I absolutely love beauty treatments. As a kid, I started experimenting with making my own face masks using all kinds of ingredients like bananas, yoghurt, oats, coffee, cacao, sugar, coconut oil, almond oil… all the oils! Some experiments worked well, others not so much. Here are a couple of things that have gone wrong during my DIY beauty journey:
The One Where I Burned My Forehead Before my Sister’s Wedding
I got quite a bad forehead burn when I decided to mix thyme oil and aspirin and use it as a spot treatment. Some sort of chemical reaction must have occurred when these two ingredients combined. This happened a week before my sister’s wedding. I was the maid of honour. It took a lot of make-up to cover it, but it sure was funny.
I also burned my forehead before my own wedding, but that is another story for another day.
The One Where I Burned My Body with Cayenne Pepper
I burned my entire body when I made a “hair growth oil” using cayenne pepper and olive oil. I put it in a plastic bottle and wanted to pour a little over my head while in the bath. When I tipped the bottle over, the cap fell off and all the oil poured over my head. At first, it was mostly on my hair and I wasn’t too worried, but then the cayenne pepper ran down my back and chest and got into the water. Everything burned shortly after that…
I jumped out of the bath and into the shower to rinse off and when Jonathan got home, he had to rub milk over my entire body.
Most of my experiments turned out well though. But it is safe to say that these were some unforgettable ones.
My beauty routine has come a long way since then.
My Beauty Routine for Hormonal Acne
My current beauty routine is quite simple. You see, I have hormonal acne. It is a bitch. My skin is quite sensitive and I have cut back on my beauty experiments and simplified my routine, a lot. Here is how I take care of my skin and what I am doing to improve my hormonal acne:
I Go for Chemical Peels and Laser Treatments
When my skin became really bad last year, and I got very bad post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, I decided it was now or never: I was going to start going for chemical peels. We are 5 months and 6 treatments in and I am loving it. Some of the peels I have gone for are azelaic acid peels, salicylic acid peels, and some sort of other chemical peel that I really can’t remember right now.
I also love the laser. At first, the peels made me break out, a lot. But it is normal to go through a purge phase. I still get breakouts after peels, after ovulating, just before I get my period, and just about all the time (yay), but it is sooo much better already and I am very pleased with my results so far.
I saw a photo of what my skin looked like 3 months ago yesterday and started tearing up. I didn’t realise how much better it already is before then.
I Use Retinol
I love retinol, it might even be my best friend. It is basically topical vitamin A and it is one of the best things you can use for acne and fighting wrinkles. You do need to use sunscreen during the day if you are using it though.
Retinol works by increasing skin cell turnover and can help prevent dead skin cells from clogging your pores.
I have been using retinol on and off for a few months now and I can always tell a difference when I have been using it regularly. It is good to take breaks from using it, I think, but I do want to become more consistent with how I use it (until I decide to have babies one day). You can’t use it when you are pregnant, so I will be a little sad if I have to stop using it. But it is okay, we will reunite again one day and for now, I am extra grateful when I apply my retinol while I still can.
I Wash and Moisturise my Face with Fat
Yes, you read correctly: fat. I use boerseep to wash my face. It is a South African soap made using beef tallow and caustic soda, and I love it. I also make my own moisturiser using tallow and lactic acid, which helps to exfoliate the skin.
I switched to only using chemical exfoliants last year.
I Use Honey as a Face Mask
Honey is amazing to use as a face wash and a face mask. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is great if you have acne.
I like the simplicity of it. I don’t have to mix anything for this natural face mask. I just open a jar of raw honey and put some of it on my face.
I Use Bentonite Clay Mask
Every now and then, I make my own clay mask using bentonite clay. It helps to pull excess sebum from your pores.
Sometimes, I just mix it with water, but I also like making a chocolate clay mask and just add a teaspoon of cacao to my mask.
I Follow a Strict Anti-Inflammatory Anti-Junk Diet
I am a firm believer that what you eat will show up on your skin. Don’t believe me? If you eat too many carrots or butternut, your skin can turn orange from the beta carotene getting absorbed by your fat cells.
Your cells, including your skin cells, are largely made from the fats you eat.
Some foods can also cause inflammation and seeing as acne is an inflammatory condition, it makes sense to do what you can to reduce it as much as possible. Start with your diet. Sugar and processed junk foods cause inflammation, as well as gluten, trans fats, grains, and dairy.
If I eat gluten or soy, I can guarantee that my skin will break out within 2 days.
I also follow a diet that is low in carbs most of the time, as sugar and carbs cause big spikes in insulin levels, which can then increase your production ofandrogens (male hormones) if you have PCOS like I do. The increase in androgens causes the production of more sebum by the skin, which is the oil that clogs pores and causes breakouts when mixed with dead skin cells and bacteria.
I Try to Reduce Stress and Sleep More
I firmly believe that the reason why my acne hasn’t f*/kd off completely is because of my anxiety. You could say I’m a bit of a stress princess.
I’m positive that this will get much better over time, but what I have found works well for me now is taking long walks, dancing, doing weight training, journalling, cuddling with my husband, cooking, tidying up the house and turning chaos into order, and ticking things off my to-do list. I’m still trying to get back into a meditation habit though.
I Try Not to Pick my Skin
This one is hard! My biggest problem with OCD is that one of my OCD habits is picking my skin. I have done a lot of hard things in life, but nothing has been harder than trying to stop picking my skin or trying to stop overeating.
When picking and touching your skin, you’re not only spreading bacteria and introducing even more bacteria, but you can also damage your skin. This habit can lead to scars and pigmentation marks that can stay for years.
That’s what happened to me. I set a goal to not pick my skin at all this year, and so far, so good.
I Removed Bad Chemicals in My Beauty Products
You won’t find a shampoo, soap, or cream in my bathroom containing sulfates, fragrance, parabens, or phthalates.
I don’t put oils with cayenne pepper on my head or experiment with strange concoctions anymore, but I do stick to simple, clean ingredients and still go as natural as possible.
I’ve also replaced all the cleaning products in our house with natural cleaning products too.
My Next Goal: Red Light Therapy
This is not currently a regular in my beauty routine, but I definitely want to make using red light therapy a habit. Red light therapy can improve skin by reducing inflammation, increasing collagen production, and speeding up wound healing.
Getting red light exposure before bed (and limiting blue light) is also good for promoting sleep, so my goal is to use it at night.
I have a red light, that is what is frustrating. My wonderful husband built me a red light therapy device to use, so I have it, I just need to use it.
So that is my current beauty routine. I will still keep refining it and improving it over time and I definitely want to try as many cool treatments as I can.
Let’s hope by this time next year, my skin will be glowing and my acne will be a lot less. Clear skin will obviously be ideal, but even a 50% improvement will already be a big win.