This is probably your 100th attempt at looking up ways to clear up your stubborn acne - (don't worry, we've been there).
Acne can be caused by a variety of different factors such as your - diet, sleep schedule, stress level, your menstrual cycle, poor hygiene, using comedogenic products (a fancy word for - ingredients in facial products that clogs your pores); the list can go on and on. While, unfortunately, acne cannot be fixed by topical products if its being caused by, let's say - your hormones, it can certainly be controlled and managed.
If you believe your acne is very severe, unmanageable and consistent, we recommend reaching out to your doctor or dermatologist, as they may be able to provide you with a medical-grade topical/oral prescription.
Being women that have struggled with acne for about 6 years now, we certainly had our fair share of trial and errors with, well - too many so-called "acne-clearing" products to count.
Today we will share with you our recommended skincare routine for both the AM and PM - that has controlled our hormonal breakouts and improved the overall texture of our skin over time.
1. Begin your routine with a gentle, foaming cleanser.
In the morning, we recommend to use a cleanser that is gentle - one without any active ingredients. This is because in the AM, you don't need to cleanse much off your skin as you are most likely waking up to a clean, make-up free complexion - (we hope). Our favourite simple cleanser for the AM is the Cerave Cream-to-Foam Cleanser. It has a milky consistency that foams up as you mix the product with water - without making your skin feel tight. This product is non-comedogenic, has been closely developed by dermatologists, and is widely used in many dermatologist offices.
2. Time for serums.
Finally, the fun stuff. We recommend to stay away from serums that contain strong AHA exfoliating acids in the AM. This is because AHA acids make your skin extremely sensitive to then sun. In the morning, we first like to apply a good-old Hyaluronic Acid serum to the skin - it performs best when applied to damp skin. Hyaluronic Acid serums are great as you can visibly see and feel a difference - right after its applied! Your skin will instantly look dewy, feel plump and most importantly - hydrated. Our favourite HA serum is from The Ordinary. The next serum we recommend is one that specifically fights and controls acne. We love using Niacinamide-based serums in the AM as they minimize the redness that often comes along with pimples - and brightens the skin with continued use. One we enjoy is also from The Ordinary. Their Niacinamide serum is formulated with Zinc, which helps control oils that develop on the T-zone throughout the day - no mid-day blotting required!
3. Moisturize with a light-weight lotion.
Yes, "light-weight" is very important. When using moisturizers that are super heavy, it can actually cause our breakouts to get worse - and even lead to skin congestion. Looking for facial moisturizers is often tricky as many on the market are formulated with comedogenic ingredients - such as shea butter. However, we discovered - and have loved ever since - the Cerave Moisturizing Lotion. Keyword here is "lotion". There is an important distinction when you see lotion on a moisturizer versus cream. A moisturizing cream is a very thick moisturizer, and should normally be avoided by us *lucky* acne-prone individuals. Moisturizing lotions - or gels on the other hand, are much thinner and are well-suited for those who struggle with white heads and cystic pimples - you know, the ones that literally cause you to get a headache because of how painful the pimple is.
4. Last but not least, apply your SPF *very important*
To complete your AM skincare routine, use a liberal amount of sunscreen all over your face and neck - don't forget your eyelids, lips and behind your ears! A SPF of 30 or more is generally recommended. Wearing sunscreen is crucial if you want to prevent aging, hyperpigmentation, skin dryness, and of course - skin cancer. After all, none of your skincare products can work to their fullest potentials if your not protecting your skin from the ultimate skin-ager every day - the sun. Our favourite sunscreen to use is the Cerave Sunscreen which has an SPF of 30. It is a hydrating formula that doesn't have - you know - that strong "sunscreen" smell. To add an extra layer of protection, we recommend following up your routine with a tinted moisturizer, as they're often formulated with SPF protection. To read a little more about tinted moisturizers and find out which one is best-suited for your skin-type, check out our Tinted Moisturizers 101 blog post.
1. Don't single cleanse - but, double cleanse
If you're not familiar with the term, double cleansing involves removing your makeup, oil, dirt, and sunscreen that you've had on your skin all day - before using a traditional wash-off cleanser on your skin. This allows your cleanser to work better and thoroughly clean your pores as your cleanser doesn't have to fight through face makeup, oils, etc. Our favourite first step cleanse is the Garnier Micellar Water - specifically the blue one. It's very easy to use - and no rinsing is needed! Simply pour some of the product on a cotton round and swipe all around your face. After this essential step, its time for your second, wash-off cleanse! Our favourite PM cleansers to prevent acne are benzoyl peroxide-based foamy, cream cleansers. Our top pick is the PanOxyl 10% Acne Foaming Wash.
2. Time to whip out the serious stuff.
Your night time skincare routine is the best time of the day to use more stronger acne topical treatments. A great type of treatment to apply are retinoid creams. First off, you don't need a dermatologist's prescription to get your hands on it - yay. But more importantly, retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A, which promote increased cell turnover in the skin. This means, it reduces the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and what we're all here for - acne. A certain type of retinoid is called Adapalene. An over-the-counter product that has this effective ingredient is Differin. The Differin Gel gets rid of acne - from the source, and even prevents new acne before it even begins forming.
3. Moisturizing is the last step *finally*
Last but not least, we moisturize. We recommend to use the same moisturizing lotion from our morning routine as we need a light - yet, hydrating moisturizer. The moisturizer will seal in our products and finish off our routine. We recommended the Cerave Moisturizing Lotion.
We hope you learned something from this blog post and wish you all the best on your skin-clearing journey. One thing to note - however, is to use your products consistently for at least 12 weeks. Normally, your acne doesn't begin to clear before the 12-week mark, even if your products are all amazing. Remember to stay patient with your skin and watch it slowly - but surely, transform before your eyes.