Let's be honest, we all low key strive for porcelain skin. Regardless of age, gender and other factor, it's just nice to have clean looking skin. For some of us, however, the battle between acne and self can lead to regular meltdowns.
I've gone through tons of products to help with my never ending journey: first was pre-pubescent acne, then the two-hours-of-sleep-stress-for-finals acne, that conveniently timed gusher right between your eyebrows, and most recently, acne induced by raging transitional hormones.
I've spent most of my teenage years becoming hyper-aware of this, and it just left me feeling miserable. The more products I tried, the more products left me unimpressed, and that quickly turned into discouragement and thinly veiled self-deprecation. There was a brief time where I started wearing concealer because the thought of people noticing my blemishes crippled me from having the confidence to leave my house. However, due to the stale gender norms we've perpetuated, wearing makeup felt shameful in a way. I never think a woman glossed over with foundation is deceitful, but when it comes to guys, the double standard becomes apparent - we're just too used to the idea that guys should keep their skin under control without the use of cosmetics.
Something I'm still trying working on to this day, however, is understanding that acne may be a physical flaw, but it isn't a testament to your character. It shouldn't be regarded as a negative attribute or a lack of initiative to do something about it, sometimes it just is. It will show up whether you think about it or not, so accept what you've been given and be patient in finding your ways to combat it. I stopped focusing on how to end it once and for all but it will always be a work in progress.
After countless empty jars, bottles, tubes, and canisters - I've reached a point where I have a system that I'm content with. I stopped looking at men's skincare products exclusively and found there's so much more variety if you keep an open mind. At the end of the day, we all have skin, which supersedes whatever gender is placed on the label.
Whatever works for you, works. You don't need to be a dermatologist to dictate what is good for your skin, here's what I've learned along the way.
Before anything else, you need to reassess your face. Not just chalking up your skin to dry, normal or oily; it's always going to be a combination of things and you need to understand your face before you do anything to treat it.
Take a day to do a casual evaluation: look in the mirror at least once in the morning, noon, and when you get home. How has your skin reacted after being out all day? Where does your skin look shiny, red or irritated? Is it all active acne or an accumulation of scars and dark spots? Make note of these things as it'll be easier to hone in on products that will properly help you with your skin needs.
After taking a shower, I'll take a cotton pad and go in with Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion. This toner is great because it balances out my skin and preps it for everything else I'm about to put on, it's also soothing enough to double as aftershave if needed. I then apply Kiehl's Blemish Control Spot Treament on the more stubborn, unsettling bumps. It slowly reduces the appearance of spots over a couple days, which I find more comfortable than other aggressive overnight spot treatments that leave you with dry patches.
I'm a repeat offender of popping your zits by hand and then regretting it later once I see the scar. For the record, agitating your skin like this is the worst, yet this is my never ending cycle. I was introduced to Sunday Riley products a couple years back but only made the splurge this year. I've been hesitant to delve into expensive skincare, because I was afraid that if I enjoyed it, it would summon a hefty face-taxation on me bimonthly in order to replenish my stock. Sunday Riley's has changed my perception of nicer skincare, and has become the most crucial part to regenerating my skin.
The U.F.O Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil is a concentrated treatment oil that really pulled the weight in diminishing my acne for the long term. In the day I use five drops to cover my face and neck after toner. It helps prevent excess oil production and calms congested pores. I noticed after the first week of using it that my acne doesn't resurface as harshly as it used to. At night I use The Luna Sleeping Night Oil, which aids in blurring hyper pigmentation and reducing the visibility of my scars. I thought the only way to get rid of my scarring was to do some microdermabrasion or a facial that would feel like an acid attack, but thankfully these oils have definitely given me results I wanted without the pain.
I prefer facial oils and serums over moisturisers and creams. For too long I thought oils or gel based products would be counter-productive for acne prone skin, but I actually found them to sit better on my skin - it feels a lot more comfortable. Moisturisers are often too watery and wear off at the end of the day while some creams leave me feeling too heavy. The most recent additions to my routine are the Dior Capture Youth Age Delay Resurfacing Water and Intense Rescue oil serum.
Dior's Capture Youth line is pretty game changer because it includes six different serums each with specific skin functions, so you can mix and match whichever ones you feel appropriate for yourself. I use the Resurfacing Water with a cotton pad and go for a round on my face to soften my skin, then I use the Intense Rescue serum as my moisturiser. I wasn't sure if it was making a difference, until a friend of mine had pointed out one day that for whatever reason I looked somewhat brighter and glowy. I can attest that my new found "radiance" is thanks to these serums. In the hotter months, I use the Dior Capture Youth Matte Maximizer as it controls more of the excess shine and balances out my skin after all the humidity, blasting AC's, and intense heat.