A few months ago, I started noticing the weirdest thing: on my temples and underneath my jawline, I started to feel very rough, bumpy skin. At first, it seemed kind of normal; I would exfoliate and moisturize, and it would go away... for a few days. Then, I would notice it again.
At the same time, my skin was improving in terms of surface acne, thanks to using jojoba oil and the Body Shop tea tree line, and my cystic acne was improving, thanks to jojoba and dropping dairy. But as the rough patches continued, I also noticed that the same areas would often breakout into clogged pores, usually related to my cycle.
What was going on?!
I started to research, and ask my beauty groups, and quickly realized the answer: congested skin.
Gesundheit, am I right?
I set out to learn everything I could about skin congestion, how to prevent it and get rid of it, and how it happens in the first place.
What is Skin Congestion?
Congested skin isn't just one thing; it's a lot of things. If you're skin is congested, you might notice:
- Bumpiness underneath the skin
- Small whiteheads
- Angry inflamed breakouts
- Enlarged pores
- Dull appearance
- Thick looking skin
Congested skin basically means that your pores are clogged--they're congested!
This can happen for a lot of reasons, but the number one reason is dehydrated, oily skin that is trying to produce more moisture, but dry skin, or dead skin cells, traps that oil inside the pores. Thus, you get a dry, bumpy feeling texture (almost like dry chicken skin), a thickened appearance, dullness, and breakouts related to all those problems. It's definitely not fun and a lot of people experience it.
How to Fix It
I've been very frustrated with my congested skin, as I find that things like salicylic acid makes my acne worse. However, I knew I was going to have to break down and try something outside of my usual routine. Here's what I've been doing to help my congested skin--and I've been seeing a ton of improvement.
1. A strict cleansing routine: The moment I'm done wearing makeup for the day, I wash my face. If I get home from work at 2pm, I wash my face immediately if I'm not going anywhere else. The less I wear make up, the less likely I am to dry out my skin and trap more oil.
2. Exfoliating regularly. I usually keep exfoliating to every other week--but recently stepped it up to every 4 days. I started using a homemade sugar scrub, which I would normally not recommend as pieces of sugar are too sharp for the average skin. However, if you're struggling with congested skin, this is something you can use maybe every other exfoliation.
I also started using the Holika Pig Nose Blackhead Clearing Massage Gel; this is a Korean product that essentially acts as a peel. I apply it underneath my jawline, on my temples, nose, and chin--the places where I have the worst clogged pores, congested skin, and general dullness. I'll have a full review of this product soon, but let me say: it is an absolute DOOZY and has helped so much!
3. Use glycolic acid. I was never a huge fan of the Pixi Glow Tonic... until I started getting congested skin. As much as I didn't like it before, the moment I started using it after I received a sample in my Ipsy bag, it helped my congested skin so much. It actually got rid of it within a few days of use--then I ran out and I started over at square run! Pixi Glow Tonic is a bit expensive, but it is absolutely worth it if you're noticing congested skin.
4. Hydrate. Remember how I said congested skin is dehydrated skin? Hydration is both external and internal. If you have congested skin, drink plenty of water, slow down on the coffee (ugh, I know), and eat lots of fruit that help hydrate your skin (think pineapple and watermelon). As well, using an intense moisturizer will help plump your skin from the outside. I really like bliss's Drench & Quench cream to water moisturizer; it's very light, but also super effective. (I'll be posting a full review of this moisturizer soon as well!)
Tackling skin congestion can feel like a never ending process; you might try things that I swear by that end up not working. But if you follow the basics--good cleansing, good exfoliating, and hydrating--you'll be well on your way to glowy skin again!