For many people, their reason for getting into skin care – at least initially – is simply to get rid of their acne. It’s the most common skin condition in the world, and it’s usually the first skin issue we run into in our lives. And over time, if healing doesn’t happen, it can really demotivate you, leading you to give up on skin care.
But, surprisingly, the opposite happened to me.
Even after years of acne struggles with no end in sight, I kept it up, always assuming that one day there’d be an ‘AHA!’ moment, and I’d find my miracle solution.
Well, I recently had that moment. And surprisingly, it wasn’t finding a product at all. It was actually reflecting on what my fluctuating, seemingly random acne had been telling me all these years. There isn’t just one single reason why I break out. I had actually stumbled across the ‘real reasons’ for my breakouts many times. Taking out a triggering ingredient here, changing climates there. But I was so blinded by my search for the “main reason” that I thought minor improvements in my skin condition weren’t relevant, and quickly traded those improvements for new product or approach which took me back to square one.
So I wanted to chat to guys about why that is, and what you can do to avoid getting stuck in this trap.
It’s actually kind of unrealistic to assume that your skin problems are caused by just one source.
There are more likely a handful or more influencing factors that contribute to your different breakouts, which are fluctuating across different days. Think about it – does it seem very likely that you’ve got a flawless set of genetics, impeccable products, zero hormonal fluctuations, an ideal climate, perfectly sterile habits, and it’s just one little kink in the system that’s causing your acne?
Far more likely is that there are multiple issues at play – and thus, multiple solutions to find and use all at once.
Here are the most common causes of acne that could be working in tandem and worsening your skin.
- Inflammatory/allergy (internal and external)
- Poor hygiene
- Wrong ingredients for your skin goals
- Poor treatment – like harsh products or picking
- Genetics (sorry!)
The problem is then that once you tackle just one of these multiple sources of breakouts, you won’t see complete clearing, because the other issues are still at play. And it can be really discouraging, and probably make you think that whatever you didn’t didn’t work. So you strike off that product or treatment, go back to your old routine, try again, and stray further yet from the path to clear skin.
Instead, knowing all these factors play a part simultaneously, you can feel less stressed out about waiting for instant results. Instead, learn to look for small improvements that build on one another.
Here’s my advice for managing to put together the pieces of your unique skin puzzle:
Avoid haphazard or overly ambitious routines, and focus instead on creating traceability to eliminate blind luck. Track your eating, lifestyle and routine habits, photograph your skin and using that data to regularly look back at your progress over time. It’ll allow you to compare all the extraneous variables and find patterns in your skin from there.
I encourage you to look back at your skin history and consider that maybe you’ve already found ‘the cures’ to your skin worries, if only you revisit them. We’re often not seeing the result we want as fast as we want it, and become so enamoured with trying something new that we’re moving on and prematurely crossing it off our never ending list of skin care experiments.
Make it easier on yourself by paring down to a basic routine. That’s right – the secret to solving your acne could be not purchasing more products, but actually fewer! This means you’ll have less to remember, which is a godsend for the lazy among us, but more so the less chance there will be that your products are sneakily causing problems. Then, as time passes, you can add in new ingredients one by one and see how you go.
For me personally, it seems the magic acne combination is a smattering of regular ol’ bacterial and hormonal breakouts, ingredient sensitivities, raging fungal infections, eczema, and chronic dehydration, all exacerbated by compulsive skin picking which delays any progress. I need to manage all these issues at once to allow my skin time to heal and get back in balance. Then, add on top of that that I’m a skin care addict who likes to try new products and treatments and not just fight acne but actually improve my skin, and I’ve got quite the complex balance to maintain. So I spend a lot of time reviewing and paring down my current collection of products, revisiting my progress photos and making a strategic plan for the future. But of course, I still try to just enjoy myself – after all, skin care is mainly just for fun.