doing halloween the acne-safe way

it’s that time of year again, folks – time for pumpkins to adorn doorsteps, for witch memes to take up residence on our social media feeds, and time for a general frenzy among the holiday aisles of our local big box stores as we stitch together our last-minute halloween costumes. the air is a bit more crisp than usual, orange leaves dangle from the trees and everything seems perfectly pumpkin-spiced. halloween has arrived and it’s time to sink into this ghastly season with a few acne-safe survival tricks up your sleeve.

first, let’s talk halloween makeup. the costumes we choose, as the acne-afflicted, are often contingent upon the amount of makeup, goo and guache we are willing to cake onto our faces. if you’ve ever thought, “dang, i can’t be a zombie…there’s no acne-safe makeup out there for me,” you are not alone. but you’ve got more options than you think for making up a horrifically ghoulish acne-safe face.

  • makeup tip number one: your eyes and lips are your greatest assets. find a way to accentuate your eyes in interesting ways that compliment your costume so that you don’t have to go overboard with caking makeup onto the precious pores of your cheekbones. go with dramatic lip colors that make a spooky statement and fangs or creepy teeth!
  • makeup tip number two: work with what you’ve got. if you know that a particular brand’s foundation doesn’t cause breakouts for your skin, stick with it and find lighter and darker shades for contouring a coveted pale zombie look. use deep blushes and bronzers, pinks and browns to define a hair-raising style. we love youngblood foundation and alima blushes for these purposes, as we have tested them in house to be completely acne-safe.
  • makeup tip number three: choose your products wisely. cross-check your ingredients with our comedogenic ratings list, and if you have any questions about specific products, ask your esthetician for advice. most conventional halloween makeup is meant to stay on your skin through a night of running around and sweating beneath layers of costume, which means it is perfect for clogging your pores. right now we are digging fat and the moon’s lip paint and eye coals as face makeups for halloween. they are made with a sunflower oil base, so they may require touch-ups throughout the night or at least a good setting with some primer beforehand and youngblood mineral rice setting powder afterwards. you can paint your face the rainbow with their green, brown, black, blue, and red face makeups.
  • makeup tip number four: no matter how much you have to drink at your neighbor’s halloween party, remember to thoroughly remove your makeup before hitting the hay. use a couple rounds of your charcoal cleanser in order to ensure that all of your makeup has been extricated from your pores. you can even use some microfiber towels to really dig deep and remove any makeup that’s been hiding away for the night.

is candy gonna cause a breakout? we all know that sugar can be a major contributing factor to acne, as it causes blood sugar imbalances and stimulates a systemic inflammatory response. does that mean you can’t trick or treat yourself to a couple of orange-colored candies on all hallow’s eve? of course not! but we do recommend exercising some self control before diving into your kid’s trick-or-treating bounty after they go to sleep.

if you are concerned about your body’s potential inflammatory response to the sweetness of the holiday, take some omega 3-rich cod liver oil or some zyflamend for the week leading up to and following halloween (these are great supplements to take regularly, too). consuming anti-inflammatory food and drink can help your body adapt more readily to the onslaught of sugary toxins. so up your dose of greens: eat more kale and drink green tea, especially matcha, which is made from ground green tea leaves and contains more antioxidant properties to combat the sugar. always try to eat protein or fat with your sweets in order to curb blood sugar spikes.

 

if you do choose to indulge in halloween’s grand feast, certain candy is off-limits: anything smothered in peanut butter or dairy (the reese’s family, take five bars, any milk chocolates, peanut chews, candy bars with peanut chunks like snickers, butterfinger, etc). if you go the conventional candy route, opt for dark chocolate (preferably without soy products added) or fruit-flavored treats. better yet, choose organic candy like yum earth pops, equal exchange chocolates, unreal almond butter cups or annie’s fruit snacks.

looking for a candy-alternative to hand out to trick-or-treaters (so you don’t have the extra candy in the house)? try fake tattoos (always a hit), odd-shaped ugly fruit from imperfect produce, stickers, bubbles, snap bracelets or other small toys. it can be quite refreshing for kids to receive fun doo-dads instead of candy bar after candy bar after candy bar.

what about the highly anticipated pumpkin spice latte? even though this is a seasonal treat that many people dream about all year long, we recommend steering clear of conventional PSLs – it’s not worth derailing all of your hard work and skin journey progress just for a taste of spicy nutmeg atop a mountain of milky foam. plus, there are many alternatives out there to choose from. you can make your own at home – it just can’t contain coffee or dairy!

as for non-dairy pumpkin spice creamers, they are usually packed with sugars and gums and ingredients we don’t love, but two companies are doing it right. nutpods makes a delightful pumpkin spice creamer in addition to their original, vanilla and hazelnut flavors. because of their popularity, they can be difficult to find, but they are worth the search! vital proteins also has a brand new gingerbread spice powdered collagen creamer, which is fantastic in matcha lattes and morning black teas.

acne-safe pumpkin spice latte recipe
if you want to brave the kitchen and make your own, here is a recipe that we love. it’s creamy and delicious and will satisfy all of your naughty PSL cravings throughout the season!

ingredients
1 cup brewed base (strong dandelion root tea, roasted chaga tea, dandy blend, black/chai tea, matcha)
1/2 cup dairy-free milk (we like to do half coconut, half almond but you can use any nut, hemp or oat milk)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 T maple syrup to taste
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t ground ginger, 1/8 t nutmeg, 1/8 t ground cloves)

method
– whisk together all ingredients except for the base in a sauce pan over medium heat. once combined, pour milk mixture and brewed base into a blender and blend for one minute.
– if you’d rather use this recipe as a creamer to keep in the fridge, skip the heating step and blend all ingredients except for the base in a blender until creamy.

let us know what you think and happy halloween from the skinSALVATION crew!

product replacement alert: new face sunscreen!

ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! as kim mentioned in an earlier blog post, we are switching things up in the realms of serums and sunscreens. we are working with a new manufacturer that is more aligned with our values as a small business and along with a few other items, we have replaced our superlight spf15 moving forward with a new sunscreen.

we are thrilled to announce that we will now be stocking a face sunscreen from the miami-based company, beyond complexion, whose owner, olga valencia, worked closely with our beloved dr. fulton (the author of the acne bible, acne rx). olga has done extensive research on comedogenicity and has closely monitored the efficacy of her products for years through direct client interaction at her miami skin clinic.

beyond complexion’s daily facial moisturizer with spf30 is wonderfully lightweight and it offers more protection for longer periods of time while keeping your skin moisturized and healthy. it’s also perfect for helping prevent and reduce hyperpigmentation and redness. the combination of aloe and plant botanicals in this formula help nourish the skin while protecting it from uva and uvb rays. plus, it’s got double the spf of superlight, which means tons more protection!

as always, we’d love to hear your feedback! let us know what you think about the new beyond complexion sunscreen by emailing us at frontdesk@skinsalvationsf.com. thanks for your patience while we determine our next steps with our products!

product discontinuation alert:

by: kerry watson
 
after many years of carrying reviva stretch mark lotion, we will be discontinuing and no longer recommending this product as an acne safe option. the company has reformulated the product to now include a highly comedogenic ingredient, cocoa butter. if you have this product at home please read the ingredient list to make sure that your bottle does not contain this ingredient. you can use the following non-comdeogenic products in place of this product:
 
– organic safflower oil
– organic sunflower oil
– pure shea butter
 
about our acne-safety testing process:
 

finding acne-safe products is a very painstaking and time consuming process.  we carefully shop for products with acne-safe ingredient listings, and then test them in-house for at least 6 months on skins that are already clear, and on people who are religiously living the acne-safe lifestyle, so that we can isolate any new breakouts to that one variable – the product he/she is testing.

new alima pure makeup, probably cloggy!

alima pressed photo

i was excited for about three minutes when a client told me that alima pure is now selling a pressed powder foundation formula. i checked their website right away to investigate. thankfully the company discloses what ingredients they put in their products, so checking them for comedonecity was a breeze. alas, and to my disappointment, in the pressed formula they have included a handful of oils known to be cloggy. the ingredients list shows that it contains tocopherol, squalane, evening primrose oil, and argan oil-all cloggy! they have also included perfume, and the contents of which aren’t disclosed so that may be cloggy too. occasionally a product will seem cloggy but it’s not, but i wouldn’t quite hold my breath for this one, given all the different oils. i love this brand and this is total bummer but at least they have kept the original formulas for their loose powders so they are still 100% acne-safe. if we give the pressed formula a test run there may be an update soon!

fragrance: a clogger by any other name…

more news on the sneaky, sneaky pore-cloggers front:

at sS, we warn clients to look out for fragrances in products because “fragrance” is an umbrella term that masks a host of ingredients, some which are pore-clogging.

these mystery “fragrance” ingredients can appear in all kinds of products that come in contact with your skin: from perfumes to makeup, from cleansers and moisturizers to clothing detergents and fabric softeners. and just think of all the sunscreens and serums with delicious aromas too!

you may be wondering how many ingredients are hidden under the term “fragrance”? well we just found a list of 3,059 ingredients! yowzer!

and much to our dismay, just as suspected, there are tons of insidious, comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients on this list.

right off the bat we spotted isopropyl myristate and corn oil, and further perusal revealed 43 additional cloggy ingredients masquerading as fragrance. the full list of comedogenic ingredients (that we know of) that can simply be labeled as “fragrance” includes:

  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
  • Avocado Oil
  • Black Kelp
  • Butyl Stearate
  • Cetyl Acetate
  • Coconut Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • Ethoxylated Lanolin
  • Fucus vesiculousus
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
  • Irish Moss
  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Kelp
  • Knotted Kelp
  • Lamimaria ochroleuca extract
  • Laminaria digitata
  • Laminaria longicruris
  • Laminaria saccharine
  • Lanolic Acid
  • Lanolin
  • Lanolin Alcohol
  • Lauric Acid
  • Lauryl Alcohol
  • Linseed Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Myristic Acid
  • Octyldodecanol
  • Oleic Acid
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • PEG 16 Lanolin
  • Petroleum
  • Propylene Glycol Monostearate
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Stearic Acid TEA
  • Tocopherol
  • Xylene

so what’s an acne sufferer to do? well, apart from avoiding all delightfully-smelling products, your best bet is to either stick to sS-vetted products or contact the manufacturer of any product you are interested in, and get a complete list of the ingredients used in the product’s fragrance and run it against skinSALVATION’s complete list of known comedogenic ingredients.  another alternative, if you choose to take it, is to carefully test one suspicious product at a time (while being acne-safe with everything else!) to be able to isolate any new breakouts to the new ‘fragranced’ product you are using.

at sS, you know we’ve tested our products long term for ensure they aren’t pore-clogging, so no need to worry about your tried and true sS favorites!