If you stumbled upon this blog because you're looking for your next holy grail product, you've come to the wrong place. No, today's blog is actually about how one single product, or ingredient rather, took my skin from a buttery smooth even toned complexion to red, irritated, pustule filled cystic acne- overnight.
I feel obliged to share my experience and why I think it happened, to help anyone else who may be in the same boat, or to prevent those who have similar skin from making the same mistake I did. While it is important for me to share products, diet, and lifestyle tips that have helped my skin- I need to remain transparent and share the setbacks that happen as well. And trust me, in the world of finding out what works, or doesn't work for your skin, there will be setbacks!
For a general reference, my skin type is sensitive, combination, and inflammatory acne prone (cystic, pustules, etc.) with consistent breakouts. Everyone's skin reacts differently to certain products or ingredients, so if this product works well for you- by all means continue using it.
. I know, I know. It’s a cult classic and contains a powerhouse of an anti-aging ingredients. I've tried the UFO oil, Tidal moisturizer, and Good Genes by Sunday Riley all with tremendous success. Infact, Sunday Riley's UFO oil and Good Genes have been a part of my skincare routine for the past two months keeping my skin absolutely blemish free. So, believe me when I say that I really really wanted to love Luna. But for my uber sensitive inflammatory acne prone skin, the mixture of the dye (really, do we need dyes in our products?) and the retinol was too much for me. It just goes to show, it only takes one bad product to ruin a good skin care routine.
The extensive ingredient list (from ) reads as follows: Persea Gratissima (Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed Avocado) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Organic, Cold Pressed Concord Grape) Seed Oil, Rubus Fruticosus (Cold Pressed Blackberry) Seed Oil, Salvia Hispanica (Cold Pressed Chia) Oil, Dimethyl Isosorbide (and) Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Tanecetum annuum (Blue Tansy) oil, Anthemis nobilis (English Chamomile) oil, Eriocephalus punctulatus (Cape Chamomile) oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Blood Orange) oil, Cananga Odorata Flower (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Vetivera zizanoides (Vetiver) oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (and) Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, CI 61565 (Green 6), CI 60725 (Violet 2).
Retinol and Dyes:
Just from taking a quick glance at the list, I would be extremely weary if you struggle with either sensitive or cystic acne prone skin. The dyes could potentially pose as an irritation factor for sensitive skin while the combination of oils and retinol may spike inflammation or lead to clogged pores. My gut feeling is that maybe the dyes irritated my skin partially, but the retinol is what really did me in.
According to , celebrity esthetician, retinols and retinoids do not work well for cystic, pustular, inflamed acne and shouldn't be used specifically as an acne treatment. If you struggle with pustular or cystic acne, retinols and retinoids can make them worse. Because acne is an inflammatory skin condition, it isn't a good idea to stimulate them with retinoid activity because it can irritate the skin. Things like lactic and salicylic acid are going to be much better options than retinol for treating blemish prone skin. After you've gotten your blemishes under control, then you can test out retinol for its anti-aging benefits again.
Another thing to be aware of is the type of oil you're applying to your skin. While oils can help acne (think jojoba or tea tree), there are certain types of oils that can exasperate inflammatory acne (coconut, olive). Don't get me wrong, I'm an oil fanatic. But the truth is, they're not for everyone and you have to find the right oil that works for you!
A good rule of thumb to go by when deciding which oil to choose is looking for those that have a lower oleic fatty acid profile. Oils that are high in oleic vs linoleic fatty acids are the ones that seem to cause the most problems. Based on this theory, some oils you may want to avoid are olive, avocado (the first ingredient in Luna), apricot, and sweet almond.
purging vs. breaking out
Here's the thing, many people will claim that retinol and retinoids will break you out at first because your skin is "purging". All AHA's (retinol, salicylic, lactic acid) work as a chemical exfoliant speeding up skin cell turnover. Retinols get deep into the pores to unclog dead skin cells. This brings everything to the surface quicker that would have come out eventually.
This process basically brings everything out at once... and can last for up to six weeks. After those few weeks of suffering there are promises of smaller pores, clearer skin, improved skin tone, and a reduction of wrinkles. And who doesn't want that? I sure do! But what about when your skin continues to get worse, or it's drastically impacted by a single product? When it comes to retinol, it's important to note what purging looks like compared to breaking out.
Purging will look like excess skin cells shedding and flaking off. You might breakout where you typically get acne in little whiteheads or bumps that go away within a day or two. Clogged pores will come to a head and then disappear without any signs of swelling or inflammation.
Regular breakouts on the other hand, will come in the form of angry, inflamed cystic or pustular blemishes that leave marks or scars. A product which incites a breakout (rather than a purge) will cause acne outside of your normal trouble zones. For me, the Luna oil made me breakout on my forehead and under my eyes, while I usually breakout lower on my cheeks.
go with your gut!
When using a new product, whether it’s a retinol or another AHA exfoliator, try to give it at least a month before tossing it in the garbage bin. If it's been over a month and your skin has only continuously gotten worse, its most likely not purging and the product is breaking you out. If your acne is cystic, raw, and inflamed, again, the ingredient or product is most likely causing you to break out.
And the most important rule of all, go with your gut instinct! If you have a gut feeling that something is bad for your skin, stop using it. Just because someone else swears by it doesn't mean that it's right for you.
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Kali Kushner, known as the Instagram alias myfacestory, is a natural beauty advocate in the greater Cincinnati area who is passionate about using organic skincare and holistic remedies to heal acne from the inside out. Her dedication lies in her own chronic acne struggles as she continues to restore herself while helping those around her.