To be completely honest with you, for the past couple of years I was slowly losing my faith (and hope) that my skin will ever get clear. I have been struggling with reactive skin for almost as long as I can remember.
Long story short (-ish):
I first got acne when I was in 5th grade. I quickly developed pretty good habits of taking care of my skin and enjoyed doing my AM and PM routines. In a sense, I felt kind of cool putting different products on my face, which my friends didn’t get to do. Although my peers didn’t have acne at that time, I was dealing with my skin problems pretty well as I was trying to embrace the process and considering it as a part of growing up.
Then my teenage years hit and I started becoming on the fence with my acne. On one side, I was still doing my best to accept it and since most of my friends were had it, I didn’t feel any different. However, on the other side, as most of teenagers, I was getting more self-conscious about my body and less confident in my skin. I was always told that acne goes away with age, so I was believing that since I got it pretty early, it will disappear sooner. I was trying different products, medications, antibiotics, cures and methods hoping that I can speed up this stage of my life, but unfortunately without any success.
As I was getting older, my acne evolved into big, red, painful bumps on my face and became a bigger problem that I had a lot of difficulties dealing with. In my late teens, acne started taking a toll on my mental health and well-being. With all of the support from my friends and family, I was still uncomfortable with my skin and so tired of constantly having have to fight something that felt incurable. I was seeking help in doctors, dermatologists and specialists, but my acne was getting worse and worse to the point my forehead was all in pain. I have tried everything – changes in my diet, expensive products, treatments, more antibiotics, birth control, but nothing was providing long-lasting results and my acne would always come back.
In my early twenties, I was slowly accepting the fact that I had higher chances of getting wrinkles before actually soothing my reactive skin. It was still a huge struggle for me, but I was losing my faith that there is anything out there that could help me. Thanks to my blog, I have been very lucky to try a ton of beauty products I normally would not have access to experiment with. I was able to learn what my skin likes and completely doesn’t tolerate, but it was still not enough to completely cure my skin problems.
Last year, I turned 25 and I said to myself that no matter if I still suffer from teenage acne or already adult acne, it is enough. I decided to give my skin one last chance and booked an appointment with a dermatologist. Of course, through all of these years I have done a lot of research on acne, but I could never even find any information on the particular type of acne I had. Descriptions of cystic, hormonal acne, whiteheads etc. didn’t really match to what was happening on my face. My goal at this appointment was to at least learn what exactly I was suffering from (I didn’t want to set the bar too high and expect that magically someone will finally treat it). While the doctor was not very talkative, he mentioned that I had folliculitis infections after I bombarded him with a ton of questions. I was trying to get more details from him, but he only prescribed me antibiotics (Minocycline HCL 50 mg if anyone is interested). Of course, right after I came back home from my appointment, I started doing research on folliculitis infections that I have never heard before. I read the definition of folliculitis and puzzle fell into place – that was it, I was suffering from fungal acne! Once I knew that, I have done even more research on products to treat my skin condition – below I am sharing with you all of the good stuff!
(For disclosure, I did end up taking the antibiotics, which I like to think that helped in some way, but from my experience with antibiotics, I know that it is really hard to tell if they actually provide long-lasting results. This is why I always prioritize a good skincare routine over all of the medications and treatments).
I went trough a looong process of trail and error to finally develop a safe, simple and AFFORDABLE skincare routine that actually works on sensitive, reactive, combination and acne-prone skin (but honestly, I can recommend these products to anyone who wants to have hydrated and youthful skin) 🥰
No one (including me) has time in the morning, so I keep my routine as condensed and effective as possible. I use only three products, but they are more than enough to keep my skin clean, hydrated and protected throughout the day.
CeraVe SA Cleanser
First thing in the morning, I wash my skin with a salicylic acid face wash. I am bothered by excessive oiliness or shininess, but I have never been a huge fan of applying salicylic acid straight to my face and leaving it there for a long contact time with my skin – I think it causes more harm than good to my face, so this CeraVe SA Cleanser is perfect for me! It provides gentle, non-irritating exfoliation without harsh microbeads or grains that can scratch or injure the skin. This product is suitable for the face and body as well as acne-prone and psoriasis-prone skin. It has an amazing and simple ingredient list including: salicylic acid to gently yet very effectively exfoliate skin, three essential ceramides that help restore the skin’s natural barrier, hyaluronic acid that contributes to skin hydratation and niacinamide which soothes the skin. Its formula is also non-comedogenic, fragrance-free and enriched with vitamin D for extra antioxidant protection.
I wash my face with Foreo Luna 2 for sensitive skin. I love this brush because it deeply cleanses my pores, prevents blackheads from forming and prepares my skin for all of the products I apply next.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream
While my skin is still damp (I don’t use towels), I apply my favourite hyaluronic acid product – Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream (I use the one for extra dry skin, which is fragrance-free – there is also another version of it with added fragrance). I use it just a little bit (it is not my moisturizer – instead, it is more of a serum or moisturizer booster if that makes sense) to lock in the hydration of my skin underneath the moisturizer. It delivers enhanced hydration that can help plump up wrinkles and fine lines as well as improve the overall appearance of the skin’s texture.
CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Finally, I love using this CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30, which is a wonderful moisturizer that provides UV protection while helping to restore the natural skin protective barrier. Its lightweight, non-comedogenic and non-greasy formula, with three essential ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, provides an amazing all day hydration. However, I reapply it throughout the day as many times as needed for the UV protection.
I don’t usually wear makeup everyday, but if I do, I pay particular attention to my face makeup such as foundation, powder and concealer as these products affect my skin the most. Other makeup products like blush, bronzer, highlighter, eyeshadow etc. don’t really bother my skin, so I am not very specific about them.
Physician Formula Mineral Loose Powder + Glossier Stretch Concealer
I was always so fearful of putting any makeup on my face as most of the products would either irritate my skin, clog my pores or break me out, but this Mineral Loose Powder from Physician Formula has completely changed my life! This product is suitable for extra sensitive or breakout-prone skin because its minimalist formula is very simple and clean (it is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, oil-free, talc-free and non-comedogenic). I love it because it offers the performance and coverage of a foundation with the blendability and natural finish of a loose powder in one easy step. It is also nice to have some extra UV protection (although this product should not substitute a sunscreen!).
I never really care about the packing of a product, but this one is pretty innovative with a sifter lid that helps contain mess. It also comes with a brush that snaps in place for ease of use and convenient storage. The brush itself is fine (not my favourite, so I prefer using a different one), but I appreciate the fact that it is there, which makes the product very compact and perfect for travelling or on the go.
When it comes to concealer, I usually use Glossier Stretch Concealer. I like it because it does the trick and it doesn’t get cakey. It has adaptable mineral pigments that give a brightening effect and blend seamlessly into skin for natural-looking coverage (it is pretty buildable). It is also hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and fragrance free.
If I want a full face of makeup, I use Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup Foundation, which is a pretty good foundation if your skin is sensitive and tends to get oily. But whenever I can, I try to stick to my Physician Formula Mineral Loose Powder and build the coverage with it.
Garnier Micellar Water / Bioderma Micellar Water
I usually use miceller water to remove my makeup. I like either Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water or Garnier Micellar Water for normal and sensitive skin. They are both very gentle and great products that cleanses and soothes the skin.
My PM skincare routine is just a little bit more complex than my AM routine as I use two more products, but I think that I have managed to keep it as simple and effective as possible.
CeraVe Bébé Wash
I don’t use CeraVe SA Cleanser at nighttime because in my PM skincare routine, I apply retinol, which should not be applied the same time as salicylic acid (or any BHAs or AHAs), since as combined they can be extremely irritating on the skin. Instead, I use CeraVe Bébé Wash, which is formulated with three essential ceramides and vitamins to gently cleanse, replenish and maintain protective skin moisture barrier.
I love using this face wash with my Foreo Luna Mini 3, which is an amazing brush, very similar to Luna 2 (I will be posting my full review on all of my Foreo products very soon, so that you can learn all of the details).
Once my face is cleansed and still wet I apply Neutrogena Hydro Boost the same as I do it in my AM skincare routine.
CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
For my nighttime moisturizer, I am obsessed with CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion (it is honestly the best moisturizer I have ever tried). It is very similar to the CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30, minus the SPF of course. It helps restore and maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier with ingredients (three essential ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid) not commonly found in other facial moisturizers. Like all of the CeraVe products, it is lightweight, non-comedogenic, non-greasy and fragrance-free. I recommend this moisturizer to anyone!
belif moisturizing eye bomb
I can’t imagine my skincare routine without an eye cream as the skin under my eyes is very vulnerable and I get dark circles and/or dry patches very easily. Right now, I am using belif moisturizing eye bomb, which is a great product, but I am not married to any eye cream. For me, any works pretty much the same.
Another reason why I always use an eye cream is because it helps protect the delicate areas of skin around the eyes from more aggressive products like retinol that I apply later.
The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane
Finally, I apply retinol. I have had a lot of struggles finding the right one as most of the products on the market have added fragrance and other questionable ingredients. This Retinol 0.2% in Squalane from The Ordinary seems to work great on my skin. It has squalane, which my skin has been always really enjoying, and jojoba oil, which on the other hand tends to cause breakouts on my skin, but I haven’t experienced any issues with this particular product.
Do you use any of the products that I have mentioned? Let me know in the comments below your favourite products that keep your skin clear! xx
PS: My skin is not perfect and it will never be, but not having have to struggle with acne anymore is such a relief for me!