Clear Skin: The 7 Products that Will Work

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Is Water Causing You to Breakout?

You have always been told that it is a taboo to go to bed without washing your face. Every skincare tip talks about a solid nighttime skincare routine, which of course begins with washing your face. But is water causing you to breakout?

If follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been living in London for some time now. What you didn’t know is that my skin has been struggling with breakouts for several months. At first, I thought it was a hormonal change that was triggered by the stress of the move. Then I thought I wasn’t using the right products. Then I shifted towards blaming my lack of water consumption on a daily basis. I’ve gone through a plethora of skincare routines and blamed everything for my constant breakouts. Little did I know, the culprit was hiding in plain sight – WATER!

When I first started my water intake experiment a month ago, I started noticing that my increasing my water intake, my skin was starting to glow and look a lot healthier, but my breakouts were not being contained. I started wondering if my skin was “purging” due to my lack of water consumption for basically my entire life. Doing some google searches lead me in a completely different direction. People on message board and part of the blogging community were trying to figure out if water itself was causing their skin problems. I quickly realized that for me, the culprit was water.

How can something that your body relies on for survival also be the source of your misery you ask? Simple. The quality of the water you are washing your face with.

What I didn’t know about London water is that it is extremely hard water. That basically means it consists of a high mineral content. Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk. These deposits are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates. In short, they are horrible for your skin if you are sensitive to them!

These mineral deposits not only dry out your skin and cause redness, they increase sebum production and also clog your pores. These clogged pores are what cause you to breakout. They case any face washes or soaps you are using to turn against you rather than work for you. They react with the soaps to create deposits in your pores, causing nasty breakouts and whiteheads.

Your skin is just the beginning. Hard water also impacts other parts of your beauty routine.

Is your hair dry, brittle or just extremely frizzy? I posted on Instagram about how my hair was shiner and healthier lately after changing ONE thing – many of you guessed diet or supplements. It was the water I was washing my hair with! Using distilled water every once in a while gets my hair thoroughly clean, and I noticed a major difference on the first wash.

Have you tried everything on the market to tame your hair but you just can’t figure out why your hair won’t cooperate? Are your nails weak and brittle? Do they fail to grow no matter how hard you try by using products and supplements that promise growth? These problems can all be attributed to hard water.

You are probably wondering at this point whether you have hard water where you live. There’s an easy way to find out. Look at your shower, bath and sink areas. Is there a white film or residue covering those areas? Do you find white spots on your glassware? These are all signs that you have hard water.

What is the solution to the water quality you’ve been dealt? There are a few things you can do:

  1. Water softening system. The cost of this solution can vary depending on where you live. By having a system installed that can soften your water by removing these minerals, you are helping your hair, skin and your nails.
  2. Water bottle method. This is my current solution. Because we are probably going to move house in the next six months, having an expensive water softening system isn’t worth our time or money. I’ve resorted to washing my face with water bottles until my water distiller arrives in the mail! In having washed my face for a few days with Evian (silly and costly, I know. But after realizing all the horrible things going on under the surface, I think my skin deserved the best). This post discusses results after washing face with bottled water for 7 days!
  3. Water Distiller. This is going to be my solution until we can have a softening system installed. Here is a link to the system I’ve purchased. I will be using distilled water to both wash my hair and face! This post walks you through one experimenter’s day by day progress using with the distilled water method. The results are astonishing!
  4. No water method. While researching this, I came across a lot of blog posts and message boards about cleansing your face without water. A majority of the bloggers who have written on this subject used micellar water, facial wipes and toners. When I first read this, I thought, “No. Way. I would never be able to go to bed without properly washing my face! THAT is what causes breakouts!” My fiancee even suggested this before I looked into other people who had done it. I thought he was being crazy. What I found, though, was shocking. Every article I found promised BETTER skin when avoiding water to cleanse facial skin, especially for those living in areas with hard water! This article talks all about micellar water as a great alternative. This post by Bustle talks about other alternatives that are helpful.
  5. Apple Cider Vinegar. This will do wonders for your hair if you cannot be bothered to actually wash your hair with distilled water. This will remove the mineral buildup in your hair that might be weighing it down. It will restore the bounce and shine in your hair. Mix 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 quart distilled water. Apply the mixture and rinse it off after a few seconds. Do this once a week and you will start noticing your hair bounce back to life. Free People talks about this here.
  6. Install a Shower Head Filter. These encourage pH balance and filter out unwanted chemicals. I have read mixed reviews on these, but they could be a cheaper alternative to a water softening system if you find the right filter!

Overall, if you’re anything like me and haven’t been able to pinpoint the source of your skin, hair or nail issues, I hope this post has helped you realize that your water may be the enemy. I will write a follow-up post in a few months to report progress on the distilled water method so check back if you are interested in fining out more!