My skin has been horrible for as long as I can remember. I have distinct memories of my mom applying an acne treatment all over my face. I remember the first time she did it, as I stood there thinking that my spots would go away forever and I would be pretty again.
I was nine.
I'm 20 now, so it's been 11 years since my face first rebelled. I started wearing foundation in ninth grade, and since then, none of my friends have seen me barefaced.
I tried everything to fix it, to make it better. I'd show you photos, but I have nothing from that point in my life that does a good job showing it. All the photos of me from that time are small or blurry, and I'm always wearing cover-up; foundation, concealer and powder were my best friends in high school. Sometimes I even wore them at home because I was that scared that someone might come knocking and see my skin.
I was put on Accutane during the summer of my senior year. It worked. My skin was clear for my senior portraits, for prom and on my graduation day.
But it didn't last. Less than a year after I took my last pill, the breakouts came back with a vengeance, and I once again retreated to my cover-up.
I gave up for a bit there. After all, Accutane was billed as the miracle--the ultimate cure. If that couldn't solve my problems, them what was the point in even trying?
It went on like that for over a year, until I decided enough was enough. I was almost 20. Acne on a teenager is expected, but it's not the most professional-looking accessory on an adult. This had to stop.
So I did some research. And more research. And then some more. I spent more time researching how to fix my skin than I ever had on any college paper.
After reading hundreds of reviews, I decided to give fixing my skin another try and created a skincare routine that has done wonders for my skin!
Before I begin, this was the state of my skin sometime last spring. Please don't laugh--it's hard to even look at this photo, let alone put it on the internet for everyone to see!
Alright, now that you've seen what I was working with, let's dive into my regimen.
I like to keep my morning routine fairly simple. I first cleanse my face with the Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser, taking care to massage it into my skin for a solid 30 seconds.
Then, I use a salicylic-acid-based toner; my ultimate favourite is Paula's Choice CLEAR Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution. This helps to unclog pores and fade those red or brown marks you get after a breakout. I swear, acne scars like are that guest you get at every party who refuses to stop dancing on the tables and just leave. The party ain't over till they say it's over.
Next is moisturizer and sunscreen. My moisturizer of choice is La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra; it's hydrating without being greasy, and it doesn't break out my stubborn skin.
Next is sunscreen: I alternate between a Clinique one and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 55--whichever one I can find in my morning haze. Today it was clearly the Neutrogena, as I have no clue where the Clinique one is.
Removing your makeup properly before you go to bed is absolutely key to having good skin. If you do nothing else, do this! I'm currently using the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk. It works OK, but I’m determined to use it up before moving on.
I also sometimes use the La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution, but only when I absolutely can't force myself to a sink or I want to take off my makeup midday.
As far as cleanser goes, I love the Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser, but any cleanser that cleans your skin without stripping it will do.
Then, I have two different nighttime routines that I like to alternate. I'm high-maintenance, I know.
The first is my Proactiv Revitalizing Toner, though any glycolic acid toner would probably do. Next, I use a couple drops of the Tarte Maracuja Oil. Yes, this stuff is crazy-expensive, but that tiny little bottle has lasted me months, and I'm only halfway through. I let that absorb for 10 minutes, and then I apply a thick layer of Benzaclin.
This stuff is prescription only, but with some magical mix of insurance and free Canadian healthcare that 50-gram size is under $10 for me. If it's too expensive with your insurance situation, try an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide product; though the clindamycin in the Benzaclin helps.
The second routine involves any gentle toner--I love the Garnier Fresh Toner (which--sorry, guys--isn't available in the US) or the Simple Soothing Facial Toner--and a retinol-based cream, like Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream. Retinol is amazing because it helps with both acne and wrinkles, and much like Hannah, I want to be a baby forever.
I do a scrub and a face mask twice a week. On weekends, I use the Proactiv Renewing Cleanser, the expensive yet totally worth it REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, and the super-cheap Freeman Avocado & Oatmeal Clay Mask. I don't want to even think about how expensive that REN mask is, but it fades those stupid post-acne marks like nothing else. Think of it as a bouncer for your skin, kicking out the people dancing on tables after last call.
Then, on Wednesdays we wear pink. I kid, I don't own any pink. On Wednesdays, I use the Proactiv Renewing Cleanser again and then I use the Origins Out of Trouble Mask.
Oh, you thought I was done? Ha!
Even with the best skincare routine in the world, sometimes I fall face first into a bag of candy, and the results are never pretty. After I'm done picking all the gummy worms off of my face, I'm left with clogged pores and angry red spots.
When that happens, I use the Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleanser at night instead of my usual cleanser, and then apply some Kate Somerville EradiKate onto the spots, and I'm usually good to go within a day or two.
And now the final reveal... again, be nice. This is the best my skin has looked since I was nine.
What do you do to keep your skin under control? Are any of these products in your regimen?