If you’ve read my previous posts about skincare or acne products, then you know that I suffer from cystic hormonal acne. Now, my acne isn’t a fickle thing, it is smart, it has a brilliant mind. There is no other way to explain why I experience flare ups right before an important meeting or event. I have scars that will inspire Picasso with their different curvatures and depths.
However, a strange thing has happened in the last few months. I went on a binge shopping spree online around December and ended up purchasing some products. I also tried out a cult fave (with dermatologists) cleanser from my local drugstore. These three products combined have given me 3 solid acne free months – I have never experienced this in my life ever. I wanted to share these acne products with other sufferers, maybe they’ll work for you as well.
3 DRUGSTORE ACNE PRODUCTS THAT CLEARED UP MY ACNE
Trust me, there are only 3 products in this list and all of them are gems in their own right. But this combination is a deadly one – for my acne, at least.
SASLIC DS FOAMING FACE WASH ($11.70)
Amongst all the acne products I use, this is the one that has been with me for the longest time. It has a pH of 5.5 & 2% Salicylic Acid. I’ll be honest, I had previously never researched the value of a low pH cleanser for my skin. Apparently, a low pH cleanser is much better for your skin because it doesn’t strip away essential moisture out of your skin.
It comes with a pump and you need to use around two foaming pumps to cover your entire face. Once I’m done, l will leave it on for around 10 to 20 seconds, and then wash it off. In a few weeks, you might experience some peeling from this cleanser, it’s normal and totally fine. If you have light acne scars, this will banish them in the first month itself. I personally use it because I need a salicylic acid cleanser to keep my pores clean and keep acne causing germs at bay.
Alternatives: Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Acne Treatment Cleanser ($22.54) & Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash ($5.99)
I bought this product in a Holiday sale and honestly, it is the best thing I have ever purchased, I will gladly buy it again and again. And I will cry when they stop making it. Nip + Fab has an excellent line of skincare stuff, and now I want to try all their products. I use these 2 to 3 times a week usually and because they have 5% Glycolic Acid in them.
If your skin isn’t used to acids, I wouldn’t recommend moving to this one instantly. Maybe start a lower concentration Glycolic acid toner first, 2 to 3% probably. Use acne products that have some acids in them and then you’ll be able to use the Extreme Night pads effortlessly. I have some old brown spots from teenage acne that take concealer to cover but using these pads for around 2 to 3 months has helped fade those brown spots. My skin also feels so smooth after I use these pads.
Alternatives: Nip + Fab Daily Cleansing Pads ($9.88) & First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($29.95)
I never used night creams religiously before this one because, well, I don’t like additional steps in my beauty routine. The title of this post should tell you that much, teehee. And seriously, though, almost everything breaks me out. The night creams I have used before for testing have given me those deep-under-the-skin painful acne so yeah, nope. This one, however, is a completely different jar of cream altogether.
It has time released Retinol and their trademark technology which might sound gibberish if you’re someone who isn’t really into skincare. I’ll make it easier – it means that instead of the Retinol irritating your skin by releasing all at once, this technology releases it at a steady pace over 8 hours (of sleep). So if you’ve experienced issues with Retinol in the past, this miracle acne product won’t cause them. I have woken up acne free with glowing skin for the past 3 months. It has a cooling, gel like texture that gets absorbed within a minute.
Alternatives: Dr. Brandt 2% Retinol Complex System ($69.00)
MY ACNE SKINCARE ROUTINE – 3 ACNE FREE MONTHS
AM/PM ACNE SKINCARE ROUTINE
I don’t like acne, who does? But I hate complicated acne routines even more. I know it’s something I can’t maintain so I don’t even try. In order for me to be good to my skin, my belief is that I need to put it on a consistent routine that I will be able to follow even on my more stressful days. A routine with 3 acne products, to me, is the ideal routine and I highly recommend that you give this routine at least a month to work its magic. Although, I started seeing results in 2 weeks, I’ll share those further.
I know the image I’ve shared above has been tremendously helpful to me but I skip the toning and moisturizing steps right now. Mainly because toner does nothing for me and I haven’t found the right moisturizer for this regime yet. If you have a moisturizer that works for you, feel free to add it to your AM/PM routine.
- SASLIC DS CLEANSER (Monday to Sunday)
- NIP + FAB Daily Cleansing Pads (optional)
- SASLIC DS CLEANSER (Monday to Sunday)
- NIP + FAB Extreme Night Fix Pads (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
- NIP + FAB Viper Venom Extreme Night Fix (Monday to Sunday)
RESULTS AFTER WEEK 1
- No new cystic acne.
- Existing cystic acne doesn’t hurt as much and seems to be drying up.
- A few whiteheads from past weeks have completely disappeared.
- Small bumps on forehead and chin have completely disappeared.
RESULTS AFTER WEEK 2
- No new acne, cystic or otherwise.
- Existing cystic acne is completely flattened out and has a peeling layer on top (which I didn’t touch)
- Skin seems smoother, makeup seems to glide on perfectly.
- No need to apply moisturizer, skin is combo oily but manageable with blotting sheets.
RESULTS AFTER WEEK 3
- Periods approaching so cystic acne is right under the skin, can sort of feel them but the pain hasn’t arrived yet.
- Acne never surfaces, bumps under skin disappear after using the Extreme Night Fix Glycolic Pads every day instead of 3 days a week.
- A few whiteheads on the chin and around the nose which disappear overnight after Viper Venom cream and Night Fix pads.
RESULTS AFTER WEEK 4
- First week of having no actively visible acne on my face.
- Brown spots from teen acne still there but less noticeable.
- Recent acne marks are almost completely gone.
- Skin looks glowy and luminous every morning.
RESULTS FROM WEEK 5 to 11
The week 4 results continued until I got my period again by which time I was prepared. I went on the Extreme Night Pads every single day from the week before my periods were due. I didn’t get any acne during my periods either. My supplies were running slightly low so I placed another order for these as well.
RESULTS AFTER WEEK 12
- Brown spots from teen acne faded but there (might need to switch to a stronger product)
- No need to use concealer on spots, full coverage foundation is enough for everyday.
- Getting the odd whitehead around the nose and chin area but Daily Fix Glycolic Fix cleansing pads take care of those, or the Extreme Night Fix pads get rid of them overnight.
- No new acne scars.
I finally have this routine perfected and it takes me less than 2 minutes to finish it. I also follow some other lifestyle habits to ensure that I maintain my current routine and I have been so impressed my Nip + Fab that I am currently considering including their serums in my routine (particularly the Dragon Blood one). If you have dry skin, I would definitely urge you to invest in Marula Oil or a decent moisturizer because this routine can dry out your skin.
5 ACNE TIPS AND TRICKS THAT HELPED ME
Apart from these acne products, I also made these small changes in my life that are healthy habits to include, even if they may not be related to your acne.
WASHING HAIR UNDER A HANDHELD SHOWERHEAD
I have coarse curly hair and I tend to apply a lot of coconut oil to my hair right before I wash it. So, when I am under the shower, the oil gets in my face and has a tendency of clogging pores. Your products can do that too. I use the TRESemme keratin shampoo and conditioner which works wonderfully for my hair but breaks out my forehead. Using a handheld showerhead ensures that you keep your face away from your hair products.
Another hair related tip is to ensure that if you have an itchy scalp with dandruff, you’re using an anti dandruff shampoo. With me, whenever my scalp is misbehaving, my forehead bears the brunt of it.
DRINKING SPEARMINT TEA FOR HORMONAL BREAKOUTS
I found out about this tip during a particularly hard acne month on Tumblr and the poster cited this study by the American Academy of Dermatology. When I started drinking at least 2 cups of minty and refreshing spearmint tea a week before my period or generally anytime I got excessive breakouts, a miracle happened. The tea took care of my hormonal breakouts. In fact, I’d say it is the best remedy for hormonal breakouts, hands down.
I’d definitely recommend that you invest in some delicious spearmint tea and a handy infuser mug. It not only helps with the acne but I also love that I sleep better with this stuff.
WEARING SUNSCREEN ALL THE TIME
One of the bad habits I have is an aversion to sunscreen. Before, it used to be the horrendous white tint that came with them, but then products like the Maelove Sun Protector came out which are specifically formulated for sensitive, acne prone skin. The gel like consistency ensures no white cast either.
As soon as I started using sunscreen daily before leaving, I noticed that my acne blemishes were much better and were getting lighter. Essentially, it helped my acne products do a better job and bonus, I didn’t have to use a primer before makeup with the Maelove one.
USING TURMERIC TO REMOVE MAKEUP
I have had my eye on the Nip + Fab Kale remover makeup pads for some time now but my tried and tested makeup remover is turmeric. Use it with a bit of yoghurt orjust water works wonderfully as well. I take a little bit and make a paste with water/yoghurt, then I scrub my makeup off with this one. Then, I follow up with my SASLIC cleanser and voila!
It’s cheap and unlike other alcohol based makeup wipes, it does not dry me out or cause breakouts. I have heard that Micellar water can be good if you’re double cleansing but turmeric works best for me. It also dries up the occasional whiteheads I get.
CHANGING PILLOW CASES EVERY WEEK
This is a tip that I must admit, I forget to follow every once in a while. I try to change my pillow cases every week as much as I can, though. Because your pillow case absorbs hair oil, sebum, and so much dirt throughout the week, it can cause odd breakouts. Changing your pillow case is a hygienic way of keeping breakouts at bay.
I’d also recommend taking wet wipes and cleaning your earphone wires as they touch your face constantly. No matter how great your acne products are, if you’re not keeping your environment clean, they will not work well.
21 DAYS TO MAKE A HABIT
It takes 21 days to inculcate these awesome tips and turn them into a habit. As far as acne products go, I’d recommend testing them out for at least a month before you give up. I have already done a mini rant on this post of my ride or die list of acne products so I won’t go again, but I will leave you with this quote 🙂