For me, acne and blemishes have been the one major concern since my late teenage years. I know for a fact that the issue is hormonal so any miraculous effects that my skincare treatments might have are not always long-lasting, but I have managed to keep it under control for most of the month with the following two routines.
My morning routine is based on acids and niacinamide, both proven to work on acne, and the main purpose is to make sure my skin stays clam and hydrated throughout the day, while prepping it for make-up application. I begin with a cleanse with Eminence Organic Skin Care Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser, removed with a damp flannel to eliminate any grease, product and dead cells from the previous night, and follow with:
- First step – Acid Treatment: CosrX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. I quickly spritz this and let it absorb to gently exfoliate, moisturise and leave skin soft. I have already reviewed this toner here.
- Second step – Serum: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. This might be my favourite of the three products I have tried from The Ordinary so far, and I feel that it really helps control blemishes and calm inflammation. I love how fast it absorbs and how little it’s needed for a daily dose, making my morning routine considerably quicker. My only objection to this treatment is that it has a tendency to peel under makeup, so I prefer using it without foundation, otherwise I end up having to brush off any residue that it leaves.
- This step – Moisturising & sun protection: Dr. Med. Christine Schrammek Daily Hydra Maximum SPF 20. This is a very nice daytime moisturiser for the colder and/or drier seasons when skin needs extra hydration, paired with a plethora of other ingredients (Peelmoist ES 160 to remove dead skin cells, antioxidant Ginkgo Biloba with vessel-strengthening and toning effects, and RonaCare Ectoin to protect against negative environmental influences). It is meant to have a light feel and absorb quickly, although it does leave a slightly greasy film, thus making it more appropriate for drier days or when paired with a mattifying foundation. One trick that I learned is to leave the moisturiser absorb for at least five minutes before applying makeup.
My evening routine begins with the necessary eye makeup removal with Bioderma Micellar Water, and a double cleanse with Boots Botanics Hydration Burst Dual Action Cleanser (only £4 and such an amazing formula!), generously massaged and removed with a wet cloth, followed by Eminence Organic Skin Care Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser, to gently exfoliate and create a clean canvas for the rest of the routine. In my opinion, nothing beats acids and retinol when it comes to targeting any kinds of blemishes and spots (but also winkles, for whoever is bothered by this type of complexion nuisance). So the entire routine is based on these two elements, following these steps:
- First step – Prep Mask: Herbivore Brighten Instant Glow Mask. I like to begin the routine with a generous initial layer of this mask, which has pineapple and papaya enzymes and Brazilian white tourmaline gemstone to kickstart the acid treatment. This mask is so wonderful, it gently brightens with only a small tingle in the first few minutes, leaving the skin soft and clear after a 20-30 minute application.
- Second step – Acid Treatment: Alpha-H Liquid Gold. My acid of choice for acne troubles is glycolic, in this case the Alpha-H Liquid Gold. I truly believe this is one of the best products I have ever used and the results never cease to amaze me, whether I incorporate it into my routines or I use it on its own. I apply this with a cotton disc and allow it to absorb into the skin for a few minutes, until the face is completely dry. This speeds up cell renewal and recovery, helping to heal any spots on the surface or just underneath (so works very well for acne prevention).
- Main Treatment – Serum: Paula’s Choice Resist 1% Retinol Treatment. I’d heard about retinol many years ago, but I always mistakenly believed it to be exclusively an anti-ageing treatment. As wrinkles have never (or at least so far) been a problem for me, I kept postponing using retinoids until I turned 30 around 4 months ago, which is when I finally realised what a wonderful anti-acne miracle this can be! It took forever for my skin to adjust to the powerful effects of retinol, and I still cannot honestly claim that I am completely used to it – it still burns, stings and dries after a few uses, which is why I limit this routine to two, maxim three times/week, with at least one or two days break to allow my skin to recover. Retinol works by stimulating the production of new skin cells, thus driving regeneration and blemish clearing (including a reduction in post-acne scars). Paula’s Choice make an excellent serum, with a 1% concentration (there are 2% formulas out there, but I doubt my skin is quite ready for that), housed in a sealed tube to prevent oxidation, so I know I can take my time to use up this serum until it expires. It is lightweight yet feels rich on the skin so I hardly ever follow with a moisturiser, especially since it contains antioxidants and hydrating ingredients.
I’m definitely planning to write more on how to use retinol as it can be quite a tricky ingredient for your skin, but the benefits always outweigh it’s side effects.
What are your favourite anti-acne products and routines?