Do you struggle with pimples / breakouts / acne? Ever felt ugly and demoralized just because you're having a bad skin day?

I know I have. Having suffered with acne ever since I was 11, I've found myself desperate and feeling down whenever my skin flares up. Having tried over 30 skincare brands, I can attest to how many advertisements / treatments "promising" to get rid of acne asap simply do not work (you can read my story here).

Some of the brands I've tried...which didn't work for me.
I've often found myself believing that the next product I try could be the miracle-worker I've been looking for, the game-changer that will stop my skin from breaking out once and for all. Unfortunately, this is reality and there simply isn't any miracle solution. I tried almost everything - benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, triclosan, hydrocortisone - but nothing worked. Instead, what I've found to work is a combination of multiple factors - making a few small but impactful lifestyle changes, keeping my face clean, using the right facial products, etc.

For those of us who aren't blessed with naturally flawless skin, we just have to work harder and put in more effort. #toobad #nochoice

So here are some of my tips that I've picked up from others over the years that has helped me in my journey towards better skin.

1. Remove your makeup before you sleep.

No matter how tired you are, please make it a point to remove your makeup before you crash. When you leave your makeup on, it blocks your pores and traps oil, which leads to bacteria buildup, breakouts and enlarged pores. The residual makeup and dirt on your skin also interfere with your skin's natural healing process and cellular turnover while you sleep. If you're too tired to wash your face properly, then keep a pack of cleansing wipes next to your bed instead for a quick wipeout.

2. Change your pillowcase often.

Pillowcases absorb dirt and oils from our faces as we sleep, so it is really important to wash and change your pillowcase often to minimize facial contact with a dirty surface while you sleep. 

3. Clean your cellphone surface.

Having breakouts on your cheeks or jawline? Similarly, your cellphones accumulate dirt, makeup and oils when you press your skin against your phone while talking. How gross! To clean, simply dab a rag soaked in alcohol and run it across the surface. 

4. Clean your makeup brushes often.

There are special brush-cleaning formulations specifically tailored for getting residue makeup (and oils) out of your makeup brushes, but my favourite budget alternative is to simply use a gentle powder cleanser and soak it for 20 minutes before washing everything out and leaving it to dry in the sun.

5. Keep hair out of your face.

When I had bangs, I had a lot of breakouts on my forehead. This happens because the oil and dirt accumulated on your hair follicles get deposited on your skin, which then allows bacteria to grow, causing acne.

6. Do a face-steaming facial once a week.

You can either buy a cheap facial steamer for less than $20 at Watsons, or replicate our own budget alternative at home by simply pouring hot water into a basin and placing your face over it for 30 - 60 seconds. The warm steam will open up your pores and make it easier for you to deep cleanse the dirt from within. Splash with cold water afterwards to close the pores.

7. Exfoliate regularly.

Acne-prone skin tends to accumulate large amounts of dead skin cells which get stuck in excess oil, so you should exfoliate regularly (I do it every 3 days) to get rid of these pore-clogging culprits. Exfoliating also stimulates blood circulation while giving you baby-soft skin! If you've sensitive skin, try a natural and gentle exfoliator which won't aggravate your skin too much. Oh, and be sure to avoid products that use micro-beads while you're at it - they were even recently banned by President Obama himself for the harm they cause to your skin and the environment.

I alternate between Blended's organic coffee and orange exfoliator each time, and I swear my skin is always instantly brighter and clearer right after washing. My gorgeous friend Alyssa loves it as well!

8. Switch to oil-based cleansers.

If you haven't heard of the OCM (oil-cleansing method), you should try it out now! It works wonders for skin, especially for folks suffering from oily skin. While most of us love cleansers that give us that squeaky clean feeling after washing our face, the truth is that this is actually due to it stripping our skin of its natural oils, which causes it to over-product extra sebum in order to compensate for the imbalance. 

Don't take my word for it - check out how sodium hydroxide or other chemical-foaming agents are used as a key ingredient to give you this squeaky clean feeling, and why it is so bad for your skin.

I'm not a big fan of going 100% OCM yet because I still can't get used to having an oily residue left on my face after cleanser, so I use a compromise instead: oil-based cleansers that still give me the (almost) squeaky clean feeling while giving me the benefits of oil-cleansing! There aren't a lot of cleansers like these in the market, but you can try Blended's organic oil cleansers for a start.

9. Avoid using bar soaps on your face.

I stay away from using bar soaps on my face like the plague, ever since I found out that the binders that hold a bar of soap together have a higher pH which causes over-drying of the skin. To make things worse, bar soaps aren't regulated as tightly as other skincare products, so there's nothing stopping a (harmful to face) bar of soap to be sold in the market. Putting out your bar soap also makes it easier for germs to breed, as compared to a pump or bottled cleanser. Surely you wouldn't want to put all of that on your precious face!

10. Apply a clay facial mask at least once a week.

I'm a sucker for facial masks - I use them at least 2 to 3 times every week. Clay masks have been the holy grail of beauty rituals since Cleopatra's era, and for a good reason too. Clay acts like a natural magnet which pulls toxins and impurities out from within pores, leaving your skin deep-cleansed and pores tightened. What's more, most clay masks are cheap and highly affordable!

11. Use organic or manuka honey on your face.

Good quality honey has anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, which kills the bacteria on your skin that causes pimples. Some people use honey to wash their face, although I can't get over the sticky feeling from such a method. An easy alternative would be to use a facial mask which has manuka or raw honey as one of the top-listed ingredients (don't use the sheet ones). The best one I've found so far is Fresh's Honey Mask which retails for $229, but I'm not sure what type of honey it uses as it isn't clearly stated on their ingredients list. If you're picky about using only either manuka or raw, organic honey, then I would recommend Blended's Manuka Honey Bee Pollen Mask which only costs $32.90 in comparison (and add on $5 for royal jelly to be added into the formulation while you're at it!).

Integrating these tips into my daily lifestyle has really helped me to combat and reduce breakouts over the years, and they don't cost an arm or leg, unlike expensive facials or other treatments out there!

If you're interested in trying out some of the organic products that I personally use, you can head over to Blended website to check out their natural offerings. Alternatively, homegrown retailer excluniqueeee is also running a bundle promo where you can save quite a sum instead of buying the products individually! They're also found at Marina Square #02-339 if you prefer to see the products in person before purchasing.

I know it isn't easy, but with a little bit of effort, it is indeed possible to transform your skin for better. Say goodbye to breakouts and hello to clearer skin like I did!

With love,
Budget Babe