OUTSIDE HELP: MIRACLE CURES
The 40 Million Dollar Cosmetic Industry
and the Products They Sell
This chapter IS NOT ABOUT OFFERING YOU A ‘miracle cure.’ It is about all those nutty product manufacturers who inundate you with advertisments ‘promising’ a miracle… We can’t really have a book about picking without at least discussing in part the huge money making machine that profits from the disorder and the products they sell.
Types of Products Available – Clean and Non-Comedogenic
I am sure you’ve seen the words Non-comedogenic on cosmetic products. This literally means the product is not likely to cause comedones or pimples. Oil based products are occlusive and block the flow of oxygen air to the skin, not to mention they block the flow of sebum to the surface. Always use water based products if you can, especially if you use makeup. Water based makeup’s main ingredients are water and talc.
Types of Products Available
While it can be nurturing to buy and use products that seem like they help your skin, try to cut down on your use of all products for a while.
Types of Products Available – Cleansers
Think twice before you buy cleansers off the shelf. It is so tempting to want to buy the harshest hard core products to kill the skin problem. But as I have mentioned several times already – you need to treat your skin with tender care. Look for gentle cleansers otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for more problems down the road and setting up a vicious cycle.
Types of Products Available – Scrubs
Scrubs can be detrimental to problem skin due to the fact that they can open and spread infection. If you are interested in scrubbing your face, look for the gentlest scrub you can find. Some of the natural scrubs include: sea salt, oatmeal, apricot kernels, walnut and almond meal. Even some of these might be too rough for your skin. And I would be wary of other unnatural scrubs.
Types of Products Available – Astringents/Toners
Astringents are substances which cause organic tissues to contract. They help the skin by stripping away the residue of cleansers and oils and tightening pores. Keep in mind though, if the product is stripping away, it may also be removing your body or face’s natural oils and setting you skin up to over-produce more oil to compensate and setting you up for more problems.
Some of the ingredients they might contain include:
- Witch hazel is the common name for the Hamamelis virginiana plant. Has natural astringent and anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. In addition witch hazel works through the cell membranes to help them retain moisture and reduce wrinkles.
- Alcohol: Sometimes astringents have an alcohol base. Avoid this if you can, because alcohol dries the skin out.
- Lemon Juice is a natural astringent with a degreasing, antiseptic, and antibacterial effect on the skin.
- Nettle, peppermint, chamomile, rose essence
If you want a totally natural astringent, consider making your own. Apple cider vinegar and spring water is an excellent way to keep the skin’s pH balanced. Just keep it refrigerated if you have leftovers.
Types of Products Available – Moisturizer
It seems natural to want to dry out the skin when you have a breakout, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to moisturize the skin to speed up healing. Look for non comedogenic moisturizers. Commercially available moisturizers are graded on a comedogenicity and irritancy grade scale of 1-5. Look for ones that have received a grade of 0 or ‘non-comedogenic.’
Types of Products Available – Masks
There are basically two kinds of masks, nourishing masks and those made with clay or drying properties.
Nourishing masks may contain flower herbal extracts, seaweed and b vitamins soothes and hydrates skin and tightens and closes pores.
One of the more commonly used clays is bentonite. Bentonite comes from volcanic ash and was used by the American Indians for its healing properties and to draw out toxins. When mixed with water it becomes more gelatinous. Clay has natural properties which help to remove dirt and impurities from the skin. Clay also absorbs oil and tighten pores and is often mixed with herbal extracts such as chamomile, calendula for their additional healing properties.
Instead of buying prepared clay mask mixtures, try buying pure bentonite clay (available from your local natural food store) and mixing it with apple cider vinegar (raw is preferable). Although the instructions on all clay masks tell you to apply a layer all over your face, refrain from that and mix only a small amount. Then apply the clay only to specific breakout s with a cotton swab. I used to do the clay mask all over my face, then as I began to learn more about how skin functions, I realized I was doing more harm than good. I was drying out my skin and setting up the vicious cycle all over again.
Another cool thing to try is Papaya! Papaya enzymes are rich in papain which is a non abrasive exfoliant. Avoid using intensive masks more than once a week and give your skin a chance to rest and respond to the treatments you give it.
Types of Products Available – Raw Egg Yolk Mask
The raw egg yolk mask is an old folk recipe for treating acne. It just so happens that egg yolks are very rich in Vitamin A. So if you are looking for a natural alternative to Tretinoin or Retinoic Acid (Retin A) you have found it.
Crack an egg over a bowl and strain out the egg white. Beat up the egg yolk and apply a layer to your face or affected area. Let it dry completely and then rinse off with clear cool water. Try it every day for up to a month (before bedtime is best) and then maintain the masks about two or three times a month thereafter.
If you can find hormone free, free range or organic eggs, definitely use them. Even if they are a little more expensive than regular eggs, they’re still cheaper than chemical Vitamin A treatments. And besides, your skin is worth it!
Types of Products Available – Night Masks
There are many wrinkle reducing ‘night creams’ which help to dissolve dead skin cells and unclog pores. Being that it has been discovered that many pickers pick at night, having a nightly routine that includes a mask is a great way to beat your desire to pick. You are putting yourself into action on your skin in a positive way.
One of the things that personally saved my life from picking was creating a nighttime ritual that did NOT involve picking. I stopped using cleansers for the most part unless my skin was exceptionally dirty and just rinsed my face off with fresh cool water each night. This was followed by a gentle pat down with a fresh clean face cloth or towel to dry off. I stopped the rubbing and scrubbing after I began to realize how very delicate my skin was.
The particular system I adopted was an alpha hydroxy acid mask which works to gently exfoliate the skin followed by a papaya based mask in the morning.
Types of Products Available – AHAs
One of the more recently re-discovered ageless treatments for skin are alpha hydroxy acids. They aren’t new however. Cleopatra was known to bath in lactic acid (sour milk) to improve her complexion! And Queen Elizabeth of Hungary was known to wash her face with wine back in the 1800s.
Nowadays you see AHAs added to every type of skin care product: moisturizer, toner, masks, cleansers, etc. AHA ingredients may be listed as:
- Glycolic acid (from cane sugar)
- Lactic Acid (from milk)
- Malic Acid (from apples and pears)
- Citric acid (from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons)
- Glycolic acid +ammonium glycolate
- Alpha-hydroxyethanoic acid
- Alpha-hydroxycaprylic acid
- Hydroxycaprylic acid
- Mixed fruit acid
- Tartaric acid (from grapes)
- Tri-alpha hydroxyl fruit acids
- Triple fruit acid
- Sugar cane extract
- Alpha hydroxyl and botanical extract
- L-alpha hydroxyl acid
- Glycomer in crosslinked fatty acids alpha nutrium (3 AHAs)
Of these, the most frequently used in cosmetics are glycolic acid and lactic acid
AHAs and actually most of the other treatments that exfoliate or peel your skin will make you more sensitive to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. So remember to limit your sun exposure and use a non-comedogenic sunscreen if you can’t avoid the sun.
Types of Products Available – Other Special Treatments
Walk down any cosmetic aisle in the drug store or supermarket or friendly ‘big box’ store and you’ll see them… Spot treatments. There are zit sticks, sulphur, camphor, menthol, witch hazel spot treatments. They all are basically there to provide antibacterial or antibiotic quick fix solutions.
Although they seem to be promoted as such, they really don’t have any magic instant blemish removal properties, but they can offer you a way to feel more empowered over your skin. And if using them keeps you from picking for a moment – then by all means use them.
You may also consider a spot treatment of Tea Tree Oil which is a natural antibiotic. Lavender oil and lemongrass oil also have natural antibiotic properties. Another common antibacterial treatment is Neosporin. You might find this kind of ointment is very helpful in healing an open sore once you have picked at it.
Types of Products Available – Make-up
Just like hair, makeup is an easy way to cover up the results of your picking. So, it is one of the hardest things to give up, but you must do it whenever you can.
Most commercially available makeups clog your pores. If you have to use makeup to present your face to the world, look specifically for makeup products have received a grade of 0 or ‘non-comedogenic’ on a comedogenicity grade scale of 1-5.