I’m happy to say, that my skin has been improving in a big way lately. God, it feels good. I’m honestly so relieved!
I was at an entrepreneurial conference this past week called Thrive, and I was actually proudly telling people about Pop The Pimple without feeling too self-conscious about my skin.
As you know, I’ve been struggling with my skin since April after my Jojoba Oil experiment, my Argan Oil experiment, and my Water Method experiment. Too many experiments, I know.
These experiments had one things in common – no exfoliation.
My goal was to have the most natural/gentle skincare routine possible and to see how my skin would behave with minimal cosmetic or chemical interference.
As a result, I had really congested and clogged pores. Even though my skin didn’t look super pimply (it was pimply enough), it felt rough to the touch and it was bumpy too… All the clogged comedones called me every day to POP THEM…they begged me…tempted me….
Sometimes I was strong, other times I gave in – which made things worse.
I know that when my skin was at its best and clearest, I didn’t touch it – I only touched it with clean hands, when I was washing it or applying products – otherwise, no touching, no picking, and no POPPING.
But after three months of experimenting, and not exfoliating, my skin really started to struggle.
The clogged pores would turn into inflamed pimples, sometimes they were deep and painful. This is how my new pimple popping habit (addiction?) came to be.
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It was a struggle…a total mind game. You must know this already – don’t pop your pimples. It’s not good!
Then I stumbled on an article on Elle.com featuring Christie Brinkley, the stunning model.
“But how does she stay looking so young and glowy?”, I wondered.
This was a total aha moment for me. It confirmed what I knew was missing from my skincare routine.
Though Christie also eats a vegetarian diet, and is an extremely positive person, she claims that exfoliation is the secret to amazing skin – so simple!
What Is Exfoliation?
Your skin is miraculous. It is your largest organ, responsible for protecting you and your other organs. The outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis) is actually made up of dead skin cells (keratinocytes) that are closely packed together.
Every four weeks, these cells shed. New cells come from the lower levels of the epidermis to replace the old dead skin cells on the outermost layer. Your skin is constantly shedding and regenerating.
You are literally not the same person you were four weeks ago.
The problem occurs when the skin can’t properly shed old skin cells. The dead cells end up sticking around and clogging pores.
Definition: Exfoliation is the removal of the oldest skin cells from the outermost layer of your skin – plain and simple. It can be done mechanically or chemically.
Mechanical/manual exfoliation is done by hand with abrasives, scrubs, washcloths, gommages, brushes, microdermabrasion. You’re literally rubbing off the dead skin cells. This is effective in maintaining glowy skin when done a couple of times a week.
Chemical exfoliation is a controlled chemical burn using chemical peels. The peel effectively burns the top layer of the skin, drying it out. The dead skin falls away on its own revealing new glowy skin.
I knew that it was time to start exfoliating again, but I didn’t want to irritate my already irritated and inflamed skin.
I introduced a Konjac sponge into my routine first. Konjac sponges are natural sponges made of yams, and they’re usually sold wet. They’re as gentle as can be. I started gently exfoliating my face in the shower before bed with my Konjac sponge.
I didn’t see a major improvement in the texture of my skin, and I was still breaking out regularly (1-4 times a week). So annoying.
I knew it was time to up my exfoliation game.
Next, I introduced a cotton washcloth to my nighttime skin washing routine.
Notice that I only exfoliate at night. That’s because exfoliation can cause some inflammation, irritation, redness – not great if you’re about to run out of the house for a big meeting or date, ammaright?
A washcloth is gentle, but it helps clean deeper because of the surface area of the fibres. It basically wipes up all the extra grease and grime that accumulates throughout the day, AND gets all the makeup and sunscreen too.
The simple addition of a washcloth improved my skin – because I was cleansing deeper than with a cleanser alone, while the texture of the cloth was helping to get rid of dead skin cells. My skin texture improved slowly, but some of the redness and discolouration from old pimples remained. I still broke out, but less frequently.
Note: buy a few washcloths, so you always have a clean one on rotation.
I used the washcloth method for about a month when I decided to take things to the next level. My skin wasn’t showing any sign of irritation, added dryness, or added oil production – I knew it was ok to proceed with a stronger product.
Next Level Exfoliation
I decided to introduce an chemical exfoliant into the mix – Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid. Chemical exfoliants exfoliate without rubbing. They’re awesome in my opinion!
This is a product I loved to bits when I was younger, and I knew that it was one of the best BHA toners on the market. It’s gentle, but effective.
After cleansing my face with my Bioderma Sebium Purifying Gel Cleanser with a washcloth, I dried my face with a towel, and applied a thin layer of the BHA Liquid.
Beta Hydroxy Acid (or Salicylic Acid) is excellent for pimple-prone skin because it penetrates through the sebum (face-oil) and exfoliates deep inside the pore. Keep in mind that BHA can make your skin purge – this is totally normal.
Purging is the process where your pore releases the gunk that was stuck inside. It comes to the surface, sometimes in the form of a pimple.
Note: Use BHA about 3-7 days before a big event, not the night before, so that you don’t experience flakiness or purging on the big day.
I was exfoliating on the surface (with a washcloth), and going deeper (with salicylic acid) and my skin just LOVED it.
It wasn’t irritated. It started to glow, the scars started to lighten, the texture got smoother, the redness was fading.
Then I started adding the BHA to my morning skincare routine too, and found that it helps my skin produce less sebum throughout the day (I get less shiny) AND it helps my moisturizer hydrate more effectively.
My skin really missed being exfoliated!!
Should You Exfoliate?
Acne-prone skin can almost always benefit from exfoliation, and it’s up to you to decide on a method that works with your skin. Please, don’t try to rub the acne off.. That won’t help, and can actually SPREAD bacteria.
That’s why I started exfoliating so gently. I let my skin get used to the process without shocking it or making it more angry.
An easy way to incorporate exfoliation into your daily routine is to use a gentle washcloth to remove your makeup before bed. The cloth fiber will help loosen dead skin cells and impurities without aggravating your skin. Make sure that the cloth is clean before use.
My friends who have had cystic acne have benefited greatly from thoroughly washing their faces, and gently exfoliating with a wash cloth.
If your acne is painful and inflamed, it needs you to be even more gentle – don’t try anything remotely harsh until you have the pimples under control. Harsh treatment of deeper cysts through exfoliation can result in unwanted scarring.
To help your skin cells turnover a little faster when they have trouble doing it themselves is really the only reason to exfoliate – it isn’t an instant fix, so be patient.
I do not invite you to start exfoliating twice a day when you haven’t exfoliated at all! I can’t stress the importance of being gentle with your skin, especially if it has a lot of active lesions. Don’t shock your skin.. start slowly.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – let me know how YOU exfoliate or if you have any questions!
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