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Spot-On Tips for Blemished Skin

Katja Kokko | 11.3.2015

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This post is a collaboration with Naturelle.fi

Some of you are probably familiar with my skin history, but here’s a short recap: after I went off birth control, my until then immaculate skin exploded with hormones, leading to a complete change in skin type. My previously matte and blemish-free skin began to suffer from oiliness, blackheads, clogging, and sore hormonal spots that tended to crop up on my chin, cheeks, neck, and occasionally on my forehead. After a few years, the hormonal chaos had mostly calmed down, but my skin was still prone to oiliness, clogging, and the hormonal spots which followed my menstrual cycle.

After transitioning to natural cosmetics, my skin began to slowly heal itself, helped by an improved diet. But the oiliness, clogging, and enlarged pores still seemed to stick. Sometimes my skin would look better, only to go back to the way it was, soon after. Only after I began using fruit acids (or AHA-acids) and enzymatic products did my skin begin to change significantly; these changes have been lasting ones, allowing me to cut out purifying enzymes from my skin care regime more or less entirely (I do keep one bottle in the cupboard, just in case). And since I know that many of you are struggling with impurities and hormonal skin trouble, I would like to share my best skin care tips with you.

If you’re unfamiliar with fruit acids, please have a look through my comprehensive post on the subject.

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A fruit acid based exfoliate or peel is the key to treating blemished or impure skin. AHA-acids boost skin cell regeneration, revealing a new, glowing skin which is both smoother and brighter. Fruit acids minimize the pores, clear out blackheads and blockages, regulate sebum production and the hydrolipidic film, stimulate skin processes, and make the skin receptive to other active and nourishing ingredients. When caring for oily skin, you should always use products that are more acidic than the pH of your own skin (which is mildly acidic).

Effective fruit acids will cause a slight stinging sensation, or even redness, on the skin, but the latter will go away within a few of hours. Sensations and results depend on the strength of the product; when choosing an exfoliate, you should always take your own skin type into consideration, including its texture and sensitivity. People with very thin or sensitive skin, or rosacea, should stay away from fruit acid exfoliates entirely.

The fruit acid peels from the American brand Juice Beauty come in three different strengths – which is great, as our skins have different needs and sensitivities. Combined with the right products, these peels are effective enough to produce salon-worthy results.

The Green Apple Peel Full Strength is, as the name might tell you, the strongest of the three, and best suited for fairly thick, normal to oily skin. It’s the one I’m currently using, but I’ve considered switching to the milder, Blemish Clearing, version after this bottle runs out. Full Strength causes stinging and burning, and produces a nice blush on the skin after a few minutes. I suggest letting your reactions to the product determine how long you want to leave it on for; start from 3 to 5 minutes and work your way up to the full 10 minutes.

In addition to glycolic acid and lactic acid, the peel also contains fruit juices and extracts with naturally occurring, mild fruit acids, willow bark extract with salicylic acid, as well as vitamin C. Vitamin A is included in the form of retinyl palmitate, helping to repair sun damage and discoloration.

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Green Apple Peel Sensitive is a milder version of the Full Strength one. Unlike the stronger version, Sensitive contains no lactic acid or salicylic acid, and its effectiveness is based only on glycolic acid and the AHA-acids from fruit extracts. Being much lighter than Full Strength, there is no stinging, burning, or redness with the Sensitive peel. It is suited for all skin types apart from very sensitive skin or rosacea; very porous, thick, or oily skin would, of course, benefit more from the more potent peel.

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Strength wise, the Green Apple Blemish Clearing Peel is somewhere between the previous two peels, and is well-suited for slightly thinner or normal skin with hormonal blemishes. You don’t have to have oily, porous, or thick skin to suffer from hormonal acne, after all. This product covers the middle ground between the last two products: it’s still potent but –without the lactic acid, willow bark extract, or retinyl palmitate – there’s less stinging, burning, and redness than with the Full Strength peel.

This is no short-cut to happiness, however – not on its own –, but merely a first step in the right direction. Potent fruit acids will only cause harm if the rest of your skin care regime is lacking, so make sure you write down the rest of these tips, as well.

Besides exfoliation, proper cleansing and toner are the cornerstones of a good skin care ritual. I would recommend an oil, balm, or cream for the cleanser, or – if your skin is very oily, porous or thick – a double-cleanser that combines two of these. If you’re prone to dryness, stick with just one cleanser; if you’re going for a gel, choose one that doesn’t foam too much.

A good mask and a good serum are likewise important. The AHA-acids are just the first step, making the skin open and receptive to other products. What follows is another save-or-splurge list of product recommendations – a concept which you seem to be liking!

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If you want high-quality ingredients, Suki’s Transformative Purifying Masque is for you. The mask is even suited for rosacea, and can be used as an over-night spot treatment. The masque contains kaolin, which extracts impurities and oil from the skin; salicylic acid which soothes spots; and antibacterial zinc oxide for skin-regeneration. Other ingredients include soothing marigold, sebum-regulating witch hazel water, purifying tea tree oil and lavender oil, as well as repairing algae extract, which also helps to bind moisture to the skin. The masque is very thin, and doesn’t cause tightness once dry.

If you want something more affordable, I suggest going for the Blemish Clearing Mask by Juice Beauty. This clay-based mask contains fruit juices with naturally mild AHA-acids, aloe vera, zinc oxide, sugarcane extract with glycolic acid, as well as willow bark extract with salicylic acid. While the consistency is richer than that of Suki’s, the Blemish Clearing Mask is doesn’t cause tightness, and is therefore great for dry skin, as well.

After the mask, it’s time for a serum – a key product for any skin type, but whose importance is amplified in the treating of various skin problems. A purifying serum is applied in the morning and evening, after toner. After the peel and the mask, wipe the skin with a cotton pad dipped in toner, and then apply a purifying serum to the face and neck.

I have pricier and less pricy recommendations for the serum, too.

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The Bio-Active Purifying Face Serum by Suki is, as far as the active-ingredients go, the highest quality purifying serum I’ve ever tried. Its effects include regulating sebum production, soothing infection and redness, reducing clogging and impurities, improving cell metabolism and regeneration, brightening dull-looking skin, and minimizing the pores. Salicylic acid from willow bark extract, AHA-acids from apple extract, moth bean extract (a natural alternative for retinol) and soothing Echinacea, bisabolol, and goldenseal make up the primary ingredients of the serum.

Juice Beauty’s Blemish Clearing Serum has a great price-quality ratio. The large bottle is long-lasting, and the active ingredients are a cocktail of gentle, non-drying blemish-clearers. Active ingredients should not dry out the skin to be effective, and indeed, while clearing out blemishes, brightening the complexion, and softening the skin, Juice Beauty’s serum is also hydrating the skin.

As the cherry on top, we have the ultimate anti-blemish product – a topical spot-treatment.

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Juice Beauty’s Blemish Be Gone spot-treatment is small and easy to take along, and has a brilliant roll-on applicator. This small bottle contains largely the same ingredients as the serum, but the mini cocktail has been enriched with retinyl palmitate, dandelion, and a higher dosage of citrus extracts. The treatment clears out clogged pores, soothes infection, brightens the skin tone, and improves skin texture – all the while healing blemishes. The price is nice on this one, as well, and one small bottle goes a long way.

These are my tips for today, but I’ll be revisiting the subject later, in a post about something I mentioned at the start of this one: to get the best results, you need to cover all your bases, from cleansing to moisturizer. Only then do these potent products produce their optimal results. If you’d like help planning a more customized and specific skin care regime, please purchase the Personal Beauty Guide.

Have you found the fruit acid products for you?

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Products provided for testing/photographing by Naturelle

Photos Katja Kokko

Translation Katja Nikula

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