Scratch Beneath the Surface to Find Clear Skin

Updated: May 7, 2021

Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

I stepped into the shower and the warm water pelted my skin. I had done this—showered—thousands of times before. I didn’t expect this time to be any different. I took a moment to enjoy the warmth, let my muscles relax and my hair soak through. An itch on my arm caught my attention, so I scratched it. The result was unexpected.

I was scraping off skin. I kept scratching and skin kept coming off—from the same spot on my arm, from other spots on my arms, and then from my face, my neck and shoulders, and my back. I had dreamed

for years about somehow washing away the blemishes from my oily, acne-prone

skin. I had searched for the product, tool, or skin care technique that would finally clear it up. That day, I found it. I was 34.

I didn’t know it yet, but on that day, now 12 years ago, I learned how to keep my skin clear without benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sandy scrubs, or tetracycline. I would no longer need cover-up or foundation to hide breakouts or conceal the damage I would do to my skin when pimples appeared.

I would soon prefer tank tops to turtlenecks because I no longer needed to hide breakouts on my neck, arms, and back. It began as a happy accident, a well-timed itch followed by an aggressive scratch, that revealed the true nature of my skin and the care it needs.

I describe my skin as:

· Oily

· Highly proliferative (new skin cells are produced rapidly, high rate of turnover)

This combination can be a disaster without frequent, deep exfoliation. Except on the surface, after layers have built up, my skin doesn’t dry out and flake off the way the ads for moisturizers would have me believe. My skin is sticky and buries the new healthy layers. Those layers are not cleared away with exfoliating cleansers or loofah scrubbers. Not cleared well enough, anyway.

Unfortunately for me and my sticky skin, common skin care advice promotes gentle cleansers, gentle exfoliation, and moisturizers. For those of us prone to acne, we are also encouraged to treat our acne with drugs that, used either topically or systemically, don’t sound all that gentle: peroxides, acids, retinoids, antibiotics.

Even now, I scratch beneath the surface to remove built up layers and maintain my clear skin. I use warm water, organic coconut oil-based baby soap, and my own two hands. My only investment is in time, yet it is no comparison to the cost, time, and frustration that I used to spend on ineffective or inconsistently effective acne treatments.

My goal for this blog is to help people who are still struggling with widespread, persistent acne. I will share the details of my experiences (before and after I scratched that itch on my arm in the shower), and the skin care method I use that eliminates my need for expensive products or treatments.

Just imagine finally choosing that summer tank over short sleeves or wanting to go to the beach rather than hide at home. It’s an incredible feeling.

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