Updated: Jun 10
Let’s face it, everyone’s skin is different, there’s dry skin, oily skin, combination skin, even normal skin. Check your skin out. Does it look shiny and feel oily?
Do you have dry patches? Knowing your skin type helps you to know what products work best for you.
It’s so confusing because there are thousands of beauty products out there, and they all make promises, but they can end up drying out your skin, causing more breakouts or even worse, what happens when they are absorbed into your body.
Even I am still on this journey to find out what works best for me, I have combination skin that is still prone to acne, but I also have to make sure my skin stays hydrated to avoid premature wrinkles. What I am learning after all these years is that it’s best to just keep it simple and not over do it with the products.
I will aim to shed some light on this overwhelming subject of skin care by giving you the necessary information you need to make the right choices. The skin is our largest organ, full of nerves that allows the body to feel many sensations, like pain and temperature. It works to eliminate toxins from our body when we sweat and works to renew itself while we sleep. It’s worth taking care of and giving it the nutrition and protection is deserves.
When you reach puberty you might notice your skin changing, e.g. your pores become enlarged and your skin is oilier. It might not happen in the first year but you will notice it eventually, don’t worry, it’s a normal process.
Your hormones are causing your sebaceous (suh-bei-shuhs) glands to produce more oil called sebum, the purpose is to protect your skin from moisture loss, however, sometimes you either produce too much, resulting in acne, or too little, resulting in dry skin.
Acne doesn’t just affect your face, it can also affect your back, upper arms and chest area. Body sweat is likely to make your back or chest acne worse so make sure you are showering regularly to help prevent it, especially after physical exercise. Friction can also aggravate back acne so try not to carry back packs if this is happening to you.
Although boys are more likely to suffer from acne than girls, it is a very common problem. Acne is when the oil becomes blocked in the hair follicles on the surface of the skin, namely the pores, together with dead skin cells and bacteria resulting in a pimple or zit. If you have pimples it’s always best not to squeeze them, your oily fingers can make them worse, you can end up pushing the sebum deeper into the skin or squeezing too hard that you leave a scar. If it’s just a one off and you must squeeze, though I do not recommend it (but we are all guilty of it at some time), at least make sure your hands are clean, use a tissue, and make sure it’s ready to be squeezed, so it’s on the very surface of the skin. Sometimes I find a steamy shower will easily do the job for you, so try that first.
Tea Tree Oil
After you squeeze a pimple, wipe the area with Tea Tree Oil afterwards, so as not to spread anymore bacteria around your skin, it’s quite strong, so if you have sensitive skin do a patch test first or use a diluted formula. Tea Tree Oil has other numerous health healing benefits too, and you can read more about it here.
Acne can make you feel self-conscious and even depressed, if you are suffering from this, don’t keep it to yourself, speak to your parents, or an adult you trust, and get some advice, trust me it’s normal and it will pass, get advice from a doctor, dermatologist or homeopath.
Sometimes you just need a temporary treatment, and with the right facial care, exercise, and healthy diet, you can combat it.
You are what you eat
Before I get into skin care routine and products, it’s worth mentioning that what you ingest affects how your skin looks, trust me, I’ve tried it and it works. I’ve always been very pale growing up, with sallow skin, and at school I was called ‘Custard Cream’ (a sandwich biscuit in the UK, filled with a yellow creamy center - nice to eat - not a nice nickname).
My pale and yellowy complexion was probably due to a poor diet that was lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, which is partly why I got into wearing make-up from a young age. Many moons later when I was working at a nursery, we did a health and fitness challenge, instigated by nurse Liz, we had to eat, 5 portions of veg and 2 portions of fruit and do 30 mins of exercise every day for 3 weeks.
As well as losing a few excess kilos, I promise you, my skin changed and for once in my life I didn’t feel like I needed to hide behind make-up, my complexion got better, I had rosy cheeks and a natural glow. It was awesome, and if you don’t believe me, I dare you to try it. It might feel like you can get away with eating lots of junk food now because it doesn’t show on your skin but it probably will eventually, not only that but what you eat now can make a difference to your health later on. Dairy has also been linked to acne, so if you are suffering from acne it’s worth trying to eliminate dairy for a while to see if your skin improves.
I firmly believe nutrition is a preventative medicine even though when studying medicine, it’s usually overlooked or not given the credit it deserves.
Shereen Khatib, a good friend of mine, cured herself from cancer, not only by changing her diet to include raw foods but by also eliminating toxicity from her life, including toxic beauty products. You can check out her testimonial here.
Before I go on, I just want to say, I am not claiming to be an expert but I write this from my own experience, research and heart. There is a plethora of products out there, some are completely natural and some are not, and that doesn’t mean they are all bad, but there are some harmful ingredients, you will definitely want to be aware of. The European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from being used in beauty products, whilst the US has banned only 30. There have been numerous law suits against major brand names, where juries have awarded people with millions because the products caused them cancer, So it’s definitely worth being cautious and familiarise yourself with some of the ingredients. You have every right to know what is in the products before you buy them and if they are safe to use.
Unfortunately, the cosmetics regulation laws have not been updated since 1938 – WOW!! Yes, that’s right, it’s so shocking I’ll write it down again, 1938!!!! The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, can only approve colour additives and ingredients in sunscreen and acne medication because the ingredients in them are considered drugs and their power consists of requesting (not ordering) product recall, and conducting occasional testing only if there are apparent safety concerns. Basically, all these products are self-regulating, meaning the product company do their own testing and companies are not required to share information or demonstrate safety.
Why do they get away with it? They can afford to because consumers still buy their stuff.
A list of a few harmful ingredients you might want to avoid:
Phthalates (don’t even try to pronounce this!)
SLS (sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
If you want to look up if an ingredient is safe you can refer to the EWG a watchdog group challenging the mainstream beauty industry.
They have the Skin Deep Cosmetics database, where they rate more than 73,000 products and ingredients.
Clean and Natural
The term ‘Clean’ or ‘Natural’ in products is becoming very popular and more widely available but they too, are not regulated and can be harmful to your skin.
'Natural’ usually means it contains plant-based ingredients, essential vitamins and minerals. ‘Clean’ usually means, free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and more. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba have jumped onto the bandwagon. Gwyneth Paltrow launched ‘Goop by Juice Beauty’: all-natural beauty products that are so pure (and expensive!) you can eat them, she even went onto the Jimmy Fallon Show and they ate some!
Actress Jessica Alba’s brand called ‘Honest Beauty’ - includes skincare products and make up, that are more affordable. Honestly, I haven’t tried their products but if you do, let us know how it goes.
Check out my best 5 brands here
A simple skin care routine
Normal/Combination: This is a very important step, especially if you have acne or want to avoid getting it.
Wash your face first thing in the morning, use just water or a gentle facial cleanser.
Repeat again before you go to sleep. If you are wearing make-up be sure to remove it, starting with the eyes. I like to remove my make-up, with Micellar Water it’s really effective (Bioderma and Garnier are good), just dab a small amount onto a cotton pad and wipe gently, don’t pull on your skin too much, and use a different cotton pad for each eye to avoid spreading any bacteria.
If you are too exhausted to take off your make up at least use a pre-moistened facial wipe.
If you just use water in the morning, consider using a cleanser at night.
Oily/Acne prone Skin: You can choose to use a deep cleanser if you have acne, one that contains, a natural acid like, salicylic acid, (unless you have sensitive skin). It will, unclog pores and exfoliate your skin without using a scrub, this helps prevent a buildup of dead skin cells and sebum that lead to pimples.
Or a medicated cleanser which contains Benzoyl Peroxide but make sure it doesn’t dry out or irritate your skin, and use a hydrating moisturizer afterwards.
Alternatively, I recommend, you just add a couple of drops of Tea Tree oil into a mild cleanser.
You don't have to use these every day, only if you have pimples.
You need to moisturize to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day, especially if you are using a cleanser. Choose a moisturizer that suits your skin type, make sure it doesn't contain any of the harmful ingredients listed above because the moisturizer will stay on your face all day. If you have oily skin, use a lightweight moisturizer that will absorb into the skin quickly. If you have dry skin, use a richer or creamier one. There are also day time and night time moisturizers but you don't need to start with two, unless your day time one is also a sunscreen, like mine, in which case, you don't want to use it at night. Finally, when you moisturise don't forget to include your neck.
If you want to slow down the signs of fine lines and aging on your face, do use a sunscreen or a moisturizer that contains one. The best kind are the mineral based ones, that contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, these are good for sensitive and oily skin too, as well as being better for the coral reefs.
Good luck with your skin care and do let me know in the comments box below, if you have any questions, or would like to share your own personal skin care experiences.