Those of you who have been with me for a long time (thank you so much btw!!!) know that I’ve struggled with my skin pretty much since I started this blog. After many trials and tribulations, I’m happy to present to you the fruit of all my skincare labors!
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The skin sitch: Hormonal & fungal acne
A quick recap for those of you who haven’t been in the loop:
My skin issues started when I got off the birth control pill and got an IUD. All of a sudden, my skin changed completely; where before it was dry and prone to flakiness but otherwise blemish-free, it was now “combination”: oily all over the forehead and hairline but dry/normal on the rest of my face. With these changes came…a lot of acne. SO FUN.
I got a couple of cystic pimples on my chin, which eventually went away after my skin settled a bit from the hormonal transition of pill to IUD. However, I also got a ton of acne on my forehead and along the sides of my temples which I couldn’t seem to treat correctly! No matter what I did, what skincare products I tried, this acne was persistent.
It was only after over a year of this that I watched a random YouTube video and discovered that this wasn’t just any acne. It was fungal acne. Gross-sounding, right? But it just means that the acne is caused by a form of yeast rather than bacteria. Fungal acne tends to be smaller, and look more like hard white bumps than your typical big, inflamed pimple (watch the video for more info on what it looks like!).
The problem with mistaking fungal acne for the regular kind is that there are a lot of skincare ingredients that trigger fungal acne and make it worse. Most oils, for example, will only make fungal acne worse.
The key for me was taking out the products in my skincare routine that contained certain ingredients that triggered flare-ups of fungal acne. Luckily, stuff that treats fungal acne also treats bacterial acne (but not vice versa), so with my new skincare routine, I was able to clear up my skin significantly.
The skincare routine that cleared my fungal acne!
So, after almost TWO YEARS and way too much money spent trying new skincare products, I finally have a simple routine that works for me and keeps my skin clear (or as clear as it can get, because I’m not blessed with genetically perfect skin). It’s also clean and cruelty-free, and everything except the products containing honey are vegan!
Step 1: Cleanse
Farmacy Clean Bee – I am on my second bottle of this stuff; it smells so good and doesn’t dry out my skin. Honey has anti-microbial properties, so it’s a great ingredient for fighting any kind of acne. Since cleanser is on your face for a short period of time before you wash it off, I’m not too stringent about the ingredients in my cleansers.
Step 2: Tone
Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner – I am on my third bottle of this toner. It smells amazing! Green tea is another ingredient that helps soothe the skin and fight fungal acne.
Step 3: Exfoliate
Herbivore Botanicals Prism Exfoliating Glow Potion – For your exfoliant, it’s important to use chemical (i.e. AHAs and BHAs) and not physical exfoliants (i.e. sugar, salt, other random shit they put in scrubs). Physical exfoliants can be too rough and tear your skin, actually causing more acne! I started using Prism about a month ago and it’s a light, gentle exfoliant that I can use nightly. It smells so refreshing, and $1 of each sale is donated to LGBTQ youth!
***Tip: Make sure to wear sunscreen if you use an exfoliant that contains AHAs (like Prism)!
Step 4: Hydrate
The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane Oil – This is probably the trickiest part of the routine, since most moisturizers and facial oils contain ingredients that trigger fungal acne. Luckily, squalane oil—not to be confused with squalene, which does clog pores—is completely safe, and it’s one of the best oils for restoring balance to your skin! It mimics your skin’s natural oils but doesn’t clog pores, so your skin produces less oil but stays hydrated. Squalane is a light, scentless oil that’s great for both fungal and bacterial acne. The Ordinary makes an extremely affordable squalane oil. I also add a drop of tea tree essential oil into the bottle and mix it, because tea tree has acne-fighting properties.
***Note: I don’t get fungal acne on all parts of my face; in fact, around my mouth area my skin tends to get dry and flaky especially in the winter. So, I use heavier oils/moisturizers (I have been experimenting with Herbivore Lapis Oil and even shea butter because it’s truly a desert there) on my mouth/lower face area and have not noticed fungal breakouts there as a result.
On occasion, I also use face masks. This can also be tricky since many moisturizing masks contain ingredients that will break you out. Here are some masks that work for me.
Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask – OMG, this mask is amazing. I wish I had tried it sooner! Somehow, it tames and prevents breakouts without drying out my skin. It’s also fungal-acne-safe since the blue tansy is anti-fungal.
100% Pure Anti-Acne Sheet Masks – These masks are amazing for reducing inflammation and the appearance of skin overnight. They contain salicylic acid and tea tree.
Farmacy Honey Potion or raw honey masks – Honey is a wonderful ingredient for moisturizing the skin, and it also has antimicrobial properties. Farmacy’s Honey Potion mask gives a pleasant tingly sensation when applied and rinses off easily, but a cheaper option is raw honey (which can also be used for eating, yay).
Other skincare tips!
I wish that having healthy skin were as easy as throwing money at Sephora, but it’s not. Here are some other factors I have found that affect my skin:
- Diet: Reducing sugar and dairy make a huge difference for me. Within a week or two of eliminating (or trying my best to eliminate) these ingredients, the difference in my skin is noticeable. I highly recommend that you try your best to limit your dairy/sugar intake because that will speed up and help maintain the results of this skincare routine.
- Sunlight: Getting some sunlight can help reduce fungal acne, because the UV radiation kills the fungus. Of course, you should wear sunscreen if you’re out for a prolonged period of time and using AHAs, since that same UV radiation will damage your skin. I use COOLA, which has a light formula that doesn’t seem to break me out.
Style notes: Jewelry from Mejuri (10% off with my link); head scarf is thrifted