If You’ve Got Skin and $10, Read On

Can you part with this guy in the name of clear skin?

Can you part with this guy in the name of clear skin?

Summary: Try jojoba oil

Full length version:

I wrote a post a few days ago in which I mentioned in passing how I was struggling with my skin. In truth, my skin was still consistently better than it had been in a long, long time. I didn’t get new pimples every day, but I still had hyper pigmentation from my past acne. Whenever I did get a new pimple the fact that it seemed so random and out of control felt frustrating.

You know how people say they’ve tried everything? I have too! It helps when you’ve had twelve years to experiment. I won’t list all the things that I’ve tried. I’m sure you’ve tried most, if not all of them, and maybe you’ve tried a few more.

Maybe you’re really lucky and have always had beautiful skin, in which case, I hope you are somehow being entertained by this post, but I’m totally confused as to why you’re reading it. 🙂

What had worked for me the best so far, was this routine I found from a guy named Bob on an acne.org board who took the time to chart his path to clear skin for all the world to see. He seems like just an all-around good guy who truly wants to help people get clear skin, as he has finally done. He’s got a lot of good information and I appreciate the time he took to compile it all. If you’re interested in the post, here it is. Bob’s path definitely got me on the right path to clear skin.

I did that routine for six months or so, and I loved the results. It was so exciting to finally see my skin clear up like that. My family was amazed, too. My sister even said she needed to get one of those brushes (and compared to me, she’s got model skin).

But even doing this didn’t keep the acne entirely at bay. It’s possible it was my human error of not being consistent enough. I went strong for quite a few months, and then eventually I fell off. This is partly because it was slightly annoying for me to do twice each day and if I travelled anywhere I had four separate pieces to carry, just for my face-washing routine alone. Oh, I’m forgetting the supplements. I started with them, and tapered off, as well. Once my skin got a little better, it seemed like a lot of upkeep and I wasn’t as motivated to continue.

Besides, my desire for freedom and simplicity made me want to see if I could simplify the routine. At that time, I was coming to know the glory of multi-use products, like using coconut oil in the shower as a soap, moisturizer and shaving gel. I liked the idea of using one natural product in many ways. It appealed to my sense of ease and economy.

Mainly, I wanted a more natural alternative to the benzoyl peroxide, which, according to the acne.org routine, would require using even more over time (not according to Bob’s specific post; this is from the generic acne.org routine from the website). That seemed like a bummer for a few reasons.

First of all, if you’re anything like me, you want to know your reliance on any substance is going to decrease with time, not increase. Another reason I wasn’t so thrilled was that I was buying a tiny $7 container of Neutrogena On The Spot cream as my BP source. If I were to use what they recommended with the acne.org regimen, I think I would be going through one of those each week. That’s $364 and a lot of chemicals to absorb.

If I’d experienced near-perfect results, I would have just paid the cost and been glad I had my skin back. $364 over the course of a year for clear skin is fine. Especially if you’ve struggled with your skin, you know how much money you’d pay to have it clear. Actually this was one of the cheapest solutions I’d found. In the past, I’d easily dropped hundreds of dollars on skincare products, and if I had kept them up, I’m sure they’d have been even more expensive long-term.

But I questioned the health of the BP for my face, and like I said it wasn’t keeping me one hundred percent clear. I’d also read in passing where someone mentioned that it may age your skin more quickly. I had no idea where that idea came from, or if it had any merit, but it did seem that chemically drying your skin would do more harm than good in terms of aging. In general, I was looking to decrease my dependence on the amount of money, products, and chemicals I used.

Also, this may sound silly, but I like to pack light, and traveling with the brush and the wash and the baking soda and the BP, plus the vitamins, was slightly cumbersome. Again, it was worth it for the results I achieved at first, but not necessarily for the results I experienced in the long-term (quite likely my fault and not the fault of the system itself).

The Cetaphil cleanser, though, seemed like one of the best things I’d ever found. It was gentle on my skin and after years of trying to beat my face into submission, I realized whatever was the gentlest was usually the best. And counterintuitively, more effective. As I said, I purchased a generic brand, which was extremely inexpensive. I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but I bought a large pump bottle that could probably last me a year (maybe more) for $6 to $8.

The scrub brush, which is still handy, was $1. My friend has the same one from Sephora. (I’m pretty sure hers wasn’t $1.)

*Tip: if you do buy Neutrogena On The Spot Treatment, you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you just throw the bottle away when all the cream seems to be gone. Try cutting off the bottom of the tube at the crimp, and you’ll see there’s quite a bit more inside. I kept the opened container in a mini zip lock bag until it was finally finished, and the BP stayed fresh until then.

In my quest for a natural product that would maybe clear my skin, I came across jojoba oil. The reviews on Amazon were nothing short of amazing. People used it for everything, but my only concern was what it could do for getting clear skin.

So I ordered this jojoba oil from Amazon with great hopes, and got it in the mail a few days later. As I opened the box, I was so excited my life was going to change. You know the feeling.

Without washing my face (hopefully I washed my hands?) I just slathered it like suntan oil while I was talking to my sister and her friend. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing, and I probably looked like a monkey doing it. (Are you cringing? You should be!)

A little while later, I went to bed.

And the next morning, my life had changed. Just not how I’d envisioned it as I was opening the box full of hope.

Surprise– my skin looked like crap!

I was hugely disappointed after the first night and I woke up and I actually had more pimples. That darn oil had broken me out!

While I’m usually pretty happy, I wasn’t in a great mood when I saw my skin that morning. I know it’s silly, but it put a damper on my day from the start. I felt my outbreak was directly related to the oil. And I was bummed I’d just done something to make it worse, not better. Now I really didn’t know what to do. Should I cut my loss, or keep going? And was my skin just going to continue getting worse?

(Total sidetrack: It’s so easy to sit here with clear skin and feel kind of like “That’s so silly, honestly it’s just skin, or how you look”, but if you’ve never had acne, it’s one of the most dispiriting things to befall a person. I don’t mean that like “Oh poor me”. I’m so lucky, and always have been, even on my worst skin day.

But I want to explain a little bit why it’s so easy to get down about your skin. There aren’t a lot of things I would get upset about anymore, but for some reason, having my skin not under control this many years beyond puberty, is one that occasionally would get me down. Skin is not who you are, but it’s the way in which you interact with the world. People who wear make up to cover their bad skin aren’t “less real” or “higher maintenance” than people with amazing skin who, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t choose to cover it up. That’s a misconception I think needs to be brought to light. If anyone who currently wears make up, felt that they had nice skin, I can guarantee 99% of them wouldn’t bother taking the time, money, and mental energy, to apply make up every day.

No one wants to feel like they need to put on make up to face the world. Yet, if you have really bad skin, that may be a choice you face every day.

I think this is a huge misperception–I’m going to get on my soap box her–that some people actually want to go around wearing make up all the time. I don’t care how much you think someone loves make up, I’ve never known a person who didn’t want to feel as if they had a choice whether they wore it or not. Of the people have nice skin, who truly do feel the have a choice, most of them don’t bother with it. That leads me to believe that if all of the people who currently wear make up daily, got clear skin and therefore felt that they also had a choice, the great majority of them would give up putting it on daily. Like, 99%.

No one in their right mind would choose make up over clear skin. I don’t think anyone does. And also, I’ve experienced the strange phenomenon of my skin getting worse without wearing makeup. While I can’t prove causation, or say that make up made my skin clear (it didn’t), I’ve not experienced either more break outs from wearing make up, or clearer skin by simply removing the make up altogether. So if you think that if someone simply “gave their skin a break” and “stopped adding to the problem”, it’s not that simple. Most people start wearing make up in response to bad skin, not the other way around.

I’m not arguing whether make up worsens the problem of acne, or whether it looks better or not, but what I am saying is not to judge someone for covering up their skin. It’s not about trying to be the most beautiful person in the room, it’s about not feeling embarrassed to look someone in the eye. They’re not doing it to be vain, they’re doing it because they simply want to feel like there’s an equal playing field between themselves and people who experience clear skin effortlessly.

Most people don’t think it looks good, and everyone knows it’s not better than having clear skin. They’re making the best out of a bad situation, and that’s their solution for the moment. If you have good skin, feel really grateful you can’t relate, but don’t be self-righteous about how you never wear makeup… That’s kind of an ignorant argument to be made.

Besides, I love makeup. I wear it much, much less than I used to, but I’m fully aware of the pleasure it can bring. I have an appreciation for its place in the world and I still think it’s fun to put it on every once in awhile. The difference is, now my skin is at least generally to the place of clarity where I feel I have a choice every day. This choice is worth inestimably more to me than all of the makeup at the Chanel counter (if you know what I mean, you know what I mean).

So, this whole clear skin/not clear skin/make up thing may seem petty to someone who doesn’t know how it feels to have your skin be such a source of worry and distraction, but getting halfway clear skin and not feeling like I have to cover it up every day just to interact with people, is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s like a full layer of mental baggage unloaded.

I feel for people who feel like they can’t show their natural face to the world, and that’s in part why it’s so important for me to not only find what works for me to keep my skin clear, but even more important to share with others so they can experience the lightness that simply being able to not think about your skin and how it looks can bring).

Okay so back to jojoba!

Luckily, although my skin looked like poo, I was able to get some answers on what had perhaps gone wrong. I sat at my computer all morning, hoping to make some sense of what had not happened to my face (what, you’re not supposed to cake it on and hope for the best?).

First of all, some people did say they break out in the beginning before their skin got better. I also learned that some people have experienced breakouts from using too much oil at a time. So both scenarios potentially applied to what I was experiencing. I’d always heard the old “It gets worse before it gets better” saying, but I wondered if that’s just what people said about products that had always worked for them but for some reason weren’t working for others.

I have to admit, I was nervous to keep going with the oil. I really didn’t want to make my skin worse, especially since I’d basically stopped wearing make up. I really didn’t want to go back to that, with the feeling I had to cover my skin just to feel comfortable about my skin.

I just really wanted it to work. This jojoba oil seemed to have worked for so many other people and I just wanted to find something that worked for me, too.

My mind went back to all the other things I’d tried that had worked for other people, and for some reason hadn’t done it for me (giving up wheat, dairy, going raw/vegan, Proactiv, raw honey masks, Clinique skin system, coconut oil, emu oil, green smoothies, going without make up and letting my skin rest, hydrogen peroxide, Burt’s Bees Acne Wash, Burt’s Bees Willowbark Cleanser, salicylic acid, antibiotics, Retin A, birth control pills… this is not an exhaustive list). I know I said I wasn’t going to make a list. I couldn’t help it! I know, that’s so self-indulgent. I’m sorry. I’m a martyr for clear skin. (It’s my last vice!)

But really, it seemed I had spent my life searching for a cure to my skin problem. I felt like I was in the final stretch. I was so glad for the progress I’d made, especially with the help of the guy named Bob from acne.org and his regimen. But it was like so close but yet so far, since I was still breaking out without rhyme or reason (at least that I could discern).

Not to mention, it was amazing to contemplate all the crap some people could eat, and expose their skin to, while having the nicest complexions. My ex boyfriend smoked cigarettes, drank, ate junk food, never changed his pillowcase and rarely washed his long hair. And yet he had gorgeous skin (and an enviable waistline). Meanwhile, we people with acne change our diet, exercise, lifestyle, beauty products, you name it, in search of one holy grail product. It was like the eternal quest with no end! I had to laugh. It seemed like a universal joke.

I went back to Amazon and re-read all the positive reviews it had gotten from people who had used it for acne. I gathered up my courage and tried again. I have to take a moment and express my gratitude to all the people who took the time to share their experience, trade tips, and write positive reviews on this oil, both on Amazon, and the other sites I visited. You people gave me the courage to continue with this product. (Cue the exhilarating orchestra soundtrack).

I started on Saturday night and it is now early Thursday morning. I haven’t yet used the jojoba oil today. So really, this review is based on four full days of use.

As of this morning, my skin has done nearly a total turn-around since the first morning and it looks better than it has in awhile. Yes, it looks better than it did before I started using it. I feel very happy with this product and I have a feeling that this might just work for me. I know, I’m probably jinxing it. 😉

I haven’t gotten any new pimples since that first day and the older ones are essentially all clear. The hyper-pigmentation, which was for me, just as large a problem as the acne itself, seems to be fading. My skin is clear and smooth (it’s all relative, but for me, today is a good skin day). I would say this is the second solid day that my skin has been improving and that it has looked good. I don’t want to be over-confident too early on, but so far I’m impressed with the results enough to recommend it to others.

Please note: I currently promote this product solely on the results it has given me in just four full days of use. I want to be clear on that for both the awesomeness of fast results, and the fact that long-term benefits remain to be seen.

I’m happy to be able to write this review with the hope that you find just as much success as I have with this. I know it’s early days, so I will update this in another week or so and let you know how my skin is still faring. As for now, I’m giving it a thumbs up and worth a try. If you’re willing to take a gamble with your skin and $10, go for it. If there are good results to be gained, you’ll have them sooner. If you’d rather wait and see if I’m still singing its praises in another week or two, I’ll be back to check in.

If you’d like to take the plunge with jojoba oil (which, no one tells you, is pronounced “ho-ho-bah”), here’s what has worked for me thus far.

My routine for the last four days (morning and night):

Cetaphil (generic brand) to wash my face. Then I pat my skin gently with a towel just so the water isn’t dripping off my face. My face is still wet. I add two drops of the jojoba oil to my fingertips and spread it over my face, and then I let it air dry.

And by the way, try not to touch your face during the day. If you are getting a pimple, that’s not going to help, it will make it worse. And if you’re not getting a pimple, there’s nothing to see here, so keep movin’…

And yes, I’m fully aware of the fact that I may have jumped the gun after only four days and I may have to eat my words in a week or two. I’ll keep you posted.