Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Healing My 30-Something Skin - Struggling with Closed Comedones & Dry, Sensitive Skin

Not the most flattering pic I know, but I wanted to
address a skin issue that lots of people struggle with.
I know we like to show our best pics, but here's my
worst! It may not look "that bad", but for me this is the
worst my skin has ever been. Patches of my skin
around my chin became dry, covered in closed
comedones and very unhappy earlier this year. It was
the first time I'd ever had trouble with my skin aside
from sensitivity. Some of the spots above are moles,
but the rest are sadly blemishes.
Don't forget to grab some FREE SAMPLES and support a great cause for women while they're still available!  #sp

Read my update on how weeks 1-2 went and what I plan to do in weeks 3-4!

Before I even get into this, I have to explain that prior to my 30s I had super sensitive, super clear, even skin. I had to be very careful about what I put on my skin, but as long as I used very gentle products I was golden. Sure, the occasional monthly blemish popped up now and again, but never anything major and literally only 1 at a time.

Then I hit my 30s...

How did I make it through puberty, 2 pregnancies, years of stress with 2 boys with different challenges and yet ... clear skin ... only to wake up one morning in my 30s and find my skin was more sensitive, drier and I suddenly had closed comedones all over my chin in patches?! 

For those of you that have struggled with problematic skin your entire lives, you probably pity me little and I get it. Struggling with something on your face that everyone can see is miserable--an instant self-confidence shrinker.

I've read about other women in my situation who go from great skin to what feels like a horrendous mess and I swear we all react the same--we freak the hell out!

It started when I noticed a slight increase in blemishes as soon as I hit 30. I started getting 1 every month, not just here and there. Then I noticed I'd get 2 or 3 instead of 1. Then at the beginning of this year my skin basically decided it was done with life.  Every cleanser and moisturizer I put on it freaked it out--rave-reviewed drugstore to high-end. I also began to notice closed comedones rearing their ugly little white heads on my chin. Just a few at first, which freaked me out, and then a little patch on either side of my chin. I don't have cystic acne or anything like that and the skin on the rest of my face has stayed pretty healthy, but if you've ever dealt with closed comedones you know they're no fun and pretty tricky to deal with!

I changed my skincare several times over an extended prior looking for something new. After a solid month or more of poor results, I knew each new skincare regime wasn't working and moved on. Yes, I know changing your skincare too frequently can negatively affect your skin, but when you're undergoing a skincare crisis a little careful trial and error is in order in my opinion.

First, I tried my usual basic routine--Cerave cleanser for sensitive skin, my long-time weekly exfoliator and my regular moisturizer ... no help. I moved to Shea Terra Black Soap (which I'd used in the past here and there when I had a blemish or two, always finding it did the trick), Organic Rosehip Oil and Rosehip face moisturizer ... my face got miserably, miserably dry. I then tried Juice Beauty. Oh my gosh the misery! Far too harsh and far too drying or my poor sensitive skin. I practically had what looked like a chemical burn after a wee of use. I then moved to Shea Terra Apitherapy honey facewash (meant for those that find black soap too harsh), African Aloe and their Ultra-Hydrating Date face cream. Still too harsh and not nearly hydrating enough. By this point months had past (nearly 6 to be exact) and my skin physically HURT by the end of the day. My closed comedones around my chin were worse than ever and my skin was dry, dry, dry.

I had been doing research all along. Nothing I chose was done haphazardly keep in mind, yet nothing was working. I read story after story of those with very similar situations and the products and techniques that they found finally broke their bad skin cycle.

I finally came to the conclusion I'd done a few things wrong around the time all of this started getting worse and I needed to get down to the most basic skincare routine if I was going to try to help my skin recover.

What I'd Done Wrong

The Freak Out
For starters, I freaked out. I literally almost cried when my skin suddenly started reacting to everything and then breaking out in whiteheads on my chin. I know it sounds silly and honestly, there are much worst things in the world, but with everything else that was going on with my little guys I think it was the straw that broke the camel's back. Not to mention going from only having to worry about being gentle with my skin to suddenly having real issues was a shock. Being in super dry hospitals over and over certainly didn't help either, but it wasn't/isn't something I'm able to change.

I knew this was the wrong thing to do. I knew it! I've had to learn a lot about skin in order to prep it for makeup applications and this is a basic rule. It is awful to over-cleanse, yet somehow mid-freak-out I went into a cleansing rage and over-cleansed the crap out of my poor skin. Shame. On. Me.

Comedogenic Oils
Why did I not realize the oils I was using for oil cleansing were not 100% non-comedogenic. I had been using coconut oil mixed in with other oils, which is a huge no-no for face skin because it's extremely comedogenic. It destroyed my skin around my chin. Anti-fungal? Sure. Pore-cloggin? Very! Don't believe me? Look up it's comedogenic rating. FOUR ... out of a total possible rating of 4. Ay yi yi... I've read some people don't have issues with it. Well, I am no longer one of those people and I strongly suggest if you're having issues and using coconot oil or products with coconut oil in it that you stop.

Looking back at some of the products I used, it's shocking how many have comedogenic oils in them. Even expensive products! I've never had to worry about it before, but I'm far wiser now. Check those ingredients for comedogenic oils.

Just because the coconut oil in my products was cold pressed virgin coconut oil didn't mean it was exempt from coconut oil's comedogenic rating.

Breaking the Cycle

I did a ton of research (and obviously a lot of trial and error) and am currently on the road to skin recover. What did I do? Stay tuned for my next post in this series to read the products and routine I'm currently following. I can tell you that for me it's been incredibly effective and ironically it's quite cost-effective (compared to more expensive routines I've used). I'm the type that will spend that cash when it comes to skincare. If my skin isn't happy I'm definitely not happy. Who knew that what I needed would actually be one of the least expensive, simplest routines I'd tried since this whole mess started?

Are you in the same boat? Or have you always struggled? What's worked for you? What are some of the biggest mistakes you've made? Some of the best decisions?

And yes, I actually have a dermatologist I've seen for years because I have had pre-cancerous moles removed (and have to get checked routinely--make sure you get checked every so often!) so I was able to get professional advice as well to consider. I recommend consulting your derm if you're having skin issues to 1. make sure there isn't a bigger issue than just "bad skin" at play and 2. consider your options. While I personally didn't choose to use medicated products, it is an option some find effective and some find not so effective. Make the choice for yourself!

Note: All of the products mentioned above were purchased by me. All experienced are my own. I am not a dermatologist. All advice/opinions are based on my personal experience.

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