Heyo! I’m feeling a bit better today. Better enough to answer this recent Ask Afrobella question that I identified with so, so much.
Hey Bella! First of all, I want to say GREAT JOB on your blog! I am a new reader, and I enjoy reading about your product reviews and other issues. I am writing because I need help with my skin. I am a young black female in my early 20s. My skin isn’t horrible, but I get my fair share of pimples and whiteheads. Sometimes they leave dark marks on my face. Anyway, I was wondering if you knew of any good face creams, washes or products I could use to prevent the pimples/whiteheads and clear the marks. Currently, I use Noxema facewash and St. Ives Apricot Scrub once or twice a day (depending on if I wear makeup or not). Besides this, I don’t use anything else to help my face. I try to drink as much water as I can, but I do love my diet pepsi!!! I would appreciate any help you could offer. Thank you very much, and keep up the excellent work!
Hey Kolie! Thanks so much for your sweet words about my site. I love hearing from new readers. Especially readers I might actually be able to help!
My skin issues began in my teenage years. When I was fourteen or fifteen, my face just… erupted. It was awful. Having acne can be scarring in so many ways. I was a die-hard face-picker in those days, and I was left with cheeks covered in pockmarks and dark spots. That really complimented the heavy dose of teenage angst and self-doubt I was going through at the time.
My mother sent me for numerous facials at Jencare, a chain of wonderful day spas that originated in Jamaica. (An aside: I can’t believe Jencare doesn’t have their own website! It frustrates me so much when high quality Caribbean businesses don’t even have the most basic online representation). There’s at least one Jencare in Trinidad, and I know of a Miami branch, although I’ve never been to it. Jencare also makes its own line of skin care products, and I used them for a long time. But like so many products do, after a while they seemed to stop working. By the time I was nineteen, I learned that drinking water is a must. I try to do that as much as possible. But my skin and I had settled into a frustrating pattern that continues to this day.
Once a month (guess when?), I turn back into that teenage girl and break out like crazy for a week. Then slowly, my break out fades away, leaving scabs and spots behind. Needless to say I’ve had to work out a serious skin care routine to combat this recurring condition, and I’m always, always on the look out for the next amazing anti-acne treatment. This is what works for me now that I’m a grown woman dealing with acne issues.
First things first, your daily skin care routine is of paramount importance. It’s something most people might not think twice about, but if you’ve been tackling ongoing acne, it’s worth taking a closer examination of your existing makeup removal regimen and making a change. The Makeup Girl recently did a great post on the topic, titled Makeup Removal 101. Some of her suggestions surprised me because I hadn’t really thought about them before. Wash my hands first? THEN remove eye makeup? What a fool I’ve been! Now I’ve been taking extra care to wash my grubby mitts before I let them touch my face, and to slather some Kiehl’s Supremely Gentle Eye Makeup Remover on before I get to washing. That’s the kind that works best for me, and I have really sensitive eyes.
You can add face wash to the long list of beauty products I’m addicted to (right after body wash, and conditioner. And lipgloss. And eye shadow. Lord, I’m hopeless). Because of my fickle skin, I’m always on the lookout for Afrobella’s Next Top Cleanser, and some of the stuff that’s really been working for me is out of the drugstore price range. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t generally splurge on cosmetic items. I’m still a bella on a budget and I try to find affordable alternatives for just about every beauty product. But skin care is so important to me, I do find myself getting products that are pricy. But if I’m paying more than $20 for a face wash, it better WORK! I’ve become very particular about the quality of stuff I use to cleanse my face.
I’ve got some current rave-about fave face products. SkinCeuticals Simply Clean for Combination or Oily Skin is a great, refreshing cleanser that is gentle and effective. It contains a hydroxy acid blend, and it definitely has helped to smooth the texture of my skin. Every other weekend I use a clay mask, and SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Mask is a bit pricey ($37.50), but I think it’s worth it. If I’m getting a painful, under the surface zit, I dab a little mask on it and it goes away quicker.
Another product that works great to dry up pimples as quickly as possible is Nu Skin Clear Action Day Treatment, and I notice when I use it, I’m less likely to get a lasting dark spot. It’s amazing! Nu Skin seems to have quite a few possibly great skin care products, but their Acne Medication System ain’t cheap at $100.70. (Compare that to the Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Control Kit for $19.99!) But I can vouch that the day treatment is rockin’!
These days, I’m using Murad Acne Clarifying Cleanser. I had heard so much about Murad and was dying to try their stuff, but at $60, I wasn’t sure about that complex kit. My friend Lauren had been using it with success for a while, but when it stopped working for her she passed it along to me. Great success! I love it so far. The cleanser has a very refreshing menthol tingle, and the Acne Spot Treatment dries up my pimples overnight. But my husband remains indifferent.
What do you think of the Murad? I asked him. He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s OK, I guess. Whatever, if it says face wash or pore cleanser, I put it on my face,” he says. Brilliant explanation, thanks for enlightening me. He’s not into brands and fancy ingredients, he just uses what works. He’s still got a preference for Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask, and when he breaks out he reaches for the Clean and Clear. And that regimen is working for him, but not so much for me.
When it comes to exfoliation, I am head over heels in love with Clinique’s 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula. If you’ve got a current breakout, I would NOT advise you to use it. But between breakouts, it will keep your face smooth and clean, and get rid of some of that post-breakout roughness. I also use a little on my lips from time to time, because I have dry and flaky lips (a little brown sugar/olive oil scrub works great for that as well).
I’m about to up my exfoliation ante, though. I recently got a Clarisonic system kit, and I am DYING to try it! I’ve been too under the weather this week to bust it out. But my blog buddy Andrea over at The Girlfriend Lounge, calls it the only facial brush you’ll ever need. I’ll let you know my thoughts as soon as I try it, and if you want to score your very own Clarisonic, you can either save up $195, or you can check out the giveaway over at Andrea’s other site, The Organic Beauty Expert!
Recently, my skin had gotten so bad that I was seriously contemplating getting laser treatments. Two of my closest friends have, and they swear it’s amazing. In fact, my friend Jackie is an aesthetician and the manager of an American Laser Center in Long Island. I’d always assumed laser treatments were for hair removal, but I was wrong. They also offer microdermabrasion and Skin Rejuvenation. Jackie’s skin was as bad as mine when we went to college together, and now she’s practically going makeup free every day while I still need to slather on foundation to cover my blemishes. Obviously, laser treatments are not cheap, but Jackie guaranteed me that Affirm laser treatments would clear up my hyperpigmentation forever. I think that could be worth almost any price. And best believe when I stayed with her and Jenny in New York, I tried every last product in her cabinet! (As a rule, I am not THAT houseguest. But these chicks are really, really good friends of mine so I knew it’d be OK).
Ameripure is hardcore skin care stuff, some of which is probably best left to the professionals. But the Purifying Cleansing Wash was probably one of the best face washes I’ve ever tried. My face just felt so clean afterward, and my skin definitely cleared up when I stayed with them. Jackie also swears by the Cellular Anti-Oil Treatment.
So Kolie, my advice to you is, if your products aren’t working get an upgrade. You deserve to have the kind of skin you want, and having a couple of different products in your arsenal is always a good thing. If you’re feeling sketchy about just buying any of the pricier face washes, then just go to Sephora and score some sample sizes! That should help you to find a regimen that works for you.
Hey bellas! Do any of you have a new favorite facial cleansing product? Do tell! And if you’ve got an Ask Afrobella question, e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.