First let me start out by disclosing that I am a self professed skincare product freak- I have probably tried over 57564320 products (which has undoubtedly slowed my acne clearing progress- since I like to try all the fun things that my skin doesn't like), but the products listed below are the one that stuck. There are some honorable mentions in the "Notes" section of each category, but all in all i tried to keep it pretty straight forward. As I mentioned in Phase 1, I have definitely had to modify the way I approach adding a new product into my ritual (ie: slowly and 1 product at a time,) but there have been some positives to trying all the things! I have found a variety of products that do work for my skin, so hopefully some of these may work for you too! I think that skincare can be a fundamental part of a nourishing self-care ritual and can serve as a foundation to feeling great about yourself- not because of the way you appear externally but because placing energy towards taking care of yourself and mindfully taking the time to check in can strengthen the relationship you keep with yourself and this mindfulness can trickle into other areas of your life too. With that being said, I love finding the most effective products that work for my skin and incorporating them into the ritual morning and evening.
Before we get started, check out these disclaimers that I think will help you to find the most success on this journey- How I Cleared My Adult Acne; Phase 1: The Changes this post gives an in depth look on the lifestyle, diet and supplement modifications that helped set the stage for the products to do work.
MORNING TIME Step 1: Cleanse Skin
Product: Visage by Marie Claire's Exfoliating Cleanser
Lasts: I have had 1 bottle of this, and I use it morning and night and it has lasted me almost an entire year.
Product Consistency: The texture is gel-like, it is clear and has light clean smell.
Use: I use a pencil eraser size amount and massage into wet skin for 30 or so seconds and then rinse- and PAT DRY WITH A PAPER TOWEL. (This is a v. important step.) See Phase 1.
Notes: This is a Glycolic Acid Cleanser that works by exfoliating the top laters of skin- If you have not used acids in your skin regimen before, expect a purging period. Don't freak out! It is just your skin working through all of the build up in your pores. Typically people say that you may purge up to 4 weeks, but I really mean this when I say, I think my skin purged for 3 months. However, if you have switched to a mineral makeup, have eliminated primers and are taking other steps in Phase 1 then I hope it will be shorter for you. This is one of the most amazing products because it is gentle and still exfoliating without the abrasion of a scrub. Scrubbing my skin was one of the things that was making my skin 100 times worse. So I quit scrubbing all together- no washrag, no face cleaner brush, no really grainy face washes, just this awesome cleanser. One of the major keys to clear skin is exfoliation but with acne prone skin, you have to find a way to gently exfoliate so you don't irritate it- this product is great for that. I love this cleanser!
MORNING TIME Step 2: Tone Skin
Product: Porespective Soothing Toner
Lasts: 3ish Months
Product Consistency: This toner is super, duper watery. Very light, and has little to no smell. It leaves skin feeling smooth and also lessens redness.
Use: After cleansing and patting my face dry with a paper towel, I pour a little of this in my hands and pat it into my skin.
Notes: This toner is very gentle and features Aloe Vera and Allatoin which are very soothing. It is important to use a toner so that you can bring your skin's PH balance back after using the acid cleanser on it. I like this cleanser because it doesn't break me out and doesn't make my face feel oily or greasy. I also appreciate that there are no unnecessary fillers or chemicals in this and that they do focus on products for Acne Prone Skin. I am not crazy about the company itself, they have quite poor customer service and they are not flexible or helpful. Once my package got lost and they basically just told me to call the post office and try to find it- they refused to send me the missing product again (luckily I ended up finding it). But, I do think their products are great and for that reason alone, I continue to order from them until I find something else that works better. Note: I used to use the Stone Crop Hydrating Mist from Eminence and it worked well- it was a little more oily than I like, so I ended up switching to the Soothing Toner which literally just feels like a drink of water for my skin. I love Eminence though and use some of their products in my Evening Routine and as "Add Ins" which I will detail in my upcoming posts.
MORNING TIME Step 3: Light Therapy!!!!!!!!!!
Product: Conair True Glow Light Therapy
Price: around $50x 2
Lasts: IDK, a long while
Use: After I cleanse and tone my face, I use this blue light on my acne prone areas both morning and night. I hold the light to my skin for at least 5 minutes in each quadrant of my face.
Notes: EDIT: After using these little handhelds for a few months (and feeling like it was taking up too much time) I bit the bullet and bought this 3 Panel Norlanya- It has saved me soo much time, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening (max) and I am good to go! Love this thing- absolutely worth it! Also love the anti-aging red light!
IF THERE'S ANY STEP YOU ADD TO YOUR ROUTINE- ADD THIS! I know I am ecstatic about a lot of things but this light is seriously amazing. This is what really took my acne clearing to the next level. I often times found myself accidentally over drying my skin with "Acne spot treatments" when I would get a pimple, and now I use this directly on the spots and they go away much, much faster than topical pimple cream can get rid of a pimple. I literally cannot sing this product's praises enough. But you have to be willing to put the time in. I actually ended up buying two of these Conair lights because I wanted to cut down on the time I had to hold this thing to my face and now I can do both sides of my face at once. I specifically noted this brand and this light because I actually bought this Full Face Mask and felt *so* Vanilla Sky -but I noticed after using the blue light in the face mask for about or week or so that I was getting more pimples than I was when I used the Conair Handheld one. So, I reverted back to the handheld blue light (x2) since it really works. Also, I think it's worth noting that you can purchase a Red LED light to promote collagen formation and Green Lights for sunspots. I am very into these lights and I have seen how awesome the blue light works. I have a red bulb that I bought but I just started using it, so I can't really tell if it does anything yet- but I will keep you posted!
MORNING TIME Step 4: Serum
Product: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid Serum
Price: Yes, it's expensive $163
Lasts: I use 1 drop every other morning- so I think it will last forever
Product Consistency: This is light brown and very potent. I haven't noticed a smell and it isn't greasy or sticky at all. It absorbs quickly.
Use: 1 drop patted into skin about every other morning.
Notes: Well, the thing is, is that I know how great Vitamin C is for your skin and how important it is to use this to protect your skin from free radicals and the sun (esp since I don't wear sunblock). I am definitely wanting to do those things, but most Vitamin C Serums break me out. I have used Marie Claire's Serums, I have used some Odacite serums and I have tried probably 10 other serums and they all have broken me out. For about 6 months, I used this Instanatural Skin Clearing Serum but something happened and all of the sudden it started to break me out- Instantural has lots of rave reviews about their products helping people get their acne under control+ anti-aging properties. The Skinsceuticals Serum is very potent, so I alternate the days that I use it. I have noticed that if I get excited and use it too many days in a row that my pores start to become congested. So every other day works for me. I also bought this in a package with a rich hydrating cream (which is an "add-in" that I will highlight later) from this brand and I got both the cream and the C Serum for the above listed price, so, sometimes you can find a deal. For me this is a necessary step because it helps with acne scarring, aging and sun protection.
Lasts: 1 bottle has lasted 6+ months
Product Consistency: This is an incredibly light weight, not greasy moisturizer. It is perfect for my acne prone skin. It is white in color and slightly gel like/watery. It isn't luxurious feeling or heavy at all and it doesn't leave your skin 'glowy' (I use Homeoplasmine for that see Step 7)- it just simply hydrates without clogging my pores which is exactly what I need it to do!
Use: Morning and night after the steps above, I use a dime sized amount and pat it gently into my skin until it is completely absorbed.
Notes: There is nothing fancy about this moisturizer besides that it hydrates without making my skin oily or shiny. It is Paraben and Sulfate free and it has no fragrance. It features B5 and Allatoin as its active ingredients . I have tried to switch out to other moisturizers and I always end back up with this product. It is so reliable and such a great base. I plan to keep it in my routine foreva! I also appreciate the customer service that Marie Claire provides. A+++ experience with her products! Note: I took a 3 month break from this product to try the Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer by Eminence- I determined that it was the cause of minor breakouts and switched back to Marie Claire's moisturizer. I do love the attention to detail in Eminence's products and have found some things that work which I will detail in my future posts.
MORNING TIME STEP 6: Optional: Clearing Gel 2.8
Products: Porespective Clearing Gel 2.8
Lasts: 1 bottle has lasted 6+ months
Product Consistency: This is a milky white color and has a gel-like texture. The great thing about this product is that unlike most Benzoyl Peroxide products, this product doesn't leave a cakey or chalky residue after application. It soaks in rather than sitting on top of your skin.
Use: I use this on top of my moisturizer about 2-3 times a week. I take 1 pump and pat it into my lower cheeks and jawline since that's where I break out. I keep this away from my eyes and away from my mouth and laugh lines, since this skin dries out SO easy. It can be a bit drying, so I use it a lot more frequently in the summertime and on the days that I work out. I also use it more frequently around my period- when I break out more prominently. I also avoid applying this in the day time if I plan to be in the sunshine because I am 30 and I really don't want any extra wrinkles.
Notes: This product is paraben free and alcohol free which I like. Benzoyl Peroxide in general is not very restorative for the skin, in fact it can damage your skin. It is effective at clearing P. Acnes Bacteria and for me, applying this in my routine at the beginning especially REALLY helped clear out those purge breakouts. I use a stronger version of this in the evening which I will detail in my Evening Routine post which will be posted next. For me, the positives of this product outweighed the negative and I hope to eventually phase it out completely. But on days where I know I am going to a really sweaty workout or breaking out from my period, this definitely helps with damage control. This product works and although BP isn't the cleanest product, I will keep it in my routine until I never have to think about acne again! Also, this might bleach your pillow or other things.
- B5 Gel: The large bottle is $85, but I have been using the free little samples and haven't needed to buy it yet. But I probably will.
- Homeoplasmine: I bought this in an Italian Pharmacy and it was probably around $15
- Boiron Calendula Ointment: I buy this at Whole Foods for around $12
- The tiny B5 Gel has lasted me about 2 months so far.
- The tubes of Calendula and Homeoplasmine have lasted me 6+ months.
- B5 Gel: this gel is oil free and incredibly lightweight. It soaks right into your skin and has a soft after feel.
- I use the Homeoplasmine and the Calendula Ointment interchangeably. You can't get Homeoplasmine in the states but the Calendula Ointment is nearly identical ingredient wise to the Homeoplasmine. The consistency is like an ointment. Tacky and sticky and very occlusive. Leaves a hydrated sheen- so a little goes a long way.
Use: I apply eye cream after my moisturizer since my moisturizer is so light and I also don't want to accidentally pat my eye cream all over my face. I use 1 drop or so of the B5 gel under my eyes and then seal it in by dotting/patting Homeoplasmine or the Calendula Ointment around my eyes. If you wear mascara, you will probably want to be v conservative because it will make your eye makeup melt off your eyes. But it works well with bare eyes! I also rub this on and around my lips as a lippy.
Notes: I like the B5 because I can use it with eye makeup and it is soft and soaks in quickly, for most days though, I don't wear eye makeup and my primary need is something to make my eyes look hydrated and awake and I like a little bit of sheen at the tops of my cheekbones. A friend of mine always had amazing skin and she is the one who told me about Homeoplasmine- she used it as a makeup primer/eyecream/multipurpose salve. I definitely couldn't put this all over my face- but it works great around my eyes! Before I picked up Homeoplasmine on our travels, I was using the Calendula Ointment and I have to say they perform and feel about the same. The line carried by Wholefoods (it's all in the first aid area) by Boiron is amazing- they have a Calendula Gel and a cream which are equally awesome. My dad uses the cream as his facial moisturizer! Since these ointments are so occlusive I look at them as a sealer of whatever potent products I put on first (like the B5 gel).
And there you have it, my basic morning routine complete with cleansing, toning, light beaming my face, seruming and moisturizing. It is an investment, but remember that ideally you are adding things in slowly so you can gently acquire the things that work for you- and they do last quite a while. You can start off with just the cleanser, toner and moisturizer for the AM [AND OF COURSE THE LIGHTBEAMS!!!!] and be set for a few months without needing to add anything in. The most important thing is finding a routine that works for you! After I post my Evening Routine, I plan to write a post that details all of my "Add-Ins", which are the products I add in both morning and evening including face masks, peels and intensive hydrators if there's a need. This Morning Routine acts as the foundation and I do add things in here and there depending on what my skin needs and I think those details are important to share as well- because although keeping my acne in check is a primary concern, I am also really interested in keeping my skin healthy and glowing and these extras really help with that!
My next post will detail my Evening Routine which I will link here when it's up. My Evening Routine incorporates a few different products that I think are very vital in keeping my acne at bay. This is a lot to digest, so I think breaking the posts up like this works the best. What do you guys think? Please share what has worked and hasn't worked for you! Have any of you used these brands and if so, what are your thoughts? I would love to open up the conversation!