Skin Care (Face)


The top-most square of the picture above was the condition of my skin during my teen years and early twenties. Overall, my skin was smooth but I remember my face being oily and having the usual pimples during that-time-of-the-month.

The horrendous group of pictures in the middle was during my mid-twenties where pimples started to erupt all over my face. Long story that I’ll tell you about later.

Lastly, the group of 3 pictures on the bottom is the condition of my current facial skin (late twenties). The terrible acne condition has gone away (Alhamdulillah) and my skin is ok. Of course, not as smooth as my school and university years, but definitely better than during that horrible pimple phase. Will also jot down of how I cured it.

How My Face Erupted
* Disclaimer: This is my story and every person will have different skin conditions and reactions. There is NO one cure for everyone. I’m just penning down my experience in case anybody would like to take this route.

First of all, during my teens and before my mid twenties, I remember having combination skin and was always trying this product and that. Cleansing, toning, moisturising; spending money unnecessarily on beauty products that made me think the product was working or improving my skin. In retrospect, I believe I didn’t have to use anything on my face and could’ve just washed with water. That’s definitely the power of the media having me believe that my face condition could “heal” or get better with beauty products. I think that if your facial skin condition is without any serious problems, you can just clean your face with water. (Alhamdulillah as Muslims, we wash our faces 5 times daily during ablution before performing our prayers. I feel that 5 times [plus 1 final wash with just water before going to bed] is sufficient for daily facial washes.)

Wow, that intro was long! So, how did my face erupt? Well, it happened after I graduated from university and went on an island holiday in beautiful Malaysia. In all that excitement, I religiously slathered on sunblock lotion to my face and all over my body because I didn’t want to get burnt by the sun as I was out all day. This was my first time using a lot of sunblock on my face for a couple of days so I guess my face reacted with all the “chemical” ingredients that it wasn’t used to coupled with the amount of sun exposure I was getting. My face was okay during the first day. The second day, I noticed it getting red all over and brushed it off thinking I was getting burnt by the sun by being out too much. The third day, it got even redder and started to itch a bit. The condition just worsened and by the time the holiday was over, I thought that if I rest and cool off by staying indoors, my face would heal itself and go back to normal. I don’t really remember how the eruption started to look because I was traumatised. But I can say that after a month, my face did not heal itself. I tried so many products and my face just stayed red with big, ugly acne (filled with pus sometimes) all over my cheeks, chin and forehead. Very gross.

After many months, my dad was concerned as he saw that it didn’t go away and he is a big advocate of healing naturally and using natural products (always was and always will be. I wasn’t aware of this fact while I was growing up because as a young adult I thought I knew better than my parents). I don’t remember what he made me try but I do remember that he bought a lot of fresh goats milk and had me drink it. (I didn’t try washing my face with it though because of the smell.) But I think the condition of my skin was something that needed to be repaired with something more than natural products.

Oh yes, I think I must mention that my eating habits has always been quite healthy in the sense that I LOVE drinking water only and I liked eating fruits and I REALLY dislike junk food, fast food and soda. I didn’t eat as many vegetables as I should but I did eat the vegetables that I liked. I did increase my water and vegetable intake but still no change with the acne problem.

Later, my dad suggested I try Clinique and I went to the counter but the lady there said that my facial skin condition was too severe. Even the lady at the SKII counter told me to check with a dermatologist first and only try their products once the inflammation died down and the huge pus-filled pimples were gone.

Going to a skin specialist at the time was out of my parents’ budget so I had to endure my bad skin problem for 2-3 years until I got a job and saved enough money to see one. During that whole time, I had to tell myself that my face wasn’t that bad and I still looked good. I know the pity looks and the disgusted looks I got from people who knew me from before it happened.

Anyway, life went on and I wasn’t actively looking for a cure. On one fateful day, I got sick and went to a normal clinic to see the doctor for my flu or whatever it was and he got concerned with my acne. He was so kind and gave me some antibiotics for the acne and told me to see him once I’ve finished those pills. (During this time in my life, I hadn’t learned and cared about organic products and healing naturally, etc. But in retrospect, even if I had, I believe I would’ve taken this route anyway because nothing else was working.)

So after I finished the course and went to see the doctor, he saw that the pimples were still there and the medication he provided didn’t help. He then suggested I see a specialist and wrote me a referral letter. His kind nurse wished me luck and hoped my skin condition would improve. I called up the specialist’s office and set up an appointment for as soon as possible.

Like most popular skin specialists in KL, it’s normal to wait for a long time as there will always be many people wanting to see the doctor. This was no different. The specialist I was referred to almost a decade ago was Nathan Skin Clinic at the PKNS Building on Jalan Raja Laut in KL. If you’re interested to see him, google the info because I went many yonks ago and for only 6 months. I wouldn’t know if they’ve moved or changed phone numbers, etc.

So Dr Nathan took a look at my face and prescribed me some pills which I was under strict orders not to get pregnant as it could harm the fetus. I told him that that was no problem as I wasn’t married yet. I believe these were Retin-A pills; I don’t remember the exact name of the pills. Anyway, he told me to just wash my face with water and gave me an liquid lotion which I was to put on my face before bedtime. I think my first consultation costed me about RM180 (not sure about the prices now as this was almost a decade ago!). After the first week, I could see that my skin was improving.

During the second visit, I got my pill supply topped up and I think that visit costed RM300+. Every subsequent visit after was about RM300+ as well. Basically, my skin regime during that time was washing my face with water and eating the pills as prescribed. My face cleared up extremely well and after 6 months, I stopped seeing him. He didn’t say to stop; but I didn’t see the need to keep up with the medication as my face had cleared up of the nasty, pus-filled acne. It was clear but not baby-butt smooth. But I was ecstatic.

Current Facial Skin Condition
Now, after many years of pretty clear skin, I guess I can say that the Retin-A pills had killed whatever bacteria was in my body that made those mean, red pimples. I don’t even get pimples as often anymore (could be due to getting older anyway). I also am more aware of my whole body and its changes so I can tell that I might get some of those little, sandy acne when I’m stressed or the weather is too hot, etc. And I still am just washing my face with water ONLY (for at least 5 times a day)! I don’t spend on any beauty products but then again, I don’t wear makeup. I don’t use any cleansers or toners. I don’t moisturise my face. I don’t wear sunblock (heck, I stay far, far away from it since it scarred my face and traumatised me!) This current skincare regime suits me especially when I travel cos I don’t have to worry about packing any skin care essentials. I’m not saying that my face is flawless, but I like the fact that I don’t need special or specific facial products. Simple and minimalist is the best way for me.

Things I Now Know & Tips
1) Face condition:
– I’ve gotten in tune with my body and have discovered that before and during my “monthly visit”, my face will become slightly oilier and I will need to wash it more often.
– During my fertile days (when I’m ovulating), my skin can either be super smooth and beautiful OR I can get a friendly pimple or two on my face. My skin condition during this time will be a surprise. And these pimples only last a few days so they will go away. No pimple cream will make it vanish faster, I’ve tried.. However, if it’s one of those stubborn ones, I dab some baking soda mixed with water on it, let it dry; then wipe it off with some Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diluted with water. Do it at night before bedtime because ACV is a nasty smell.
2) Since I’m into natural things now, when I feel like pampering my face, I’ll try out a one-minute face mask with either spreading :
– plain yogurt on my face (don’t wear it too long because the smell of yogurt even after you rinse it off isn’t that nice)
– oats mixed with plain yogurt (rub the oats off in a circular motion)
– honey (it’s sticky and you just need to spread a thin, even layer on)
– a solution of baking soda mixed with water (not too much baking soda that will make it pasty, but just a little so the water feels “slimy”; then wipe off with a bowl of water with a few drops of ACV mixed in)
3) Makeup remover: Like I’ve said before, I don’t wear makeup but during the rare times that I do, I will wipe off the makeup using the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). Have you tried this? It’s pretty neat and I like it. I’ve tried it a few times (even if I’m not wearing makeup and want a night pampering session). Google it cos there are many types of face-safe oils you can use; but for me I like to use castor oil mixed with either almond oil or virgin coconut oil (VCO). I massage it on my face then place a hot (make sure you can tolerate the heat or else let it cool a bit) face towel and steam my face until the towel is cooler and wipe the oil off with the towel. You can repeat the towel-steam-face step. I find that my face feels soft and smooth the whole of the next day. Plus, my skin doesn’t break out! Pretty awesome, methinks.