Tuesday, 4 July 2017

My Battle with Congested Skin Part 1...Two Week Trial without Facial Oils

What is congestion?
A build-up of impurities within the sebaceous glands, otherwise known as the oil glands, which can lead to blockages in the pores resulting in blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. These can be caused by dead cells, pollution and dirt but can also accumulate due to a variety of reasons including hormonal changes, bad diet, lack of cleansing and exfoliation. Regular washing does not get deep enough into your pores no matter what advertisements like to tell you, therefore the oil and dead cells can build up over time creating hardened oil plugs. You will often start to see visible bumps on the surface and underneath the surface of the skin.
The Trial:
Rewind back to beginning of June, I was suffering with the most congested skin I’d had in a long while and I knew I needed to take drastic action. Not only did my skin look rubbish but in turn I felt like rubbish. I was fully aware that one of the contributions to my under the skin bumps and lumps was facial oils and facial balms. I adore them. I would slather them on my face more than twice a day if I could, but I had a feeling they are were not my friends, at least not 100% of the time.
Before I continue I want to add a disclaimer that this trial was purely for my benefit only, because I know my skin. Not all congestion is due to the use of facial oils and balms, and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Every skin is different. I simply want to document this for my own personal use and because some may find it helpful if they are suffering from the same kind of issues.
There are many benefits to using facial oils/balms and although they contributed to increasing congestion they generally didn’t break me out, hence the reason for me wanting to continue using them and being in denial! I have tried many oils and balms with and without essential oils, and it took me a while to face up to the fact that it didn’t matter what type or brand I would use I seemed to have the same outcome with all. Bringing me to the conclusion that I need to experiment without them and see what happens...
Firstly, let me explain how I had been using oils and balms in my routines and the different ways I was enjoying them, all of which, I believe, led to the increase in congestion and ultimately left my skin looking dull and lifeless:
  • Cleansing – Luxurious balms or oils that need to be removed with a flannel. Usually once a day as a second cleanse. These are packed with wonderful oils and butters which make for a completely relaxing ritual
  • Pre-Shower – Some mornings I would apply an oil or balm like a mask prior to stepping into the shower, I would let the steam activate the scent and allow the ingredients to penetrate deeper into my skin. Sometimes I would use a light cleanser after, sometimes I wouldn’t
  • Oils mixed into face masks – To use up the tons of oils I have I would add a few drops into a clay or hydrating mask to boost the effects. This would be more than once a week usually
  • Overnight Treatment – Each night I would apply a facial oil or balm as a finishing step to ‘seal’ all of the products in.
  • Daily Moisturiser – I would apply facial oils a few times a week in the morning, usually mixed in with a serum to create an emulsion
As you can see from above I was using oils and balms a lot throughout the week and I don’t think, well I know my oily/combo skin couldn’t take it. The thing was I just couldn’t see that for so long, in denial because I wanted my skin to love them because I loved the feeling of using them!
As dramatic as it sounds on 7th June I looked in the mirror and thought I had to fix the issue! Here’s what was looking back at me and this is not the results from looking under a microscope by the way!
  • Under the skin bumps along my jawline, a couple that were painful and a few that weren’t
  • Under the skin white lumps which were whiteheads that were not coming to the surface around the middle of my chin and sides of my mouth
  • Blackheads in the middle of my chin and sides of cheeks including nose area
  • Dull lifeless skin
  • PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) from previous blemishes
  • Uneven skin texture
I know that I could have it a lot worse and my skin didn’t look bad with makeup on but I believe we all strive for healthy glowing skin and that’s not where I was at with mine, so I knew I needed to make some improvements to my routine and diet. It’s not about having perfect skin, but being comfortable and confident, achieving the best skin health possible.
In this post, I am purely focusing on the effects cutting out oils/balms did for me during the 2 weeks but I will be doing a separate post on how I am tackling long term congestion as there are many other aspects that contribute to healthy skin. This is just the first step in the chain for me.
Firstly, I cut out oil/balm cleansers that needed a washcloth to be removed. I wanted to continue using balm/oil cleansers that emulsified as I felt they didn’t leave any form of residue. Usually I like a bit of residue, the nourishing plump feeling they gave me. But not during this trial. So, in the drawer they went, away from where my eyes could see them! Next I removed all oils and balms that I’d normally use to moisturise my skin, I replaced these with moisturisers that suited my dehydrated oily skin. Basically, all oils and balms went in the drawer!
Within a few days, I noticed an immediate difference, I was so surprised. My skin looked much brighter and even toned. I wasn’t expecting results so soon! I still had congestion but no new congestion had formed, which was something. Overall my skin looked calmer and less irritated, even though I hadn’t realised it looked that way before I started this trial. Redness around my nose and forehead were reduced.
Towards the end of the first week going into the second I had some under the skin lumps that came to the surface. Although it made me feel miserable to have spots I felt like it was a good thing, almost like my skin was purging.
After being consistent with the trial for a week I was happy, and with the results I was getting I had no desire to start using oils and balms again. That was until I went to the Red Magazine x Caroline Hirons event where Caroline discussed how amazing oils are for the skin, and made me crave using them again! After speaking with her directly and her stressing the importance of balance it made me realise that I should stay committed to what I was doing and see it out.
Fast forward another week and the results were clear to see. Under the skin lumps had disappeared without me directly treating them, and the overall appearance of my skin had improved. Although I went through a period where I missed massaging oily goodness into my face, I was so happy with the outcome of the trial I wanted to continue what I was doing. Although I am confident that cutting out oils and balms proved a success and quickly made an improvement to my skin I am aware that in the long term there are other changes I need to make in regards to my routine and diet. I’m creating a follow up blog post detailing how I am battling congestion and some noticeable differences I have found in my journey to clearer skin. Skincare can’t be responsible for ‘fixing’ everything and we need to ensure that we are looking after ourselves from the inside out!
Aside from that the 3 oils pictured are the only ones remaining in my routine. I will add them back in gradually but not for use every day as I think I’ve learnt my lesson! I will also be doing a post on what oil/balms I am keeping and why, so stay tuned for that.  

In the meantime, if you have any tips on how to get rid of dreaded congestion I would love to know!

Thanks for reading…



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