“Maybe if I love my acne, it will leave me too.” This funny (lightly depressing) quote I saw somewhere a while ago started me thinking about the implications of covering up imperfections instead of listening to the repeated chorus of “love your imperfections!” that saturates the beauty world. There’s truth and value to owning blemishes and imperfections but it’s a hard balance to strike. Who out there is confident enough to strut their acne and NOT prefer to cover it up? I wish that were me. However, in embracing the new rage for natural beauty—and because my oily skin makes it difficult for foundation really to have any staying power (a post on that later)—I decided to work on my skin itself, instead of finding the perfect blanket for it to hide under.
Before I go into the details of what I did to clear my skin, I would like to say that, as far as my limited knowledge of acne is concerned, there are two main types that I’ve ever had to deal with. Hormonal acne and “oops that’s my own fault” acne, which is acne that comes from my poor diet, stressing myself out, and not being careful about washing my face. I’ve been lucky enough mostly to encounter the latter and rarely ever experience hormonal acne, so the products and routines I go through will not work for anyone, nor will they necessarily achieve the same results. But if you’re an oily skinned, acne prone, Asian college student with a propensity towards late night snacking and a love for junk food, this might work for you.
I’ll spare you from the “clogged pores lead to acne!” spiel and assume that if you’re reading this, you at least have the intention to wash your face regularly and remove your makeup before you go to bed. I double cleanse, and the current acne-fighting cleanser I’m using right now is Pan Oxyl’s Acne Foaming Wash. It’s incredibly strong, since it has benzoyl peroxide 10% and I would strongly advise against using it twice a day. Or even every day (though I often go through periods of time where I do). You should use it AFTER you’ve removed all your makeup, because it’s main purpose is drying out acne, not cleansing. When I came back from studying abroad in Italy last summer, I had an entire cheek of breakouts. This fantastic cleanser (available at most drugstores) cleared most of them in a week.
I asked my roommate to pick up Lush’s Dark Angels Scrub for me when she went home for spring break and then immediately got buyer’s remorse when I checked my bank account. Lush always hurts my wallet a little bit, but they have the right to. This charcoal scrub smooths, detoxifies, and cleanses skin fantastically and is one of my most important products in fighting acne. I use it twice a week, though if you have very sensitive skin I would use it less than that. The only downside is that it can be a bit messy and leaves black streaks on your face occasionally.
This is already a cult favorite, and for a reason. The Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay has been touted as the world’s most powerful mask, has seen the transformations of hundreds of acne-ridden faces, and in general, lives up to the hype. I use it with apple cider vinegar, as suggested, and apply it once to twice a week. When I first bought it, I went a bit crazy and used it every single night for a week (would not recommend). That was the best my skin has ever looked….but it also hurt. So, again, for those of you with sensitive skin, I would keep it to once or twice a week.
Another product I wouldn’t recommend using twice a day, simply due to how potent (and effective) it is, is Glossier Solution. I use two pumps on a cotton pad at night and swipe it over my face. Because of the AHA and BHA, it’s mildly exfoliating (and tingles a bit the first few times) and has evened out the texture and tone of my skin fantastically. My acne was already on the road to vanishing, but this really cleared up the rest.
“How long is this post, Ella?” Beauty takes time, alright? After all of those acne fighting products, I need something to nourish my skin and protect it from dehydration. Rosehip oil is perfect for this, as it’s soothing, hydrating, and nourishing. It’s proclaimed as an acne deterrent as well, though I hadn’t really noticed that. This product plumps and smooths my skin overnight and yes, finally, I do in fact use it every day, twice a day.
Water. I can already hear the collective groan. I started drinking 90 oz of water a day and the only con was that I was running to the bathroom every fifteen minutes. I don’t know that it absolutely-for-certain will defeat your hormonal acne, but it certainly takes my post-junk-food-party acne down a notch. Also literally no one will ever tell you being hydrated is bad for you. Moisture is the essence of wetness and wetness is the essence of beauty. There you go.
There you have all the acne-fighting products on my skincare arsenal. While that’s a far cry from all the products I use (yes, I left out three cleansers, some serums, a mask or two, and all my moisturizers) they are a (current) staple in my skincare routine. And no, I haven’t very found a good spot treatment that gets rid of acne bumps overnight, nor do I think they’re really that great in the long run. My skin’s in a pretty good place right now, so I’m rotating out my anti-acne products for other gentler products, both to give my skin a break and to prevent it from acclimating to these. Again, this has been my own personal experience with combating acne and is not a universal prescription for clear, smooth skin.
Have any miracle acne products you’ve used? We’d love to hear from you!