My indecisive, acne-prone, twenty-something skin
I know I can't be the only one. Facing acne in my twenties was not something I was expecting. Usually the domain of teens, I was hoping that by this stage in my life, my added wisdom and maturity would come with a (much welcomed) side of clear skin to boot. But lo and behold - I'm still faced with those lovely few spots that seem to take up residence on my face only a day or two before an important event.
I've tried so many lotions and potions - the inside of my bathroom cabinet could rival the skincare section at any department store. But I just wanted to share with you, our lovely readers, a skincare line that I've recently come across that's really helped settle my red and acne-prone skin, especially in this cold winter season that is already harsh enough on our skin as it is.
Here at the Never Twice office, we love our fancy French skincare as much as the next girl, but when we come across an Aussie-made skincare line that's certified organic and vegan too, we do a little happy dance inside (and sometimes outside - what happens in the office stays in the office, amirite?)
Iora Naturals is a skincare line that focuses on clearing and healing acne-prone skin, without relying on harsh chemicals that can make the problem worse. All too often, skincare products aimed at those of us with acne-prone skin are packed chock-full of harsh acids and drying alcohol, aiming to 'treat' our acne by stripping off the first few layers of our skin, whilst making our faces dryer than the Sahara.
But Iora Naturals takes a different approach. By using ingredients derived from nature, such as organic Aloe and Chamomile Flower, these products soothe and nourish the skin, allowing it to heal without being bombarded with more attacks from external factors.
And because this skincare program is only three simple steps (plus a spot control treatment only when and where you need it), it's super easy to stick to a routine. This is one of the BIGGEST skincare secrets I've come across when dealing with my temperamental and acne-prone skin - chopping and changing products every couple of days can actually make the problem worse. Your skin has a renewal cycle of around six weeks, meaning that you need to be using products consistently for around four to six weeks to start seeing proper results. That's why I'm loving Iora Naturals. Trust me, I've done the skincare thing with 15 different steps in the morning, and another 20 at night. And while I love treating myself and setting aside time for self-care, this was just not feasible for me on a daily basis. More often than not, I'm rushing out the door and eating breakfast on the run in the mornings, and am barely bothered to wash off my makeup in the evenings, so having a routine that allows me to take care of my skin (consistently!!) in an easy and more realistic way means I'm more likely to stick to it, and therefore more likely to get the results I'm looking for.
Let's take a look at the products!
Active Gel Cleanser ($24.99 for 100 mL tube). A good cleanser is - literally and figuratively - the foundation of any good skincare routine. Too drying, and it can strip your skin of essential moisture, causing it to retaliate by producing even more oil and becoming red and inflamed. Not cleansing enough, and it can leave makeup residue and other dirt and grime from the day behind on your skin, leading to congestion, and there emergence of the dreaded zit (or two or three). The Iora Naturals Active Gel Cleanser is gentle enough not to irritate my winter-ravaged skin any further, but still does a fantastic job cleansing off the day's grease and grime. In the mornings, I use just this to cleanse my face and prep it for the day; in the evenings, I like to start off my night-time routine by first using a makeup remover to get off most of my makeup (at the moment, I'm loving Garner Micellar Water), before using this cleanser to ensure my skin is clean. But if you're not wearing much heavy makeup, or having a makeup-free day, the Active Gel Cleanser alone should be enough for your evening cleanse as well.
This cleanser leaves my skin feeling fresh, but not overly dry and tight. It contains lactic acid, a natural ingredient derived from fruit, that helps to gently exfoliate skin, clearing congestion and getting rid of the dry patches that tend to crop up during winter. It also contains white willow, which also helps to clear the skin, while also making it softer and smoother, and protecting it from external environmental factors. And our good old favorite Aloe helps to nourish and soothe the skin. The cleanser has a mild plant-based scent, and only lathers slightly, meaning my face gets cleaned gently, without being overly stripped of moisture and natural oils.
As obsessive as this may seem, I find that washing my hands well first before starting my morning or evening skincare routine helps to minimize breakouts, as well as using lukewarm water to wash and rinse my face (rather than scaldingly hot). Every little bit helps, right?
Pore Refining Toner ($25.99 for 100 mL spray bottle). If you've spent any time at all in the skincare world online, you'll know that toner always is a bit of a contentious topic. The perceived need, or lack thereof, of toner is enough to spark many a heated online debate. But, as much as I like to pare back my skincare routine to the bare necessities for busy weekday mornings, I fall firmly into the camp of the toner-loving beauties. A spritz of toner following cleansing helps to refresh and calm the skin, and creates the ideal environment for the absorption of active ingredients in the products you are about to apply. It also helps to tighten and close pores, minimizing the opportunity for bacteria to get into the skin to cause further breakouts. This is one of the biggest benefits of the Iora Naturals Pore Refining Toner.
As well as containing more lactic acid to gently exfoliate and smooth the skin, this toner also contains one of my favorite skin clearing ingredients - tea tree oil! Tea tree oil is fantastic to purify the skin, and has great antibacterial effects too, so as well as helping to treat existing spots, this toner will help to minimize the likelihood of more breakouts occurring in the future. As a little bonus, the Iora Naturals Pore Refining Toner also contains cucumber extract, which is great for calming the skin, and settling any redness that occurs around pimples.
I love that this toner comes in a spray bottle! It makes things super hygienic, keeping the toner itself 'untouched', and stops me from wasting too much toner - one of my pet peeves with toners that come in a bottle is that I feel that so much product comes out when you try to use it, wasting precious skincare dollars. The spray bottle with this toner allows you to have more control over how much product you are using. The instructions on the toner state to spray it on a cotton pad and wipe it over the face; whilst I do this most of the time, sometimes I find that spraying the toner directly onto my face is a much needed burst of refreshment.
Moisture Balance ($28.99 for 75 mL tube). Those of us who suffer with breakouts or acne-prone skin so often make the mistake of skipping this next skincare step, thinking that applying moisturizer will make our breakouts worse, or cause us to wake up with even more spotty skin. Although this can be true to a degree (the wrong kind of moisturizer can definitely cause blocked pores!), skipping moisturizer entirely is a recipe for disaster! Our skin needs protection and nourishment so it can heal, especially if, like mine, your skin is most definitely already feeling the dehydrating effects of the winter's chill outdoors and toasty heaters indoors. By depriving your skin of its much-needed moisture, it becomes aggravated, red and cranky, producing more oil (which leads to more spots for me, especially on areas of my face where I don't normally break out). An added bonus for me that I've found is that my foundation goes on so much more smoothly and looks so much less patchy throughout the day when I've prepped and moisturizer my skin properly before applying my makeup in the morning.
Since using the Iora Naturals Moisture Balance as a part of my skincare routine, the dry patches around my noes and cheeks have improved, and the itchiness I've been having since the beginning of winter has decreased as well. Anything that means I'm touching my face less throughout the day is a huge winner fin my books. I'm loving the jojoba and olive extracts in this non-comedogenic moisturizer - it's rich enough to make my skin feel nourished, without feeling like an oil-slick from the moment I apply it. The chamomile extract helps to soothe my skin, and the inclusion of lavender oil helps to heal existing pimples, while preventing future breakouts due to its antibacterial effects. I also find the herb-y natural fragrance of this cream strangely relaxing - my brief skincare ritual in the morning and evening gives me a few minutes to relax and focus on myself, helping to keep my stress (another huge trigger for my acne) under control.
Spot Control ($24.99 for 30 mL tube). The above three products have been doing wonders to keep my skin in check on an everyday basis - my breakouts have definitely become less frequent, and the redness I have around my chin and jaw area is gradually getting less.
But sometimes, when my skin is being particularly troublesome, I like to add in the Spot Control treatment from the Iora Naturals range as well. This little tube of goodness contains a skincare superhero - bentonite clay - which acts like a little sponge, drawing out from the skin all the nastiness that's lurking under the surface. It helps to dry out pimples, and kills the bacteria that are in them, with a potent blend of naturally antibacterial plant extracts, including my favourite tea tree oil.
This spot treatment also contains calendula and aloe, which are great to heal skin, and liquorice extract, which actually helps to lighten the skin, meaning that those annoying dark red patches that always tend to linger after a breakout are minimised.
But my absolute favourite thing about this spot treatment is that it doesn't dry out the skin surrounding a breakout. Normally, when I use spot treatments, I end up with a ring of dryness around the treated area, that often looks worse than the breakout itself! But this treatment works wonders - treating the spot itself without wreaking havoc on the surrounding skin.
Because this skincare line is super gentle, it's actually also suitable for all skin types - even if you're not acne-prone, the natural ingredients will help to moisturise and brighten your skin, leaving it soft and smooth.
Another sneaky bonus of the entire Iora Naturals range is that the natural and nourishing ingredients actually have anti-ageing effects as well - meaning my skin that can't decide whether it wants to be 16 or 26 is cared for, whether it wants to throw pimples or fine lines at me.
If you want to give this organic, natural and Aussie-made and owned skincare range a try, I'd say the best thing to do would be to purchase their 3 Step + Treatment pack. This pack contains all three products in the skincare regime, plus a tube of the Spot Control treatment as well, and retails for $89. This saves you $15 off the price of purchasing each product individually, and is an easy way to get yourself an effective and comprehensive skincare package.
Iora Naturals products are available for purchase from the Iora Naturals website.