All my life I've obsessed over how my skin looks. I pick at every little imperfection to the point of insanity. I've scarred my forehead and several spots on my cheeks from picking zits incessantly.
And my skin isn't that bad. It has never been consistently blemished, I never dealt with serious, persistent acne, I was fairly normal-to-combo for most of the years after puberty. But having had two parents who both had cystic acne, blemishes were always a concern.
My downfall is laziness and hormones. I get hormonal breakouts every two weeks or so. It feels like just as one clears up I get another one, and in my mind these breakouts are a BIG DEAL. But I really struggle to stick to a routine consistently, my life is too inconsistent for that, and I'm, quite frankly, lazy.
This post is for everyone in a similar situation. It's for all the girls and boys in high school who hid their faces because they were so self-conscious of their blemishes. It's for everyone whose hormone betray them, whose lives don't allow them to find consistency, and who just want better skin FAST. If you know a teenager, maybe show them this post. Hopefully it can help them in the coming school year.
The biggest key to getting better skin fast is to cleanse it. If I cleanse morning and night with a gentle cleanser for 3 days, my skin immediately responds. Find a cleanser that works for you. If my skin is breaking out, I turn to the Cetaphyl Cleanser for oily skin. If my skin is also flaking, I use the St. Ive's Cleanser. It has a cream base, so it is fairly hydrating, but granular particles to take off the dead skin and leave my face feeling smooth and soft.
If you wear makeup, I don't think I need to say you should ALWAYS take it off fully before you cleanse.
After cleansing, go in with a clarifying toner. I use The Body Shop's Seaweed toner because it really gets deep into your pores and cleans them out. This also helps remove any little particles of gunk your cleanser may have missed.
I've sworn by this for a long time. I talked about it so much about a year and a half ago that people started getting annoyed. But this helps exfoliate the skin to keep it healthy and fresh, it has anti-bacterial properties that will stop blemishes in their tracks, and it really works incredibly well.
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
It sounds counter-intuitive, like you've cleaned out your pores only to block them again. But you need to moisturize or your skin will lose its mind. You need the moisture to keep everything looking perfect.
One more thing...
In order for this to be successful, you need a few days of dedication. Depending on how bad my skin is, I usually take 3-5 days to get my skin to clear up. I do all of these steps twice a day, morning and night, and it really does make a fast and noticeable difference to my skin.
I know this won't help those who have cystic acne, or any persistent forms of acne, but for your average teen (or twenty-something!) this could really make a big difference to their skin and confidence.
I hope this can help anyone who feels insecure about their skin. I know I am, frequently, and it's really hard sometimes! But just remember that you are more than your skin. You are a world of knowledge and personality underneath it, and that's what determines your character, not a zit you woke up with this morning.