Hi. I am a guy, 26 years old. I thought I might share my thoughts on the whole acne issue.
Everyone has their opinion and this happens to be mine. Is it right? I think it's very close to being right. Make note that I am not a doctor, but I am smart.. educated.. healthy.. and I eat right most of the time (most.. not always.. heh heh heh!). I've spent some time thinking about my experience with acne and how the body works and this is my conclusion.
I suspect all faces aren't created equal. Some people seem to definitely be able to do anything and eat anything and not suffer acne. Lucky them.
I, as many others have, obviously suffered acne. I would rate my level of acne that I've had throughout my life as average. Definitely not a level that was extremely terrible, but definitely enough to annoy me to no end. Various pimples in the face/neck area, blackheads concentrated around the nose area.
I think acne decreases in intensity with age because if I remember correctly, we simply do not shed as many skin cells as we get older. The less we shed and the slower we shed decreases the possbility that pores are going to clog and cause problems.
I've been through all the "routines" that it seems everybody goes through... try this cleaner.. use this cleaner... try this medicine.. use that supplement.. try this ridiculous idea... yeah, been there done that.
For those people with an average amount of acne (I know, hard to define what average is. I define it as a level where it simply is annoying to have, but not so bad that it completely destroys your image.), I offer some advice. I submit this: Frequent use of any artificial cleanser destroys your face
. I define artifical as something you bought in a store that comes in a bottle/tube/container, regardless of whether it is called a "natural" cleanser or not.
This means cetaphil, noxema, soaps, yada yada yada. They destroy your face. I don't mean they actually destroy it as in melting your face off or something... I mean they disrupt the moisture balance of the skin significantly and likely disrupt other systems which play into acne's favor
Sure, there had been many times when I thought, "Wow, I found the perfect cleanser! My acne seems to have vanished!" But, those moments were all coincidences.
It's easy to get swept away in the marketing that these companies dish out for their "new" "improved" face wash, so to speak. SEE YOUR ACNE, DISAPPEAR. Wrong.
You may think, well, why would they sell something that doesn't work? People will stop buying it, right? No. Not in the world of beauty and cosmetics. There's wave after wave after wave of young people growing up who all go through the same old routines of trying every known "cleanser" on the face of the planet in search of the holy grail.
Get to the point you are probably telling me. Okay. I now submit this: Using only water to clean your face/neck is more benefical in reducing/preventing acne than using any artificial cleanser.
That may seem odd, but it shouldn't. Who took chemisty? Water IS a solvent.
It can dissolve things. It definitely doesn't dissolve things on the magnitude that a strong acid can. But it still can dissolve things... perhaps such as those microscopic dirt particles that land on your face. I submit that water will rinse away foreign matter off your face/out of your pores without significantly disrupting how your skin is supposed to function.
I suspect artificial cleaners do one of two things, depending on the type of cleaner used:
Either they strip your face of its natural moisture, or they supplement your face with too much moisture (oils). Both scenarios cause the pore system to work abnormally which will cause those cells that are shed to bind up, clog up, and cause problems.
Skin is the body's largest organ. It has many functions, one of which is excreting toxins from the body. If your pores are clogged, only bad things can happen. Those toxins, dirt, bacteria clog up along with it and poof, there's a zit (or blackhead, pimple, etcetera). Some additional things to ponder: I use fruit as a cleansers/mask
... every few days. Fruit you ask? Yes, fruit. Strawberries, or peaches, or nectarines... because they are the easiest to cut in half and then rub over your face to spread the fruit juice around. (I've read.. but have not tried.. that cucumber works well as facial mask.. but more as a soothing/repairing function rather than a cleansing function).
Think about what people in 3rd world countries/village communties (who seem to suffer little to no acne) wash their bodies with.... products straight out of mother nature.
Those fruits, as well as others, are mildly acidic (as well as containing fresh nutrients/anti-oxidents... although I cannot say whether the skin benefits from direct contact with those) and I suspect harbor gentle cleansing abilities (which is why you often seen fruit based cleaners).
That leads me to another point. Some of the only processed facial products that *might* be worth using are the AHA/BHA (alpha and beta hydroxy acids)... as they appear to help the skin exfoliate faster and prevent dead cells from sticking together so easily... thus helping eliminate clogged pores. What are AHA's? FRUIT ACID!
Unfortunately, these are processed and concentrated... which ultimately may do more harm than good. Then, there is concern about the "Hayflick limit" which opens up a whole another box of worries. Also, just because a product is in a store doesn't automatically mean it works, nor should it be considered 100% safe.
Think back in history about all the products people would sell because they were considered safe and beneficial. Radon gas? Mercury? People make mistakes and bad decisions, especially when there exists the opportunity to make money.
The other thing I wanted to throw out there is for the ladies. Make-up. Wow. I don't know what to say about that. I obviously don't use make-up but the thought of throwing synthetic chemicals on my face everyday would make me uneasy.
There are some companies out there that sell natural, non-synthetic make-up that I would definitely look up.
Then, there is the problem of removing the make-up, which actually may REQUIRE the use of a face cleaner.. thereby negating any chance of helping keep acne at bay if you believe that face cleansers do more harm than good.
We all see celebrities who look picture perfect but that's make-up we are seeing. It is very hard to tell what they actually look like under that make-up. If you've ever seen those videos of a person going through a typical superstar make-up procedure, you know what I'm talking about. They go from looking like you and me to looking beyond perfect.
The last thing is diet. This is a tough one but obviously what you eat affects how your body performs. Excess sugar, fried/greasy foods can only do harm for your body and your skin. I also personally think excessive dairy (read: daily use of milk products) is not healthy for the body.
I don't know about you... but when I eat cheese (when I *used* to eat cheese... you couldn't pay me to eat it these days), I will literally smell like cheese. My skin gets greasy and you can smell it from my pores. Yuck.
Eat those fruits and vegetables, try and get some exercise in. Exercise is *required* by the body for it to function correctly.
When I look back at my life where I suffered minimal/no acne had always been the times when I exercised at least a few times a week (vigorous cycling) combined with gentle facial/neck cleansing (water only or using a cleaner only a couple times per week) and ate little to no processed foods (ate mostly salads, vegetables, fruits, beans....).
I recall the various times when I switched to a mostly water cleansing routine and those were the times when my acne had practically vanished. Unfortunately, I always end up losing focus (too many other things going on in life) and inadventantly fall back to bad habits that we all grew up with... slathering on the soap and then suffering acne all over again.
Anyway, I hope I didn't forget anything. I hope this helps some people out there. If you haven't thought of this or tried it out yet, give it a go. Give your face at least a week, if not more to normalize and start functioning correctly. Maybe it will work for you and you can stop throwing away your paycheck for the latest and greatest *new* (read: changed label and packaging) cleaner on the market.
One more thing I forgot to mention is the topic of moisturizers. That's a bit of complicated subject as I haven't used moisturizers enough to comment. My feelings are that if you don't use cleansers, you likely don't *need* to use a moisturizer.
Oh, and always remember... shower, or at least rinse your face off at night. Seems logical, I know... but I always used to forget to do this. I also recommend gently padding your face with a towel to remove excess water afterwards since there is some concern that hard water can leave excessive residue. Of course, if you live in an area that doesn't have hard water, don't fret!