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6 Things you *Need* to Know about Skincare, According to the Founders of CLEARSTEM

Her Campus’s Social Media Manager Maddie Hiatt recently interviewed Danielle Gronich and Kayleigh Christina, the founders of CLEARSTEM, an anti-aging & anti-acne skincare line that contains no hormone disruptors or toxins, to talk about everything skincare. Whether you’ve had lifelong acne or are have been battling with maskne for the past year, Danielle and Kayleigh have a wealth of knowledge to share to make sure you’re taking the best possible care of your skin. Here are six key takeaways:


Maskne happens for 2 reasons:

1) Humidity. As you breathe in your mask, you create a humid, tropical environment for hours on end that is trapped on your skin. Because of the heat and humidity of your breath, your pores open up so anything that’s on your skin whether it be makeup, dirt, bacteria, fabric from your mask, and so on gets into and clogs your pores. 

2) Friction. The friction from your mask can cause all kinds of acne such as cystic acne, bumps, psoriasis flareups, and so on.

But don’t worry, there are ways to take care of your skin and still mask up! First, you want to make sure that your mask is a plain cotton mask. Try to avoid dyes, fragrances, different fabrics, and water or wrinkle-resistant masks, as these are usually sprayed with toxic chemicals to give the fabric these qualities. Danielle and Kayleigh love the For The Feel, masks because they’re affordable, breathable, good for your skin, and approved by physicians. 

In terms of skincare, humidity amplifies all of the ingredients in your skincare products. So, if you’re struggling with acne you have to check your skincare products against a list of pore-clogging ingredients before you buy anything or change up your treatment plan. Even if you have great products, the humidity inside your mask might cause those products to clog up your pores and form a block. If you're looking for a new product though, Kayleigh and Danielle recommend the Clearity Serum, which breaks down the things you don’t want in your pores (*Adds to cart*).

Determining your skin type

There are two main categories for skin: acne-prone and not acne-prone. If you’re acne-prone, you generally have faster-growing skin. This sounds wild, but all it means is that your skin produces more protein than someone else and that protein can clog your pores. Generally, acne-prone skin is also a little oilier than others’ skin. If you’re acne-prone, Danielle and Kayleigh recommend exfoliating either every day or every other day with a gentle chemical exfoliant. The keyword there is gentle. You don’t want to be rough with your skin! 

If you don’t break out or your skin is dry, you still want to exfoliate, but do it once a week max. 

Most people have combination skin. Usually, with combination skin, you experience dryness in the cheek area and oiliness in the T-zone. This can change depending on your diet. If you eat a lot of sugar in the morning or have energy drinks and coffee soon after waking up, you’ll produce more oil. So, you’ll want to make sure you’re tapped into your skin and all of its different phases. Notice what makes it change. The way you treat your skin can also change depending on where you live. You might have normal or combination skin in Florida, and dry skin in Colorado. It all depends on your environment. 

Ingredients you need to know about

Danielle and Kayleigh have created a searchable pore-clogging ingredient list that can help you determine if your skincare products are harming your skin. Here are some of the top ingredients to avoid if you have acne-prone skin:

1. Coconut oil and coconut alkanes: At room temperature, coconut oil forms a hard, waxy substance. Now, think about that in your pores (I don’t know if you just cringed, but I did). When you use coconut oil in your pores, it has to be extracted because it’s thicker than your natural oil and clogs your pores.

2. Shea butter

3. Isopropyl myristate, which is a synthetic oil that locks moisture in and is commonly found in conditioners and lotions.

4. Algae, seaweed, kelp, or any deep-sea ingredient: These ingredients contain a lot of oil that your skin doesn’t need.

If you’re not acne-prone, Kayleigh and Danielle recommend avoiding toxins like parabens. Parabens increase the shelf-life of a product, but they’re irritating to the skin and can mess with your hormones. 

Ingredients you do want in your skincare products include anything anti-inflammatory such as:

1. Green tea

2. Turmeric

3. Willowherb

4. Reishi mushroom

5. Salicylic Acid in a toner form like Witch Hazel (particularly if you have cystic acne)

Dealing with redness

Redness can be a sign of great circulation, but if it’s something you want to take care of make sure to avoid parabens and hot water in the shower. While hot water may feel good it can damage your skin, form wrinkles, make your wrinkles deeper, worsen any pigmentation in your skin, dull your skin, and also create micro burns that don’t let your skin heal. (Ouch! I’ll be taking lukewarm showers from here on out). Instead, try washing your face in cool or lukewarm water, and using anti-inflammatory products and sunscreen. When looking for a sunscreen, avoid the spray-on kind, though – that’s chemically made.

Dark circles

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re looking to get rid of your dark circles, you may have to stop drinking caffeine and instead, opt for a topical product that contains caffeine. You also want to watch for foods that are high in sugar or contain inflammatory ingredients. To get rid of your dark circles, Danielle and Kayleigh recommend staying hydrated, going to bed before midnight, and getting a good night’s sleep. You also want to be gentle with your eyes and the thin, sensitive skin that surrounds them. Danielle and Kayleigh note that you’re better off leaving a little makeup around your eyes than scrubbing and tugging away at that area. One of their favorite products is Thrive Cosmetics’ Liquid Lash Extension Mascara, because it just comes right off with warm water and a washcloth.

Acne scarring

There are two types of scarring: pigmentation and textured scarring. Pigmentation means that your skin feels pretty smooth, but you have leftover red spots from acne. If you deal with pigmentation, you can treat your skin with an acid exfoliant like CLEARSTEM’s Clearity Serum.

On the other hand, textured scarring means that the collagen and texture of your skin have been affected. Textured scarring might feel bumpy or full of divots. You can treat textured scarring with a scrub and, if it’s accessible to you, a chemical peel.

There’s a lot to know about skincare, but if you only do a handful of things, Kayleigh and Danielle want you to do the following:

  1. Check your ingredients
  2. Start your mornings with water and some form of protein or greens
  3. Aim for about 3 liters of water per day

Check out CLEARSTEM on Instagram.

Camille is pursuing a Ph.D. in Communication at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. She has bylines in the Nonahood News, Her Campus, Screen Queens, and Shifter Mag. In addition, she has worked with "The Cypress Dome," and "The Florida Review." She is enthusiastic about Latina/o/x issues, fitness, writing, and reading. She is on Instagram and Twitter: @camilleeejoan
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