SKIN SERIES | Cleansing for Congestion
Figuring out how to cleanse my acne prone skin has been one of the most challenging aspects on my skin health journey. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Choose a gentle cleanser. Don't cleanse in the morning. Only use oils. Well lucky for you, I've followed everyone's advice over the years and can tell you what has worked and what hasn't. Because as much as I love serums and moisturizers, finding the perfect cleanser for you will probably be the biggest game changer for your skin.
I'm not really debunking any myths here because the following advice is appropriate for certain skin types, but I do want to explain why I don't necessarily think it works for congested, acne prone skin.
ADVICE: CHOOSE A GENTLE CLEANSER
This is where messaging gets a bit tricky because simply because a cleanser has acne fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or lactic acid doesn't mean that it isn't gentle. Sure, if you grab a traditional acne cleanser from the drugstore, you might find your skin stripped and inflamed, but there is a host of newer cleansers that are formulated with your skin's integrity in mind (and they fight acne!) So don't ignore this category entirely because you've been told by someone that you need a gentle cleanser. I saw the biggest transformation in my skin's congestion when I swapped out my "gentle cleanser" for supposedly not so gentle ones (First Aid Beauty Acne Clearing Charcoal Cleanser and Acure Incredibly Clear Cleansing Stick) and they were no less irritating than the cleanser I had been using.
ADVICE: DON'T CLEANSE IN THE MORNING
This is probably sound advice when dry, aging skin is your main skin concern, but it won't move the dial in terms of congestion. I have found that cleansing morning and night with a cleanser formulated for acne prone skin has made the biggest difference in reducing congestion. If your skin is severely inflamed due to over-exfoliation or an allergic reaction to an ingredient, you might find that only cleansing once a day is beneficial, but once the inflammation subsides, I would recommend seeing how your skin responds to twice-a-day cleansing (if you are dealing with acne).
ADVICE: OIL CLEANSING IS THE BEST
I wanted this advice to work for me. I love oil cleansers and have used them for years to no avail. That being said, I was not cleansing in the morning and using an oil cleanser at night as my sole cleanser. It was this combination that was not working. I still like the idea of using an oil cleanser at night to remove your makeup and then following with your acne-specific cleanser, but if you don't wear makeup, you can probably skip the oil cleanse. (For reference, Heart of Gold Sugar Magnolia is my favorite oil cleanser.)
As you know, everyone's skin is different so the wrong cleanser might not necessarily be your issue. But if you do have a lot of congestion (especially around the jaw line) and you've been using a non-acne specific cleanser for months or years with little to no success then I do recommend swapping out your cleanser for a month or two to see if you notice a decrease in congestion. The difference might be night and day.
If you don't know which cleanser to try, I recommend picking up First Aid Beauty Acne Clearing Charcoal Cleanser. Use it once a day to begin with and then experiment with twice a day if your skin seems to like it! If your skin hates salicylic acid, then try Acure Incredibly Clear Cleansing Stick (contains lactic acid) or Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser (contains lactic and glycolic acids).
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The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.