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Chic & Green's Acne Guide

Of all of the skin care questions readers have asked me over the years, "What can I do about my acne?" seems to be the most popular. I am very fortunate never to have personally battled acne, other than the very rare hormonal zit that will pop up and last a day or so. As a teen, I did get a couple on my forehead from time to time, but I am really lucky never to have had to endure what so many women and men have to battle each day.

When I was working as a skin care specialist, makeup artist, and when I had my skin care line, acne was probably one of the greatest concerns I saw with clients and customers. Battling acne can have such a profound effect on a person's self esteem. I sometimes think people do not realize that. Acne is visible and if it is severe (or when it leads to acne scars), it can drive people to want to seek hope in every "miracle" product and treatment out there.


First of all, let's dispel some myths about acne. Do you remember being a teenager and being told that chocolate and greasy foods trigger acne. That is not true. People also would be given the advice that if you had acne, your face wasn't clean enough. So many people over-cleanse in the attempt to remove the "dirty" oils that people often think cause breakouts. Just because you have acne doesn't mean your face isn't clean. That is another myth.


People with acne have pores that become blocked with sebum. This trapped oil eventually develops bacteria and results in breakouts. One can have different kinds of acne from the sore red pimples (inflammatory) to blackheads & whiteheads (non-inflammatory and AKA comedones) and the little white dots called milia.


There are some steps that I recommend to treat acne safely and gently:

1. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser without fragrance or even essential oils. Part of the problem is that people wash their faces with harsh, detergent cleansers with the hope of drying out the acne. This is not what will happen. Fragrance may also be contributing to those breakouts. Plus, you don't want to get the essential oils or fragrance in your eyes.

2. You also will want to gently remove any traces of cleanser with a very gentle and natural toner. Look for products free of alcohol.

3. Next, you need to exfoliate. I don't recommend manual exfoliants such as scrubs for those with severe acne. The most effective oil soluble exfoliant is beta-hydroxy acid (BHA or salicylic acid). There are many skincare products with BHA on the market now. Just be careful to choose a concentration of 1% or 2% based on your particular skin type. Please note that pregnant women should NOT use this ingredient.

You have to "de-gunk" those pores or you will never get rid of the acne. Be patient, it may take a good 2-3 weeks to see any changes.

4. Now, one area where there is debate can be whether or not to use benzoyl peroxide to disinfect the skin. My answer is a very quick and certain NO. This is not a safe ingredient. Just look at its rating on the Cosmetics Database. Did you know that BP is actually 70% benzene and 20-30% Toluene. (Source: US Dispensatory)? Talk abotu toxic! I recommend Tea Tree Oil. It is a pure essential oil with scientific research behind it to show that the results of using are similar to using BP. It is wonderful for oily skin, is antibacterial and helps to dissolve oils. You can add this to grapeseed oil to use as your moisturizer. I also have used a couple drops of the oil right on acne spots. It helps with breakouts just as effectively as harsh chemically-derived ingredients, too!

5. Moisturize. Like I just mentioned above, adding a bit of tea tree oil to non-greasy grapeseed oil is a good way to nourish the skin and combat acne. Jojoba oil is another option. While some people don't always have the best results with jojoba, I have seen it work wonders. Jojoba Oil is wonderful for the skin because it mimics your skin's own sebum, drawing excess oil out. Jojoba oil is pure and it is natural. I use only 100% pure and organic golden jojoba oil. This oil is hydrating without being greasy. It will not promote acne or aggravate an existing case of acne. You can buy this in many grocery stores or online venues with natural products.


Patience is needed when it comes to treating your acne. Trying something two or three times isn't going to work. You really need to stick with your routine for a few weeks. It may take that long to start getting rid of that acne. I know it is hard, but regular and consistent use is imperative.

I am also going to say that if the acne is severe with no signs of improvement, that a trip to the dermatologist may be needed. There are some prescription options out there that may ultimately be the best choice for you if nothing else works.


For those with mild acne, there are some at home remedies you can try.

A simple green tea & vinegar toner recipe:

Get a sterile bottle or jar.

Boil some distilled water (at the grocery store you can find a gallon for under $1) and pour 1 cup of water into a mug. Add 3 green tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes. Remove bags and cool for until it's lukewarm.

Pour into a sterile bottle or jar. Add in 2-3 T. of apple cider vinegar (I prefer raw and unfiltered, but any will work), a squeeze each of lemon juice and honey. Shake to combine. Store in fridge.

Use daily after cleansing.

Acne Scar Help:

A concoction of tomato paste & cucumbers

It sounds a bit like a vegetable salad, doesn't it? With daily use, this duo can help to fade acne scars over time.

How does it work?

Cucumber is extremely soothing. Possessing toning qualities, applying cucumber can help to calm and revitalize the skin. We all know how cucumber slices applied to the eyes can reduce puffiness, right? The same effect works when mashed cucumber (or by simply applying sliced cukes) is applied to the skin. Cucumbers can reduce inflammation and help to fade sacne scars with regular use.

I like to combine this with antioxidant tomatoes. For this, buy a small jar of tomato paste at the grocery store. I think tomatoes are one of the most underrated skin foods out there. A recent study in Great Britain showed that regular consumption of lycopene-rich tomatoes (specifically paste) can help protect skin from UVA damage as well as prevent premature aging. The tomato paste also helps to absorb excess sebum. In addition, when combined with cucumber, slight skin lightening can occur. This is how the cuke-tomato cocktail can help to treat and fade acne scars.

When starting out with this all-natural treatment, I'd try a patch test first (as with any product). If it doesn't irritate, start with a small amount daily. Apply to cleansed skin and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Rinse with tepid water. You should start to see results within 2 weeks of regular use.

Strawberry Face Mask Recipe


Your makeup has just as much impact on skin as anything else. It is crucial to pay attention to what is in your makeup. It's also important to note that hair products can worsen acne if you have bangs or hair that touches against the face.

Some acne contributing and irritating ingredients to avoid if you see these on a product label:

Red dyes
Petroleum-based products
Hydrogentated ___ oils
Isopropyl Myristate
Butyl Stearate
Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20
Isocetyl Stearate
Isopropyl Linolate
Octyl Stearate
Laureth____ ingredients
Propylene Glycol Monostearate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

I also want to mention that it's important to make sure your makeup brushes and sponges are always clean. Bacteria and oils get trapped in the bristles and you will be applying them right back into your face with each use if they are not clean.

Do you have a skin care concern? Let me know and I just might tackle it here on the blog.