Tips on Avoiding Breakouts During Finals

This time of year, saving my GPA requires my undivided attention. I do not have the time or the energy to battle a gnarly stress breakout. But, without fail, with the changing weather, the unhealthy study snacks and long days in the library, this combo ends up doing a number on my skin. So, to try and avoid looking like a pizza during my busiest and more stressful weeks, I figured out some tricks to help:

 

DIET

 

First and foremost, your skin is your biggest organ. Just because it is on the outside of your body does not mean it isn’t affected by what you put in it!

In my experience, sweets and snacks high in processed sugars are my go-to stress snacks… they also cause me to breakout – bad. My will power isn’t perfect yet, but I do try to be very conscious of the amount of candy or chocolate that I eat, because it takes a pretty awful toll on my skin. If I slip-up and have a few too many (half a bag) chocolate covered almonds, drinking lots of water is key!! This applies to a large majority of dietary indiscretions that usually have a negative impact on the skin. Most of us don’t drink enough water, even I’m guilty of this.

During finals week, I pretty much run on coffee or sugar-free Redbull. However, caffeinated drinks are dehydrating and that does not help keep your skin clear this time of year. I’m not a crazy person, I'm not asking you to cut out caffeine, but if I’m having more than a coffee a day, I make an effort to increase the amount of water I drink too. The difference in my skin when I drink lots of water is amazing. It looks smoother, extreme oily patches settle down (it will also help the same way with dry areas) and breakouts or clogged pores often look less angry.

 

SKIN CARE

 

For normal/dry skin: Be gentle!! Use harsh, drying blemish creams sparingly – if at all. They may irritate your skin and create problems beyond just pimples. Same goes with face masks, if you try to hammer your skin with extra products in an attempt to control a breakout, you will likely just make it worse in some way. I do about one face mask a week regardless of breakouts. It seems opposite to what we learn but if you have dry or sensitive skin, try only using a cleanser at night. Just rinse your face with some water in the A.M and then do the rest of your skincare as normal. This will save you some time and help to keep some of the natural oils on your skin, which will keep your skin looking healthier.

 

For Combination/Oily skin: This is a struggle that I feel. Excessive oil production can lead to a build-up of dead skin cells, which can clog pores and cause breakouts. However, same as those with dry skin, just because oily skin likely isn’t as sensitive, it does not mean it’s a good idea to hammer it with harsh blemish products. This time of year, I’ve switched to a more gentle, natural cleanser that has a very mild exfoliator in it. Rice powder or bamboo are natural exfoliators often ingredients added in some cleansers that are effective, but gentle enough for everyday use. Face wash with microbeads tear your skin up and are awful for the environment… just don’t do it! A final tip for oily skin: If there is a blemish that needs to be told whose the boss, I will use a clay/mud mask like a spot treatment. Dab it onto the spot and leave it on overnight like a normal zit cream. It is a treatment effective in diminishing the blemish but is not excessively drying.

 

SUPPLIES

 

For lack of a better subtitle to cover a broad idea, your “supplies” play a big role in your skin’s appearance. Starting where you wouldn’t expect – your pillow case. I have oily skin and I wash my pillow cases once a week in order to minimize the bacteria I have my face pressed against every night. This is also a good idea if you’re the type of person that washes their hair less frequently (i.e. every couple of days). While that build-up of healthy oil on your scalp is a good thing, having it transferred from your pillowcase to your face might not be.

 

On that same page, makeup brushes and sponges are equally as important!! Wash them!! It is one of my least favourite tasks, but I wash my brushes once a month and I wash the sponge that I use every day, about every 2 weeks. You don’t need a fancy cleaning tool or special soap. I use hand soap or shampoo. Work the soap in and rinse them until the water is clear. After, shape the bristles and lay them on a towel to air dry. It’s just another way to control the number of unwanted bacteria you’re pressing into your skin every day. It might not be the true solution to a nasty exam pimple, but it is absolutely something that helps keep your skin clearer.

 

Don’t be afraid of natural products or DIY stuff either. My toner that I use every night is 1-part apple cider vinegar, 1-part witch hazel and 2 parts water. That ratio can be played with depending on how sensitive your skin is. But, I wouldn’t go less than a minimum of half water. Tea tree oil, rose water, aloe vera. You have my permission to procrastinate studying, do some research on what your skin needs, and how to provide it.  If the baseline is healthier and stronger, you will be less susceptible to breakouts.

 

 

HABITS TO BREAK

 

  • Stop touching your face. Right now. Stop. You’re literally pressing in and trapping nasty library bacteria in your skin while you’re resting your hand against your face. The only time I ever breakout on my cheeks/jawline is when I’ve been touching my face too much. 
  • Ease up on the makeup. I love mine too and I know it’s especially hard not to have a heavy hand when battling a breakout that makes you feel insecure. But, since I’ve started going without face makeup a few days a week, my skin is a lot more manageable. If that’s not doable for you, just try less. A more lightweight sheer foundation, a BB cream or a tinted moisturizer, only a bit of powder, only a bit of concealer – it’s all a step in the right direction.
  • Do not wear makeup too long – keep make up remover wipes or cleansing wipes in your school or gym bag. If you’re in the library later than anticipated or stop at the gym at the end of a busy day, get that makeup off asap.
  • Stop not using moisturizer because you want the pimples to dry out. Use moisturizer, okay?? You are simply wreaking havoc on the rest of your face if you punish it for a few blemishes. While excessive oil can cause a breakout, it is one of a zillion causes. Proper hydration and moisture in the skin actually helps to regulate oil production and temper breakouts