Acne-Safe Skin Care Swaps This Holistic Esthetician Wants You To Try ASAP
If there's one thing I've learned in my time living in this blemish-prone and sensitive skin, it's that acne prevention is all about education. You can't address something until you understand it. If you can, I always recommend finding a professional in your area to help guide you through your journey. If that's out of the question, find acne specialists on social media that align with your skin care values and care more about education than show.
One such esthetician who is worth a look? Holistic skin care practitioner and acne specialist Zaida Gordon, the founder of SkintegrityLA. She was recently on an episode of Clean Beauty School where we talked all about acne-prone skin. In it, she nixed three common acne ingredients or tools—and recommended what to use instead. "[Dealing with acne is all about] figuring out the best, most personalized treatment plan for you," she says.
Skip facial brushes—use a gentle AHA instead.
Facial brushes and spinning tools certainly had their heyday. They've fallen out of favor lately–much to Gordon's delight, as they do a number on your skin barrier. "We're always trying to keep the integrity of the skin barrier with acne-prone skin. So when we talk about exfoliating regularly, we don't mean using any kind of abrasive scrubs or harsh brushes," she says. "Those are some of the worst ways to remove dead skin cell buildup."
Rather, she loves a gentle chemical exfoliant, like the alpha-hydroxy acid mandelic acid. "We use a lot of gentle effective chemical exfoliants that won't strip the skin but will expose the clear skin underneath, such as mandelic acid," she says. "Mandelic acid is a great example of a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid that will dissolve the dead skin cells on the surface to clear the skin."
Skip drying agents—opt for smart hydration.
Just like you can't scrub away your acne, you can't burn or dry it away either. So stop using desert-like tonics and astringents. "People think, 'Oh, I can just use the strongest products every single day to dry it up.' That may temporarily work, but then your skin is not going to look healthy long term," she says, noting you should always be smart with how you balance your skin with hydration.
"Unfortunately, I find a lot of people with oily skin or acne-prone skin that still don't use moisturizers, which hurts my feelings as a facialist," she jokes. Her best tip for easily clogged individuals? Light layers of hydration: "What I love to do is layer water-based mists, then serums and gels, then the moisturizer last."
Skip coconut oil on the face — leave it for the body.
"If you're an acne-prone person, you definitely would want to stay away from coconut oil, argan oil, or rich butters. Leave those for the body," she says. "The body is a little bit different. The skin there can handle these ingredients, and it's usually not going to get clogged or break out from them."
However, oil for the face is never off-limits; we just recommend using lighter versions like jojoba or rosehip seed oil.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.