Let me start off by saying this: I am not a beauty blogger, by any means. I barely wear makeup, and when I do, it's a few coats of mascara and a glossy lip. I've gotten comfortable with my skin, and gained confidence in myself as a whole and complete person, by trying different methods, products, and foods to keep a clear, glowing, and youthful complexion. This post will hopefully resonate with you, whether you wear a full face daily, or you are rocking the bare beauty that is your God-given face everyday. We all need to take care of our skin to reduce the signs of aging, to protect ourselves from toxins and cancers, and to further enhance our self-love.
A few years ago in 2015, I was in the middle of a life transition that unexpectedly led to a major breakout on my face due to the stress of change. The transition then was similar to the one I'm in now -- I changed career paths, started graduate school, and moved out of the country (to San Juan, Puerto Rico). Also, during this time, the social environment and political climate was especially tragic, traumatic, and stressful to internalize as we watched (and continue to watch) countless Black youth and adults alike losing their lives at the hands of the police. I was stressed. Stressed from a lack of fulfillment at my workplace; stressed from toxic relationships; stressed from questioning my worth and position as a Black woman in this "free" country. I just needed a change. So I decided to move around and move away from everything I thought was giving me these negative feelings.
Everything was falling into place, but happening fast, so I think my skin had an adverse reaction, even though I was looking forward to shaking things up in my life. My skin had broken out before (hormones, sweat, using oily products, etc), but this breakout turned into 2 months of me feeling "ugly" and wanting to hide my face. I was so embarrassed and annoyed at my skin for betraying me, and I wanted to do ANYthing to get my skin clear. At the time I was using a grapefruit extract based cleanser that honestly wasn't doing anything for me. I tried using my trusted Clinique products, but they weren't doing much either. Then I stopped using cleansers all together, and just washed my face with water, which actually helped balance me out (go figure -- H2O is the key to life).
I have combination skin, so I laid off the cleansers and products that would dry out my skin or cause me to overproduce oils that lead to breakouts. I also lived on an island, so I stayed glistening. I biked and walked everywhere, so I was constantly sweating, rehydrating, and making sure sweat didn't cause buildup on my face. I used witch hazel as my only cleanser/toner for a while until I saw my face clearing up. I continued to use water, witch hazel, and good ol sweat to see the changes I wanted to see in my skin, and it worked! After about 3 weeks, I started to notice that my breakouts had decreased by about 50% and I was feeling good about my skin again.
Fast forward to 2018, and I am still using very little product on my face. For about a year, I was using a bar soap similar to this Dr. Bronner's cleanser with tea tree oil. Tea tree oil reduces the size of pores and leaves your skin feeling clean and not dried out. I still don't use a moisturizer (my face is oily enough on its own), but I do use products that cleans and moisturizes at the same time. My all time favorite skin care product or ingredient right now is micellar water. I noticed that my mom was using a micellar water cleanser to take off her makeup, and I started reading about it more. I found a bomb cleanser by one of my favorite brands (YesTo) that has micellar water and activated charcoal, cleanses and moisturizes all at once, and there's no rinse-off. I just swipe this o my skin with a cotton ball and I'm good to go. For a bit of a deeper clean, my friend Gina put me onto a soap-free, oil-free cleanser from Amazon called Basis. I LOVE this cleanser because it leaves my skin feeling really fresh, cool, and cleaner than any other face soap I've tried. For a toner, I use Thayer's Witch Hazel/Aloe/Lavender spray, which I spray on my face 2-3 times a day when I'm feeling a lil ashy or just need a refresh. For blemishes, I apply a dab of tea tree oil on problem spots, and the bumps minimize and disappear after 1-2 days. Finally, I use YesTo masks once a week to pamper myself and to achieve particular results based on what's going on with my skin or my mood.
And that's literally it. I try to keep products to a minimum when it deals with my skin because I'm sensitive and I can easily break out if the wrong ingredient is applied. And I'm glad that I gave myself and my skin time to breathe and let it self-heal with natural products/ingredients. That would be my biggest advice to anyone having a skincare freakout -- TRUST YOURSELF. Your skin heals itself and regenerates constantly, so trust that your body will do what is necessary to allow you to operate at your highest and most beautiful level. I also noticed the effect of my environment and the people in it on my skin and general physical health. I've moved into a different space in my life (no toxic relationships allowed, limit alcohol use to weekends only, getting more sleep, speaking positive affirmations over myself, etc), and I can say that a huge part of how you look on the outside is directly related to what you're consuming, where you spend your time, and your internal dialogue.
What are your skin care go-to products and methods? I'd love to hear about what works for you! Feel free to comment here or continue the conversation on Instagram. Have an awesome day!