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Home » The Vine

The Vine: December 14, 2011

Submitted by on December 14, 2011 – 9:52 AM36 Comments

I need some help finding new face products. Prior to having a baby I was one of those annoying people who never had to worry about my skin and was pretty lackadaisical about my maintenance. However, ever since having a baby 20 months ago, my skin has gone crazy. I need some advice about what products I should use, and I thought the nation could help. I honestly don’t know what do to, and 20 months later I think that my skin is here to stay.

So pre-baby, I had a mildly oily t-zone and drier cheeks and used Oil of Olay Normal Daily Facial Cloths with Complete All Day UV Moisturizer — Normal.

Now I have: much more oily T-zone and am getting little bumpy pimples on my forehead and hairline. Plus a red nose and cheekbones. I’m looking for something that will combat this and will hopefully also contain SPF and ideally be organic (although neither is a deal-breaker).

I’ll take recommendations on foundations or coverups as well, since I never really used them before.

15 years later, I feel like I’m back in high school

Dear High,

The first thing I’d recommend is to visit a dermatologist. Don’t buy the products she recommends, necessarily (at least, not in the office; you can often find them cheaper online, as I did with my current facial sunscreen), but not every change in your skin or body is something you should shrug “post-baby” about. The redness you mention, for instance, is something I would get checked out just in case.

That redness and the increase in oiliness could also come from too much attention to your skin, ironically. I have T-zone issues myself, and if I wash or tone or exfoliate too often, my epidermis is like, “Have it your way,” and ramps up the oil production in response. Don’t exfoliate every day, and don’t skimp on facial moisturizer (especially not the SPF) because you think it’s greasing you up.

Hairline blemishes, for me, usually stem from a hair-product issue. Be extra mindful for a few days of only conditioning at the ends of your hair, thoroughly rinsing shampoo and conditioner at the crown, and not putting or spraying styling product at the hairline, and see how you go.

I don’t wear base make-up much (or well, heh), so I can’t speak to that, but Skin Medica’s sunscreens go on light and give you adequate SPF. Kind of pricey, but one tube will last you a while.





  • jennie says:

    I’m a sort of oily-all-over girl, so not all of this may be helpful.

    I’ve had good luck with using a facial steamer to open things up and then clean them out a little more efficiently. I also like witch hazel as a toner – I find it not to be too drying, but, again: oily, oily girl. Moisturizing regularly also helps, even though at first you might be like, “OMFG, I am even more disgusting now,” your skin eventually learns what to expect and calms itself down if you stick it out. Finally, depending on the cause of the redness, something with a little vitamin E in it might help you out.

    One thing that occurred to me is that you might be experiencing a difference if you were on the pill (or some other hormone-based contraceptive) before you got pregnant and are not taking anything like that now. I went off the pill for a while in my twenties and my skin FREAKED OUT. Ditto if you were going to the gym (or whatever) regularly pre-baby and might not be so much now. Everyone’s different, but my skin is always much better when I am doing something physical (i.e., where I get sweaty) regularly. I know that may not be an option when you’re chasing a little one, so I’m just thinking out loud about other things that may have changed that might be causing the skin change. (I also understand this may not stop you from wanting to stab me for bringing it up.)

    But I think Sars is right – consulting a dermatologist first is probably a good idea, just in case there’s something more going on.

  • Jas says:

    I second the dermatologist recommendation. A good doctor can tell you right away if you are being too harsh with the cleansers or if there is a more significant problem going on. Mine put me on a course of antibiotics to clear up some cystic acne that had plagued me off and on for over a year. If I’d never gone, I’d still be dealing with it, I’m sure. Since the medication, I haven’t had an issue, even though I haven’t taken the meds in over a year now.

    My doc also told me to stop with the toners, and just use Cetaphil to clean with. Use a good quality sunscreen (I like Neutrogena) made for your face, and don’t slather on the serums unless they are recommended. Your doctor may have similar advice, or may send you in a different direction altogether. It really depends on what’s actually happening with your skin, and you won’t really know that until a pro checks it out.

  • Jas says:

    I forgot to add that anything containing silicone tends to break me out almost immediately. That negates 90% of the foundation primers out there, as well as the “smoothers” and the “eveners” and all those things that are supposed to make you look airbrushed. I’ve learned that if it feels super-slick going on, and makes my face feel like it’s been Teflon-ed, then I’m most likely going to pay for it the next day.

  • slices says:

    Sounds like you might be battling acne rosacea, which would explain both the bumps and the redness. But the derm will confirm for sure. I developed a truly horrendous case of it after I gave birth, which continued to get worse throughout nursing. I finally elected to ditch nursing a couple months earlier than planned so I could commence antibiotics, which finally got things under control (coupled with the normalization of hormones post-nursing, I think). As for product recs, I have had good results with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Redness Soothing Facial Cleanser, and with Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer (contains SPF). Oil-free but with gentler ingredients is probably the key for product shopping (the above contain the relatively mild salicylic acid, as well as aloe, chamomile and “feverfew” whatever that is). For coverage, Clinique makes a Redness Solutions line – I have the concealer only, which is quite effective. And I use Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer for my base — lighter coverage, but can be layered. Coupled with the concealer, it’s probably plenty. (higher quality oil-free foundations are really hard to find these days … I have done LOTS of research on this topic!) Good luck!

  • Carrie Ann says:

    While a dermatologist visit is a good idea, be aware that you will likely have to wait a few months to get in for an appointment. One question first: is it possible you have rosacea? Because red nose/cheekbones is one of the hallmarks. Treatments vary, but it’s something to keep in mind if you see other symptoms.

    OK, all that said, I am not a doctor or an aesthetician, but I do have problem skin, so I have some advice to share based on my experience. Given everything you’re saying, I would probably start by using a gentle cleanser, like Kiehl’s Non-Detergent Cleanser (for oily or combo skin like yours). Sars is right – oily skin does not respond well to the oil being removed, so you want to avoid the astringents and salacylics, at least in the oily and red areas. If you need to exfoliate (which I do b/c of dry skin), avoid acid peels as they can increase redness. I would stick to just using a washcloth to remove your cleanser.

    Post-cleanse, moisturize with something without fragrance, like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial with SPF 15. (I swear I’m not a shill for them; I just find their products work for a broad range of types.) For your forehead, it could be hair product or laundry detergent-related (if you regularly wear hats, head wraps, or head bands), but if not, it could just be where you break out now with your fun new skin. In that case, focus any spot treatments (masques and creams designed to fight acne) there and avoid treating the areas of your face where you do not break out. Unfortunately, I have had zero luck with any spot treatment products, but my aesthetician loves the Eminence Organics line. I love their masques, but haven’t found any of them to be successful at eliminating my zits.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    be aware that you will likely have to wait a few months to get in for an appointment

    If you tell them you have mild breakouts, yeah, they’ll make you wait. Mention a couple of moles that are changing shape and color, and if the doctor’s worth a damn you’ll get in that week. Of course, then you’re fibbing about skin cancer. Your call. Heh.

  • Sophie says:

    Make sure the moisturizer that you use at night does NOT have SPF. Breakout city. I love Nars, but because it’s so pricey, I alternate with good old-fashioned Cetaphil (an idea if you love a product that’s outside your budget). I would also recommend an enzyme-based exfoliant instead of a physical, bumpy one. This will help with redness and bumps.

  • Katharine says:

    I agree about getting checked for rosacea… In the meantime, I have very sensitive, picky, aging (sigh) skin, and several of my favourite products were recently discontinued (double sigh) and my search has been greatly helped by the product reviews at Paula Begoun’s site,, provided I disregard all the shilling of her own products, and her apparently inexplicable love of Clinique (a line that left my face looking like a blasted heath a few years ago). She does have a number of recommendations specific for rosacea sufferers and sensitive skin, though.

    From my own experience, you might also wish to switch to a physical, as opposed to chemical, sunscreen. I get little bumps and baby pimples from most chemical sunscreen products, meaning that ALL the off-the-shelf sunscreen-containing moisturisers are off the table for me. I use a separate physical sunscreen for very sensitive skin, on top of my moisturiser. (Physical sunscreens rely on the UV-blocking powers of inert mineral derivatives of titanium and zinc. The modern ones use very fine particles, and so don’t give the glowing white ghostly effect those types of sunscreens used to have.)

    I know the first impulse is “Cover it! Cover it!” but personally I have always found that foundation or concealer of any kind over troubled skin only makes things worse, and I don’t think it really “hides” anything at conversation distance, anyway. I’d be more inclined to try to fix the problem.

    Also, try to shop at places that will take returns of products, while you’re testing things. I know within two weeks whether my skin hates something, and if I’m holding a forty-dollar jar of cream that gave me breakouts, I’d really prefer to take it back. Sephora does, I believe, and so do some drug stores.

    If you want to try natural things, you could give the oil-cleansing method a shot; many people with problem skin report good results, and it worked very well for me (I gave it up because my extreme hard water caused laundry and bathroom cleaning troubles during my oil-cleansing phase). There are loads of recipes online, most involving base oil+castor oil, but any mild oil, even unmixed, seems to work just fine.

  • The Other Katherine says:

    Does sound like rosacea, but definitely best to see a dermatologist. The “butterfly rash” that is a hallmark of lupus looks similar, and it’s a good idea to have a professional distinguish between the two.

    I have super-sensitive, acne-prone skin that produces a ton of oil if it’s not treated with kid gloves. I love the Earth Science A-D-E Creamy Cleanser, and I moisturize the crap out of my face after washing. I like the Tree Hut Shea Body Butters as moisturizer. Personally, I never exfoliate with anything harsher than a warm, damp cotton washcloth. Also, my skin produces a lot less oil when I wash it only once per day, but that’s hard to do if you wear makeup regularly.

    For foundation, I like Tarte’s Smooth Operator line. I think it has SPF 20.

    Good luck!

  • Liz says:

    After you see the dermatologist to diagnose your issues, I recommend looking into LUSH products. They definitely fit your organic wishes, as well as being all-natural, handmade and an all-around groovy company. I swear by their all-around exfoliator, Angels on Bare Skin. I use it every morning because it is super gentle and I barely need to moisturize afterwards. They have a whole range of moisturizers and other cleansers as well. And their other bath products are awesome too!

  • Dukebdc says:

    My dermatologist’s advice has always been to keep the skin regime as simple as possible. Wash once a day with very mild cleanser (I use Philosophy’s “Purity”–it’s $16 a bottle but lasts forever since you don’t need much). Twice a day I apply non-comodogenic moisturizer with SPF. If you shower in the morning, just rinse your face gently with plain water before bed (this assumes you wear little foundation).

    Regarding the hairline bumps–did you wash your hair every day pre-baby and wash it less often now? If so, that may be the cause of your hairline issues–products having longer contact with your skin with reduced amount of washing.

    And I third the suggestion to get the redness checked out. If it is roseacea, then advice on treating acne won’t help you. Derms see women all the time whose skin has changed dramatically after a major hormone shift. I had OK skin through high school and college, but the first birth control pill I went on gave me cystic acne (huge painful lumps originating deep in the skin) that took months of intense treatment to go away (even after switching to another pill). You don’t have to assume this is the new norm and just live with it.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Absolutely dermatologist first. It may not only be hormonal fuckery with your skin, but allergies as well. They can show up anytime (fun) and rotate so that something that never bothered you before is suddenly giving you rashes (whee!)

    My one recommendation is Milk Of Magnesia. No kidding, I read about it in the paper as a recommendation for pimples, tried it, and bam! My skin is so zit prone I was on Accutane AND Retin A as a teen, so believe me when I say that a cheap, mild, non-stinging cleanser that removes makeup and makes your skin georgous is a freakin’ miracle. Just shake the bottle well, apply to face and neck with a cotton ball, rinse, and you’re golden.

    Two things:

    One, use ONLY plain M of M, not peppermint. Mint oils can aggravate the skin.

    Two, always, always ALWAYS do a patch test before you try any kind of cleanser/remover/toner/whatever. This is very important for the simple reason that an allergic reaction to something can range unpredictably from mild redness to anaphylactic shock, and you don’t want to be like that woman in the UK who reacted to her hair dye by ending up in a coma.

  • Kelly says:

    I was getting skin irritation around my hairline as well, but a little hydro-cortisone every once in a while seems to keep it in check (seriously, I put it on when a breakout comes, just once or twice, and then it’s gone for at least a month). As everyone else said, of course go to the dermatologist, but it turned out a little dermatitis from my scalp was just creeping onto my face. (I know, gross!)

    @Liz – thanks for the exfoliant rec, I’m going to try that out! And if anyone else has a gentle solution for dealing with rough skin around your nose, I’m all ears. Getting old is so dumb.

  • Wehaf says:

    Has your diet changed significantly? That can certainly effect your skin. I also find that taking lots of omega-3 oils daily helps with acne, as these have anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Cara says:

    Jen S 1.0 – I’m going to second the Milk of Magnesia even though I haven’t personally tried it because it was recommended to me by a friend with perfect skin. She uses it more like a mask than a cleanser, though.

    I know that my skin improved dramatically for the better once I stopped using products with sodium laureth sulfate. It’s in everything, but apparently it’s a known skin irritant.

    I do have an excellent moisturizing sunscreen recommendation–Kiss My Face sunscreen for Face and Neck. It’s SPF 50, low chemical, not greasy but still moisturizing, and it smells good.

  • bosch says:

    I swear by NYR Organics products ( They are not cheap, but they do take returns for products that you don’t like/don’t work for you, and my picky, bitchy skin loves them. I love that they’re super natural and almost entirely organic. Currently you need to order online or through a local consultant, but the products are so, so good. They’ve cleared up my patchy dry spots and I haven’t had the little pimply bumps at all since I started using them.

    Also, in case you are breastfeeding and do get a dermatologist’s recommendation to go on antibiotics or other meds, please get in contact with a lactation consultant, La Leche League Leader, Breastfeeding Counselor, etc before you fill your prescription. Most meds are NOT contraindicated for breastfeeding (including most major antibiotics) but you should be cautious and have it checked out. This doesn’t require going to meetings or appointments or anything, just a quick phone call or email so the meds can be looked up in a reference book (which, unfortunately, most doctors offices do not usually have). Many doctors will recommend you stop breastfeeding altogether or pump & dump during the duration of the meds, which is often not necessary.
    /off soapbox. heh.

  • Agnes says:

    I tend more towards dry skin, but I do have an oily T-zone. I find that putting vitamin E oil on my face at night works incredibly well for both the dry and oilier parts, which don’t actually wind up getting oilier. It absorbs in overnight so you don’t have to walk around looking all shiny and oily, and it leaves my skin much calmer.

    I also like using plain table salt as an exfoliant- though it is scrubby, which one poster warned against upthread- I keep a little tupperware of salt in the shower for use with my neti pot, and will also put some in the palm of my hands and scrub in the shower. It pulls stuff out through osmosis (SCIENCE!!!!!) the same way taking a bath with epsom salts will (but I tragically have no bathtub these days) but it doesn’t strip oils. As other commenters said upthread, you actually don’t want to get rid of all oils.

    But yes, dermatologist first. I just thought I’d throw those out there for general consumption of cheap, non-brand, simple things to do that work well.

    Also, the soap I love the best is Grandpa’s Soap Co. Pine Tar soap.

  • mctwin says:

    I’m sure not going to be the only one to recommend Bare Escentuals. Truly – it is a light mineral foundation and the Bisque is THE BEST cover-up I’ve ever used! I’m a little older with severe dryness issues, so I use the foundation primer to keep the face smooth for foundation application. Their cleansers are minerals also and easy to use.
    Good luck!

  • Cora says:

    I third Jen S. 10., and also, no joke, while you’re waiting for your dermo appointment, try egg yolk — just whip one up in a bowl and slather it on your face until it’s completely dry, then wash off with warm water. It’s not harsh, it’s not expensive, and it’s basically a topical application of nearly pure Vitamin A. I’ve heard reviews of this from “Oh my GOD why didn’t I do this sooner?!??” to “did nothing for me”; but it’s one of those “can’t hurt, might help” things to try.

  • heatherkay says:

    I use a product that you probably have on hand — Johnson and Johnson or Aveeno’s head-to-toe baby wash/shampoo. Super gentle, barely foams at all, and convinced me that all those breakouts were more related to product sensitivity than oiliness.

  • circlegirl says:

    Nthing the dermatologist recommendation. I have had severe cystic acne since I was 16 years old. I’ve taken Accutane 3 times since then to combat the severity (I’m talking, cysts and pimples so large it hurt to have wind blow across them). A good dermatologist will guide you to products for you and if you need it, futher help. Mine goes for the simplest route – cleanser in the morning, cleanser in the night and if you need more, they can help you find it. Most people tend toward overcleansing. Acne tends to happen when you strip the skin and it gets angry. Cystic acne occurs from an overproduction of oil and bacteria and usually only medication can help that.

    Now, at the ripe age of 39 and after two kids, my skin is acting like I’m in high school again too. My dermatologist found I now have forementioned acne rosecea and along with the needed antibiotics, recommended some lifestyle changes (limited red wine, no more sun ever) that have helped.

    Also – Bare Minerals is beyond the best make-up I’ve ever used and I swear it helps with some of the breakouts.

    Good luck! I never thought I’d deal with wrinkles AND acne!!

  • Maeve says:

    So I had something very similar–mildly oily T-zone that suddenly (seemingly) turned in to all over oiliness and jillions of tiny bumps on the forehead (no obvious redness though). My pimples, which up to then had been annoying but not that frequent, became more severe and more frequent. I had been using salicilic acid cleansers; I tried a higher dose with no success. I then tried Milk of Magnesia–that worked for about two weeks, then my skin just started producing even more acid. I’ve now switched to benzoil peroxide cleaners (right now using AcneFree’s 24 hours clearing system) and, knock on wood, the bumpy forehead’s gone and the pimples have quieted down. My skin’s still more oily than it was before this, but less oily than during the peak. If this doesn’t work, I’m definitely going to the dermatologist, but I’m on student insurance and the wait’s a pain.

  • Kate says:

    Original poster here! Thanks so much for your responses. I just did the dermatologist for a general mole checkup so I don’t know how soon I can see them again. However I did changed shampoo and conditioner right after my son was born and I think that might be the cause of the forehead issues which I went crazy exfoliating and whatnot to get rid of. Am going back to my old shampoo to see if that helps and will call my dermatologist.

    Thanks everyone!

  • Amy B says:

    I’m experiencing the opposite situation – post-pregnancy, my skin has miraculously cleared up, except for monthly breakouts. But I’m 37 years old and my skin was awful until I got pregnant so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

    Recommendations: Cerave cleanser and moisturizer w/SPF. It’s similar to Cetaphil cleanser – no foam. Bare Minerals is a great foundation. It’s good for the oily skin and provides a barrier SPF. However, I am also lazy and it can be a little time consuming for every day use. So most days I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Tinted Moisturizer (SPF 20) and sometimes use the Mineral Veil on top if I’m feeling extra oily.

    A good natural exfoliant is baking soda, which works similarly to the salt mentioned above. Mix it with your cleanser.

  • Rai says:

    I have that wonderful combo of skin that’s both dry and oily, and uneven ruddiness. I’ve found my best bet is the Dr. Hauschka line of products, although I haven’t messed around with their “Rhythmic Night Conditioner” yet. But the cleansing cream, clarifying toner and, yes, day oil have all worked well to give me a good complexion that evens out fairly quickly even when the occasional zit comes through.

  • cinderkeys says:

    People have already mentioned hormones and the pill, so I got nothin’. On a completely tangential note, however, I will point out that the ad displaying on the sidebar features a woman’s face, split down the middle. The left half is a wrinkly sad person, and the right half is a wrinkle-free surprised person. It is creepy.

  • Hebby says:

    Eve Lom cleanser and dynaspot. Not cheap, but a jar of the cleanser will last forever so over time, they’re not stupidly-priced.

    It’s not a cream or scrub based cleanser, but it’s just about the only product I’ve found where my skin is noticeably, to the touch, feels better after I’ve used it and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. It’s a bit like getting a facial. I use it and my flatmate uses it– we have fairly different skin (her skin is somewhat sensitive, more prone to spots, mine can be dry) and it works for both of us.

    The dynaspot if a spot treatment thing– you put a dab on if you feel a spot coming up, then you don’t get a spot.

    The TLC cream and their standard moisturizer are pretty good as well, but it’s easier to get a good moisturizer than a good cleanser.

    The other option -which should never be neglected- it’s Clinique. Clinique products are good for sensitive skin and their City Guard it really, really useful.

  • Leigh says:

    Okay, major hippie alert, but my mom dragged me to this skincare women’s circle thing with her a couple of years ago (I know), and while the general tone of the lady’s presentation caused a lot of internal eye rolling on my part, I have to admit…her products are AMAZING. They’re all 100% completely natural and organic and handmade, and I cannot overstate how well they work without any chemicals and overdrying, etc. that can lead to a new cycle of badness…Just thinking about it, I’m talking myself into buying more now! Anyway:

    I also wanted to give you a little solidarity on the hormonal acne front. My pregnancy was the only time in my life I had great skin, and I was hoping so hard that I’d get to keep it…no such luck. And as soon as my daughter weaned, it was seriously eighth grade all over again. HORMONES.

  • nicole says:

    Regarding getting a dermotology appointment, if you don’t want to fib about cancer – fib about wanting Botox or a chemical peel. The local news here did a sweeps piece on this a year or so ago – a month or so wait for a cancer check at most places. No more than a week for “elective” type stuff, ie Botox.

    One thing about the hairline acne, make sure you are washing your face after washing and conditioning your hair. The stuff that makes your hair all nice and shiny causes pimples. Best advice I ever got about my skin.

  • Las says:

    My skin has always been a little troublesome and I finally discovered that the best thing ever for me is to use diluted apple cider vinegar as a cleanser. cheap, natural, awesome. and my skin has never looked better. google it. do at least a 4 to 1 water to acv ratio. And get something organic and live.

  • Bria says:

    My new favorite product is the Pangea Organics face mask. Holy crap, it makes my skin so smooth and clear and fab. It’s a bit spendy, but a little goes a long way and I only use it once a week. Love it.

    Re: Bare Minerals foundation – I think I’ve mentioned this before here, but if you like Bare Minerals or are interested in trying it, consider Everyday Minerals instead. It’s so, so much cheaper and there are WAY more color/finish options. They offer wonderfully cheap (or sometimes free) samples, too, so pinpointing your best color and finish match is pretty painless. I think they have great brushes and mineral eyeshadows, too. The lip balm is worthless, though.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have rosacea and sensitive skin and the best thing for it is almost nothing at all. I wash it once every two days (yeah, really) with a mild facial cleanser (similar to Cetaphil). If I have worn makeup on a non-wash day I clean it with a washcloth soaked in hot water and wrung out. I moisturize every other day.

    The face makeup I wear is Jane Iredale Mineral powder and liquid minerals foundation, but I only wear it if I’m doing something special – for a regular workday I just wear a little lipstick and mascara and call it good.

    I also treat the rosacea with either Metrogel or a very low dose of minocycline (sometimes it’s easier to take a pill, sometimes it’s easier to smear on the gel) and it is completely under control. Before I was diagnosed with rosacea I had horrible, horrible, horrible acne – and I too had been one of those people who never had to worry. So, go see a derm and go from there, but keep in mind that sometimes less is more for your skin. Most people don’t need a constant round of exfoliating and moisturizing and priming and scrubbing.

    I have recently been trying crisco as a moisturizer, but my jury is still out on that.

  • ScotlandPrincess says:

    My boyfriend had that sort of redness / rash on his face, and he thought it might be acne or something, but the doctor doing his annual gave him a diagnosis of seborrhea and a prescription for dandruff shampoo. Apparently just using it on his hair and dabbing a very little on problem spots on his face occasionally really cleared things up. So I’d say even a small trip to a GP might be worth it, he or she could even just make you do something really simple that a doctor would find obvious but a lay person might not.

    I had terrible skin from 17 to college graduation. St. Ives face wash and Neutrogena moisturizers were my go to products, and occasionally I’d be put on antibiotics for severe breakouts, but my skin only really cleared up after the grinding stress did.

  • meltina says:

    Can’t offer advice here, just solidarity.

    My skin was awful from my teens to my 20s. What changed the balance was just quitting most makeup and most cleansers. Period. I went through my late 20s and early 30s without a stitch of makeup aside for the occasional lip stain, and using nothing but pore strips on my nose every couple of months to get rid of gross blackheads.

    It was tough at first, since my lashes are puny, and I was prone to breakouts in the standard T zone area (forehead, nose, chin). Scratch that, it sucked. But what sucked even more was that it seemed like I was a slave to the whole exfoliate, cleanse, tone cycle, and it had become a pretty lengthy routine.

    It took a couple of months, but then something magical happened: my skin cleared. I thought it was due to also starting hormonal birth control, but I had to quit that because of other side effects (high BP), and my skin just stayed blemish free, even throughout a pregnancy where everything seemed wrong aside for having glowing skin. Seriously, I had other women ask me throughout the years of no BC, and they’d roll their eyes when I’d tell them my complexion was so great because I no longer wore makeup (and yes, you all can start throwing rocks at me if it makes you feel better).

    I broke out a little post-partum, but again, instead of freaking out and cleansing, I was like “ok, skin, you do your thing and I’ll do mine” (which was nothing, since kid never let me sleep long enough to have the energy to accomplish more than shower and get dressed daily). After a couple of months of uneven skin, I’ve been back to clear skin.

    By all means do go see a dermatologist, but I suspect that a lot of it is your skin freaking out from all the hormonal changes you’ve gone through, and you just need to give it time to adjust. Piling on cleansing and beauty products might just be overwhelming your pores, especially if you went au naturel before.

  • Judi says:

    If there’s any way to get to a steam room, I can’t recommend that enough. My skin has always been an annoying pain in the ass, but a few years ago, I went on a cruise with my family and used the steam room every day. I actually cried one day because my skin got so clear, and walking around the ship with no makeup on felt like a miracle.

    Procrastination and poverty means I did not go home and immediately renew my Bally membership (they have steam rooms), but this past week I finally did! I started seeing a remarkable difference after only one time. Steam rooms are amazing.

    Good luck!

  • SP says:

    I’m just chiming in to second the recommendation for the Beautypedia site and to add a recommndation for Paula Begoun’s book, “The Beauty Bible.” I’ve gotten great recommendations from that site, and my skin went from kind of dull and spotty to glowing and clear when I started following the recommendations in her book, 13 years ago. I’ve got super-sensitive skin, too, so I’d be hesitant to try anything new without those recommendations; one bad product can send my skin haywire for a couple weeks.

    And some of Paula Begoun’s own products do, in fact, work really well for me. I take her self-recommendations with a bit more salt than I do the others (obviously she thinks it’s good or she’d formulate it differently), but in fact the combination of her 2% BHA liquid and an occasional spot treatment with her 2.5% benzoyl peroxide product is the only thing that keeps my skin clear since I went off birth control.

    (Note: I’ve never met the woman and have no connection to her or her products or website, aside from being a consumer.)

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