Are you bothered by zits? Or do you have a well adjusted acceptance of them as part of life?
If you’re the latter then good for you! I sometimes wonder whether I’d have cared quite as much about breakouts if I hadn’t been in a profession where my face is often 6 foot wide across an illuminated screen? And the fact that I made my first film appearance when I was only 16. Insecurity+movie star+spots did not feel like a winning combo (see my Post ‘On the Spot’ here).
Nevertheless, as a result of fairly healthy eating, exercise, good skincare and the contraceptive pill – my skin is trouble-free. Until it isn’t. Because there are still times when my hormones go to Mardi Gras, and then it’s a WHOLE OTHER STORY.
The truth is I’ve controlled my problem skin with medication all my adult life – with anti-biotics when I was 16, Roaccutane (I still can’t believe I went to such extreme measures) when I was 18, and finally the Pill from 21. But there have still been windows of opportunity for my hormones to freak out – and that’s when I come off the pill to become pregnant. Which is where I found myself earlier this year.
I knew the breakouts were coming, and I wasn’t particularly fazed – even though I was shooting a TV show at the time. The problem areas for me were mainly around the edge of my jaw-line, and my back. Rather than freak out I focused on management, and I was keen to share whatever methods I found with you, the readers of ThandieKay.
I should mention though, that because of my pregnancy I sought out chemical-free products. In general, my attitude to skin care and treatment has changed a lot over the years. I now favor gentler methods over medicine, and additionally try to influence my skin’s behavior with exercise and diet. These things certainly aren’t as effective, in the short term, as ‘nuking’ with meds. But then, NUKING isn’t a good idea either, is it? (see the reference to ROACCUTANE in ‘On the Spot’ post)
So, here are my personal tips for those phases of acne, that can affect any of us at different stages of our lives.
Cleansing (face), Vitamins are also good for skincare.
I was shooting with Kay in the first trimester and she noticed a visible change in my skin – that it became oilier. I stopped using a daily exfoliator as I didn’t want to encourage my pores to produce any more sebum than they already were. I opted for Neals Yard Remedy’s (NYR) Rose Facial Wash – which is divine; really mild and smells heavenly. If I’d been wearing makeup I’d use NYR Rose Beauty Balm as a make up remover (followed by the facial wash).
I carried on using my Olay Total Effects – but avoided the areas where I was breaking out. On those places I applied NYR Clarifying Mahonia Skin Gel.
This stuff is fantastic – it protected my skin, had an astringent effect without drying it out, and was very soothing.
My back was the real problem – the spots were plentiful and painful. The fact that my skin was under clothing didn’t help – so I’d keep it naked as much as possible (easy at night). Gentle sun on my skin really helps when I have breakouts.
I also discovered that swimming in the sea is incredibly helpful for my skin – the salty water cleanses and soothes quite dramatically. So, I started adding Dead Sea Salts to my NYR Lavender Shower Gel, and used it on my back twice a day. Afterwards I’d apply traces of lavender oil to any spots that were really ‘angry’.
Spot Treatment (do not read if body goo bothers you)
Purple shampoo was very useful for colored hairs.
We all know that we should NEVER PICK SPOTS. But have you seen monkeys eating mites off each other, and grooming the heck out of any warm body they can grab? I swear, it’s in our DNA. And notice that your brain only kicks in AFTER you’re stood there, shaking with ecstasy, with an oozing spot… you can practically hear the cackling bacteria flock like vampire bats to the wound.
It really isn’t a good idea. Although I feel like I have an excuse because apparently I have tiny pores – great in all ways except when there’s a Vesuvias trapped under my skin for over a week. I justify ‘picking’ as a way of encouraging the zit to the next stage; the ‘eruption’ stage. Really, the only people who should do this are beauticians – because they cleanse and steam the area,
pierce it with a Lancet (also used by diabetics to draw a pin prick of blood – I know because I nicked a few of my Mum’s for ‘home spot extraction’), ge-e-e-e-ntly squeeze, and then zap the area with a buzzy thing – which kills the bacteria. But who’s going to run to a beautician every time they have a break out? Instead, we should LEAVE IT and let nature do its thing.
But if you ARE going to squeeze at home (though you shouldn’t) do it before going to bed so it has a chance to heal overnight (or get worse and infected – I warned you). Make sure the area is super clean and not moisturized, that your fingers are super clean (Purell on the hands for extra certainty).
I use a trace of lavender oil around the spot to kill bacteria beforehand, and then with two halves of a Kleenex folded up (not my nails) I GENTLY put pressure on either side of the spot. If nothing comes immediately then STOP, it simply is not ready. If on the other hand creamy goo has been unleashed, then make sure to keep gently squeezing until a little blood comes out.
Afterwards, I use another folded Kleenex with a little lavender oil on there, and use it to put pressure on the area to stem the flow. THEN I use my very own zapper – because they’re available in the drugstore now! Hoorah! I have a TANDA zap – which emits ‘blue light’ therapy, and kills bacteria. I also tried a Zeno which was great (there’s another device called the No!No! which apparently works well).
After all this I cover the spot with NYR Palmarosa Purifying Facial Mask,and leave it on overnight. If I’ve timed it right the spot won’t be any worse the next day. But if it was an impulsive, too-early extraction it’ll hurt the next day, and be just as bad (if not worse). If that happens I’ll mournfully dab the area with a trace of lavender oil morning and night, also zapping it twice a day until it eventually heals.
Dark marks left by spots are a real problem for skin blessed with more melanin. Even if we don’t pick and let the spot come and go naturally, we can be left with hyper-pigmentation. When I was a kid, my Mum had ‘fade-out’ cream, and I didn’t associate it with her wanting her skin to be lighter,
but with lightening the out-of-place marks left by spots.
As you can see in the picture below, the spots during my first trimester left lots of dark marks. Obviously-when it’s your face-the right color correcting concealer is a great solution, but it’s also possible to gently fade the area. The two steps which work for me are exfoliation and fading. For exfoliation on my face I use the gorgeous ‘Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant’ – completely natural and organic, smells divine and is gentle enough (but properly effective) to use morning and night (for my body I used Dead Sea Salts, mentioned above).
After that I use Eminence ‘Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum’. This stuff rocks! The element found in most skin ‘lighteners’ is hydroquinone, and the good people at Eminence have discovered that this property occurs naturally in stone crop and licorice root. Bingo. It’s not an overnight sensation – and only works if you’re vigilant; applying after every cleanse. It definitely helps fading though.
I hope these tips help. I was definitely comforted by the gentle rituals, and feel that they were effective without being punishing. The most important thing was treating my skin with gentleness – even if I was frustrated.
I kept reminding myself that the acne was signifier of extraordinary things going on in my body – new life growing. It’s the same with breakouts before our periods – we can take the positive approach and feel thankful that we are Goddesses able to bring life into the world.
The same even with breakouts caused by stress – we can take a gentle approach and try to reduce that stress through some yoga, meditation, spending time with loving friends, even asking work colleagues to ‘back off’ for a bit.
Acne is not the enemy – it’s revealing profound changes in our body, and we can be instructed by the messages – it’s like body braille.
Even though I managed my acne with these treatments, it only subsided when I was well into my second trimester, and now my skin is clear again. All the lotions and potions are relatively weak against our hormonal calendars.
We finished the Second Season of Rogue last month, and watching the early episodes I have to take a deep breath when I see the huge spot on my face which I picked at relentlessly – it’s definitely a feature of episodes 2, 3 and 4 – it deserves a screen credit all of its own! But I also try and remember that my baby was taking hold of life, and my body was working hard to nurture him/her into being.
Simple hairstyles which may be carried out with clippers.