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.
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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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54 comments on “Christina’s Current Skincare Routine”
I love this! Thanks for the honesty and transparency! My skin has come a long way, but I still suffer from a lot of scars and dark spots (hello fair skin!) I had never really heard of people using a spot corrector for acne scarring, but it totally makes sense! Thanks for all the wonderful wisdom and tips!
Hi Katie, Thank you so much for the kind words! The dark spot corrector has definitely helped. My scars are more hyper pigmentation marks than pitted scars, but if you have the same type of scaring these products might be a good place to start. Also Vitamin E oil does the trick too! 🙂 Thanks for following along!
I really love and appreciate this post. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you so much Kaitlyn! That really means a lot to me. 🙂
Thank you thank you for this post! I am totally in the adult acne boat right now and it is terrible! Would you be willing to share the order of what you do? i.e. Wake up and wash then dry then serum. At night, make up off, moisturizer, spot treat.
Hi Taylor! The order that I listed the products in, is the order I use them in….so makeup remover wipes, cleanse, tone, dark spot corrector, spot treatment when needed, serums, then moisturizers. Hope that helps a bit! 🙂
Thank yoooou! I’m going to try some of this stuff. I wake up every morning with adult acne and rarely see those good days where it’s clearing up no matter what I try. ?
Thank you for sharing!
I would love to send you a complimentary jar of Morton Essentials Natural
Deodorant. It’s my company and we are sold at Whole Foods in California and on Etsy. Based on the products you have in this article, I think you will love this. Please email me if you are interested in trying it!
I noticed a huge difference in my skin when I switched to mineral make-up. It’s chemical free and has drastically changed my skin. Break outs are rare. I use Jane Iredale powder foundation. Along with the primer, finishing powder, blush, etc. I suggest giving that brand a try! Thanks for sharing your journey, you’re beautiful no matter what ?
I don’t have any acne; but I love your honesty! I would definitely try the moisturizers and eye cream. Love your blog, I always get so many ideas from it.
aww i love this post! <3 thanks for sharing your honest journey.
i definitely had an overwashing problem too and only "cleanse" once a day too. something that i noticed that might help you is that the makeup wipes are actually super drying for my skin too (though super convenient).
highly recommend just wiping your makeup off with coconut oil – it has a PH balance that is suuuuper close to your natural skin PH so it wont make you dry/oily.
Just know that coconut oil doesn’t work for every skin type – it’s highly comedogenic (pore-clogging), so I would use with caution!
Oh man, I can really relate to your post!
I had adult acne too a few years ago, I changed my diet and stopped washing my face as well! I use ivory shea butter as a moisturizer—this stuff changed my life. It’s on amazon, just search for African Shea Butter Pure Raw Unrefined From Ghana “IVORY” 8oz, it’s like $5. It’s amazing!
What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing something so personal to you, Christina. Glad it’s working out! Now let me try this hahaha
I love this post. I love your transparency and honesty. I too know how hard it is to struggle with adult acne! I actually went through the process of taking ACCUTANE which I would not recommend for my worst enemy! Luckily now I’ve found Rodan + Fields as my skinscare go to! They are the top selling Skincare line in all of North America! Their SOOTHE and UNBLEMISH regimens actually corrected my skins sensitivy and healed my scarring and pitting from the horrible acne I suffered with! Now I use the REDEFINE regimen to help with the aging process. Like you said, almost 30 and want to avoid those wrinkles that come along with it haha
You’ve probably heard of this product, but miceller water is waaaaaaaay better than using wipes for removing makeup and cleansing the skin before bed. I did an experiment by using my regular face wipes to remove my makeup, then I went over my face with a cotton pad of miceller water and the pad was soaked with foundation! It also leaves my acne skin moist and dewy, not stripped. Google it, its a game changer.
Do you recommend any brands of micellar water? I had a drugstore version I picked up on a whim a while back and it really does remove my makeup a lot more thoroughly. I’m going to look into it more. Thank you!
I too use the Neutrogena wipes… they’re the only ones I can use; others break me out.
As far as micellar… if you find the right one they work great! I had tried a drugstore micellar (I think it was Garnier), which made me break out. Ugh. Since that though I have found 2 others that I love though… La Roche Posey makes one (the Walgreens in Phoenix now carry that line) or Bioderma. Hope this helps!
Christina, you’re literally one of the very best people I know. I love this post and you and just am so lucky to be your friend. You’re so beautiful inside and out and I love how open and honest you always are. You’re the best!
Leah, we love you! Simple and sweet. Thank you so much for always being an encouragement and so loving. So so thankful to have you as a friend and grateful for all our talks. XO
I am so pleased that you put together and shared this post, a lot of what you said about having acne and the perception you face really resonate with me. I’m excited to try parts of your routine and see if they work for me. I learned recently, too, that my diet has a major effect on my skin — especially dairy and sugar. I already eat a vegetarian diet, but I notice when I restrict my dairy and sugar intake as well, it makes a really big difference and serves as such a good motivator for me to make healthier choices. Another thing that has seemed to help my skin is using natural products. I turned to Lush for handmade products that have improved my complexion and are super fun to try and learn about. One thing you might try for evening your skin tone (I have the same kind of dark, flat acne scars) is using products with rose water or oil, other florals like lavender have been helpful to me too.
I know this is A LOT but again, I’m just really thrilled you shared this part of your story with us. Thank you.
Do you put the tea tree oil straight on your skin, or do you mix it with a carrier oil? I would love to try this. Thank you for sharing!
I put it straight on the blemish. 🙂 Hope it helps. Thanks for reading Suzanne.
Thank you for posting this. It’s so hard to share personal acne stories, let alone show photos. You’re beautiful no matter what your skin looks like, but I understand wanting to achieve clear skin. Acne is painful, and I feel like people don’t realize it’s both physical and mental pain. I had acne starting around age 14 up until last year when my friend recommended the acne.org regimen to me. Between that and cutting out most processed and sugary foods from my diet, and keeping my dairy intake to a minimum, I have gotten my skin 100% clear for almost 100% of the time (the occasional spot will pop up, oh well). I’m so happy you’ve found what works for you, and your skin looks amazing.
great post, christina! i feel like so many skincare posts i see are from people that have fairly clear skin already or at least aren’t being transparent about the acne they battle. i used proactive (and didn’t moisturize!) until i was like 26 before realizing that i was really working against my skin – and aging it way too quickly. a hormonal birth control that worked with my body helped clear my face up a lot too, but switching to just cleaning with micellar water and moisturizer/oils really improved my texture. next steps: trying to drink more water and eat less dairy/sugar!
Thank you so much for this! I have had a very similar struggle with my acne, I love how honest and open you are about it. Acne is something I’ve been self-conscious about for years and I think you nailed it when you talked about all the misconceptions that go with it.
I think my issue may also be washing my face too much, I guess I was getting too caught up in the whole NEVER SLEEP WITH MAKEUP ON idea and never thought of just using makeup wipes alone.
This is a great post, I’m going to try all of these tips!
Thanks for this post! I’ve struggled with acne since I was 16 and proactive worked but realized I didn’t want to rely on benzoyl peroxide my entire life. Although, my acne is stil a constant struggle, I do feel better about using natural products on my skin. I have realized my acne will probably never go away but I do want to control it instead of it controlling me. I do over wash my face too much since I have become obsessed with thinking it’s never clean enough so my first step in changing my skin routine is washing it less and I will definitely change my diet. Thank you so much for being open about your struggle and for the tips.
Thanks SO much for this post! To be honest, I had followed you all for a while and ended up stopping following because I felt like “these people are too perfect”! I know it seems like a dumb reason to unfollow, but it’s hard to relate to perfection and everything seeming “staged”. Posts like this are amazing and honest and relatable. They are the reason I’m following again and loving you alls feed and blog. Thank you!
Also pumped to try some of these things, as I’m hoping to get my skin and occasional breakouts under control once and for all!
Thank you for this post, I know it must have been kinda nerve racking to put yourself out there! but it was very informative!(Also just know you were/are beautiful in the before and after pictures!). We have very similar skin issues and the best thing I did was give up beef,pork,chicken, I did a whole overhaul of switching to chemical free, vegan products and switched to an organic vegetarian diet and sometimes have fish and minimal cheese products. But I think cleansing from the inside out is the best thing! Thank you for being so honest in your posts!
Have a wonderful day!
This is a great post and I love the transprancy. So many people go through this and it can make them feel so isolated and frustrated. Thank you for opening up and sharing your story with others. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried Boscia’s Clear Complexion line. They are a natural Japanese line and it has a cleanser and a toner containing Willowbark Extract which is a natural form of salicylic and it’s wonderful for more sensitive and reactive skin. It’s available at pretty much every stand alone Sephora and it’s worth going in and asking for a sample and patch testing it if you’re interested in switching to something natural. I’m sure there are a lot of other wonderful cleansers with willowbark to look into too.
I find it so brave that you show us those pictures!
You look so so pretty even if you have sometimes one spot or two (or apparently… Because I had never noticed it before!)
Your skin looks way better that at the beginning.. So well done!
Thanks for this post that is good for people to see that nobody is perfect!
Have a sweet evening and take care,
Thank you Plume! You are incredibly sweet! Definitely agree — no one is perfect. 🙂 xo
You know, I rarely comment on anything but I feel compelled to say something. It is truly refreshing to see that you are human. Prior to this post, all I saw was someone that is pretty, stylish, has a handsome & supportive husband, a beautiful home, a cute dog, flawless hair & makeup, an amazing and large wardrobe, and endless lavish vacations. I’m happy that you have your acne under control, but jeez, its nice to see that you aren’t completely flawless. (Also, you are gorgeous with or without the zits).
Hi Rachel, Thank you so much for your comment and for reading the post. I really appreciate your honesty. We definitely choose to share and document the happy and exciting times more, but I completely understand what you mean. No one is without flaws. We all have our pluses and minuses, proud times and embarrassing moments. Your comment has encouraged us to share more of these “no so perfect” moments, so thank you! 🙂
I’m excited to see more of the not so perfect moments too! I mean – I love looking at beautiful photos but it is very nice to look at relatable, raw and real photos sometimes too The good and the bad – we will all still think that you’re beautiful because you are!
Yes yes and yes, but can we talk outfit and bangs? Hahah OBSESSED!
Hahah Thanks Tara. You’re so sweet. 🙂
I want to echo everyone else’s appreciation for sharing this. At 28, I also have spent most of my life trying to outsmart my acne, and have finally got it under control with a combination of diet change (minimal dairy and soy), supplements (evening primrose oil and milk thistle–both sold at trader joes–, and l-lysine), and a hydration-based skincare routine. As soon as I shifted my focus away from the cysts and whiteheads, and onto overall happy skin, everything started to change. It really is nice to see someone who I admire so much for just being overall radiant and beautiful has come from a similar place as me, and who’s porcelain skin could be attainable!
Thank you so much for your kind comment Kristen. This community is truly amazing and I’m so thankful to be able to share everything from home decor to crazy breakouts with you all. I’m so happy to hear you have gotten your acne under control. I’m going to look into those supplements, as well. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. It brought a smile to my face. 🙂
Oh do I feel ya. After a lifetime of perfect skin, I started getting terrible acne at the age of 28, out of the blue. I’m 33 now and I’ve been struggling with it ever since. Hormonal acne, on your chin and jawline, is THE WORST. It’s also difficult to treat because most readily available acne face washes and treatments are meant for teenagers and are way too harsh for older skin. I’ve had amazing results with Boscia’s Clear Complexion Tonic. I also started putting Neosporin on my zits, and it works so well!! It clears up the tiny infections (because really, that’s what the zits are) without drying out or damaging your skin.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting Alexis. You’re so right, many acne medications are meant for younger skin. I’m going to look into Boscia’s products. Ive always heard great thins but never tried them for so reason. Hope you find something that works for you. It sounds like you’re on the right track. 🙂
Hi Christina! I’ve struggled with acne for as long as I can remember. I’ve gotten a lot better over time with a better diet and drinking more water, but still struggle here and there. I’ve been using proactiv for years but honestly it’s only because I’m so nervous to stop using it. I feel like if I stopped it would be back to square one. However I am starting to transition to using natural products in my skincare routine to hopefully change that. I started moisturizing with jojoba oil a few weeks ago and oh my god, its amazing!! I highly recommend giving it a try. My skin has never been smoother and has prevented a lot of breakouts I normally would’ve had 🙂 cheers!
I wanted to thank you for this post! Judging from above, many people resonate with your acne struggle and it’s wonderful to have support through such a battle. I’ve been wanting to try products from Burt’s Bees, and this has encouraged me to give them a shot. I used to use the same makeup remover wipes years ago, but I felt after some time that they made my acne worse (I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone). I wanted to share what I use now, which is the Makeup Eraser. It’s a pink cloth that you simply wet with water and then use to wipe off your makeup. It removes everything, even stubborn and thick liquid liner that makes your whole face black! You can buy it at Sephora for about $20 and it lasts for a couple years. It’s machine washable or you can use unscented soap to wash out the makeup, to make it good as new again. It’s wonderful and a natural way to get rid of makeup!
Oh my goodness ? it’s so great to see someone in my own backyard. You understand Arizona sun … lol. Thank you for the post ?
Hi New Darlings,
I love you guys. You guys are goals and hope to have the same relationship you guys project one day.
Thank you SO much for sharing this. I have been in tears for the four months because all of the sudden I have cystic acne. I’ve had heavy blemishes before but not like this. I’m currently trying to find my routine and going to try a couple products you mentioned because like you I love Burt bees. I have fair and sensitive skin like you so marks show up regularly. It also sounds like our diets are very similar and I have noticed a change because of that as well.
I have a couple questions for you.
1) have you seen a dermatologist? If so, were you happy with their suggestions? I am so afraid to go because they’ll give me topical drying out cream and I feel this is so much more than that.
2) do you use the beauty water like a toner? I have stopped using mine which was by Clinique.
You’re probably like me and sit in the aisles and read the ingridents – I do this regularly. I try to use all natural like you because I just feel better ALL together.
Also, wanted to share something that has helped me: Not a Spot – charcoal and basil mask – it’s $24 and you can use it as a full mask or spot treatment. The basil helps with topical inflammation and the charcoal helps pull out the bacteria. I wash my face with warm water, use the mask, rinse with cold water and then pat dry.
I appreciate your time.
thank you so much for sharing this amazing routine! I have struggled with super painful cystic acne ever since I can remember and the only way I could keep it tolerable (not off) was through birth control and accutane. I’ve been following you guys on Instagram for a while and when you posted this entry I could not believe the girl with the super flawless complexion could have gone through something similar so it was incredibly encouraging. I have been using the products you recommended for about a month and for the first time in years (without the help of birth control or accutane) all I am dealing with is hyper pigmentation, not a single new bump so thank youuuuu!
Dahnia! This makes me so happy to hear! I am so glad these products have been working for you. Thank you so much for the kind words and trusting my recommendations…I know what it’s like to just feel like nothing is working, so when I got a routine going that I saw results in, I knew I had to share. Sending more good skin vibes your way. Happiest of holidays to you!
I LOVE Burt’s Bees! I just recently discover the product you listed and it’s worked wonders on my skin (which is extremely acne prone). I appreciate your honesty in this post. It’s helpful for people who struggle with acne to see that they are not alone. You’re very brave and honestly generous for sharing your before photos. Seriously, the more I read of your blog the more I appreciate you guys and your ability to stay honest about your lives!
Hi Isabel, Thank you so much for this incredibly kind comment. It truly made my day. I am so happy the Burt’s Bees products are helping you. Happy to have you following along. 🙂 Have a great week! xo, Christina
Thank you for sharing Christina!
I am currently trying to find out what products to include in my skincare routine and I’m having trouble deciding how long I should stick with a new product before calling it quits and moving on to another. What was your approach? With the products you are using now did you have a period where your skin got worse when you first started using them before it improved?
Hi Sandra – it can definitely be hard to tell. I feel like a few weeks is a good indicator. Also, knowing your skin is really helpful, ie. what is an allergic reaction/negative reaction to a product vs just a purge period. Most of the products in this post are super gentle, so I feel like you shouldn’t have a bad reaction to them vs maybe them just not being the right fit. I think two weeks is a good amount of time – but that is just how I have gauged things after all these years. Hope these work for you! 🙂