As someone who has struggled with acne since I hit puberty in sixth grade, I have always been looking for the best way to clear up my skin. Now, I know I’m not unique. Most everyone has some sort of qualm with their skin. If that wasn’t the case, products like Proactiv wouldn’t be on the market. Just under 3 years ago, I fell victim to the Proactiv commercials and decided to invest in this type of skincare. Flash forward a few years and I had purchased a Clarisonic and was completely stripping my skin every morning and evening. My skin was dry and still covered in active pimples, as well as plenty of acne scarring. Beyond that, my skin is rather oily and tends to get shiny quickly, so I thought the best route to combat that was to attack my skin with drying products.
So, this winter break, I quit Proactiv (something that is a lot harder to do than you would think) and started looking for skincare answers. Following the advice of my roommate, I ditched the Clarisonic and opted to use my hands to wash my face – so 6th grade. Rather than constantly bombard my skin with acne medication, I now use simple skincare products with minimal ingredients. Using just a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment for particularly stubborn pimples has absolutely changed my life.
Now, every morning, I use the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser in the foaming formula. Never before had I thought that such a gentle cleanser would do anything for my oily nature. However, since I’m no longer stripping my skin of the moisture it thinks it needs, my oiliness has become much less of a problem. I follow up my morning cleanse with a spritz of rose water from Lush, and a gentle moisturizer, typically with SPF. Typically, I use the Coola Face Classic Sunscreen Cucumber Moisturizer. More recently though, I opt for the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel when I know I will be inside all day long in classes, or at home. This gives my skin an extra boost in moisture.
During the day, I try to keep my makeup to a minimum. Now that my skin has cleared up dramatically, I don’t see a need for much full-face makeup so I typically choose lighter concealers for my under-eye area and a mattifying powder. Right now, I’m using Tarte Shape Tape and Kat Von D powder and I’m loving both. Throughout the day, I’ll spray on some rosewater as needed to refresh my skin.
In the evenings, usually right before I go to bed I wash my face again with the same simple cleanser I used in the morning, or, if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll use the Simple Micellar Water to remove any makeup and to prep my skin for my Curology prescription. My formulation consists of 4% Azelic Acid, 1% Clindamycin, and 4% Niacinamide. I’m no expert in dermatology, so when I started using Curology, it was particularly helpful for me to see the purposes of each ingredient (and to see some real progress after consistent use!). I started using Curology in December of this year and I don’t think I can go back. So far, it has not only alleviated my active breakouts but has also seriously lightened the many dark spots on my face, many of which were left my particularly severe pimples. After I dry my face with a clean towel, I use 2 pumps of Curology on my face and jawline. Up until recently, I followed this up with the SebaMed Clear Face Gel, which helped to lock in the medication. However, since I picked up the Clinique moisturizer gel, I have chosen this more often. Both do a great job of keeping the Curology product on my face until morning, but the Clinique has some softening properties that the SebaMed is lacking. In the end, both are great products for acne-prone skin.
As needed (or just when I feel like treating myself) I’ll use a sheet mask in the evening before applying my Curology prescription. I’m a big fan of the Tony Moly sheet masks because they smell great and come in massive, affordable bulk packages on Amazon. If I’m in need of intense mattifying, then I’ll opt for a clay mask of some kind, such as Formula 10.0.6’s Deep Down Detox mask.
In general, I keep my skincare routine consistent, gentle, and targeted. Since starting this routine, and making small changes to it as needed to reduce frequency or change products, my skin acne and scars have cleared up almost completely. If you’re struggling with acne, I highly recommend simplifying your daily routine and using those harsh products only when necessary. Treating your skin kindly is the first step to healing it. Even when I do breakout now, it’s a lot less stressful than before because now I have simple skincare backing me.