Skincare is something that is very important to me. I grew up with very little emphasis on it and more of a focus on makeup and the importance of “getting ready” before going anywhere…presenting yourself in the “right” way. I could dedicate a whole post to that and dig pretty deep on how different perceptions of beauty affect us, but it could get pretty lengthy. I actually began writing this blog post with those thoughts and memories in mind, but figured I’d save it all for another day. Before makeup and before clothing comes into play in my daily routine, it starts and ends with taking care of my skin. I began to suffer with adult acne a year into college and it seemed to just get worse and worse. I tried multiple topical skincare products, high end ones, more affordable ones, at home laser treatments, supplements…it felt like everything and yet nothing was working. Then I began to really take note of what my body was reacting to and adjust my routine and that’s when I began to see change. If you’re suffering from adult acne, or just have those monthly flare ups, keep reading. I’m going to share some pretty crazy before photos and what has kept my acne at bay.
So from my college years on, my skin was like a constant roller coaster. A week or two would be great and then I would go months with big, painful cystic acne. Then I would work really hard on fading those marks, only for it flare up again, stress, and start the cycle over. So when did I see a change?
Almost two years ago, right after my birthday we decided to stop eating beef and pork. We eat mostly a plant based diet with the occasional chicken or fish dish. I also have a sensitivity to dairy from when I was very young, so it’s very rare that heavy milk based products are part of our diet. I have eaten almost dairy free for most of my life, but cutting out red meat and pork was a game changer in how I feel and the frequency of my breakouts.
Okay, so the dreaded before photos. I was a little hesitant to share these because of the stigma that goes along with acne. It’s not pretty or refined looking. The pimples were physically painful. There’s a misconception that if you have acne you’re dirty or don’t take care of yourself and I think that’s where a lot of insecurities come from for people who have or had acne. Myself included. These are all photos I took of my progress for myself. I would take the photos right out of the shower or when I would wake up in the morning. It was more of a way to motivate myself and keep track of what was and wasn’t working and I hope this can help motivate anyone who experiences similar issues with their skin.
I’m going to get into all the steps and what I use, but the biggest game changer for me was with cleansing and moisturizing vs acne medications. Something I was doing A LOT probably up until June of 2016 was overwashing and drying out my skin. In turn my skin was trying to balance itself out and just created more oil, which then created more acne. It wasn’t until a friend of mine told me she didn’t wash her face at night and I tried it out that I saw a difference.
1 – Makeup Remover Wipes (Nightly)
I only use these at night before beginning my nightly skincare routine. It’s never a good idea to sleep with makeup on and clog your pores, so you may be thinking…”you just said you don’t wash you face at night” and I don’t, at least not with a strong cleanser. I remove my makeup with these wipes and then rinse my face with luke warm water only using my finger tips. This way I don’t over dry my skin. It may sound strange, but it has worked for me. If I feel like mixing things up, occasionally I’ll use an oil based cleanser like bare Minerals Oil Obsessed Cleaning Oil in lieu of a makeup remover wipe. This melts the makeup off your skin and no water is needed, just wipe away with a gentle cloth after.
2 – Cleanser (Morning)
Anytime I had a breakout, I would use a cleanser with a high percentage of benzoyl peroxide, which is a common acne medication. It was so strong and I knew in the long run it wasn’t good for my skin or body. I have never used prescription acne medication, but many companies from Dermalogica to Clean & Clear carry cleansers with a high BP level. Throughout this skincare journey I switched to Burt’s Bees Acne Solution Scrub and use it in the morning. I’m not fully free of products with acne medication in them, but this scrub is 99% natural and has 1% salicylic acid. I hope to get my skin to the point where I can use a fully natural cleanser.
3 – Beauty Water (Morning & Night)
This is a new addition to my skincare routine. I just added the Son & Park Beauty Water to the mix over the last month and it has been a great toner for morning and night. As my acne is subsiding, I can now begin to focus on skin resurfacing and fading those dark hyper pigmentation marks. This has been great for evening skin tone and hydrating. It also removes any stubborn traces of makeup. A little goes a long way.
4 – Dark Spot Corrector (Morning & Night)
This is a very watery serum that I use as a spot treatment on dark marks (not pitted scars) left after pimples. I have very fair skin and even the smallest blemish has left a reddish mark. You can see the progress mostly through the bottom row of photos. The mark on the right side of the photo in the chin/cheek area was a pretty prominent one that has faded. I sometimes put a small amount all over my chin to even out my skin tone too.
5 – Tea Tree Oil (When Needed)
Tea Tree Oil is my one and only go-to spot treatment. I definitely didn’t cure my acne, yet I feel like I’ve learned how to control it. I still get a few hormonal breakouts here and there and when I do, I use a little bit of tea tree oil on the spot at night before bed. When I wake up it is definitely smaller and prevents the blemish from ever coming to a head like those “beautiful spots” from the April and May photos above. 😉
6 – Serum (Nightly)
As I’m getting older (hello almost 30), wrinkles and fine lines are something I’m paying more attention to. I got a sample of this while we were in Paris (even though Aesop is available in so many places), and it helped the freak out my skin was having from the weather change. It has Aloe Vera in it too, which helps balance out your complexion. I have a few other serums I keep on rotation, but keep your eyes peeled for a separate post on that.
7 – Moisturizer (Morning & Night)
This is where my obsession with Burt’s Bees began. Rob picked this up for us randomly one day while grocery shopping. I have super sensitive skin and this moisturizer is light yet effective, plus super affordable. I buy the one for sensitive skin and it really does the trick. I feel like hydration is key for keeping acne away, especially if you’re using a cleanser or topical spot treatment that can be drying. Restoring that balance is so important.
8 – Eye Cream (Morning & Night)
This is a newer product for me, but one that is quickly becoming a favorite. I’m a big fan of Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Eye Cream and still use it occasionally, but my new favorite is this Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado by Kiehl’s.
So there ya have it. My current skincare routine. I truly hope some of you find this helpful. There is so much more to say and share, but I feel like this already was getting to be a long post. 🙂 It has be a lot of trial and error, (I even naively blow dried my face when getting out of the shower years ago because I heard it helped with bacteria reduction — crazy town!) but it feels so good to have finally figured out what works for me. If you guys have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll help the best I can. I’m truly passionate about this and my process, and if helps one person feel less insecure or down in the dumps about it, this post was worth sharing.
PS: If you’re wondering what I used to cover the acne while it was at it’s worst, it was my favorite foundation by Estée Lauder: Double Wear. It is sill my favorite and lasts all day, but now I use their “light” formula.
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