I'm not an esthetician, but I do have a small amount of knowledge regarding the skin. Oooooohhh the skin. It's your biggest organ, and the one many are concerned about when looking beautiful. When it comes down to it, our skin is absolutely DISGUSTING. You look in the mirror and go, "ERMAHGERD NUUU! A PIMPLE!!!" Sometimes I'll spend a long time in front of a mirror, obsessively tearing my face apart to rid it of blackheads. And in the shower? Pshaw. I wage war against my face. More than five different products are used on my face while in the shower, and about four more when I get out. Are you like me? Where absolutely NOTHING works even though it claims it does? Have you spent gobs of money on facial products in a desperate attempt to have nice skin? What about going to get facials? Not all of us can do that on a regular basis! So we need some home remedies and tricks to help us along.

However! More products don't mean better skin! In fact, it can mean exactly the opposite! I've learned this from trial and error; don't be harsh, be gentle. Your skin is never going to be perfect, but it's better than damaging it more. I unfortunately suffer from Dermatillomania, and if you do too, you know very well that it's hard to take care of our skin.

My most hated thing about my skin, especially on my face, is blackheads. They NEVER go away. And they're not super noticeable from afar, but YOU know they're there. So what causes acne anyway? Well, believe it or not, if you have acne and blackheads, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not hygienic, because IT'S NOT DIRT, PEOPLE. It's caused by a natural bacteria deep in your pores, which is supposed to each excess sebum. When you shed dry skin cells, they can mix with the sebum and clog your pores, AKA hair follicles. White heads (closed comedones) are collected sebum and stuff that's under the skin. These are VERY ugly, but a little easier to get rid of. Blackheads (open comedones) are just like white heads, except that they're open to the air, and the top of them oxydizes, making them turn dark. So it's not dirt that causes that, lads. If you have overly oily skin like me, blemishes become a bit of a problem. Since I get so obsessive, I end up with scars on my face even though I know better. I'm trying hard not to, but I just feel so ugly.

So what can we do for our face? Well, cleansers are good. I use Biore and Olay, both good brands. You'll want to cleanse your face with WARM water and whichever brand you choose. (Again, stay away from Garnier.) Warm water opens the pores, making it easier to remove the icky stuff.

Then I suggest a scrub. Biore scrub is very good, as is Clean&Clear. However, if you tend to develop dry skin flakes, like me, you want something with more gusto. I use St. Ives apricot scrub. It's very powerful and really gets those extra skin cells off. Some say not to use it because it hurts the skin. Welp, not in my experience.

After this, I usually cleanse my face again. Never wash your face with bar soap. It dries out the skin, making your sebaceous glands think they need to produce more sebum to moisturize it. Make sure to rinse thoroughly after cleansing, you don't want a soapy film left on your face.

So, I do this all in the shower because it's easier to wet my face this way. After I get out, I apply Clean&Clear toner... which stings... then Clean&Clear astringent... which stings more. Then I use merlot firming lotion. Merlot is very good because it uses grape seeds, the most powerful antioxidants. Plus, it's a good anti-aging brand. The better you take care of your face, the longer it'll stay young looking. "Lotion? But what about those of us with very oily skin??" Believe it or not, drying out your skin is not a good idea, as mentioned previously. Often times, the skin will produce excess oils to try and moisturize the dehydrated skin, and that can cause more problems. You need to keep your skin hydrated. If you have oily skin, get an oil free lotion and use just a little bit. A little goes a long way. If you're really worried about your face looking oily, get those Clean&Clear oil pads. They work wonders and don't mess up your makeup!

After the lotion, I use Merlot eye firming cream. I have serious bags and shadows from insomnia, so I decided to give this a shot. It's helping one small step at a time. Here's a tip if you have bags. Eggs! Eggs are wonderful in every way you can imagine. Use the egg white over your entire face, and let it sit there until it dries. You will notice that your face is wrinkle free! Don't get too excited, it's just temporary. However, if you do it enough, along with the firming, the vitamins in the egg white can reduce the appearance of bags and wrinkles. Also, the egg yolk makes great conditioner for your hair!

When doing anything to your face that involves spreading a product by massaging, always go the way the muscles are going. Massage your cheeks up, not down, and your forehead up and out. Just think "up," otherwise you'll help your face sag! Gravity is already doing that for you, so you'll want to counteract it.

Once or twice a week, you'll want to apply a mask to your face. Merlot clay mask is very good, but I use a mint julep mask because it's thicker... and honestly the mint feels SOOOOO refreshing. XD Of course, make sure to cleanse your face before applying the mask. Also, it's best to be in a warm room as opposed to a cold one, just so your pores don't close up all tight. Follow the directions on the bottle. You can also steam your face by boiling a pot of water (though this is risky), or closing your bathroom door, letting the bath faucet run as hot as it can go, and turn your bathroom into a sauna. Don't overdo it, or you'll become light headed, and NEVER get in the scorching hot water!

Now, what can you do at home? Well, for closed comedones, believe it or not, apply toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste. It is alkaline, and we're acidic. The toothpaste will dry it out and help reduce them. But benzoyle peroxide is also good to use. Of course, that costs money. >_> toothpaste will not work as well on blackheads.

Pesky, pesky blackheads. JUST GO AWAY!! Bah, they neva listen. Here's a few gentle techniques to use. One is, take a green apple (must be green) and slice a small slice, I'd say on the side of the apple, a little bigger than a half dollar. You can rub the apple (moist part of course) over your face. It DOES help, but don't expect ANY type of treatment to work the very first time. You gotta keep it up to see results. Another thing you can do is use honey. It's sticky, so most of the time, it'll pull the blackheads out, much like the Biore strips are supposed to do, but those are about as effective as scotch tape. You can also create home made masks, there are many recipes online. If you want to go hardcore, make an activated charcoal mask!

Now... time to bomb those bastards and send them to hell. They wanna fight? You make them fight for their lives. Baking soda, biotch. Mix a small amount of baking soda with a little bit of water and mix until you get a paste. Apply this to the most problem areas and leave on for about 5 minutes. I hate my face, so I leave it on MUCH longer. I don't recommend this... it burns. Another VERY harsh thing to do is take a CLEAN toothbrush you don't plan to ever use for anything else but this, and apply a little lemon juice. GENTLY scrub in little circles around problem areas until you think you've made some improvement. Again, these things are quite risky, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Lemon juice also makes a great astringent.

A couple of other things you can do is use a disinfected needle on your white heads. You can push it over the top, but not inward toward the skin, and punch a hole in the dead skin covering the pustule. After it's open, you can use the edge of it on the sides of the blemish and push the icky out. If there's still a little left, you can GENTLY squeeze and/or use a manual extractor. Manual extractors are those things with the loops on either end. You definitely want to be careful if and when you squeeze, because it is really the last thing you wanna do. You'll hear people say "NEVER SQUEEZE!" But it's damn near impossible. In some instances, it's the only way to get everything. Your nails tend to break the skin, so cover them with folded squares of toilet paper. If you still feel like stuff is in there, use a hot compress on it for a few days and wait for it to resurface.

How do you know when the icky is all gone? You'll see a change in the blood. Yes, there will be blood. The infected blood has a strange look to it, almost like it's cloudy and orange-ish. You'll know it when you see it. You'll know everything's out when the blood is a rich crimson color, and don't be surprised if there's a deep looking hole where the blemish was; that's your pore! How the frag does all that stuff fit in there??? Make sure to clean the "wound" immediately. It should stop bleeding fairly quickly. Use astringent to close the pore.

What about those painful ones under the skin that can't be seen? Ingrown pimples! You can't see them, but you sure as hell can feel them!! PAINFUL!! How do you get rid of those? Don't open them. Attempt to apply a hot compress to see if something will rise to the surface of the skin. If not, apply astringent and benzoyle peroxide to it every morning and every night. Eventually it should go away. I've had on on my nose for the passed two days, and that technique got rid of it miraculously. If it stays there for a long time, consult a dermatologist.

"Reitanna, I have a white head that's been on my face for a few years! Nothing I do will get rid of it! Why not?" Those aren't white heads, and if anyone says they are, they have no idea what they're talking about. They're called milia. I had one on my eyelid from the time when I was a small child until I was 13 when I finally decided to battle it in the worse possible way. I'll get to that in a second. Often times, you'll see small milia on babies, but they usually go away. Milia is a collection of skin cells that form into a solid little pest that is near impossible to get rid of. I DO NOT recommend this, but I used the needle technique on mine... YES, on my eyelid. Dangerous? You bet. But eventually it came out, and it never came back. There wasn't even blood. It was just a parasite... ugly parasite. If you have a milia, please don't attempt to dig it out with a needle, see a dermatologist.

Ew, gross. Well, now that THAT's over, let's talk about environmental damage to your skin. THE SUN. Pay attention to this very carefully, especially you beach goers. The sun is most dangerous between 10 AM and 3 PM. Yes, sunshine is good for you because it gives vitamin D, but you may want to try and avoid being exposed to it during this part of the day. "But Reitanna, it's cloudy!" Cloudy? Those rays can still getcha, and BURN YA! The recommended amount of time to be exposed to the sun is fifteen to thirty minutes a day. That's not very long, and that's why our skin gets so damaged. UV rays can also cause solar comedones, which are decently large blackheads, usually on the forehead and nose, but they can appear anywhere on your face.

Just because you didn't get a burn, doesn't mean you haven't damaged your skin. There are two types of UV rays; UVA and UVB. UVA are the rays that can cause your skin to age. Yes, age! If you're not protected from the sun, you could cause yourself to look older! UVB rays are the ones that burn you, and we all know how that is. Make sure to get sunblock with the proper protection and SP, and make sure the bottle says "protects against UVA and UVB rays." I use SP 80 or higher because I'm pale as sin. And make sure to reapply it if you plan on being out long.

Sunscreen is greasy, so we don't like it on our face. Well, they do make sunscreens specifically for the face. Keep an eye out for those. That gigantic star in the sky is a very scary thing.

Let's steer back around to comedones for a sec. If anyone claims that eating something, like chocolate or pizza, causes them to break out, remind yourself that they need to stop watching doctors on television, since they give false information. Food does NOT cause blemishes in any way, shape, or form. We don't sweat what we eat, come on, yo! Though, you should be wary of greasy foods when it comes to your DIETARY health.

Similarly, as stated above, poor hygiene does not cause one to get more pimples. It can play a factor, but don't assume someone is dirty just because they are prone to acne. In fact, a person can take a shower every single day (which is bad for you), and still could be a "pizza face." Ah, teenagers... aren't they charming? On the other hand, someone could avoid washing their face for a week, simply patting it down with a wet washcloth, and barely break out at all. The skin is tricky, no matter how clean it is or not. Also, jewelry does not cause blackheads, so if someone has blackheads in their ears and happen to have a lot of piercings, don't jump the gun. I have a lot of piercings too, and rarely get ear blackheads. If you take a shower, you keep your ears clean, it's not the freaking earrings.

If you have to deal with facial scars like I do, use something called Bio-Oil. It's made to reduce scarring, such as stretch marks, pock marks, etc. It will feel oily, but it will not cause you to break out, and it smells wonderful. Just make sure to use a little bit on your finger tip to place on the scar. After putting oil on all of your scars, gently massage the oil into your face, and spread it around a little bit, it won't hurt.

Man, I CANNOT think of any more skin related information. Well, if I think of something, I'll come back and type it out.