I have never been one to have nice skin... I dealt with combination skin, mild rosacea, and acne. I always say that I have sensitive skin, but that was just my way of saying that I never know what will work on my skin. The issues have never fully gone away, however, I have discovered some amazing products that have really helped me control breakouts and gain more confidence.
Everyone's skin is different. What worked on me, might not work for you! If you really struggle with your skin, consult a dermatologist. That's where I started! I also want to note that I am a drug-store shopper - I do not "break the bank" with any of the products that I use. So I didn't link anything, because it can all be found at your local drug store!
I struggled all through my schooling years with bad skin. Acne was my biggest cross to bear. I tried antibiotics, Proactive (used for many years - I found it treated acne but didn't prevent it), and all the teen-drug-store brands. I was constantly washing, toning, moisturizing, masking, spot treating, the WORKS! I couldn't have a day-off from my skincare routine. If I did, my acne would flare up really bad. It was a constant struggle.
When I was 25 I went to a new dermatologist who talked me through the products that I should be using. Basic, oil-free products were her recommendations. I also got prescribed a cream that I put on every night before bed called Epiduo Gel by Galderma. One of the key ingredients is Benzoyl Peroxide. This is where I finally started to see real improvement. I wasn't seeing many flare-ups. Anything that did come up, I could control. I could even take some days off!
When I moved to Toronto all hell broke loose. Maybe it was the different climate (Ontario is very dry), maybe it was the stress of being on my own away from my family. I don't know, but I was getting dime-sized pimples all over my face. Teenage and adult acne mixed together. It was painful, embarrassing, make-up couldn't cover it, ugh it was horrible. Sometime during the move, I ran out of Epiduo Gel and I didn't have time to get a new prescription. So yeah, I was screwed. It was like my acne had returned but it was worse than I ever remembered. One night I went to Shoppers and got a bunch of new products to try. Here are the products that returned my skin to normal and kept it there:
Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask
Not to be dramatic, but his thing saved my life. I used it a couple of nights a week and saw a difference in my skin almost immediately. Plus it's fun! I call it my robot mask. I still use it whenever I get a bad breakout. I notice overall results a few days after using it... my skin is brighter, smoother, I look more energized. I noticed immediate results with my acne... right after I remove the mask the redness is minimal, the size is reduced, any pain or discomfort is gone.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-On Mask
Notice a key ingredient on the bottle? It doesn't have as much Benzoyl Peroxide as my prescribed cream had, but it's enough. I use this cream every night, before bed. It is the BEST for treating annoying (or I guess stubborn) acne and keeping your skin clear.
Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser
I use this every day when I wash my face in the shower and I don't see myself changing it up anytime soon. I love this cleanser - it leaves behind this clean tingle that makes my skin feel fresh and new!
Honestly, Neutrogena has turned into my most trusted brand. I have tried so many of their products and I've been happy with all of them. Their products do what they say they are going to do, they're light-weight, oil-free, basic ingredients, and reasonably priced.
Once I was acne-free, I felt that I could try some new products! I wanted to start using products that would help reduce the look of wrinkles (preventative - I don't have any and with my oily skin/genetics I doubt I'll struggle with them), but I'm always interested in what can make my skin looking and feeling young! I also wanted to try to reduce my acne scars. Oh! And I got a new skin problem that I had to deal with (YAY!). I was getting these intense dry patches on my legs whenever the seasons changed. It was the worst when we would transition from Winter to Spring. I would scratch them so hard that I would break the skin and before I knew it my legs were covered with bright red marks. One summer went by where I felt like I couldn't show my legs! These products came to my rescue:
This stuff WORKS! and it works fast. I don't use much... I've been working on the same bottle for over a year (not sure if that's a good thing... I know products expire - but oh well!). It's miracle oil as far as I'm concerned. I used it on my legs - it almost instantly cleared up the red marks on my legs (I actually burned through a bottle quickly when I started to use it on my legs, but once they were gone I didn't have to use it as much). I would apply a small amount to my face, leave it on for a couple of hours, then wash it off. I have almost zero traces of acne scars on my face now. Now, I still use it on my legs when I notice the dry patches starting and I mix a small amount in with my night cream (I put some in a little glass dropper bottle and use one drop). Whenever I get a little burn from cooking or whatever, I put some Bio-Oil on it and watch as it instantly reduces the size of the mark. It blows my mind!
Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies
I felt like any remaining skin problems that I had, went away after I started taking these. I feel like anything that comes up is manageable, and I'm pretty sure these supplements made a significant difference. I take two every day before I eat. Not only have they helped with my recurring skin problems, but they have also made my nails stronger and my hair shinier! Plus I really like the taste lol. They have these at Shoppers with the vitamins, but I get mine from Costco (better value).
Rose Quartz Facial Roller and Gua Sha
You've probably seen/heard of these two items before. It is believed in many cultures that rose quartz can counteract and drive away negative energy, cleanse the aura and promote strong vibration of love and happiness. The results that I have experienced include; relief of headaches, sinus pressure, distressed jaw, and aids in lymphatic drainage - making my skin look less puffy. I use the roller all over my face and the Gua Sha on my jawline and neck (sometimes I bring it up to certain areas on my face if I have time). I do it every morning after I put on my moisturizer. It really helps relax me and takes away any sleep puffiness. It instantly improves the look of a saggy jawline! What more can you ask for? If you don't have a facial roller or Gua Sha I HIGHLY recommend picking one up and adding it to your daily routine.
This chart explains the directions you should roll in for the best results:
Those are the most memorable products that I started using to help with my acne and other skin issues. I have a lot more products that I use in my routine... maybe that will be for another blog!
Now, the proof is in the pudding, right? Here are some photos of my skin.... I didn't document my skin issues journey very well, because I didn't think I would ever put this kind of thing online. I never really took photos of myself without having a little make-up on, so I have make-up on in all of them except for the last one. But these definitely remind me of how far I have come.
This was shortly after I moved to Toronto when my skin problems got completely out of control. You can see how big some of my pimples are. I had massive break-outs happening all over my chin and cheeks. Ugh, I just remember feeling so uncomfortable, I had to speak at this event and I felt like everyone was looking at my acne. My biggest memory from this particular night was how much pain my acne was causing me. I could feel all of my pimples and it hurt to smile or even talk. It was all I could think about.
This is when I finally started to see results after using the robot mask and leave-on mask, for a couple of weeks. No more pain, just a couple of little bumps, and marks.
This was this past Valentine's Day. I just finished doing my make-up and hair for the day (so I had to document it)... but this photo just makes me think of how much more confident I am with my skin now and taking a photo like this would never be a thing. I was always tilting my face so you wouldn't see my pimples whenever I took a selfie.
This is me, right now, writing this blog. I just have moisturizer on. No filter.