitive.
Everyone has different skin
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that everyone has different skin. Some girls’ skin is crystal clear, some have oily skin, some have super dry skin, some have eczema, some get cold sores, and some have acne. Plus – our skin issues tend to change as we age. Some people develop acne in middle school but never have it as an adult, some people have acne as an adult but never did in middle or high school, while some (the few and lucky) never develop acne. The point is, we all have our own issues and it’s not worth our time to draw attention to others’ because at the end of the day we’re going to be dealing with our bodies and the things that go on with our bodies for the rest of our lives. My mom always told me that “it gets better”, regarding my skin, and while it has gotten much better it’s still not 100% better. I’m 23-years-old and still struggle with acne but I make the most of it, rock blemishes when I got ‘em, and try to live my life to the fullest.
Written by Tessa Yannone, SFG Blogger