I’ve struggled with skin issues for a really long time. I remember having beautiful, clear skin when I was younger. Somewhere between chocolate chip cookies and cheeseburgers as a diet, my skin changed. Part of the issue was dietary. I discovered an insensitivity to gluten and dairy recently. The other issue was over-washing my face and using every product under the sun to resuscitate my skin. Obviously, none of that worked.
Years and years later, I’ve found what works for me, and it’s simple. Constant exfoliation with acids, lots of moisture, and tons of sunscreen. I’ve been on this routine for almost two months now. My skin has completely changed. When I first noticed these products working, I was ecstatic. I told everyone who would listen to buy these products and follow this simple routine. Okay, ready for it? Here we go!
Clear Skin Product #1: Micellar Water
This is a lazy girl’s dream. Imagine not having to wash your face before you go to bed. It has always been taboo – until now.
A few months ago, I stopped washing my face with water after suspecting that the hard water in London was causing products to clog my pores. Rather than using hot or warm water + chemicals on my skin (the combination of which was stripping my skin of much needed oils), I opted for cotton rounds and micellar water. Two months into this and I could not be happier with the state of my skin. Plus – I just “wash my face” in bed.
Use instructions: 2x a day with a cotton round. In the morning, I just use one cotton round and get rid of any build up in my skin. In the evening, I do the same unless I have worn makeup that day. If I’ve worn makeup, I just use as many cotton rounds as needed until they start coming back clean from dirt and makeup.
My go to micellar water is the Gariner SkinActive
Clear Skin Product #2: Glycolic Acid
I’ve always been a huge fan of glycolic acid. It exfoliates your skin and gives it a glow. The problem, though, was how I was using the product. I would purchase face washes, moisturizers, toners, etc. that already had glycolic acid in them – usually around 10% in strength. While the glycolic acid itself was great, I didn’t know what the other chemicals were doing to my skin. Some of them had no effect, others dried my skin out. I discovered that I had to create my own concoction.
I purchased a bottle of 70% glycolic acid from Amazon – I know, scary! I have a lot of experience using raw acids so it didn’t really scare me. I created a 50/50 moisturizer solution. After diluting with the moisturizer, the glycolic acid was around 35% in strength.
For my skin, this was perfect because I’ve done peels for as long as I can remember. If you have no experience with peels, do NOT go for such a high strength mix. You should probably go with one part acid to three or four parts moisturizer. Once your skin is used to this level, you can change the concoction the next time around.
What did this mix do? It caused my skin to slowly shed. My skin became flakey and peeled in the shower – a LOT. Underneath was glowing and clear skin. The glycolic acid was constantly turning over my skin cells. This meant that any junk that was stuck in my pores, clogging them and causing me to breakout, also melted away with the dead skin. Good riddance.
Use instructions: 1x a day when you wakeup after cleansing your face with a cotton round and micellar water.
Clear Skin Product #3: Daytime Moisturizer
This should be a day moisturizer so no heavy night creams. I like the Eucerin day cream because it’s simple and contains SPF. It’s a great one for your glycolic acid mix.
Use instructions: 1x a day in the morning as part of your glycolic acid mix.
Clear Skin Product #4: Lactic Acid
I had never tried lactic acid until two months ago. It’s the weakest one of the three acids I’ve used (TCA, Glycolic, Lactic), and I wanted to use stronger acids thinking they would work better. I was completely wrong.
This gentler acid eats away at bits of dead skin like pac-man without making you look like Samantha from Sex and the City post-peel. You won’t see results all at once, but you know it’s working when your skin starts flaking off and feeling smoother with each use.
I made a nighttime moisturizer using an 80% lactic acid and a night cream. Similar to the glycolic acid mixture, I went for a 50/50 mix. After making my mixture, the lactic acid concentration was 40%. This is pretty high if your skin has never been exposed to lactic acid. Dilute your first batch so it’s around 10% lactic acid and the rest is your night cream. Work your way up to a stronger concentration!
Note: This does burn and tingle when you put it on, but don’t let that freak you out. It’s supposed to burn slightly as it seeps into your pores.
Use Instructions: 1x daily, at night mixed into your night cream.
Clear Skin Product #5: Night Cream
I used to use the same moisturizer for day and night. It sounds silly, but I just didn’t think my skin needed the extra moisture that night creams provide. I’ve always had oily/combination skin so it seemed silly to add more moisture.
Two months ago, I added a proper night cream into my routine. I read reviews for tons of night creams and settled on this one by Viola. The UK Amazon store had over 3,000 reviews for this cream and very happy customers. I’ve already gone through one jar of this and ordered more last week. It’s anti-aging properties compliment the acids I have been using, and the whole routine works well with this cream as an addition.
I made my lactic acid nighttime moisturizer using this night cream and the above linked lactic acid. The two work wonders together!
Use Instructions: 1x daily, at night mixed with your lactic acid after removing makeup/dirt with cotton round and micellar water.
Clear Skin Product #6: Face Mask
I love a good face mask. I have two current favorites that are both really amazing. You might recognize one from my 15 Amazon Beauty Must Haves for $15 blog post. It is the Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay, and it has a true cult following. I mix it with apple cider vinegar as the instructions state, and it makes my skin feel squeaky clean.
Another favorite that I’ve been trying out is the MS.Dear Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. It is an amazing and cost-effective dupe of the GlamGlow Bubblesheet Oxygenating Deep Cleanse Mask. After having used both, I think this mask is a steal for what you’re paying, and it feels JUST LIKE the GlamGlow mask. It fizzes up on your skin and feels like you’ve poured soda all over your face but in a good way.
Either of these masks would be a great addition to the above skincare routine. I use each of these 1x a week.
Use Instructions: 1-2x per week. I would’t use these right before applying either of the acid moisturizers. You can, but it will BURN a lot.
If you want to get a decent peel, though, then this would be the way to do it. The last time I used a mask and then carried on with my nighttime routine, I got a pretty deep peel. My skin was pink for a few days and the steam in the shower caused a lot of shedding. After all of the dead skin went down the drain, my face was very clear from dark spots and pigmentation.
Clear Skin Product #7: Sunscreen
Using two acids on your skin will make your skin extremely sensitive to the sun. By neglecting sunscreen in your routine, you will undo all of your hard work. Sun will have the opposite effect on your skin than desired by using the acids: it will cause your skin to rapidly age. This is the most important part of the routine!
My longtime favorite sunscreen is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost SPF 50. This isn’t greasy at all and it does the job.
If you are someone who has struggled with skin issues for as long as you remember, I sincerely hope this combination of products is your panacea. Skin issues can affect your confidence and self-esteem, and no one should have to feel horrible because their skin is struggling. If you do try this routine, I would LOVE to hear about it and how it works for you. If you have any questions about any of these products, I’m always available via comments or DMs on Instagram and happy to help!