For a great many years physicians have recognized that not only are all diseases made worse by an incorrect mental attitude, but that some diseases are the direct result of worry and other mental disturbances. George Barton Cutten, Ph.D.
The book entitled Acne Cure, by Terry J. Dubrow and Brenda D. Adderly, offers a general skin care program for people with acne. The major steps of the program are listed below:
- 1. Remove the dead skin cells. You can do this by using an overthe- counter 2% salicylic acid cleanser.
- 2. Exfoliate the skin by clearing the toxins and the excess oil that become trapped inside your pores. You can use glycolic acid cleanser to perform this task.
- 3. (Disinfect the skin). Clear away bacteria in the skin with benzoyl peroxide.
- 4. Finally moisturize your skin.
However, as said before, there is no cure for acne. Acne is a message. As such, this regime will not work for everyone. You will have to determine how your skin responds to these products. I suggest using the salicylic acid, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide at different times so that you will know how your skin responds to each of these products and when they are best used.
To illustrate, I have found out that benzoyl peroxide to too strong to use on my face everyday. Also, leaving a clay mask on overnight seems to work better at clearing my acne than using salicylic acid. Naturally, you will have to work with your body to determine which skin care combo will work for you.
Before you even start to cleanse your face you need to know what you are doing and how to visualize the results. When you are cleaning your face or perform any treatment, knowing why you are doing something is just as if not more important as knowing how to do it. To illustrate, knowing why you use a solution with salicylic acid will permit you to imagine this ingredient removing dead layers of the skin.
This visualization alone will make the cleansing experience more effective. Thus, when you treat your face or body, imagine what you are doing, be it removing dead cells, forcing impurities to the surface or promoting more circulation. Knowing and visualizing what you are doing will naturally heighten your innate healing abilities.
It is very important to have a well- structured skin care regime. At the same time you must be aware that your skin and environment are constantly changing and thus your skin care regime will have to adjust accordingly. For instance, if I’m working out twice a day, I may need more exfoliation because all of this sweating brings a lot of toxins to the surface of my skin.
Then again, in the wintertime I may wash and peel my face less while using a heavier moisturizer than I would during the summer months. On that note, you need to pay attention to the concentration of the active ingredients in your skin care products. For instance, you can purchase a glycolic acid toner in a concentration of 5-10% and the same applies for benzoyl peroxide. Make sure you know what concentration suits your skin.
Do you ever notice how some people want to be like stars or look like them? Well let me let you in on a little secret: Stars are regular people just like you and me! What is the difference between you and them?
The opinion that the general populous and media affords them, the view that they’re stars so they’re special. What’s this got to do with acne right? A lot, every one of us is worthy and deserving of star treatment. Have you ever seen those talk shows where someone gets a serious makeover by a group of professionals and looks absolutely stunning afterwards?
What does this tell us? That the person was lazy (could be) or that the person had so much potential and just didn’t realize it. I am not pointing the figure here to accuse you of being a lazy person and that’s why you have acne, not at all.
However, I do want you to realize that so-called star treatment is not just for the stars. And you do not have to spend a fortune to look like one. I have been going to facial salons for years, from the type of salons that cater to the rich, to the stop and go salons that cater to the occasional salon visitor.
I hold a great deal of respect for aestheticians and what they bring to the world, but they cannot cure acne. Try they may, and using your money they will try, but aestheticians cannot cure acne. We already know that acne is a message anyway.
I will say that it is a good idea to have professional facial done at a few different salons so that you get an idea of how to perform a facial yourself. But remember, facials should not be considered a luxurious treat; you deserve a facial at least once a week.
But while you learn about how to pamper yourself, it is imperative that you visualize how you are actually helping your body. For this reason, I have suggested images to assist you with imagining how you are helping to revitalize your skin. With that, lets get on to pampering ourselves by creating and using a personalized skin care regime.
If ever there was a cheap way to treat yourself like a star here it is, steaming your face. Let me warm you first, however, that the effectiveness of steaming lies in the ability of the heat to draw impurities to the surface of the skin. For this reason, some persons would argue that steaming and even saunas do more harm than good for acne sufferers.
Well, when one rearranges furniture, things get messy before they get organized. The same applies to your face. Steaming brings impurities to the outer layers of the face so that they can leave. You want the toxins out of your body because this renders clearer skin.
There are several ways to steam your face. You can simply heat water on a stove. Then pour it in a large bowl and let it set for a minute or two. You then place your face over the bowl and cover your head with the towel, allowing your face to steam.
Be careful not to burn your face by putting it too close to the water. For an additional cleansing boost, you can add herbs to the water such as chamomile tea or a teaspoon of the mixture from Swiss Kwiss Herbal Laxative (it’s one of my favorite facial steam additives). Likewise you can purchase a facial steamer from a store and use it according to the directions from the manufacturer.
Imagine the heat opening your pores and all of the toxins lying beneath your skin rising to the surface of the skin. Your pores are deeply cleansed. Plus, the steam increases blood flow to the face so you look fresh and rosy.
I recommend using facial steam as often as you feel that it is sane and sanitary. For example, I have steamed my face every night for a week at a time because my skin was so congested. Since I know my body, as you will come to do, I could touch it and feel it to determine how much steam it needed.
I would steam it for 5-15 minutes each night before going to bed. If you can feel zits forming beneath the skin, steaming is a great way to bring them to the surface so that they can be removed from the skin quicker and before they become aggravated.
Clay & Other Face Masks
Clay masks are the best friends of facial steaming. After steaming your face, your pores are opened wider, making it the perfect time to pull toxins out of your body. This is exactly what clay masks do.
You have to be careful in selecting and using a clay mask, however, because you may be allergic to the ingredients in the product. Like the facial steam, using a clay mask may make things worse before they get better.
This occurs because as you bring toxins to the surface of the skin, the bacteria may spread and infect other areas of skin- thus spreading the acne. But listen, you want to get the toxins out of your body. I feel it is a bargain to have a little more of a flare-up for a day or two in exchange for clearer skin.
Remember with acne, the name of the game is patience, followed by persistence. Keep the apartment from our analogy in mind; once you do major cleaning, it gets dirtier before it gets cleaner because you need to move stuff around to get every nook and cranny clean. But afterwards, you are glad that you took no shortcuts in getting the house cleaned right. The same concept applies to the skin; you get what you’ve worked for.
I suggest using black charcoal masks that are available in most beauty supply stores. These types of masks are not usually available in drug stores however. The black clay mask really works to pull debris out of your skin because charcoal is an incredible detoxifier.
Again, you may have an acne flare- up the first few times after having used a detoxifying mask. But it’s worth the new pimples in the long run. That’s why it’s a great idea to disinfect your skin after using a detoxifying mask. Later you will discover that these masks can help you to have smoother skin as they help draw toxins from your pores.
Imagine the mask sucking toxins away from your skin and placing them into the mask. As you wash off the mask, imagine that you have also washed away excess toxins from your skin.
I normally use a clay mask right after I have steamed my face. Depending on how congested my skin in I will use a mask 2-4 times a week. Of course, I realize that too much of a good thing is a bad thing; I still listen to my body to decide if a clay mask would benefit my skin.
Exfoliating is manually removing dead cells from the skin, whereas peels (discussed below) remove dead skin cells via a chemical process. There are several skin-care products that contain ingredients such as oats, sugar, and finely ground nuts that are designed to safely remove dead skin cells as the product is gently massaged into the skin.
Normally, dead skin should shed itself daily. But sometimes oil, being adhesive in nature, prevents these cells from sloughing off. As a result, the dead cells can get trapped in the pores along with the oil and generate acne formations. To help put a stop to this clogging up, you can remove the build-up of dead skin cells and excess oils with an exfoliating scrub.
I even use baking soda as an exfoliating agent. You only need to use a bit at a time. Moreover, baking soda is extremely cheap and highly effective. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with just enough water to form a paste, smooth it onto your face, and begin massaging. Be gentle though, the baking soda granules are readily effective since they are so small.
Imagine the dead skin cells being removed from your skin and that you are helping to free some dead cells and bacteria that are trapped by facial surface oils and comedos. Your pore are breathing better now.
I recommend exfoliating everyday before you actually wash your face with your preferred cleanser. This is because by removing the dead skin cells first, your cleanser will be more effective at removing locked-in oil and other debris.
This is another facial practice that should not be reserved only for the financially well endowed. One should exercise caution when using peels. Using the wrong peel on the wrong type of skin will cause more harm than good.
A peel is simply removing the dead layers of the skin (and sometimes living cells depending the depth of the peel) using a chemical agent. You can purchase a salicylic, glycolic, lactic or enzyme peel at a beauty or drug store and try it on your skin. Read the labels of the skin peels that you are considering using.
The labels should explain whether or not the peels are suitable for active acne and how to use them. One peel that is readily available in beauty supply stores is the AHA or alpha hydroxyl acid peels. There are five types of AHA peels available on the skin care market which are: glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, and tartaric acids, with glycolic acid peels being one of the most popular.
In addition to the AHA peels, there is the BHA (beta hydroxyl acid) peel. Salicylic acid is the only available BHA. Alpha hydroxyl acids and beta hydroxyl acids work by chemically burning off or un-sticking the outer layer of dead skin cells.
This process reveals a more youthful layer of the skin while improving skin texture, unclogging pores, and improving the effectiveness of other beauty products since they can better penetrate the skin. The chief difference between AHA and BHA peels is that alpha hydroxyl acids are water- soluble and beta hydroxyl acids are fatsoluble.
This means that BHA (i.e. salicylic acid) peels can penetrate the oil in the pores and remove built-up dead cells and waste within the oil gland. For this reason, BHA peels are highly suitable for those suffering from pimples and blackheads. AHA peels are best for dry and thickened skin.
Keeping up the Peel
The beauty of the peel is that it pulls up toxins within your skin while removing dead cells. This action helps reduce acne in two ways: 1. The toxins beneath the skin are removed before the can rise to the surface of the skin and cause more acne flare-ups and 2. Dead skin is removed from the skin so that these cells cannot cause cell build-up and clog the pores, which causes acne.
Because they are so potent, peels should be a central part of the skin care regime of anyone dealing with acne. If you have ever had a successful deep peel before, you probably fell in love with how perfect and smooth your complexion felt afterwards, I know I did. But this complexion will not last unless you take active steps to maintain it. Peel your skin and help yourself constantly reveal the newer you. I implore you to find a peel that works for you and use it diligently and wisely.
Home Facial Peels
Then again, in the book “Home Remedies, What Works”, a contributor suggests using oatmeal once a day to help with acne. To create the mask or peel, just make a bowl of oatmeal according to the containers instructions.
Then let the oatmeal cool in a bowl. Once cooled, place the oatmeal over the entire face. Then cover the face with a clean damp washcloth for 15 minutes (make sure your nose is free for easy breathing). Finally, rinse the mask off.
This may sound like just another wise tale for acne, but I am not here to offer short-lived miracles. There’s actually some science behind Grandma’s suggestion. For instance, azelaic acid is a saturated dicarboxylic acid that’s found in foods such as wheat, rye and barley. Azelaci acid can simultaneously exfoliate and disinfect the skin much the same way benzoly peroxide does.
So, why not put on some oatmeal and give yourself a beautifying double whammy. Thanks granny! Additionally you can create your own lactic (milk) or papaya peel at home. Refer to Appendix G for instructions on how to create these and other peels.
Keys to remember
Avoid picking zits or forcibly removing dead skin while you peel your skin. This can result in scarring, the last thing you need, because the skin underneath the peeling skin is very fragile and susceptible to scarring. Be patient and allow your peel to help reveal the healthier you.
The peel is breaking up dead skin cells and going deeper into the skin to pull up toxins. These toxins are absorbed in the mask. As you rinse away the peel imagine that you are revealing fresh, new and healthy skin.
I use a peel when my skin looks dull. This means that there is a lot of dead cells resting on my face and they need to come off. This is usually once a week. You want to be careful with peels because overuse could cause your skin to age faster, which we don’t want. Use the guidelines provided by the maker of the peel to decide how often to use them.
Extraction is physically removing waste that is lying within the pores. This should only be done if you know exactly what you are doing because faulty extraction could cause some serious skin damage and scarring. Here again, I recommend that you have extraction done by a professional before you try to do it yourself. Since all professionals are not the same, I suggest getting it done by a few different aestheticians.
I suggest not making any hot dates for a day or two after you have an extraction performed. This is because the face is usually swollen and red, plus your pumps my look more aggravated than before. Fret not my friend. Remember decoding acne is about patience and persistence. And acne can become aggravated before it clears up.
Extraction by a professional can hurt as well so do brace yourself. Once you become comfortable performing extraction yourself, I suggest that you perform it after you have steamed your face, when the pores are open. Make sure your hands are clean when doing extractions to avoid placing more bacteria on the skin and spreading infection.
If the pimple has a whitehead, or a center with visible yellow or white pus, you can prick the center of the zit with a sterilized pin (dip it in alcohol to sterilize it). Wrap you fingers in a clean white tissue to squeeze out the contents of the zit. Some dermatologists recommend to stop squeezing if blood begins to come out of the pore.
On the other hand, some skin specialists recommend squeezing until all the blood that follows the pus is gone as well. It’s your call on this one, but please note however that some doctors warm that if you continue to squeeze a zit until all of the blood is gone you could damage the pore and cause scarring. But for certain, once your have extracted a pimple, leave it alone.
Do not return to a pimple a few minutes, hours or days later to begin squeezing it again. This will only delay the healing process and promote scarring. And always disinfect your skin after extraction to prevent the spread of acne and bacteria.
On a psycho-emotional level, you can liken leaving a pimple to heal to dealing with your daily problems. For example, once you have decided how to solve a problem, such as whether or not to take singing lessons, make the decision and follow through with it in full confidence.
There is no need to wrack your brain and waste local memory space asking yourself whether or not you made the right choice. Simply put, you take action and move on with your life. The same principle applies to extraction. Tell yourself: “I have helped this pimple and now I will move on to other things.”
Imagine an open pore emitting waste and then healing faster.
I do extraction once a week or once every week and a half. There are times when I need extraction performed twice a week. You can adjust your extraction levels according to your own preferences.
When my skin feels bumpy underneath. I steam my face and then perform extraction. To help reduce the possibility of spreading infection after extraction, I massage my face with a combination of one part tea-tree oil and one part lavender oil. These two oils disinfect and reduce swelling in the skin. Please to refer to Appendix C for a list of oils that help treat acne.
Dealing with a developing pimple (spot treatments)
Once I see a pimple on the rise and ask for its message, I then assist it in leaving by steaming my face. Afterwards, I will rub tea-tree oil on the pimple.
At night, I place a bit of clay mask on the eruption. These steps usually help the pimple leave. But as stated earlier, not all pimples are created the same, nor should they be treated the same.
There are essentially two methods for spot treating pimples: to dry out a pimple or draw out the infection in and surrounding the pore. You dry out a pimple by using drying products such as benzoyl peroxide or a clay mask. Pimples that are best treated with the drying method include whiteheads, black heads and papules.
But inflamed and painful pimples are best treated using the drawing out method. You can use substances such as tea tree oil to help draw out an inflamed pimple. This is because the pain comes from the pus surrounding the inflamed pore.
The oil is able to seep into the skin where it can help displace the pus and draw it out of the skin. I use tea tree oil for cysts, nodules, and acne that may arise from premenstrual symptoms. Please refer to Appendix F for a list of other ways to treat acne formations on the rise.
Disinfecting the Skin
After using certain techniques such as peeling and exfoliating to reveal new skin, you typically free new bacteria and toxins in the process. That is the goal of cleansing your face; to move excess bacteria and waste out of their hiding places deep within the skin.
But once these toxins come to the surface of the skin, they can do more damage if they are not taken care of properly and quickly. There are a variety of skin disinfectants to use.
For example, hydrogen peroxide is a cheap disinfectant and it is available at practically all drug stores. You can dip a clean cotton ball in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide and swipe it over your face. Just know that if you have an active infection on your face, this area will almost immediately turn white after having contact with the hydrogen peroxide. That is because the solution is simply doing its jobdisinfecting the skin.
But the whiteness usually goes away in a few minutes. Also, be careful to keep your hair away from the hydrogen peroxide because this solution can bleach the hair. Likewise, you can disinfect your skin with a solution of benzoyl peroxide. The strength that you select will depend on your skin sensitivities and needs.
Beyond helping to remove skin contaminates, benzoyl peroxide also penetrates the pore so that it can reach the hair follicle where acne promoting bacteria may be lurking in over abundance. I have noticed that after using a benzoyl peroxide cleanser, my pores feel as if they are breathing and energized again. It’s an invigorating experience.
Finally, I will mention one of may favorite disinfectants- tea tree oil. This product is also available in most drug and health food stores. This oil is one of the very few essential oils that you may safely use at full strength (that is without the need to dilute it in a carrier oil). Some skin care professionals may argue that oil will clog the pores and just cause more acne.
This is not the case since tea tree oil seeps into the pores and helps remove irritating bacteria. If you like, you can just warm some tea tree oil in your thoroughly cleansed hands by rubbing them together and rub the oil onto your face. It takes your face roughly 10-15 minutes to absorb whatever substances you apply to it. So, after 10-15 minutes you can wash the remaining oil off your face.
If you only need to treat a small area, dip a cotton ball or cotton swab into some tea tree oil and cover the area of the infection with the oil and rinse the area in 10-15 minutes, if it pleases you.
When using a disinfectant imagine that all of the waste has been pushed up to the surface of the skin is moved away. When you swipe your face with a disinfectant drenched cotton ball or cotton swab, imagine that you are removing the last remaining remnants of garbage and preventing the spread of infection. See yourself putting the finishing touch on the cleansing process.
Whenever you give yourself a treatment that brings up waste from the skin such as facial masks, exfoliation or peels, I recommend using a disinfectant. It is equally important to use a disinfectant after performing an extraction. Remember, when you extract pimples, you are removing a lot of built-up waste and bringing it to the surface of the skin. Make this extraction worth your while by disinfecting afterwards to ensure that you avoid giving acne any chances of spreading.
If you like your sundae with the cherry on top, you must have a massage after you give yourself a facial. There are innumerous benefits to come from massaging your face. It helps firm the skin tissue and give your face an energized look. I like to massage my face with a combo of tea-tree and ylang ylang oils.
Prepare for the massage by thoroughly washing your hands. Your face should be cleansed as well. For additional moisture, you can spritz or pat some water onto your face. Next, place 3-4 drops of your favorite face oil into your hands. Rub your hands together for a few seconds to warm the oil.
Now apply the oil to your face, starting at the neck. Continue massaging up your face continuing onto the temples in a smooth, gentle movement. Then pat your face all over and note any stressed or painful areas. Apply a slight pressure with your thumb or forefinger for 7-10 seconds to the area that exhibits tension or pain. Now lightly tap your entire face with the tips of your fingers, energizing the face. That’s it. You can proceed to rinse off the oil if you like.
Imagine more blood coming to your face and energizing your complexion. See your skin becoming firmer and wrinkles getting massaged away.
I suggest performing a facial massage daily since they not only help you look better, but the massage also relaxes muscles whose existence and exhaustion, you may have never known. You can also gently massage your face when using your daily cleanser.
“Give me the power to produce a fever and I shall cure any disease” Hippocrates
When the body is heated above its normal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the body starts mild hyperthermia, or stress detoxification. This process increases circulation of the blood within the body, increases lymphatic drainage, and heightens the white blood cell count, which collectively boosts the immune system. Typically during this state of mild hyperthermia, malignant cells that have limited heat tolerance are destroyed. Also, toxins are able to exit the skin through sweat.
Imagine all the pores that cover you body ejecting toxins in the form of little sweat beads. When sensing the heat, visualize a cloud of calm and comfort surrounding and relaxing you. As you wash away the sweat, imagine the healthier state within yo ur body.
Saunas are an awesome means of enhancing your health. I enjoy the sauna almost everyday after a workout and suggest the same to you. However, keep in mind that the heat in a sauna can over exhaust some people. Proceed with a caution and adhere to the wisdom of your body.
Applying the Ice
Just like heat, the coldness of ice brings benefits as well. Applying ice to the face does several wonderful things. First, the coldness reduces inflammation. Next, the temperature change on the surface of the skin closes the pores. As such, you can lock in the clean feeling that you’ve worked so hard to achieve with your skin. To ice your face, just get an ice cube and wrap half of it in a paper towel. Then, smooth the exposed ice cube over your face for about a minute and then focus for 5-10 seconds each on inflamed area of the face.
Using the ice is like putting a wax coating on a cleaned car. When applying the ice to your face, imagine the inflamed areas of your face shrinking and melting away. Also, see your pores as clear and receiving protection.
Using ice cubes is a great spot treatment for inflamed areas of the face. Additionally, ice treatments are really beneficial after peels and microdermabrasions, which can slightly irritate the face. Likewise, icing the face is great after extractions, which can leave the face mildly swollen.