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Sensitive Skin Issues

Since I turned 19 back in September, I've had skin issues. I never used to have skin problems, just the occasional pimple here or there that would last for a few weeks and go away. And had a pretty clear complexion. All I used was soap.

But around the time I turned 19, I was under a lot of stress at work and school, drank too much coffee, and didn't get a lot of sleep. After a couple of weeks of this behavior I found rows of blackheads on top of my forehead.

The blackheads would bubble up and turn into pimples. And if that wasn't bad enough, the pimple would start to go away, but then another one would crop up right beside it or even on top of it. There was even a time where I had a patch of pimples of all on my left side of my forehead. I had all of this going on INCLUDING dry skin.

Since January, I've cut out the coffee and have gotten rid of all sweets in my diet except for a tiny piece of dark chocolate each day. I've been using Tom's of Main natural soap, and scrub my face lightly with a wash cloth. And apply olive oil imported from Spain about 3x a week. The pimples are slowly disappearing, but I still have a lot of black heads and don't know what to do for exfoliating and getting rid of the remaining blackheads along with smoothing my lumpy forehead.

I never wear make-up, just an occasional eye shadow, and rarely do I put blush on. I've never had a "skin-care regime." And I don't even know where I would begin to have one. My husband thought I was too rough with my skin and maybe that's why it was breaking out, but I am very gentle with it. I'm really afraid to try any chemical based cleansers since I have really sensitive skin and I don't want to dry it out or make it worse than it already is, as I'm seeing scaring from the pimples I had.

To sum up my problem, I've got DRY SKIN + BLACK HEADS. Am sensitive to chemical based products and have no idea what I should be doing for my skin.

I've gotten suggestions from my groups, but would love to hear what the rest of you think.


Wed. Feb 21, 12:51pm

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Once upon a time, I tried some zinc supplements from the drugstore for some other health problem. Surprisingly, the other health problem did not improve, but my acne disappeared very quickly -- like within 2 or 3 days. As best I recall, it was a pure zinc supplement with about 50 mg per tablet. Hmmm. I don't know why I stopped. I may have to do that again.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 1:27 PM

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1:27 again. If you should choose to try zinc supplementation, it would probably be best to do a little research about zinc before you try it. Here's a link:


Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 2:06 PM

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Just a warning, don't take Zinc on an empty stomach, and the first couple times you take it, don't go too far from the bathroom. I can't handle Zinc; it lands me in the bathroom for hours, even if I take it with food! That's not a typcal reaction, but it's not all that unusual either.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 3:41 PM

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It could be a food allergy. Try cutting out wheat and dairy, one at a time and see if that does the trick. Bread turned out to be the cause of a serious skin allergy. Which started when I was about your age, when I first left home. There are a lot of possible caused, you are going to have to do a lot of experiementing. I'll bet 99% that it is something that you are eating, you just need to figure out what it is.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 4:42 PM

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Blackheads are a product of dirt, oil, etc. getting trapped in the hair follicle, also (incorrectly) known as a pore. The best way to deal with them is to get them cleaned out via extraction, then to keep the skin as clean as possible and keep it that way. Also, exfoliation is of key importance to keeping the "pores" clean. I see that you have dry skin, but I would not recommend olive oil as a moisturizer. Olive oil molecules are too big to penetrate the skin, so you are essentially rinsing in oil which isn't helping to keep your pores clean and free of debris.

I would suggest a mild cleanser (also inexpensive) that you can get at any drugstore, called Cetaphil. Wash your skin 2x per day, once in the morning and once before bed.

Next would be exfoliation. I see that you are using a washcloth to scrub, which isn't really doing as much as you'd think. It exfoliates about as much as a body loofah does, just getting rid of the very very top layer of skin that is ready to fall off anyway. I would suggest a cream based exfoliation, a scrub. Again, a ton on the market. Stay away from ones that contain "acne fighters" such as saycilic acid, as it would be too harsh on your skin. Instead, look for a mild cream based scrub with microbeads. Skip the ones with crushed walnut shells, etc. as they can cause micro-tears in the skin, opening it up for infection.
You will want to exfoliate as part of your weekly routine, but initially start out daily, either in the am or pm. Once the blackheads slow down, you can exfoliate between 2-4x per week, depending on how your skin tolerates it.

The last step on this simplified routine would be moisturizer and sunscreen. Choose a moisturizer that is cream based, something a bit heavier in consistency since you said you have dry skin. Look for the words "for dry skin" since there are a ton of light moisturizers.
Again, last but most important would be sunscreen. Depending on how much time you spend in the sun I would suggest at least a 15 spf for daily use if you are only in the sun when walking from your car to your office job. If you are in the sun more than that, go with a 30 spf, and re-apply through out the day.

I hope that helped a bit. Please don't pick at your face, it will only scar and make other zits magically appear right next to or on top of the ones you already have (the short answer is that when you pop a zit, it blows out the base of the pimple infecting the follicles right next to it, creating bacteria in the next pore which = a new zit!).
Skip the olive oil and just get a moisturizer. Moisturizers are made for the skin, having other ingredients that are designed to work on human skin. Olive oil has many benefits, but unless the bottle says designed for moisturizing skin, I'd go with a product made for the skin. You can find products that use olive oil in them, but the olive oil components are broken down into usable materials that can actually penetrate the skin.

Best of luck to you, and congrats on getting off the caffiene and sweets! Your body will thank you!

Take care,
a skin care therapist

Thursday, February 22, 2007, 1:07 PM

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 1:15 AM

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Wow, undisguised spam.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 1:55 AM

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Just going way out on a limb here - around the time that the pimples all started, did you happen to change your hairstyle? When I was a teenager, I had bangs, and horrible pimples all over my forehead. I wanted to grow out the bangs, but I didn't want to show my forehead. Eventually I grew them out anyway. As soon as they were able to stay off of my forehead, the pimples cleared right up. Definitely not sure if this is the case, but it could be. My best advice would be, at least when you're not going out, or when you're sleeping, get a soft headband and keep all of your hair off of your face.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 9:51 AM

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sugar is a biggie- I read that your body can only process about one teaspoon of sugar at a time, and a leading nutritionist who knows a lot about skin issues recommended that I cut way down on sugar- fruits, juice, sweets etc.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 7:16 PM

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I used to use a lot of harsh cleansers on my face (ProActiv and various store-bought ridiculousness), but what I've found works best for me is this:

I eliminated dairy from my diet (in fact, I accidentally ate butter on some veggies yesterday at a restaurant, and my face broke out a tiny bit this morning), I wash my face once or twice a day with a lotion cleanser (which is one you don't need water for, you can just wipe it off with tissue or a washcloth), and I exfoliate once a week with large-grain sugar, like Sugar in the Raw. I mix it with my lotion cleanser and very lightly exfoliate, then rinse. And of course I use a moisturizer with SPF every single day.

Basically, I realized my main problem was the hormones in dairy and the overall excessive dryness of my skin.

It took me a long time to figure this out for myself, it took a lot of experimenting. I receive a lot of compliments on my skin, though, so I think I'm doing something right :) But everyone is different, so what works for me might make someone else's face into one giant pimple, haha

Wednesday, November 14, 2007, 8:27 AM

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Sensative Skin

Please help!! I'm a 35 yr old African American women w/3 kids. I'm a healthy eater, however, I drink lots of coffee :-( and I love sweets. I WOULD GIVE IT ALL UP FOR CLEAR SKIN, I DO NOT WEAR OR LIKE MAKEUP (only shadow and massacre I have very oily skin and huge pores, however when I wash it 2X a day, I get dry spots and if I use moisturizer it gets even oilier. I had measly like breakouts and lots of blackheads. Should I use an exfoliate, astringent, cleanser and moisturizer and if so what kind would be suitable for my sensitive skin?


Monday, December 29, 2008, 11:40 PM

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talk to your primary care doctor or dermatologist! I had what I thought was "adult acne" and now know it was rosacea. I have been on a topical antibiotic for about two weeks now and my face is clearing up well. Also, I stopped using products w/ sodium laurel/laureth sulfate.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 12:23 PM

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to 11:40 - go back and read what the skin care specialist recommended on 2/27/07 at 1:07. She outlined a whole regime that makes sense.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 12:56 PM

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sensitive skin

You should surely go for some natural products, like Aloe Vera Gel Simply apply the gel from an aloe vera stem on your pimples. it will help cure pimples, I've tried it ,& I'll suggest you to try, it'll take some time to show results, but it would definitely work.


Monday, September 13, 2010, 6:27 AM

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