Girl Talk: Skincare

Wow, another day, another new topic up for discussion. I wanted to do a monthly chat on 'girl talk'. The first one up for discussion is the bane of my existence, skincare. Since I was a teenager, I've had problem skin. You can put spots down to hormones, but when they don't go away, and you're no longer a teen, you start to wonder if there's not an underlying problem. (and considering whether some kind of face-covering haircut is actually an option)

When my skin problems started, I visited many doctors, trying to find a solution. I usually got the normal "put this expensive medicated cream on your face, it's part of being young" treatment. After that it was, "try these birth control pills, they'll fix your skin". I saw some improvements here and there, but never any real, lasting solutions. My symptoms included painful acne, sore, red swollen skin and other great side effects like blushing profusely if someone glanced sideways at me (a combination of shyness and overactive capillaries). After years of agony, I happened upon yet another doctor after a particularly painful attack. He took one look at me and said "You have Acne Rosacea. There is no cure." With those words, and some internet pictures later, I was devastated. Right away I went on mild antibiotics to get it under control. I saw a skin specialist and was told that I could control my outbreaks with medication and by avoiding heat - hot food, hot showers, alcohol, spices, exercise, the sun. The advice was to only exercise by swimming and eat only warm, mildly flavoured food, avoid alcohol, especially red wine.

These days, I'm pretty good at knowing what I can and cannot get away with. (I cannot get away with red wine, ever). Here's a list of skincare tips that I've learned over the years - they are specific to my routine, but I'm sure might help some of you out there:
  • Even if your skin is oily, always, always moisturise. Seriously. I don't care how oily it is.
  • Use a non-foaming cleanser (or lightly foaming if you must) Foaming cleansers strip your skin of it's natural defences and agitate it more, especially when you already have a breakout.
  • Don't exfoliate all the time - for the same reason you shouldn't use the foaming cleanser. My skin specialist actually told me to NEVER exfoliate but I cheat once a week or so. Her advice was to use an AHA, but I find a very gentle scrub works for me (I'm stubborn, I know).
  • If you get a breakout, don't bother it! It's tempting to get the gross stuff out of your face (I'm trying to make this as un-gross as possible!), but don't do it. A dab of tea-tree oil on the spot is the best treatment. It kills all the nasties and in a day or two, the spot will be greatly diminished.
  • Wear sunscreen. It's the best way to keep your skin looking healthy as you age, plus it offers protection against skin cancer.
I've tried many products over the years, here are some that I swear by:


1 ◆ Aesop Fabulous Face Cleanser - I'm using this one right now, it's a light foaming formula, but doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.
2 ◆ NCD Concentrated Cleanser - this is a gentle cream cleanser that works well on eye makeup too
3 ◆ This Works Clean Skin Gentle Cleanser - As the name says...


4 ◆ Philosophy Hope In A Jar - It has a slightly strange texture, but it is non-greasy and works great
5 ◆ Perricone MD Cold Plasma - If only I had smellavision right now. This is the best moisturiser I've ever used. The first time I put it on, I wanted to tear my face off, it smells SO bad. That said, if I was a rich girl, I'd use it all the time. You get used to the smell and it's amazing for your skin (it's super fishy)
6 ◆ St.Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastic Facial Moisturiser - super affordable, I've just started using it and it is going well so far. I've had a few breakouts, but I think they are food related (thanks Christmas)


7 ◆ Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel - The packet says 'daily' but I use these once a week (or less because I'm forgetful). They leave your skin feeling fresh and smooth (they're a little burn-y at first, which always concerns me, but I haven't had any reactions to them at all)
8 ◆ Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - Again, not a daily use item. But it's the gentlest of all of these exfoliants. It's a very fine powder that you can mix into your cleanser when you wash your face.
9 ◆ Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste - I like this stuff, but I think my dermatologist would weep. It's fairly gritty, so again, use it sparingly. I like the texture and smell, too.


10 ◆ Tea Tree Oil - Get the 100% pure variety, forget all the strange lotions and creams. This stuff will dry your skin out, so target spots directly with a q-tip. Also, broken skin + tea tree oil = ouch! It's potent and can be painful, so water it down a little before applying and try to avoid any broken skin.

I'd love to know about your skincare challenges and solutions. After years of never knowing if I would wake up with a swollen, bumpy bright red face, I feel much more in control of my skin. If you think you might have Acne Rosacea, see your skin specialist for a proper consultation and treatment, it made the world of difference to me.

If you have any specific topics that you would like to "Girl Talk" about, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, or email me.


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