The Skincare Routine That Changed My Life

Before Acne Routine vs Now (with some cute freckles)

Some people have naturally clear, beautiful, even-toned skin. They may wash their faces with a low-impact cleanser each morning, or they may just wash their faces like every other part of their body, and they can walk about confident in the beauty of their skin.

I am not one of those people.

Acne started encroaching on my face when I was 11, right after my family moved from Colorado to West Virginia. It was probably a combination of the stress from the move, extra humidity, hormones, and my DNA that made it so unbearably awful. After the move, I was sort of swept under the rug as a middle child while my mother went through some really awful health issues. I was fine with that and was quite happy to stay in my bedroom reading a myriad of books, but it also meant that I didn't get as comprehensive an education in hygiene as I probably needed. I showered probably once a week (if my friends were lucky), and I had no concept of needing to wash my face. I regularly stole into my sister's makeup after she had left for school (sorry, Tiff!) to cover my spots and liberally apply light blue eye shadow.
After I'd had a basic skincare routine for a few years.

I've tried finding pictures of myself without over the next several years before I developed some sort of skincare routine, and I have failed miserably. It appears that I did a really good job of dodging the camera and purging from existence the few photos that were taken of me during that time. The one of two that I posted here were all that I could find, and even they aren't very good at showing what my skin looked like. Suffice to say, it was really bad; so bad even that I was bullied over it almost my entire freshman year of high school.

To make a very long story short, I've spent years tweaking my skincare routine and finding the right products. My routine isn't that novel. It just takes some discipline, and the products are what makes it work.

Let me add this disclaimer: This is what works for me and my skin. It won't necessarily be the perfect thing for your skin. You may need to do some tweaking of your own, but I have noted my best substitutions in case a particular product doesn't work for you.

Now for the routine.


Wash your face with an acne cleanser.
  • Yes, every morning, no matter how late you are. If you're running super late, you can use some facial wipes, but don't make a habit of it. They really aren't the best option, but they are better than nothing.
  • I like to use a St. Ives citrus face wash in the morning. It's a gentle exfoliating cleanser that isn't harsh like the St. Ives Apricot Scrub.
  • You could also use this Minty Tea Tree soap bar from Wild and Wonderful Body Care. It's amazing. I like to use it when I'm not showering, whether that's at night or if I'm skipping the shower that morning. I really can't over-hype this soap. It's natural, home-made soap by the most delightful woman. I use several of their products just because they are so, so good, and quite affordable!
Apply Benzoyl Peroxide gel.
  • It needs to have a concentration of 10%, which appears to be the highest you can get in the US without a prescription. I order this gel from Amazon. It's the most affordable, quality set I've found thus far.
  • Be careful with this product. Benzoyl peroxide will bleach your clothes and towels if you get it on them, and it will dry your skin if you use it too frequently. If I find that my skin is drying out from the benzoyl peroxide, I'll use this Zit Fighter essential oil in the morning instead, and go down to applying the benzoyl peroxide at night only.
    • You also need to be careful with this essential oil. Test it in a small area of your face before applying it straight to your whole face. Most people need to dilute it as a few drops mixed into a carrier oil, like coconut oil. Just be cautious.
  • Wild and Wonderful Body Care's Minty Tea Tree Body Butter is amazing, it really is. Even though it says it's a body butter, I use it exclusively on my face. It goes a really long way. I was able to use the 1.2oz jar for much longer than I thought I would be able to. I actually ran out a week or two ago and had to call them begging them to let me drive the 25 minutes to pick some up because I didn't want to use my old moisturizer for even a couple days.
  • Yes, even if you skin is greasy, you do have to moisturize. In fact, if you try to dry your face out, you'll just send it the signal to produce more oil! If you have oily skin, you can use Cetaphil DermaControl Moisturizer. It does a bit of oil control, and if you're going out in the sun, it's wise to put on in the morning.

The evening routine is exactly the same as the morning routine, but I need to make something clear: It is absolutely vital--regardless of how tired you are, how late you stayed up, whatever other excuse you have--that you clean your face *every night*. If I can impress upon you one fact in this whole post, it needs to be this one. Even if you didn't wear makeup or anything, your face produces oils and dead skin cells, and all the gunk in the air--even if it's just good old-fashioned dirt--sticks to your face. At night, your face relaxes and your pores open up and everything on your skin gets sucked right into your face, clogging pores and making a huge mess.

  • I prefer the Minty Tea Tree Soap bar at night time.
    • With this bar, I usually use a battery-operated facial brush to really get in there. Also, I'm lazy, and it's a lot easy to keep my bathroom counter clean and tidy if I'm not laying a washcloth to dry on it overnight.
Apply Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Again, it needs to have a high concentration, and you should be careful around dyed cloth such as clothing, pillowcases, and towels. I actually have white sheets and towels for this reason.
  • This step is vital. Even if you have oily skin, it really is vital.
  • If you don't like the moisturizer options I listed above, this Vaseline cream lotion works well and never made me break out.
  • Whatever moisturizer you choose, never choose one that is alcohol-based (this will dry out your skin).

Most importantly, stick to your routine. Complete it every morning and every night. If something causes you to break out in a rash, obviously stop using it. If you have some skin issues, it might be worth talking to your doctor before starting with any new products.

*Remember, if you don't have Amazon Prime, you can always get a Free 30 Day Trial. It's super easy; just put a reminder in your calendar to cancel it.


Get It on Amazon