I just recently wrote an incredibly lengthy blog explaining my acne journey, in which I included some regimens and products that really worked for me. However I realize probably no one wants to read an essay about my life, so here's a shorter version of products that have really worked and didn't work for me.
Skin essence - pure: A cleanser made up of different healing oils made specifically for the face. This is the only cleanser that has really helped my skin and made it feel incredibly soft as it evens out your natural PH balance. I'm never going back. I found this product at Healthy Planet in Toronto.
Clean and Clear: it is a nice gentle cleanser that gets rid of oil and makeup residue. It's a good cheap cleanser if you aren't looking to spend much money. It doesn't heal your acne, but it doesn't make it worse. It leaves a nice cool, clean feeling.
Atmosphere tea tree wash: this is a gel cleanser that is nice for those who find tea tree oil beneficial for their acne. I always felt that tea tree helped my acne, so this cleanser was a good option for me. It was 8 dollars at shoppers drug mart.
Bioderm: It's a blue gel that came in a great bottle with a pump and smelt fantastic. It also worked well for healing.
Vichy: It's a green gel with small exfoliating beads. It really helped my skin and smelt wonderful.
Dermalogica daily exfoliant: This stuff truly rocks. You can use it every day, although I suggest only 3 times a week. If you have acne you really just want to soothe it. I've read plenty of time to exfoliate everyday because you need to get rid of the dead skin in order for your acne to heal, but I never found this to be true. I believe it makes it worse by irritating the hell out of it.
The body shop's vitamin C daily exfoliator: this stuff is amazing for scarring. It smells AH-mazing and really works. I absolutely love all the facial products at the body shop, especially the tea tree line. Give it a try!
100% Pure eucalyptus and seafoam cleanser: feels fabulous on the skin, it really hydrates and awakens your skin- if that makes any sense. It's 100% organic, and although I didn't find any improvement with my acne, it did help my oily skin, and I just loved washing my face because it was so invigorating.
Green Beaver makeup remover with soothing aloe: I absolutely love this stuff! It's 100% pure organic and is a company that makes products for those who have severe allergies to gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, etc. It's very gentle, soothing and gets rid of your left over makeup. I always use this for days I wear makeup after I've taken off most of it with equate facial cleansing towelettes, just so I'm certain it's all off. Even though my skin essence cleanser claims it takes off makeup, I wear a lot of heavy foundation in order to cover everything so I know I need more heavy duty cleaning.
Equate facial cleansing towelettes: These pre-moistened makeup removing cloths are only sold at wal-mart (as far as I know anyways) you get two packs of 60 for 10 dollars. I love these especially for removing eye makeup. These cloths are super gentle and don't break me out. Be careful you don't pick up the exfoliating cloths, I did this by accident once and it broke me and my mother out terribly. The exfoliating cloths come in a white with mint coloured packaging. The one you want is white and light blue. To be certain read the label so you know. Also do not just wash your face with only these, follow with an actual cleanser. I've tried a lot of makeup remover wipes and these are by far the best ones. They're gentle enough for acne prone skin and don't cause breakouts whatsoever.
For blackheads on your nose the clean and clear blackhead eraser actually works like a charm. Took about a week for it to clear up mine, but you have to use this stuff continuously or else they'll just come back.
Spectro gel: It always leaves a weird filmy feeling on my face, and it makes me feel like it's never clean. Plus I hate the chemically smell. Although I find this product great for my neck, back and chest. It stops the occasional pimple from popping up.
Cetaphil: my dermatologist always recommended this to me, but I could never figure out why. It doesn't heal your skin, and it doesn't feel very nice on either.
Derma-e tea tree and vitamin e: I picked this up on a whim thinking, OH tea tree and vitamin e! How lovely, two things that are supposed to be so healing for your face! SOLD! Last time I buy something without researching it first. I truly hated this product.
Yes to Tomatoes: This product does nothing for me, and it doesn't clean your face very well. I tried both the cleanser and the exfoliating cleanser. I preferred the exfoliating cleanser, but it's still not great.
dermelogica clay cleanser: this product felt nice on the skin, but I never noticed a difference. It also smelt kind of weird and chalky.
dermamed green tea cleanser: this product kind of dried out my skin. It's nice because it's 100% organic, but It never healed my acne so I give it a thumbs down. I've heard a lot of people love it though.
Kimberly Parry organic cleanser: I didn't really give this product a lot of time, so I shouldn't really be judging it. But I didn't like it only because it doesn't get rid of excess makeup and it kind of smelt like trees.
The best toner I've ever had in my entire life was something I picked up at an organic beauty salon in Collingwood. It was by kimberly parry. It smelt delicious and just made my skin glow. It healed my acne and prevented new ones from coming. Truly a miracle product. I just found she has a website it's kimberlyparry.com. The toner was called "repair." I'm going to collingwood again in a week, and I'm definitely picking this baby up. Can't wait!
for awhile I made my own toner which consisted of peppermint tea, mint leaves, witch hazel and lemon. You can find this recipe online anywhere, just google peppermint tea toner and it will come up. I really liked it, but it doesn't keep in your fridge for long, so I got a little lazy and stopped making it.
just plain ol' witch hazel works well for closing up your pores. It smells like shit though.
The body shop's tea tree toner is awesome. Helps heal/reduce look of acne and smells excellent.
Vichy is okay. I never found it healed my acne, but it felt nice and refreshing.
I love my skin essence - light oil moisturizer. It's specifically made for people with acne/oily skin. It smells amazing, makes my skin angel soft and gives it a super nice glow.
spectro gel is nice. I got the dry skin one and it felt nice on the skin, but never fully moisturized as much as I needed it too. I use heavy acne fighting creams at night so my skin really needs some moisture in the morning, and it seemed as thought my face would just eat it up too quickly. I'd have to reapply minutes later. For those who don't suffer from dry skin due to their acne products then give this one a go! It's about 15 dollars, which I thought was a little pricy, but much less expensive than my oil moisturizer for sure.
I actually bought an oil spray to help with my scarring back when I got my first round of cystic acne. It was from wal-mart and the brand was equate. It had vitamin e and a in it. On the bottle it specifically says it's meant for scarring, dry skin, sunburns, etc. It never broke me out but actually helped heal my acne, and scarring! It's amazing and super cheap! For those scared to try oils on their skin, don't be! Just make sure these oils are mean't for your skin. Don't go rubbing oils your mom uses for cooking. Your skin needs oil and it actually helps heal faster.
aloe vera works well, it's soothing and heals your acne, but I find doesn't moisturize as much as I need it too. But again if your skin isn't too dry this might be a good option for you. Just make sure it's 100% aloe. I believe wal-mart sells fruit of the earth 100% aloe for cheap, cheap, cheap!
MSM cream is my all time favourite product. I use the NWC that I picked up from the big carrot. It was 20 dollars, but well worth it. The cream itself has a lot of antioxidants like grape seed, grapefruit, aloe, tea tree, etc. It's amazing and 100% organic. It's really wonderful for pitted scarring and red marks, but also acne! Really rub it into a clean face 2 - 3 times a day. If your skeptical (like I was at first) just try rubbing it into a small area on your face and see if you get a breakout.
For my pitted scarring, along with MSM cream I use Loreal collagen filler. It smells awful but I think it helps along with the MSM cream. Be patient with these products though, and continue using them even when your skin starts to even out.
The body shop's tea tree blemish fighting night cream is an amazing product. I go through it so quickly though because it's such a small bottle! But it really gets rid of those red marks and definitely prevents new acne from forming. It's magical. They also have a lightweight oil control lotion for the day which is amazing as well. You really can't go wrong with their tea tree oil line.
I didn't like the vitamin C moisturizer from the body shop. I actually found it to feel too oily on my skin. My best friend who has been blessed with acne free skin swears by this cream though.
I love the avene moisturizer. I tried this cream about five years ago, so I'm not sure if they have changed the formula, but this cream was heavenly. It was so light weight and hydrating. They sell it at shoppers and you may be able to try some samples first.
The yes to tomatoes cream is actually quite nice. It's hydrating, smells good, and doesn't break me out.
Bioderm anti-redness cream I never liked, but i'm still holding on to it hoping one day I will.
The burt's bee's blemish clearing moisturizer didn't work for me.
I hate cetaphil moisturizer. I would only use this on a day where I'm outside needing sunscreen, only if i'm not wearing makeup. Otherwise my makeup has SPF and I don't need to be doubling my SPF, because I actually usually find products with SPF will cause breakouts.
If you're finding your skin is really irritated try the avene mineral spray. It's essentially just spraying some mineral infused water on your face, but it seriously soothes the shiiiii out of any irritation you may have. When I was going through a tough breakout, like really painful and sore cystic acne the nice lady at shoppers drug mart gave it to me for free and said "honey, if you ever feel like you just want to rip off your skin, spray this on it, it will help." I did, and she was right. I absolutely love this stuff. It's great for after you work out, or being in the sun, or washing your face, or before washing your face, or if your face is just stinging with pain from all these acne products. I love it.
I absolutely love the tea tree oil mask from the body shop (surprise, surprise) but I have tried a lot of masks and this is certainly a magical green pot of love. It stays on your skin moistened, it actually never dries, so it doesn't hurt your skin and you can leave it on for as long as you want and use it everyday. It reduces the inflammation and redness. Whenever I felt a big one coming on, I'd rub a little bit of this and poof, no pimple. Or if I already had a big one, i'd rub this on and leave it for a couple of hours and the size reduced significantly. Now If you can't say this stuff is magic then you be trippin' sista.
dermalogica clay mask is also quite nice and can be left on overnight on spots.
I never liked the mint juliep mask from sally's beauty salon only because it's super drying an irritated it skin. But my old roommate loves it. Her acne is only mild, but she said it would get rid of her spots quickly.
Neo Strata makes a great mask as well. If you mix it with their toner, your pimples will clear quickly. I did this on my back when I was in high school and had only acne on my back, it cleared it right up!
I just purchased the green tea mask from sally's. It smells amazing, but I'm not in love with it. It's okay for using it only for 10 minutes, but if it's left on for longer your skin dries out like a prune. I'm going to keep using it and test to see if it heals, but I really don't think it does anything. Plus it has perfume in it, which really isn't good to be putting on your skin, but also why it smells so great.
I really like making a plain greek yogurt mask with a probiotic pill emptied and mixed in. Only leave it on for 15-20 minutes and be sure to moisten your skin with a hot cloth before wiping it off. It really dries up fast. Your skin seriously glows afterwards though. Also be sure to wash your cloth right away or else it will emit a vulgar smell.
The acne mask from Kimberely Parry is also great! It's a small tub though and I went through it quite fast.
oatmeal, honey and baking soda masks never worked for me.
I did NOT like the skin essence green mask. It felt very oily on my skin. It was a huge let down because I'm so in love with their cleanser and moisturizer.
grinding up mint leaves in your blender/magic bullet IS THE BEST THING EVER. GO DO IT RIGHT NOW. seriously. Go buy mint leaves, wash the shit out of them, don't dry the leaves, pop it in your magic bullet until all the leaves are crushed up, place it on your face and leave it on for 30 minutes. Do this twice a day. You can leave your leaves in the fridge as long as they are sealed up tight. You'll notice your acne and scarring are reduced after two weeks. I did this for three weeks and it was the best thing I could have ever done topically.
ACNE CLEARING PRODUCTS:
I could never live without my rejuva-a which is basically the same thing as retisol, although I think I may like it more. AND my clindoxyl gel.
I also absolutely love my brocco fusion sulforaphase micro stylus ointment which I picked up at the big carrot for 13 dollars. It's quite expensive for something that is about the size of a chapstick, but it really works! if you feel a pimple coming on, rub this on and no pimple will form. Or if you have a big honker, rub this on and it was disappear after just two days. I am not making this stuff up. Mind you, you have to apply this stuff 2-6 times a day for it to work, but it's well worth it. It's also nice just to carry in your pocket for emergencies. I often get pop up zits around my mouth, so having this when i'm out with friends is awesome because they think i'm just applying chapstick!
I actually found hat the spectro gel BP gel worked. I believe it was 10%, might have been 5... but it went on nicely under my makeup and actually helped clear them after like a week! I found it much better than OXY BP.
I love neo strata products. You really can't go wrong with any of them.
I tried the bioderm clearing gel or whatver, and it did nothing.
dermalogica's overnight clearing gel works well too. It flakes your skin away, but reduces your pimple size.
tea tree oil - only if you're at home doing nothing, because you have to use this stuff at least three times a day and your skin looks like an oily mess after awhile. This stuff also doesn't work well under makeup, and smells awful. Atmosphere does carry a tea tree oil + witch hazel product that doesn't smell at all and works under makeup.
fucidin antibiotic cream works really well for popped pimples.
never use polysporin, even on popped pimples. I've tried it a couple of times, never works out.
I actually quite like the clean and clear popped pimple product. Also the spot treatment worked for me when I was in high school, but I hardly had any spots back then so I'm not sure how well it would work for me now,
The yes to tomatoes spot stick I actually really like. It's good for mild pimples.
I also recommend the burt's bee's spot treatment, but like tea tree oil you need to apply more than twice a day for it to take affect, and it's quite expensive for a very small bottle so unless you have very mild acne, this product might not be the best for you.
Whatever you do, do not use murad. Such a scam, did not work at alllll!!!
Also proactive never worked for me. It only just left my skin feeling awful and dry. However, I always did like their mask. I'd leave a dab on overnight. But I haven't tried the new formula yet, and they do have a two week guarantee or your money back, so it may be worth a try. They also now have a green tea mask, and green tea masks and creams are supposed to do marvellous things for acne. I've been researching the best creams but haven't been able to find any in toronto- mind you the extent of my searching was the big carrot, healthy planet, and sally's beauty supply.
I heard that tincture of Thyme was supposed to work better than BP, so I tried it, and it stung like a BEEEEEEE, but I never felt it did anything for my face. This was one I had a huge hormonal outbreak all around my chin and mouth area.
Don't use tactuo gel. It made my skin incredibly dry, which will actually make your acne worse. It also goes through a purging phase, but this purging phase apparently lasts for about 1-2 months. I couldn't keep up with it, simply because my skin was way too dry.
I never liked anything by biore except for the blackhead strips.
Putting ice on my breakouts never worked.
The salt water trick DOES work short term, but it's also irritating. I would only do this in an emergency situation. If you don't know what I'm talking about, google salt water for acne. Basically you soak a cotton ball in salt water and hold it on your spots for three minutes and then press down on the skin around your pimple, with two salt water soaked cotton balls, almost as if you are about to pop it.
I also heard washing with salt water helps. I believe it. Every time I go swimming in salt water my skin gets much better.
My parents also just bought the baby quaser lights, one red and one blue. The red one is used mostly for wrinkles, but it also helps reducing redness and helping scars. The blue light gets rid of the acne bacteria. They're both very gentle and easy to use, but very expensive. I think together they were about 700 dollars. I've been using the red light for about two weeks and I've noticed a reduction in redness from my scars. It hasn't helped the pitted areas but I think that may take more than two weeks. I just got the blue one this week and have only used it twice so I can't so much of that so far, except that I actually did notice the couple of pimples I have now reduce in size drastically. So it definitely helps heal.
Morning- Wash face with skin essence- pure cleanser. Use red light baby quaser, rinse face with cold water, then apply skin essence- light moisturizer, wait a bit for that to absorb then apply msm cream, or loreal collagen filler (i change it up sometimes) only on areas that are pitted, and rub my micro stylus ointment miracle treatment on spots.
* before I had the baby quaser light I would put on crushed peppermint leaves after cleansing for a half hour. This really made a huge difference.
Evening- Take off makeup with equate facial towelettes, use the green beaver makeup remover for access makeup, then cleanser face with skin essence- pure. Work in rejuva-a cream, then apply the miracle, micro stylus ointment on spots, then follow with clindoxyl gel over the ointment. I find these three products really work well together.
PRIMPED AND PRIMED:
For primers I really like the tea tree primer from The body Shop, It's the only primer that has never broke me out. I've tried smashbox photo finish foundation primer, as well as the smashbox targeted pore and line primer. I prefer the targeted pore one, it does fill in my pitted scars mildly. The foundation primer actually works best for eyes, I find it's very greasy on the skin, and I will only wear this if I'm going to an event or somewhere that I'll need my makeup to be flawless all night.
I also like the e.l.f makeup setting spray. It has all natural, soothing ingredients, and helps keep your makeup in place all night! Again I only use this for events.
POWDER PUFF GYALS:
For foundations the best coverage I have ever gotten was from Bare Minerals powder. I've tried the matte and the original, I prefer the original because it looks more natural. It was light enough for my fair skin and hides redness like a mofucka. The only thing is that It's very drying, so if you have dry skin this might not be the best for you, which is a shame, perhaps a really good moisturizer before this is applied would help. I used this when I had a really bad cystic acne breakout because it actually helps heal your acne. Although it did accentuate some dryness I had from all the products I was using I didn't give a FFFUUUUK, because It hid the redness. Now for those who are dealing with pitted scars powder isn't the best because it actually accentuates these problem areas. So a liquid foundation is best for this.
Last year when I first had a terrible acne breakout on my cheeks I used Makeup Forever HD. It really concealed, but I would use the bare minerals powder on top for better coverage. This combo was fabulous. I believe it was 55, or closer to 60 dollars at sephora. But it comes in a nice pump bottle and it lasts maybe about 5-6 months.
Right now I'm using Lancome Idole Teint, and I'm obsessed. It actually has amazing coverage, gives an overall natural flawless look, is light enough for my skin tone, and no break outs! It's 50 dollars, but if you buy it at the bay you get a nice little gift with it.
I sampled tarte clay foundation from sephora and it actually felt great, and covered amazingly. It was a bit thick for my liking, and was definitely too dark for my skin tone, but it might be worth a try.
I absolutely despise cover fx liquid stuff. I can't say anything about the powder because I haven't used it. And although this stuff covers very well it feels horrible on my skin. Very greasy and comes off easily.
For a year or so I was using Chantecaille foundation that I ordered from holt renfrew. It was quite expensive but an overall amazing foundation. It didn't offer a great coverage, but you could double it up with bare minerals or a concealer. I loved this foundation because it was extremely light weight and gave my skin a healthy glow. It also is made of products that are healing for damaged skin. You could probably sample this first if you don't want to spend a lot of cash.
I also sampled NARS makeup and I absolutely hated it. Although it ended up giving a nice-ish porcelain finish it didn't blend well on my skin at all. I did apply it with a sponge, and i'm going to try it again with my new foundation brush, but this stuff just seemed to sit on my face, and if you were to accidentally touch your face it would come right off. I tried the matte finish, but perhaps the original might be better.
AINT GOT DAT CASH FLO:
For a cheaper foundation go with Almay clear complexion. It's doesn't feel too heavy on the skin, you can layer it for better coverage (just make sure you wait for the first layer to dry before applying the second one). This stuff actually has 2% salicylic acid in it, but also a lot of other crap that probably isn't so good for your skin, but it doesn't cause break outs and looks natural!
I've been using the Almay clear complexion concealer stick for years, it's the best. Put this on top of your liquid foundation and it's just fantastic. It also has 2% salicylic acid in it.
I used the revlon colourstay and it just felt awful on my skin. It smelt bad, and felt very irritating. It also made me breakout.
The best BB cream is by far Vichy. It feels nice on the skin, and gives the best coverage. It doesn't last too long on the skin though, it starts to blotch a bit after 6 or 7 hours so you will have to blend it in again with clean hands or sponge. I've heard good things about marcelle, but their bb creams are too dark for my light complexion. I have used marcelle tinted moisturizer (only in summer months when I'm tanned) and it's a really nice product, not the best coverage though. Overall I think BB creams are over rated, and possibly only good for those who don't have cystic acne problems.
I sometimes use organics tinted moisturizer underneath bare minerals powder just to give some hydration to the skin and it's really great. This product would be good on it's own if you didn't need a lot of coverage.
Mineral Veil by bare minerals works great for finishing the look and setting your makeup.
HELP I'M CHAPPED!:
I found the worst side effect of taking antibiotics and/or topicals is that my lips would get so dry. I've tried a lot of intense chapstick but it wasn't until recently where I found vaseline lip therapy with cocoa butter to be the best! My lips stay hydrated for hours! I use a lip sugar scrub from lush, but e.l.f makes a good one too. This is a must for those experiencing flaky lip syndrome. Follow with vaseline and you're good to go! I also found rubbing pure vitamin e oil worked well, especially on the sides of my mouth that would often get cut, or bleed.
chapstick that didn't work for me - eos (although I still love the mint flavoured one once in awhile), burts bees, bath and body works mint chapstick actually accentuated the chapped mess, but their glosses work great! Polysporin didn't work, I also tried the intense polysporin night lip therapy, nadda. Chapstick brand actually works nicely, my favourite is the all natural kind.
For those who like a lil gloss but can't stand the sticky icky feeling and the chappy flakes that occur, I wouldn't recommend anything by mac. They're stuff is great but not if you have chapped lips. My personal favourite is lancome, I believe it's the brand new one that just came out, I have the colour peach show and it gives a beautiful colour with so much moisture. I also really like the bath and body works lip glosses, specifically the mint ones.
MAKEUP APPLICATION 101:
The best application for liquid foundation is using a foundation brush. This is a specific brush that you can buy at winners for like 8 dollars. You can buy this kind of brush virtually anywhere, but the cheapest and best quality brushes are at winners. I like using a brush because a little goes a long way. It also blends in better than a sponge. Clean your brush every with a brush cleaner from quo.
Sponges are good if you use a new one everyday.
Kabuki brushes and a concealer or even an eyeshadow brush works well for mineral makeup. Again you should wash these everyday if you're having a bad breakout. If your acne isn't too bad then every 2-3 days wash them.
The best brush cleaner is quo, it's 6 dollars at shoppers, and lasts a very long time. Spray a little on the brush and work it in until it suds up then rinse with warm water, and let try on a towel in the shape you want.
*If you're in a hurry a good way to quickly clean your brushes is to spray the cleaner on your brush and then wipe off with a moist facial towelette.
Change your pillowcase everyday.
If you are using oils or creams in your hair put your hair in a messy bun at night so it's out of your face.
If you are really unsure about what makeup will work on your skin the ladies at sephora are great for giving you samples to try. As long as you seek out the nice ones!