Monday, May 28, 2007

Ask Lydia: Moisturizer for Difficult Skin


Hey there...I saw your website and thought it looked like a great place to learn about whatever beauty rants or raves you have. I am 28 years old and I have a problem that I need your help with! My facial skin has been affected by acne and stress a LOT over the past 10+ years. It is combo/oily/dry/acne-prone, and gets a bit more acne-prone and red in the summer, and stress aggravates it badly. It is a tad more dry in the winter, but for now, summer is what concerns me. I need to start taking better care of my skin and not touching it, and I wish to find a good moisturizer that is affordable, anti-aging, full of vitamins and good for you stuff (no chemicals, acids, preferably an herbal one or something, not the derm crap), AND anti-blemish. I refuse to use Olay...their stuff just aggravates my skin.

Here is my normal ritual: most mornings I will get up and eat, do whatever, wash my face, pat dry, and swipe with a toner (Sea-Breeze to tone down oil and acne), then I apply my acne scar fading cream with SPF (Clearasil is good now). At night, I use the Clearasil acne scare mildly exfoliating wash, and when needed, I use the scar treatment. But the daytime moisturizer is what I need most now.

Can you please tell me what may be best for me to use? It has to be UNDER $30 (I am very strapped for cash right now), and oil-free, in addition to the anti-aging acne. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

Hey there! Thanks so much for your email. Wow--sounds like you have a lot to consider when looking for skin care products. Based on what you said, here's what I would recommend:
  • Change your mindset about your skin. Try not to "punish" your skin with harsh treatments and products. Instead, you should concentrate on treating it with gentle, indulgent ingredients.
  • Wash your face twice daily (in the morning and evening) with either a gentle, every day cleanser like Purity Made Simple by Philosophy, or an acne fighting face wash like Biore's Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser that contains salicylic acid.
  • Stop using toner. Toners are extremely harsh and contain a lot of alcohol. This strips the natural moisture from your skin and may be an irritant. I know toner feels good--that bite you get from the alcohol cools the skin and makes it feel clean--but it may be doing more harm than good when you get right down to it.
  • Oily skin doesn't show fine lines and other signs of aging quiet as readily as other skin types, so given the choice of a product that is an acne fighter or a product that is an anti-ager, I'd pick the acne buster. However, you are still wise to start using anti-aging products and I'm glad to hear you use an SPF every day--keep that up!
  • One line of drugstore products you may want to try is Neutorgena's Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish line. They have moisturizers, cleansers, and scrubs that contain salicylic acid (to clear up your acne) and retinol (the vitamin-A anti-ager). These products are all oil-free and don't leave behind a greasy feel, plus they will not break your budget. Click here to purchase these items from at a sale price.
  • If you want to get products that are little more high-end, I would suggest talking to the good people over at Clinique. They can analyze your skin and recommend a 3-step skincare system to keep your skin clean and clear. Their products are great for people with skin issues, and their moisturizers are light and oil free. Every now and then, Clinique offer a free week's worth of their 3-step just need to ask the salesperson.
  • There are a lot of organic products on the market that might be worth a look. A few brands I would consider are Kiss My Face or Juice Beauty. I know that Juice Beauty offers a nice multi-piece starter set that may be a good way to give their products a try without overspending.
I have normal/combo/dry skin, so I don't have to worry too much about acne issues. That said, I hope this helps! I've used the Neutrogena line and have liked's nice that it combines both zit-busting medication with anti-aging ingredients. I don't know of any other relatively inexpensive products that do that! If anyone wants to add anything else, leave a comment! And keep your emails coming!


Michelle said...

Hi!! read the post!! One suggestion for the gentle reader of concern-( being a sensitve skin lady myself) Do not go out in the day light acne scar fading cream, Clearasil or what have you. The chemicals will burn your skin when mixed with sun light. Causing more abrasion with your skin. (Speaking from experiance) So your doing more harm then good. The reaction is actually causing a mild burn effect. Use your scar treatments at night. Thats my only suggestion. I was reading this post and I remember being where the read was at.( Actually, I was thinking of the searing pain that I had endured from product misuse) I had times when my skin was just flat out angry and there wasn't anything that you can really do except slip your kid gloves on and treat your skin very delicatly.

Lydia said...

Good point, thanks Michelle! I don't have overly sensitive skin or acne prone skin, but I do know that alot of the treatments are very harsh and drying.

finding the filth said...

oh i swear i have the same exact skin as your reader. except that i also have a nasty nasty allergy to all gel-based products, which rules out about 80% of all oily/acne products. i used neutrogena products all through high school, thinking it would help, but, because of the allergy (which i didn't discover till college), it only made my skin WORSE.

anyway, the only product line that's ever worked for me has been ahava. it's a little on the pricey side, but it keeps my skin clean and relatively blemish-free. they have a whole "matifying" line for oily skin, with a great gentle toner and a light foamy moisturizer. oh and their mud masks are fantastic! i HIGHLY recommend ahava products for bitchy skin.

clinique also has a nice foamy moisturizer, but i think it may be a few dollars more. a friend with similarly sensitive skin swears by mario badescu, but that's still too pricey for me.

oh - and one last rec' - queen helene mint julep mask. it's like $4 a tube at any drugstore and it's amazing on oily skin. use it 1-2x a week to deep clean skin, and/or as a spot treatment for stubborn blemishes. nothing like it.