A friend recently told me I had nice skin and asked me what products I used, as she was looking to change up her own routine. To say I was surprised would be an understatement, mainly because never in my life have I been told I have nice skin. The understandable reason for that is because I’ve never actually had nice skin. From the moment I turned 13 I had acne galore. When I say I tried everything to get rid of it, I mean EVERYTHING. Facials, Proactiv, microdermabrasion, vitamins, every single product on store shelves or television…you name it, I tried it. Even though many people my age had acne, it was still embarrassing and affected my self-esteem all the way up until a year ago.
As I approached my mid-20’s, I thought for sure my acne would disappear. Wrong. I continued to try different products to see what would finally work for me. The only difference now was that I was focused on trying to find more natural products, especially those that were cruelty-free. If you don’t know me personally, you will come to know through future blog posts that I have no tolerance for animal cruelty. So I do what I can to support this cause by only purchasing products that are not tested on animals. I’ll write a future post just about this for anyone interested in switching to cruelty-free products, but for now I’ll say that it’s super easy and worth it! Check out Leaping Bunny’s website to see what products are cruelty-free in the meantime.
It took a few more years before I FINALLY found a combination of skincare products that worked for me, and I’m happy to say I’m now mostly acne-free. I will still have little breakouts here and there, but they are nothing like the ones I used to have and usually go away quickly. Up until a year ago I had to cover up red spots with concealer. Now I have days where I don’t even use concealer, which is something I never thought I’d be able to do. I found the products I currently use by reading skincare forums and through trial and error, so I figured I’d share what has worked for me in the hopes that maybe something I use will also work for you.
My Skincare Routine
- I use NOW brands Almond Oil to take off all of my makeup from the day. I pour a dime-sized amount of oil into my hands and massage it over my entire face for about a minute, including my eyelids (it doesn’t burn!). Many people promote coconut oil, but it is comedogenic so unfortunately it made my acne much worse. Almond oil doesn’t break me out at all and leaves my skin feeling soft.
- From there I use Shea Moisture African Black Soap to wash the oil and makeup off of my skin. I love this soap because it cleans thoroughly, but doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry or tight. It’s great for those with acne-prone skin, as it contains soothing ingredients like oats, aloe and vitamin E.
- Once a week I like to use an exfoliant to scrub away dead skin cells that can build up from makeup and sweat. I prefer Alba Botanica’s Even Advanced Enzyme Scrub. They grind walnut shells into a powder, which is used as the main exfoliating ingredient. Some scrubs can be harsh and abrasive and irritate your skin, but this one is very gentle and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.
- After cleansing, I use Paula’s Choice Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution. This is a BHA exfoliant with salicylic acid so it really targets blackheads. It also acts as a toner and removes any leftover traces of makeup that my cleanser may have missed. I pour a little on a cotton ball and wipe it all over my face.
- Once my skin is completely clean, I use Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment. This is an acne-clearing treatment with benzoyl peroxide, so it works to reduce redness and clear any breakouts. I like it because it doesn’t dry out my skin like many other acne treatments.
- Last but not least, moisturizer! I have combination skin, so I have some dry spots and some oily spots on my face. A common myth is that you shouldn’t use moisturizer if you have oily skin, but this is the furthest thing from the truth. If oily skin gets dry, more oil is produced, thus creating more breakouts. Moisturizing keeps both oily and dry skin in check. I like Earth Science’s Almond-Aloe Fragrance Free Moisturizer. It leaves a matte finish on my face so I don’t have a greasy look or feel.
That ends my evening routine. Now onto the easier morning routine…
- I jump in the shower and wash everything…but my face. That’s right, I do not use any cleanser in the morning. I just rinse my face with water. Why? Because I found that I was over-cleansing by washing in the morning, and my face would feel too dry throughout the day. This also affected how my makeup looked on my face. I experimented with not washing my face in the morning, and when my skin actually improved, I stuck with it. *If you’re going to only cleanse once a day, I recommend at night to ensure you are washing your makeup off from the day.
- After drying off from my shower, I repeat steps 5 and 6 above.
- From there I have a fresh face to put my makeup on!
Here are a few other tips I recommend for healthy skin…
Basic Skincare Tips:
- You’re probably tired of hearing this, but drink more water! Staying well hydrated does help your skin look and feel heatlthy
- Sugar = breakouts, so limit your sugar/unhealthy carb intake and focus on protein and fresh produce for the best looking skin.
- Smoking, drinking and tanning can age your skin faster, so avoid, or at least limit, these activities.
- Wash your pillowcases and sheets often. Imagine covering your face in a sweaty towel every day that you never wash. That’s what sleeping on a dirty pillowcase is like.
- Going along with this, be sure to get a good night’s sleep. Your skin heals and regenerates while you sleep, so those zits have a better chance of fading by morning if you’re sleeping well.
- Chill out! Stress often triggers breakouts. Try daily yoga or meditation to keep your skin (and yourself) calm.
- Exercise daily. Sweating can actually help your skin remove toxins, as long as you’re cleansing daily.
- Use a lightweight sunscreen if you’re going to be spending some time in the sun. I don’t use sunscreen daily, because a little bit of sun is good for us. More than 30 minutes in the sun and be sure you have backup.
- Avoid products with fragrance, colors or too many chemicals. These won’t do your skin any favors.
- Don’t overwash, overscrub or overdry your face, and don’t use too many products if you can help it. Go for quality over quantity.
And that’s it! It’s a simple routine using natural, cruelty-free products that help your skin instead of hurt it. Good products, along with the above skincare tips, can produce healthy, acne-free skin. I think the one benefit from growing up with such terrible skin is that I really got to know my skin well and what works for it. Many people look back at their 20’s and wish they had the skin they had at that age. But I think it’s safe to say I’ll be happier with my 30’s skin.
What are your favorite products or tips to keep your skin clear and healthy?