April 13, 2016

Kitchen Esthetician or How to Navigate Acne DIY

Coconut and olive oils and baking soda used in DIY skincare make acne worse!
Working on my Adult Acne Online Coaching program, helping people adjust their home routines to clear their breakout issues, coming across some kind of DIY facial oil, mask or cleansing oil is an almost daily occurrence.  Between Pinterest, beauty blogs and Facebook, the skincare consumer is bombarded with all sorts of advice on how best to deal with acne in general, but particularly on how to save money and health by making your own products right in your own kitchen.  I can’t blame anyone for trying these things.  Who can possibly object to saving money and guarding their health?

There are three problems with the logic here.

Depending on the ingredients, ounce for ounce you may not actually be saving that much money.  Take, let’s say, an oil cleanser containing coconut oil, jojoba oil and argan oil.  You could easily spend $20 to make a 4oz bottle of oil cleanser, and that’s just with these three oils alone - add up to $5 more for the essential oils often added.  More importantly, this doesn’t even come close to the money that has to be spent afterwards on extra products necessary to clear the acne caused by the Kitchen Esthetician Syndrome!

The scare mongers also have it wrong; aside from the fact that the skincare industry is not out to get you!! we have to be sure we’re really clear on what we mean by “natural” and “chemical”.  I’ve written extensively about this, I really think you should check it out, there’s some great info there.  Not all “natural” ingredients are good, and not all “chemicals” are bad.  Want a real scare ?  Try using a moldy product with natural ingredients sitting in your bathroom for two weeks after purchasing because the product is handcrafted and has no preservatives.  Mold and other microbial infestations don’t always have a color or odor at their beginning.

The vast majority of the time, the ingredients suggested for DIY skincare, and especially DIY acne care, are absolutely horrific for acne!  Here’s why:

Human skin produces oils, lipids and waxes that mix with dead skin cells to create a special natural barrier that is meant to keep water inside our skin while at the same time preventing it from becoming water-logged, keep it pliable and soft, and keep many types of microbes from invading our bodies.  Some call this barrier the Acid Mantle, because it has a naturally low pH (which means your skin is actually slightly acidic).

When the Acid Mantle is intact, the skin functions normally and stays youthful.  When it becomes dehydrated, broken or overrun with oil, bad things happen, like acne, sensitivity and dryness.  Each of these issues is affected by acidity level and water level in the skin, both of which have connections to the oil we produce.  This is the crux of the matter.

Using the Oil Cleansing Method for your Adult Acne? Daniela, The Acne Whisperer, explains why this is a terrible idea!

Our skin’s oil, known as sebum, is made up of two main types of fatty acids (among other things, but for the purpose of this discussion, only these are mentioned here); Oleic Acid and Linoleic Acid.  Oleic Acid happens to be a teeny bit thicker than Linoleic Acid.  Those of us with genetic oil over-production and acne tend to have a lower level of Linoleic Acid in our sebum than those without breakout issues. 

Why does this matter?  Because this is what makes natural ingredients pore clogging or not - the higher the level of Oleic Acid there is in an ingredient, the more problematic it will be to acne-prone skin !  Examples include all the butters, like cocoa, shea, mango, etc, and many oils, such as coconut, wheat germ, tree nut and many seed oils.  Using Coconut Oil to cleanse, remove makeup or moisturize is probably one of the worst things you can do because you’re adding a huge amount of exactly what your skin has so much of already, it’s one of the causes of your acne to begin with. 

Natural ingredients to avoid if you have adult acne.

The idea behind using oil for so many steps in skincare are twofold; oil dissolves oil, and where there is dryness, oil must be lacking.  Both premises are wrong when it comes to oily skin that breaks out.  Several trusted and brilliant colleagues of mine do believe there is something to the first idea, but in my experience dealing with adult acne for over 17 years, there is still too much oil left over for an acne skin to handle.  Sure, you can wash it off after, or include a detergent like Castile soap in with the oil, but there is the problem of oil still being left behind, plus pH problems depending on the liquid soap used.  As for the second premise, oily skin doesn’t lack oil – when it’s dry it’s dehydrated, which means it lacks water, not oil. 

So why does it seem to work for so many people?  Because after years of harsh cleansers and meds drying the skin out, softening it up with anything lubricating, even something as pore clogging as coconut oil, can start to let much of the backed-up oil in your skin loose, which temporarily allows your congestion to clear a bit.  You just don’t hear so much about it months later when they start breaking out like mad.  But I do ! lol

There are several oils that are ok for acne skin; sunflower, safflower, castor, hemp, evening primrose, rosehip seed and jojoba are great examples.

Sunflower, non-GMO safflower, hemp, jojoba and castor are all oils that have lower levels of Oleic Acid and are therefore ok for oily skin.  Sunflower oil, in fact, has a high enough level of Linoleic acid that it’s actually good for oily skin.

Our sebum also has a naturally low pH.  When too much of our oil gets taken away, the pH of our skin gets thrown off, and the skin will overproduce oil to rebalance it.  This is why it’s so important for cleansers not to have too high a pH.  It’s what we mean when we call a cleanser “harsh”.  As everyone knows, harsh cleansers strip the skin’s oil too much which leads to dryness.  Well, guess what DIY ingredient has a really high pH.  Baking Soda!  Talk about stripping?  I have had clients come to me practically crying because their skin has been so ripped apart by making a scrub using baking soda and water paste as a scrub.  Adding lemon juice to lower the pH doesn’t do enough to get it to a point where it won’t harm the skin, in fact it makes the skin even more irritated.  Cleansers for oily skin do have to have a pH slightly higher than the skin to work well, but not too much higher, otherwise it rips the skin apart.

So what can be used from your kitchen to help with your Adult Acne ?  I’m actually not here to tell you that there is never, ever, ever any DIY masks or oils that can be used on acneic skin.  Just remember one thing very important :  Your skin needs WATER to function better.  It doesn’t need more oil.  Only ingredients that attract and bind water to your skin are really meaningful when it comes to making your skin soft, supple and clear.  One of the things that actually makes it easier for your skin to function better, including getting the water it needs, is gentle exfoliation, particularly when AHAs get involved.  Here’s where DIY can be helpful.

Mask Madness!
Making masks in your kitchen and even a scrub is not only totally ok for acne-prone and oily skin, but can do it a bit of good.  Here are a few ideas :

Sugar can be too scratchy during inflamed breakouts and should be avoided for use as a scrub.  Try corn meal.  It’s like little round beads.  If you want to mix with honey, it’s better to use a type called Manuka honey, which is better for the skin.  Just be aware that very oily skin with breakouts doesn’t do as well with a scrub – an exfoliating AHA and enzyme mask is better.

AHA Mask – Congested skin with few inflamed breakouts
Place ½ cup oatmeal flakes in a blender dry, pulverize until you have a powder.  (You can also use plain Aveeno oatmeal bath, since that’s all it is - powdered oatmeal)
Add 1 strawberry, ¼ cup plain non-fat yogurt and 2 1-inch cubes of papaya.
Blend well, apply as a mask for 15 minutes, then rinse.
Leftovers should keep for 2-3 days.  Very congested skin can use this mask 2-3 times a week.

AHA Mask – Inflamed skin with congestion
Place ½ cup oatmeal flakes in a blender dry, pulverize until you have a powder.  (You can also use plain Aveeno oatmeal bath, since that’s all it is - powdered oatmeal)
Add 1 tablespoon plain non-fat yogurt and 2 tablespoons very strong brew of green tea, chamomile tea or both.  Then add ½ the contents of the tea bag you used to make the tea.
Blend well, apply as a mask for 15 minutes, then rinse.
Leftovers should keep for 2-3 days.  Sensitive and inflamed skin can use this mask 1-2 times a week.

Your acne problem has a source, and clearing your skin requires finding that source and either eliminating it or healing it.  You can start that right now by filling out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation Form created specially for ages Gen-X to Baby Boom!

Eval by Email, Virtual Skincare Coaching specially designed for acne sufferers ages 24 and up.

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