Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Are Expensive Cosmetics Ruining Your Skin?

Honey is widely recognised as a natural remedy for acne
CC image courtesy of Kaytee Riek on Flickr
Pimples. The bane of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had to deal with acne breakouts, varying in severity. From the initial breakout, to the marks that stay on your skin for weeks after, it’s had me wishing that since my teen years are long since behind me, my teenage skin would be part of the past too.

With such conflicting advice out there, I do wonder if the use of products is more of a hindrance than a help, and if perhaps natural remedies would be best to tackle problematic skin, for both your face and your purse.

So I’ve decided to compare shop bought skin treatments, that claim to be good for spot-prone skin, to natural products.

Looking back now, I think that perhaps I contributed to the bad skin; not through a lack of personal hygiene or bad lifestyle habits (although I do notice my skin is worse when I’m tired/not eating well), but because I bought into the whole cosmetics industry and started using products on my skin; skin that would have been best left untampered with.

When you naturally have oily skin, although these products claim to counteract this, I’ve started to wonder if an over reliance on these products disrupted my skin’s natural balance.

Now, I use a much gentler cleanser on my face. For moisturizing, I use Vaseline at night (you would think a petroleum oil would be the worst thing for acne, but actually it’s one of the few products that don’t clog your pores. Plus, it helps heal the scars) and for the day, I use this:

Eucerin Dermo Purifyer Hydrating Care
For the most part, this minimalist approach has kept my skin clear.

There was a period in my life where my skin was REALLY bad and I had to take antibiotics. It cleared up the acne, but a few months later it returned, so I went on another 6-month course of antibiotics. This long term use of antibiotics led to side effects however, so I stopped using them and the doctor prescribed the following topical treatments: benzoyl peroxide (which didn’t work), and a topical antibiotic Zineryt (which did, albeit temporarily).

I’ve now realised that more than likely, this acne (which was the worst my skin has ever been) came about because I was using really expensive cosmetics and skincare products. I’ve bought and used several of these high-end make up products and my skin just does not agree with them. I’ve done research and this could perhaps be because of ingredients such as oxide bismuth, which is often found in expensive cosmetics.

Whatever it is that’s in these products, it's far too rich for my skin. Nowadays, I stick to high street as opposed to high-end brands, even if there is less choice in finding a shade that matches my skin tone, because I never break out with them.

The last time I’ve used any of these types of products, prescribed or otherwise, was over a year ago and my skin seems to have settled (hopefully, I haven’t just jinxed it!). I have noticed that for the most part, I only get really bad pimples around the time of the month; it would be too coincidental for hormonal changes not to be responsible. (I’ll write a blog post on how to deal with these types of cystic, under the skin pimples once I find a cure that works myself!).

However, my skin still isn’t 100% clear. So along with this simplified skincare routine, for preventative measures I’ve started looking at using natural remedies such as: honey, lemon and tea tree oil.

To test my theory that natural products may be better than shop bought products, I compared the use of a “cucumber” clay mask to the use of raw honey applied on the skin in the same way. I can honestly say the honey won, hands down. My skin felt softer and it definitely helped prevent new pimples from appearing. I will have to use this for a longer period of time to fully see its effects.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve also been using raw lemon juice on fresh pimples and scars, as lemon is supposed to be a natural skin lightener and exfoliator. I’ve found it’s amazing in helping to fade marks left by spots; marks that would usually take 3-4 weeks to fade are fading after about 5 days.

I only use this on spots though, not all over my skin, as it does sting so and I’m cautious about overuse and drying out my skin too much. I would suggest anybody with sensitive skin dilute the lemon juice before applying. Also, it tends to work best on the pigmentation left from fresh spots, rather than older scars and marks.

Fresh products versus shop bought
Other natural remedies for acne I’ve yet to try are: raw garlic, raw potato (can probably see why I opted to try lemon and honey first :P) and the aspirin mask method, which are said to reduce the size of pimples faster than any spot treatment stick you buy at the local drugstore. I remember when I last picked up a prescription for Zineryt, the pharmacist, an Indian lady bless her, shook her head and told me these medical skin treatments had limited long term results, and recommended the use of turmeric (or "haldi", for us South Asian folk). So that’s another one to try.

When you have oily spot prone skin, it’s hard to know what skincare products and cosmetics to use. There’s a fear that they may aggravate your skin, or that you’ve shelled out for something that doesn’t do much. I guess a lot of it is trial and error, but at least with natural products you haven’t spent a fortune on something that may or may not work.


  1. I love foundation. If I had to have one make-up essential, it would be foundation, but I have found that normal high street brands, such as Rimmel, L'Oreal etc, bring me out in spots (plus I can never find the right shade, being Asian). I am using Bobbi Brown or Clarins these days, which costs me a small fortune but, definitely fewer spots! I also find that if I don't clean my cosmetic brushes/sponges regularly, then that contributes to spots.

    Oddly, I use Sudocrem for spots and it is a godsend! Especially in those 24 hours before a date, it does wonders, have you tried it? It's super cheap and smells horrible, but definitely helps.

  2. Hi Scheherazade I did try Sudocrem but it didn't do much for my skin. Bobbi Brown and Bare Essentials have been terrible for my skin, whereas Maybelline and 17 have been great!

    I guess different stuff works for different skin types, and it's a case of finding what works for you individually. Thanks for the tips :)