The three steps to healthy skin are to keep it clean to protect it from dehydration and the elements, and to address any problems that occur.
1 Keep it clean
As sebum is sticky, it attracts dirt and debris from the environment and needs to be removed with regular cleansing to prevent pores from becoming blocked.
You cannot stop sebum production or close the pores, and nor should you want to because they both perform vital functions.
For some people, using soap or detergent-based cleansers on the face disturbs the acid mantle of the skin and makes it feel dehydrated and uncomfortable.
Here the answer is to try a cleansing lotion, oil, or balm instead. As I have oily skin and like to wash my face with water, I use either a cleansing balm or oil removed with a face cloth or cheesecloth (muslin).
For years I used foaming face washes (because I was nervous about using anything oily), but always felt that they irritated my skin.
I now use the basic cleansing balm with manuka honey (see p.31), and my skin feels much better for it.
Personally, I do not advocate constant exfoliation with facial scrubs and think the skin does a pretty good job on its own if treated properly.
That said, the act of using a face cloth or cheesecloth (muslin) twice a day will remove excess dead cells so that probably has something to do with it.
I would use a scrub only very occasionally if my skin was looking a little dull.
2 Protect it from dehydration and the elements
There are two things you can do to help your skin look and feel better: keep it moist and protect it from trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL).
Trans-epidermal water loss simply means that the water in your skin evaporates when subjected to the elements, leaving it dehydrated.
Ingredients in skin care products such as humectants have the ability to draw more moisture from the air to the surface of the skin, but they cannot hold it there.
This is where ingredients such as emollients and occlusives come in because they help to slow down the evaporation process whilst keeping the top layer of cells soft and supple.
Sometimes we want to create a protective barrier, but if the barrier is too thick it can block the pores and cause spots, so choose your ingredients carefully for your particular skin type.
3 Address any problems
Facial skin problems can be very debilitating. I personally believe that a problem showing on your skin is an indication of something that is out of balance at a deeper level.
Conventional medicine and skincare place much of their focus on fixing symptoms and what you can see rather, than investigating the cause.
We can all be guilty of this, too, as our primary concern is to get rid of the offending blemish in a quick fix.
Whilst this can work in the short term, if the initial cause is not addressed then the blemish, in some form or other, will always reappear.
Addressing skin problems comes back to understanding what is normal for you.
For example, I know that my diet, exercise, and stress levels can play havoc with my skin. If they are in balance, my skin is great; if not, then my skin looks dreadful and suffers all kinds of strange pimples.
The occasional breakout once a month is normal for me, but anything more than that means I need to get my life back in balance.
I visit either a herbalist or a homeopath for more problematic skin issues because I do not want to be given antibiotics or steroid cream just to make the problem go away.