Help me help my skin.
August 5, 2013 3:50 PM   Subscribe

What is the best thing you've done to improve your skin?

I'm 31 and my sensitive, splotchy, freckly, white skin needs some TLC.
posted by Triumphant Muzak to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Drink a ton of water regularly. Get plenty of sleep. And keep hands and fingers off your face as much as possible.

I'll always have splotchy, sensitive, fair, dry, and acne prone skin. But those 3 (and free) things have done the most for helping my skin. Certainly more than any thing or product you can buy.
posted by raztaj at 3:58 PM on August 5, 2013

Cold cream.

Really. Really really. I rub it in, and then remove it with a super warm, wet washcloth. Some people think this is heresy, but my skin is amazing.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:02 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sunscreen used religiously, almost obsessively. Other than that, my skin is happier the less I do to it.
posted by payoto at 4:03 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agree 100% with not touching your face. I'm the same age as you and as far as products, using Retin-A (0.05%) consistently has been the best thing I've done in a long time to improve my skin (wrinkles and acne!). And of course, always sunscreen and sunglasses/hat (very important for the future of your skin)!
posted by PinkPoodle at 4:04 PM on August 5, 2013

Drink water and exercise/sweat regularly. If I am not exercising/sweating regularly, my skin tends to get patchy and weird.

Also, I try not to do too much to my skin. When it feels flaky or spotty or oily or weird, I use Angels on Bare Skin from Lush.
posted by gursky at 4:05 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by spunweb at 4:09 PM on August 5, 2013

Take high grade evening primrose oil and fish oil daily. I take one squeezy packet of orange flavor Coromega fish oil and two capsules of Barlean's evening primrose oil a day. (If you are vegetarian, flaxseed oil will give you the same omega-3's that fish oil does, you just have to take more.)

Use a good quality (not necessarily expensive) moisturizer. If you wear makeup, wash it all off before you go to bed - and use makeup remover, not soap and water, especially for the eye makeup. Use a clean pillowcase every night (or every other night at least) - I buy extra pillowcases from and on sale at Target.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:09 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Completely counterintuitive: I use a facial cleanser made with olive oil. In fact, its primary ingredient is olive oil. Before I started using it, I would have sworn that it would make me break out. In fact, quite the opposite.

I also really love their CoQ-10 product line. It has made my skin turn into the skin of my dreams. FWIW I'm 53 and I started using these products in my late 40s, on my sensitive, splotchy, acne-prone, white skin.
posted by janey47 at 4:09 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the best, recent things I've done for my face is witch hazel. I carry a travel size container of it and mid-day, and/or maybe after work, I pour some on a tissue and wipe it on my skin. It refreshes me and cleans up junk on my face. Caveat, I don't wear foundation and I fidget--can't stop touching my face throughout the day.
posted by inevitability at 4:11 PM on August 5, 2013

See a dermatologist.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:36 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: spunweb: which vitamins??

Medieval Maven: Confession: What is cold cream?
posted by Triumphant Muzak at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2013

A moisturizer that complements your skin type, applied morning and evening.
posted by koucha at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2013

Cold Cream is probably what your grandmother used to remove her makeup. It's very greasy - rub in and wipe or wash off. The smell gives me major nostalgia whiplash.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:51 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Drink a lot of water, wash your face only with water, and splash your face with water every time you go to the bathroom.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:58 PM on August 5, 2013

This topic has been covered many, many, many times here!

Check out the previous questions, many of which share similarities with yours.

Searches for "acne", "adult acne", and "skin care" also yield pertinent results.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:00 PM on August 5, 2013

I pretty much stopped eating eggs, dairy, flesh, wheat, and sugar. I really think it was dairy, though.
posted by jgirl at 5:21 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

it sounds like you are talking about sensitivity rather than acne from what you've written. i'd use products without gross chemicals like sulfates, parabens, & phthalates. i've started using burt's bees products recently and it's really helped my skin problems. they have a whole line of products for sensitive skin. no i'm not part of the co. or getting kick backs. just a really happy customer.
posted by wildflower at 5:41 PM on August 5, 2013

Retin-A. And sunscreen. That's it.

Actual, prescription retin-A really, REALLY works.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 5:49 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

oil based cleansers have made a world of difference for me. Eve Lom, Emma Hardie, and REN all make good ones. water and working out also make my skin glow better than any cream or serum money can buy.
posted by Bokonon11 at 6:08 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

1) Twice-daily hot cloth cleansing with dirt-cheap aqueous cream and a flannel
2) Followed by a serum containing hyaluronic acid and retinol
3) Followed by (at night) a slathering of dirt-cheap comforting plant oil (e.g. olive or sweet almond)
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:37 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'll let you know my skin-care type and what works for me and you can see if it helps.

I have rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, and sensitivity. Which means blotchiness with dry patches a lot of the time. I've had bad skin since puberty (almost 20 years ago) and since then I've tried everything, with varying degrees of success.

The best thing I've found to make my skin soft is to exfoliate with either a Micro Fiber Cloth (Don't pay more than $1-5 dollars for that cloth) or a Silicone Pad with a really gentle cleanser. Paula's Choice has some nice, gentle cleansers. If you get dry patches, but are too sensitive for an AHA, then try a Lactic Acid cleanser, like the La Roche Posay one or the Dermalogica one. You know, if dryness isn't a problem, just soap works well, or if it is then an oil-based cleanser might work well.

Then I use a toner. My favourite toner is by a Japanese brand called Juju Cosmetics -- they have a bunch of toners. It is the biggest difference that my skin has seen, and it is not like its western counterparts. I really recommend a toner; I even got my brother on one and he swears by it now. I put my toner in the fridge to calm my redness. I've tried the red line of Paula's Choice too, and it seems pretty good.

Then I use either SK-II FTE or SK-II Mask-in Lotion as a serum. These are really expensive, and the latter one contains alcohol so it might exacerbate redness. However the Facial Treatment Essence really softens my skin, and has made it a lot calmer. If my skin is especially dry and red, I use these. Before I found the micro fibre cloths, I exclusively used the FTE and nothing else, and it made a huge difference to my skin.

If its a little calm, I use a Retinol serum, and a Hyaluronic Acid serum. The latter sometimes breaks me out a little though, and the retinol sometimes can exacerbate my dryness and redness-- I have tried a bunch of brands, and prescription Retin-A and they all kinda do it. I still use it though because both are great on my fine lines. Build up to using the Retin-A though, it can be a bit harsh if used in a high strength. Also make sure you don't go out in the sun.

Also the best makeup remover I've ever used is: Bioderma Crealine H20 -- I use it solely as a cleanser sometimes when I can't be bothered washing my face, but as a cleanser it can be a little drying.

Again, my skin is super particular and will flare up regardless sometimes, but all of these have made a vast difference. I used to have red, sandpapery skin that I'd wash and then use a moisturizer on, and it would settle on top of my skin and just sit there, until I would scrape off all the dead skin to reveal bright red pink skin underneath. It was terrible, and it is way way better now. I've not done that in years, since I started on the SK-II. I still suffer from redness occasionally and I've been meaning to try the La-Roche Posay, Obagi and Dermalogica redness lines but I haven't yet. I have tried the Paula's Choice and I liked their cleanser and toner a lot. Not so much their moisturizer or serum though.

I notice a bit of a difference in my skin when I eat more Vitamin K foods (Kale, Fermented foods) and Zinc, and Vitamin A/Beta Carotene. There might be a correlation between sugars and dairy, too, but I haven't explored it enough.

Things I have tried that haven't worked:
- Cotton face cloth (makes my skin very red)
- Warm water (flares up my rosacea-- I only use cold now)
- Nothing (Makes my skin red and dry)
- Water (makes my skin flaky)
- Prescription Retin-A alone (helped my pores on my nose, but dried out my skin and made it splotchier)
- Cold Cream (too greasy somehow and wouldn't absorb)
- Moisturizer (Olay, Clinique, Ponds-- no matter what brand, it never really absorbs and it usually makes my skin more red)
- Various types of oils and soaps (goat, olive, milk, bio-oil... )
- Various types of facial mists (too drying)
- Witch Hazel (extra dryness, extra redness and it broke me out)
- Drinking water (makes no real difference)
- Supplements (Collagen, Vitamin C, HA, Omega 3... none of these really helped)
- Natural anti-inflammatory/anti-bacterials/anti-virals (Oregano oil, garlic, olive leaf, licorice... none help my skin, although I find them good if I feel like I'm getting a cold)
- Oil Based Cleanser (Shu Uemura) made my skin too oily
posted by Dimes at 7:52 PM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Stridex for acne, and Shiseido's bioperformance brightening cream and supercorrective serum.
posted by greta_01 at 8:15 PM on August 5, 2013

I gave up moisturizer a couple years ago and now just use oil instead. I like jojoba best, but I ran out last week and have been using olive oil, and honestly, it's great too. (Once you get over the weirdness of smearing salad dressing on your face..)

It's very, very scary at first, but you really just need a little bit and it soaks in quickly (it's even fine under makeup, never looks greasy).

I always thought my skin was super sensitive and finicky because so many products caused redness or flaking or itchiness or breakouts. But quitting moisturizer magically solved all that, and I barely even need makeup anymore because my skin actually looks nice on its own. I'm just sad that I waited til I was 30 to figure this out.
posted by ella wren at 8:25 PM on August 5, 2013

be gentle with your skin. wash with lukewarm water and a mild face wash like Purpose or Cetaphil. use a non comodegenic moisturizer every night. get lots of sleep. stay hydrated. don't touch your face or rest your chin on your hands.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:55 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Pond's cold cream. I don't always use it as my facial cleanser, but it works well for me when I do. I massage it onto dry skin and remove it with a wet washcloth. I also like Pond's Luminous Moisture cream cleanser.

I exfoliate with alcohol-free Stridex pads (2% salicylic acid) and St. Ives lactic acid pads. I may use these on different days, or use a St. Ives pad after a Stridex pad (good post on AHAs and BHAs here). I always moisturize after using Stridex because it can be a bit drying. Cerave moisturizing cream in the tub is one of my favorites.

Sometimes I use a retinol cream at night. I've only tried Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle cream, but I like it. I wake up with soft, glowy skin after I use it.

I wear sunscreen (especially important because I use retinol and alpha hydroxy acid products); right now, I'm using Neutrogena Ultra Sheer liquid facial sunscreen. It leaves my face a little shiny but it gives good protection so I don't mind.

If it's relevant, I'm 21 and have combination skin.
posted by cp311 at 8:59 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

My skin is sensitive and tending towards dryness, with the odd pimple. The most helpful thing I learned was that my face gets angry (red, itchy, irritated) if I wash it or even touch it when I'm in the shower, and then my moisturiser stings and it gets bumpy and it sucks for a day or two.

Now I wash my face after my shower: spread about half a teaspoon of Lush 9 to 5 over my dry face, run a microfibre facewasher ($1 from the supermarket) under warm water, squeeze it out, and either wipe off the goop or sometimes hold the cloth on my nose to open up my pores. It's also good for a bit of gentle exfoliation. Even though I suspect it's a scam, Avene thermal water is very soothing - I sometimes spray a bit of it on after I've cleansed, or if my face gets angry just from being in a hot shower the cool spray can sometimes calm it down.

Olay Sensitive lotion and cream work fine for me.

For my occasional pimples, I'm a huge fan of hot compresses. Get another one of your supermarket facewashers. Hold it under quite a hot tap. Squeeze it out, hold it on your face as long as you can be bothered. Repeat a couple of times a day, and it tends to brings subterranean pimples out and get them healing faster.
posted by escapepod at 9:18 PM on August 5, 2013

Sunscreen (as noted above), don't smoke, good nutrition/hydration, and seriously, try to minimize sun exposure. While this won't do much for your skin today, or tomorrow, it'll make a world of difference 20 or 30 or 40 years down the road. My wife was a huge sun-worshipper in her teens, twenties, and thirties. She's now approaching 50 and has had god-knows-how-many things burnt, frozen, or cut off of her (including one bona fide basal cell carcinoma.

I, on the other hand, started working in hospitals and healthcare at 22 and pretty much was only exposed to fluorescent lighting for the past 25 years, and I've nary a blemish (or wrinkle, for that matter).

Of course, there's genetics and all that, and the fact that everything starts to droop in the mid-to-late 40s, but I'm telling you, all of the literature supports the fact that sun exposure is one of, if not the, biggest culprits in premature aging of skin.

Finally, don't spend a ton on creams and other crap (MD hat goes on here): the skin is meant to be a barrier against lots of things - water, chemicals, etc. You can put whatever expensive stuff you want on your skin, and it's a giant waste of money. In a nutshell, if you have normal skin, keeping your skin clean with a gentle soap and moisturizing with something simple (aloe, Cetaphil, Eucerin, etc.) when dry is probably more than enough. For freckles, you're kind of stuck. Nothing will change that. They're melanin pigment in the skin -- no cream will get rid of them. Avoid the sun (see above). For sensitive skin, keep it clean and moist, and identify triggers that make it splotchier (foods, dryness, etc.) and avoid them.

Best of luck.
posted by scblackman at 9:37 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Olive oil made me break out, but my face loves coconut oil as a moisturizer.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:41 PM on August 5, 2013

Oh! Forgot the most important thing -- sleep. Clean pillows and pillowcases and sleep. My skin is always best after I get about 10 hours. 8 doesn't cut it for me. And of course, limited sun exposure, although I didn't mention it because I thought enough people said it.

A caveat to the advice I gave above-- my skin condition was very extreme.

I have nary a blemish or wrinkle also -- people think I'm 8-10 years younger than I am. So I use HA and Retin A preventatively, not because I am prematurely aging. The only lines I have are a little under my eyes, and a few on my forehead, which have lessened. I also don't smoke, drink, go out in the sun, and have never done so (I'm actually a little Vitamin D deficient) and I eat relatively well -- it might help my wrinkles possibly, but it's made absolutely no difference to the look and feel of my dry, sensitive Seb Derm/Rosacea skin. I'd also been to a dermatologist. So seriously, it kind of always gets me when people try to convince me about what I SHOULD be doing for my skin, and tell me "you don't need all those creams because they're all the same if you only... and if it's dry, probably just do x and y, and if you only ate this, and avoided that..."

I've been told that my entire life. It gets old. Fast.

I've had a skin issues since I was 12; it really changed overnight as soon as I hit puberty. I've tried most of the things on here. I've been researching skin issues and products for almost 20 years. I am not saying that some of these things don't work for some people -- every skin type different-- but my skin is an extreme case and decidedly didn't like a LOT of things. So what I mentioned above works for me. I'm not saying it works for everyone-- every one is different-- but I mentioned what I mentioned because someone in a similar boat as me might appreciate the advice. I know I would have, years ago.

As for 'don't waste your money!' as some people are saying; I really have to respectfully disagree on one thing. Yes, I agree that most potions and lotions are all the same-- a Clinique moisturizer is the same as an Olay one generally speaking. Also, eye-creams just don't work. A general moisturizer and some Retin-A is best. But for me, pitera (the main thing in SK-II FTE) works very well, and it absolutely wasn't a waste of money-- it saved my skin from a red, blotchy, dry mess. I couldn't ever wear any foundation (for 15 years) because whenever I tried, it looked like cracked earth. Anything. Oil based. Water based. Silicone based. I just couldn't wear foundation. Considering I had rampant rosacea, makeup would have really helped my self esteem. No amount of moisturizer or oil would penetrate or hydrate enough for me to then layer foundation on top.

Now I can wear foundation (my faves are BB creams) and for me, FTE changed my skin texture. It might not change yours, (and definitely try a sample before putting down money for it) but it changed mine-- it was the only thing that did. The only thing that comes close to what it does is the Juju toner. (By the way a good toner does not have alcohol). I don't even need a moisturizer now. I rarely use one. However, again, mine was a pretty extreme case. If you have combo/normal skin then a gentle cleanser a toner, and a your favorite emollient when you feel dry, should be fine.

And oh, if you want to fade freckles there is hydroquinone, which is a powerful melanin inhibitor-- but I don't recommend it and it won't get rid of them completely, only fade them. It will stop more forming though. Paula's Choice has pretty no-nonsense straightforward skin/product advice, considering it's a skin care company. But take it with a grain of salt.
posted by Dimes at 11:19 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

As far as I've been told, the skin mirrors the condition of the body as a whole. Therefore, things that are naturally good for the body should also be naturally good for the skin. The best skin that I've seen tends to be in warm climates, with vegetable-heavy diets. Apparently, the skin is one of the primary detoxifiers of the blood stream (correct me if I'm wrong!), and therefore, what's in the blood tends to come out through the skin. If that's water, then it's water. If that's processed fats and oils, then it's processed fats and oils. If that's nicotine and alcohol, well, you get the picture...

What I've been told over the years...
1) lots of water (makes sweat and carries away toxins...)
2) reduce/remove caffeine, nicotine, alcohol (obvi...)
3) lots of vegetables (keeps the digestive clean)
4) reduce/remove dairy and saturated fats (what goes in, must come out...)
5) sunblock (given...)
6) natural soap (less chemicals the better)
7) sleep (reduces stress, boosts immune system)
8) exercise / sweat (naturally cleanses by pushing toxins out of pores)

I did a research project on teenage skincare back in the day. The healthiest skin I saw (by far) were the athletic people – primarily the runners, as any equipment (helmets, gloves, etc) typically traps sweat and results in more bacteria sitting on the skin. I always wondered if the people using chemical regimes were causing their own problems. Literally stripping their skin of all natural products, and replacing it with layers and layers of (expensive) chemicals.

One of the experts we interviewed said that skin health (or lack thereof) in Western cultures has a lot to do with processed food diets. Eating heavily processed food devoid of fibre results in waste sitting in the digestive tract, not moving as quickly as it should. In that case, the body still attempts to rid itself of the toxins present (both artificial and natural). These toxins are present in the bloodstream, and therefor find the fastest exit possible... through the skin... resulting in blemishes and bacteria colonies.

Food for thought I suppose...
posted by nickrussell at 3:13 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Now that I am older, I must concur with the good doctor's advice above: keep it simple. Find a moisturizer that works for you, and use it daily whether you think you need to or not; 20 years later you'll have a lot fewer wrinkles. I'm glad I did.
posted by Dashy at 6:35 AM on August 6, 2013

I "wash" my face each night with coconut oil, straight out of the jar (got it at Trader Joe's). This is how it works: slather on; got a hot, wet wash cloth; wipe it off. Then I put a thin layer back on to sleep with. In the morning I wash my face with Cetaphil for sensitive skin and apply sun screen.

Seriously, the coconut oil has done WONDERS for me. I am 32 w dry, sensitive skin. Not acne prone, so if you are ymmv.
posted by corn_bread at 8:39 AM on August 6, 2013

Cutting carbs helped a lot.
posted by elizeh at 8:58 PM on August 6, 2013

Sunscreen every day since I was in my late teens. I'm 35 and I still get carded.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:17 AM on August 7, 2013

« Older lottery ticket payphone hack?   |   30's hair cut for a modern gal? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.