I like my skin how I like my peanut butter – smooth. I guess it has something to do with the way everyone I watch on YouTube or follow on social media seems to have the kind of glossy skin that doesn’t seem to exist in real life. At least not in my life. I’ve suffered badly from milia ever since I was pregnant a couple of years ago. I guessed the hormones could be to blame but since talking to some dermatologist professionals I’m starting to realize my milia have been self-inflicted.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about then let me explain – milia are basically small keratin filled cysts that look like little beads on the surface of the skin. They’re nothing like acne spots and in some lights, you might not even notice them, but I’m really aware of mine. My skin texture sucks and every time I apply a cleanser, moisturizer or makeup product to my skin I can see just how bumpy it is. Especially on my cheeks, it’s basically a dot to dot. Milia tend to turn up on sensitive parts of your face – like around your eyes or upper lids where your skin is thin and not strong enough to take a squeezing. I got looking into the whole thing to find out why milia form and, importantly how to get rid.
Lesley Reynolds, co-founder of Harley Street Skin Clinic told me, “Milia form when keratin becomes trapped beneath the surface of the skin usually in oily skins, and when the skin does not exfoliate naturally.” She also warned that milia “can also be caused by using products containing mineral oil which blocks the pores.”
I looked at my skincare regime and realized a lot of products I layered each day were incredibly rich, giving my skin no chance to breathe.
The first thing I had to do was to switch up my skincare and every dermatologist I’ve spoken to says that products containing glycolic or salicylic acids can help to target this particular problem.
One product I’ve come to depend on is Medik8’s Beta Cleanse, recommended to me by Janne Richardson, aesthetic medicine expert, it is made with salicylic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and improve skin texture.
For a more intensive approach, Richardson says, “Mild skin peels offer a good solution as they will remove the topmost layers of skin.” So, if you’re looking to refresh your skin texture, a course of enzyme acid peels will reset your skin, removing milia and giving you a smooth finish that is well worth the expenditure. For a more affordable alternative, try an at-home weekly treatment like REN’s Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55.00) which has cult status for good reason – it works.
I have to admit that even though I use a lot of creams containing natural oils I was over generous with my application. In fact, the insane quantities of cream I used on my face turned out to be the main cause of my milia. The first thing I did was to reduce the quantity of product I use on my skin – a pea sized amount is perfect – and to switch to moisturizers with lighter formulas. I’m now obsessed with Essential C Day Moisture by Murad ($63.00) which is packed with powerful antioxidants and SPF protection. I literally swear by this product – it is one of my all time favorites and has to be used to be believed!
I’ll be honest, I’ve tried to squeeze my milia and it hasn’t turned out for the best. In fact, squeezing milia is a sure way to add all kinds of scarring to your complexion which is a whole other problem to solve in itself.
Richardson says, “People are always over zealous. Milia can be successfully removed within skin clinics using short wave diathermy which is very safe and effective.”
Professional treatments like short wave diathermy use radio frequency currents to break down the hardened keratin so that it is absorbed and dispersed into the body. This means there are no incisions made breaking the skin, so the overall experience is a much kinder way to remove milia than extraction or lancing. If you’re interested, make an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss as some forms of milia may respond better to peels.
Kiss and Makeup
So I guess my skin and my skincare kind of fell out – hence the milia invasion, but we’ve since made up with each other. I’ve started using lighter makeup products too and have changed my usual liquid foundation which was pretty heavy, to something a lot lighter – mineral powder.
I’ve started using Bare Mineral’s Original Loose Powder Foundation ($29.00), which I can build to create as much coverage as I need without forcing my skin to suffocate. I’m sure this will mean fewer milia in the future, and as such smoother, creamier skin.
Read more of MBS’s Advice column over here.