Disclosure: This post is brought to you by La Roche-Posay.
Last week, I attended for the second time La Roche-Posay Bootcamp that is designed to educate influencers and bloggers about proper ways to treat acne. Last year, I learned a lot of new tips and tricks that helped me to get the clearest skin I’ve ever had. This time around, it was all about sharing strategies that worked the best for my skin. From all the questions I receive on the blog and social media, acne related ones are the most common so today I’m sharing my exact acne treating strategy inspired by La Roche-Posay Bootcamp that really proved to work for my skin.
For your convenience, I separated my tips and tricks into three categories so it’s easier for you to navigate. I also provided links to specific products that proved to work for my combination, acne-prone skin type. Please feel free to ask additional questions and provide your acne-related observations in the comments area below.
It might seem like acne is exclusively skin related issue, but your lifestyle choices might influence how clean your skin looks more than you think. Personally, I noticed the biggest difference with my acne situation when I adjusted my diet and upcoming skincare regiment change helped to (almost) completely eliminate the issue. Below, I provide some of my observations on which lifestyle changed helped to improve my skin condition.
How Diet Affects Acne
The first connection with how diet affects my skin happened after my transformational trip to Belize. On that resort, my health issues go so much out of control that I decided to try the elimination diet. I stopped eating gluten and dairy for a few weeks and I noticed not only improvement with my endo cramps, but also with my hormonal acne.
While my acne improvement through the diet change was accidental, as I learned at the La Roche-Posay Bootcamp, I’m not the only one who noticed the correlation between what I eat and how my skin looks. As explained by Dr. Tamara Lazic-Strugar, low-fat milk product proved to affect how your skin looks. You don’t have to completely eliminate milk from your diet though: as of now, only low-fat dairy products proved to be connected to acne.
For years now, I’m not eating any dairy products and I feel that this change had a tremendous effect on how my skin looks. And yes, by saying “no dairy” I also mean no pastries, desserts, butter, or bread—no byproducts of milk too!
For All the Gym Addicts Out There
Another important point about acne that I learned at last year’s La Roche-Posay Bootcamp, was about proper skin hygiene at the gym. After listening to Dr. Tamara Lazic-Strugar’s explanation how sweating leads to blocking your pores and spreading bacteria all over your face, my rule of thumb is to wash my face immediately after a workout. Yes, even if I was planning to go straight home after my barre class.
If you remember my recent post on Why I Follow 4 Skincare Routines Per Day, I explained that your after-workout wash should not necessarily be harsh on your skin. A tiny percentage of salicylic acid might be a good idea, but if your cleanser doesn’t contain this ingredient, you’ll be fine too. The idea here is to remove the sweat from your skin and re-apply SPF for your walk home.
For years, my absolute favorite post-workout cleanser has been La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser. In fact, I recently finished an entire jumbo tube of this cleanser, that could only mean two things: either I workout too often or I really love that cleanser!
Another option, especially if you are often short on time after your workout, is to use La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Oil-Free Towelettes. These gentle wipes contain a small percentage of Salicylic Acid and Zinc Pidolate that cleanse away oil and impurities and, as an additional benefit also helps to smooth your skin. Be aware though that these are not your typical makeup removing wipes and don’t use them on your eyes; these towelettes are designed to clean your face, not more sensitive around eye and mouth areas.
In addition to the lifestyle changes that I made in order to improve my skin condition, I also experimented a lot with skincare products. By the time I hit 30, I tried every trick in the book in order to get rid of persistent acne, from dermatologist advice that I learned on medical websites to all sorts of crazy DIY methods recommended on social media. Some of them worked, some of them miserably failed, so here I share only those tips that proved to be working for my skin.
Why I Stopped Using Oils
Lately, there are a lot of face oils designed specifically for acne prone skin popped out in stores and social media. People swear that these products “changed their skin”, and as a skincare junkie I fell into the trap of testing many of those miracle products and the results were predictable. I had a great first impression of the new face oil, but over time it started irritating my skin and cause breakouts.
I can’t really provide a scientific explanation of why it’s happening, but my skin just doesn’t react well on oils. After a few experiments, I finally decided to stick to the advice given by Dr. Tamara Lazic-Strugar at the La Roche-Posay Bootcamp who recommended to go oil-free. It doesn’t mean though that eliminating oils from my skincare means not properly hydrating my skin. I do use serums and moisturizers (and even cleansing oils) regularly, but I just skip on face oils.
If you need a little help with figuring out how to find a product that is suitable for acne-prone skin, look for two keywords on the package: “non-comedogenic” (or “non-acnegenic”) and “oil-free.” The first term means that the product doesn’t clog your pores and causes acne and oil-free formulas are usually more suitable for people with skin prone to breakouts.
Salicylic vs Benzoyl Peroxide
Another ingredient sensitivity that I recently discovered is Benzoyl Peroxide. Typically, this ingredient is used in spot acne treatments that you apply to the area of active breakouts to dry them out. Benzoyl Peroxide comes in different percentages that you can adjust based on your skin needs, but for me personally, even the smallest amount of this ingredient causes irritation.
These days, I prefer either avoiding spot treatments at all or only use those that contain salicylic Acid only. Another alternative, Tea Tree Oil, also happen to irritate my skin so my acne-fighting strategy is to attack an entire area of the breakouts as opposed to treating each individual zit.
Masks Are Life Savers
Another skincare change that dramatically helped me to improve the condition of my skin is a regular use of face masks. Since I have a combination skin, I prefer multi-masking strategy when I apply a hydrating mask on the cheeks area and use clay masks on the T-zone. That way, I balance my skin out: dry patches are getting more normal while pores on the oily patches of my skin are purified.
If you are particularly looking for La Roche-Posay mask recommendations for combination acne-prone skin, try applying La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clay Mask on the T-zone to control shine and purify pores and La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Mask to nourish dry patches of your skin. I tried both masks for my 365 Masks Challenge and both masks received raving reviews not only from me but from the Style Sprinter community.
Revise Your Sunscreen Routine
Another potential skin irritant to keep in mind if you have sensitive acne-prone skin is sunscreen. And I’m talking not only about your everyday tinted moisturizer, but also things like high SPF cream for your beach vacation and makeup products that contain SPF. Personally, I spent years on finding proper sunscreen products for my skin and I finally found what works for my skin type. I will test a new sunscreen every now and then, but for the most part, I stick to my non-irritating sunscreens that are suitable for acne-prone skin.
For every day, I love using La Roche-Posay Effaclar Moisturizer UV SPF 30 as its gentle, oil-free and non-irritating formula works perfectly for both dry and oily patches of my skin. The product contains SPF 30 which is totally enough for your daily wear and I love how it interacts with my foundation.
By the way, these days, I avoid using foundations with SPF because it was one of the main causes of irritation and acne for my skin. I’ll go for oil-free, sunscreen-free formulas and rather re-apply a mineral SPF powder during the day than torture my skin with layers and layers of sunscreen products.
Finally, for beach vacations, I recently started using La Roche-Posay Athelios Clear Skin Sunscreen which is specifically designed for acne-prone skin. I love that it quickly absorbs into skin and provide matte finish—I can’t even explain how comfortable it feels in a warm climate!
Finally, if you are struggling with acne, you might seriously benefit from getting regular facials. These days, I’m trying to be as consistent with my facials as it’s possible. I have visible pores on my nose area that keep looking untidy even if I’m consistent with my masks and skincare regiment.
As explained by Dr. Tamara Lazic-Strugar, blackheads look dark because it’s oxidized oil that can’t come out to the surface of your skin. If you do regular facials, your pores don’t permanently get clean, but they visually appear smaller as an aesthetician remove oxidized dark-colored “blockage” from your skin. To put it differently, I personally noticed that if I stick to regular facials, I don’t need to spend too much time applying pore-refining primers as my skin looks less clogged.
If might sound irrelevant, but makeup you choose to apply on your skin can actually affect your acne situation. Aside from all the makeup products that contain fragrances or irritating ingredients, it’s also about how hygienic you go about applying your makeup. In this last section, I’ll talk about all the changes that I incorporated into my makeup routine that help me to ensure that I’m not causing extra breakouts due to my love for makeup.
Clean Your Water?
I learned this tip back when I lived in Russia, but only recently started implementing it again. You probably heard about prepping your skin for makeup, and lately, I’ve been starting my makeup application by using micellar water followed by thermal water.
I use La Roche-Posay Micellar Water Ulta to eliminate excess oil which ensures that my makeup lasts longer. It also helps to clean my skin down to microscopic pollution particles which means less “opportunities” for bacteria and acne to spread. After cleansing my skin, I use selenium-rich thermal water by La Roche-Posay that helps to restore pH level of my skin and refresh the skin for makeup.
Revise Your Foundation Wardrobe
It goes without saying that you’ll feel more confident covering up your acne with concealers and foundations—and that’s exactly what I do by picking full-coverage makeup products. You have to be very careful though as makeup can actually clog your pores and cause acne. As I previously mentioned, sunscreen-infused foundations and concealers most commonly cause skin irritation, so I’d recommend avoiding those.
Also, if you have acne-prone skin, it’s crucial to be aware of how to use your camouflaging products hygienically. Personally, I prefer foundations that have a pump as it helps to ensure that you are not getting into the tube with your makeup sponge or a brush that has been already exposed to the skin (aka avoid spreading bacteria). When it comes to the concealer, I usually apply the product on the back of my hand and then use a brush or a sponge to distribute it on your skin, i.e. don’t contaminate the entire tube of a product.
The New Brush Strategy
Talking about brushes and makeup sponges, don’t forget to clean them regularly in order to avoid spreading the germs all over your skin. I have a makeup rule that I follow religiously: the moment I stopped using my makeup sponge, I clean it with antibacterial soap and let it dry with a clean towel. By doing so, I make sure that it’s always fresh and clean and doesn’t just stay out there absorbing all the germs.
Same goes for foundation and concealer brushes. While I can apply my eyeshadows with the same brush spritzed with a brush cleanser a few times before a deep wash, I wash face brushes after every use. Granted: it’s not the most budget-savvy tip, but this strategy helped me tremendously to keep my skin clean and acne-free.
There you have it: my in-depth guide on the strategies that I used to get rid of acne. As I mentioned before, I learned the majority of these strategies at the La Roche-Posay Bootcamp that helped me to evaluate what caused my breakouts and come out with an action plan on how to keep my skin clean. I hope you learned a lot from this post too. But if you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask in the comments area below!