If there is one thing about picturesque magazine covers that has always gotten under my skin, it’s the skin — the perfect, smooth, dewy, blemish free, photoshopped (or not), amazing skin. Skin that makes you try every beauty secret known to womankind: You know, weird beauty secrets like baby oil as a makeup remover, or apple cider vinegar washes, or even washing your face with yogurt. Beautiful, jealousy inducing skin that makes you want to pull an Avril Lavigne and punch a mirror.
I've never had that skin, but I've always desperately wanted it. Recently Miley Cyrus posted an Instagram video of herself speckled in zit-zapping cream and it occurred to me once again that I'm not the only one striving to achieve elusive dream skin. But, some people do have it. My boyfriend has that smooth, clear complexion I long for. It’s almost like a festering source of resentment in our relationship that he has clear skin and I struggle daily to maintain control over my pimple prone face. I'm slightly aggrandizing to illustrate the feeling of hopelessness that’s come to inhabit my skin care regiment after a 16 year-long war with my pores. I don’t actually resent him for his amazing skin — OK, sometimes on really bad days I do.
My skin has been in an especially vicious mood lately. So, when boy-in-question walked into the bathroom two weeks ago to find me slathered in yogurt, his reaction was that of the skeptic. Having never had the need to apply a tasty food-based mask to his face, I will forgive him for his ignorance in thinking me vapid and super susceptible to clickbait. I'm sure he was, once again, silently condemning all the hours I waste on Pinterest. I'm happy to inform you, and him, and the entire world who saw me on Instagram covered in an unidentified white creamy substance, that yogurt as a face cleanser actually worked. Avenged!
When I embarked on this experiment, I decided from the get-go that I wasn't going to drop my regular nighttime beauty routine in case the yogurt had no impact, or made my skin worse than it already was. I chose to insert it into my pre-bed scrub-off-the-hard-day’s-grime nighttime face cleaning, following my regular face wash (which is African Black Soap if you were curious).
To kick things off on a quiet Monday evening, I scoured my fridge for some fresh yogurt. Lo and behold, plain yogurt was not in stock. I extracted a small cup of fruity peach yogurt and said, “What the hey.” After washing and drying my face I applied the ice-cold yogurt, shivered for a second, and then set about wasting 10 minutes by brushing my teeth and taking selfies.
My skin felt super soft and I felt refreshed. Off to bed I went.
Day two dawned and my skin looked neither better nor worse for the wear. I headed to the market at my earliest convenience and stocked up on enough natural yogurt to get me through the week, making sure it was overflowing with friendly probiotics. I decided to go with BioBest Probiotic Plain Yogurt because it was on sale. Peach bottom yogurts, while delicious, are probably best left for your mid-morning snack. While I can’t say for certain the sugars disrupt the process, my powers of common sense tell me that adding flavoring and sweeteners to sensitive skin is likely a bad idea.
I was starting to feel a bit skeptical by the third day. By the time evening rolled around and I piled on my third yogurt mask of the week I still had breakouts on several areas on my face and my skin was still red and inflamed looking. On the other hand, the yogurt appeared to be working great as a moisturizer, because my skin was soft but not oily. Though I was beginning to doubt the purported pimple-fighting properties, the photos clearly show there was already some improvement.
When I woke up on the fourth day, it was to a miserable screeching toddler. I had neither the time nor desire to look in the mirror and check on the zit situation. We were running late for life that day, and when I finally ducked into the bathroom to squeeze out 30 seconds for flossing I was literally stunned in surprise. My skin was the clearest it had been in weeks and the redness and inflammation I’m used to seeing seemed to have evaporated overnight.
With recommitted vigor, I took a bath that evening and let my skin sooth itself under a yogurt mask for nearly half an hour. I had read during nap time that day that some bloggers were recommending the yogurt sit on the skin for up to 30 minutes in order to fully work its magic.
So impressed was I, on day five, that I made a video for your viewing pleasure. I have literally never recorded myself before so you’ll excuse the slightly shaking camera. K. Thnx.
On day six, my skin continued to be in better spirits than it has been in many years. For the sake of science and curiosity, I decided I would take the next two days off from washing my face with yogurt, just to make sure it was the yogurt giving me these great results and not a weird hormonal fluke.
1 Week + 2 days
By the time I sat down to write this article, the inflammation had already returned to my skin and I noticed the return of several pimples. My conclusion therefore is that the yogurt cleanser did provide impressive results when used regularly, but even after your skin has cleared you have to keep up with it or the pimples will return.
What I Learned
The lactic acid is a naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acid that acts as an exfoliator, the active bacteria cultures help balance the bacterial situation on your epidermis, and calcium is really important for your skin’s health and moisture (though I think you might have to eat the yogurt to get this benefit). Remember, plain, unsweetened yogurt is the key to success and this process works best if you apply the yogurt like a mask and let it rest on your face for 5-10 minutes (or as many as 30) before rinsing.
If it’s good enough for Jessica Alba, it’s good enough for me. Though, I’ll recommend if you intend to mix your yogurt cleanser with ground coffee, as she does, that you get a fine espresso ground. No matter how good they feel harsh scrubbing particles really are bad for the delicate skin on your face.
For the record, I am not wearing makeup in any of these photos.
Images: Jenn Schleich