Fighting acne can feel like a lifetime of research and experimentation. I've tried spot treatments, clarifying lotions, fad diets, and even those vegan blogs that worship some new, exotic herbal remedy. For years, I’ve struggled with trial-and-error to find the right acne solution.
Many people swear by salicylic acid, but personally, that makes my acne worse-- maybe it’s too harsh? In any case, there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all cure for acne because we all have our own unique skin problems, sensitivities and skin types. However, I do believe that we can all learn some basic steps for cleaner, healthier skin.
I’ve customized a routine that works wonders for my skin. These are NOT endorsements, but my real acne cures. My steps focus on treating my combination skin and occasional hormonal breakouts.
1. Makeup remover
At nighttime, I use makeup remover before washing my face. If you skip straight to the washing step, but there's still makeup on your face, you won’t remove all the oil and junk. Underneath the makeup, your face collects grease and bacteria throughout the day. You must remove the layer of makeup and dirt first before you can give your pores a deep clean.
I find the gentlest makeup remover is BOURJOIS Micellar Cleansing Water. It’s made without alcohol and doesn’t leave a perfumey or oily leftover feeling.
2. Organic soap bar
No fancy cleansers for me. I go back to the basics with organic botanicals and detoxing oils. Not too milky and not too drying, natural soap leaves your skin feeling supple and refreshed.
If I tell you which kind I use, you’ll probably laugh. It’s marketed as a men’s face soap, but when I noticed my husband Andrew was using it, I was inspired to copy him-- his skin looked so much better! So now we both use Rocky Mountain Barber soap and I’ll always choose it over any pricy face wash!
3. DIY Apple Cider Vinegar toner
Next, to tighten my pores, I use a toner. But since most store-bought toners have alcohol or random chemicals, I make my own toner using apple cider vinegar. I put a smidgen of apple cider vinegar on a cotton pad and then dilute it with water. Otherwise, if you apply it pure, the acids from the vinegar will be too harsh on your skin.
Once you’ve prepared your cotton pad, simply swipe the solution over your face to wipe away extra oil and bacteria.
4. Retinol = LIFE!
Retinol is a skin exfoliator made from vitamin A. Prescribed by my dermatologist, I apply it at NIGHT only, 3-4 times a week, to shed off dead skin cells. In the morning, my skin is glowing-- no joke!
If you’re new to retinol, your dermatologist can start you off with a low dose. Since retinol is harsh, you must let your skin adjust to the formula first. And you shouldn’t apply it everyday. Too much exfoliating can leave your skin irritated and dry. Less is more with retinol.
5. Aloe vera moisturizer
When my skin gets oily and moisturizer is too greasy, I turn to my rescuer: aloe vera! I don’t even use the tube formula; I have an aloe vera plant. Every morning and night, I cut a chunk of the plant and extract its dewy goop from inside and slather it over my face. It dries within a couple minutes.
Not only does aloe vera keep your skin silky soft, but it also has natural antibacterial properties to fight off acne. And bonus-- since raw aloe isn’t too oily, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling slimy and gross. It’s just pure smoothness! Love it.
Although this routine is fantastic, we can't neglect the importance of a good diet. No matter how great we treat our skin on the outside, we also need to treat the inside. Too much dairy and sugar can cause hormonal breakouts. Research shows that avoiding gluten helps too. So watch what you eat, care for your skin and the results will follow.