I’ve written here and there about my struggles with adult acne, but I realized that I’ve never dedicated an entire post to the topic. My own acne is mostly under control, mild compared to what many people deal with, and considerably better than it used to be. But some of that is because I have had to change my behaviors on many fronts to ensure a relatively breakout-free existence.
Pillowcases and towels
In order to keep exposure to my own old sebum to a minimum, I change my pillowcase every other night. I sleep on one side, flip to the other side on the second day, then throw the pillowcase into my laundry basket. I use a new washcloth every night, and dry my face with clean, unused towels only. I use hand towels to dry, and have found that I can make them last for four uses by using half of each towel side per use. I own my home and do laundry once per week in my own basement. At least one person has mentioned that the amount of dirty linens that I generate through this system seems prohibitive, and I hear that. But when I travel for long periods and am unable to keep this up, I can see a difference within about a week.
Hormonal birth control
I have mixed feelings about taking hormonal birth control because it seems to mess with my moods quite a bit. But without it I suffer from incredibly painful cystic acne on and under my chin. So I take it. I have tried many creams and pills and consulted with many dermatologists. I am terrified of Accutane and don’t think my case is severe enough for it anyway. So, to stave off the super-painful pimples, I do birth control.
My cysts stay away so long as I keep to the birth control, but whiteheads and blackheads seem to be triggered by dietary choices. I make absolutely no claims that my own choices have any bearing on science, other people’s acne, or anything in the world except my own complexion, but sugar makes me break out. I try to avoid candy, baked goods, ice cream, and just about anything sugary to keep the pimples at bay. (And I dream of diving into pools of chocolate mousse. Really, I do.)
I’ve written an entire post on my experience with oil cleansing, and almost a year later I can say with confidence that I’ll stick to this method forever. No other cleanser has ever kept my skin in such good condition for so long.
Back when I wrote my review of this product, I was still a bit on the fence. But a commenter made a great point: The Clairsonic is supposed to get rid of dirt and makeup. But if you use it to remove those things, you may end up just grinding them deeper into your skin. So now I swipe some oil on my face, wipe it off with a washcloth, swipe on more oil, and THEN use the Clairsonic. I do this every other night, which seems to be the right amount for my sensitive skin.
Again, I’ve sung the praises of this new-to-me discovery here, but it bears mentioning again. This product not only evens out my skin tone when I use it, but it helps the zits that do occasionally appear heal faster.
I’ve saved this one for last because I estimate it’ll be the most controversial. I do my utmost to keep my hands off my face. I keep my hands clean, but know that they’re still collecting dirt and bacteria all day long. And I’ve noticed that if I rest my chin in my palm for long periods, I get pimples. Right there. So I just don’t touch my face. I’ll scratch itches and rub my eyes and such, but just avoid prolonged contact with my hands.
And that, friends, represents a significant investment of time, money, and energy to keep my acne only somewhat at bay. I still break out regularly, still typically have three or four zits on my chin and neck. I don’t like them. They’re a part of my natural biology, but I have failed entirely to embrace them. I’ve read a few articles and posts that ask why acne never gets folded in with the other issues associated with body acceptance, and lamenting that fact. It’s a valid point, ya know? Some people have acne and can do very little about it. Why should they be shamed? It seems like skin conditions – eczema, rosacea, and others – are near-universal triggers for judgment/embarrassment. In my case, my acne can be agonizingly painful and I feel that’s a good reason to work hard to keep it in check. But I’ll admit that even the non-painful, everyday zits irk me. And I am yet to feel body-love-related holistic acceptance of them.
Do you deal with acne as an adult? How do you keep yours under control? Any of the products or methods I use sound like they might be helpful? How do you feel about acne’s exclusion from the self-love movement?