Year after year after I turned 30, I continued to suffer from acne a la my teenage angst. Of course, this acne was different from my teenage acne because it was localized around my lips, chin, nose, and forehead (as most adult acne does). And while I’m all for the acne positivity movement—one is beautiful with or without acne—the acne was painful. Sometimes deep, cystic acne that made my face ache. If a cystic zit happened to be on my forehead, it caused terrible headaches. And, frankly, even the whiteheads were uncomfortable and felt gross. It’s not anti-feminist to want acne to be gone.
When I finally decided enough was enough, I embarked on a two year journey to figure out what worked. I read every post ever about adult acne. And I tried almost everything, as long as it wasn’t pocket-book prohibitive. Finally, I landed on a routine that worked for me. I don’t want to suggest that if you do this, you’ll be adult acne free too. Skin is different, and things like climate, makeup, hair products, skin tone, and genetics plays into our skin routine. So, I hope this can be a starting point for your exploration of the perfect routine for you, so you too can move toward an adult acne free life.
But first, my skin type: I am white, very fair, and despite living in the Southern USA, prone to dry skin. I have some dark spots from my acne in my 20’s. I am 36 years old, and have sun damage that is not visible to the eye yet.
As an endurance athlete and aspiring triathlete, I work out in the morning. Immediately following my workout, I wash my face with the Differin Gentle face wash. I’ve found the regular Differin face wash is too harsh for my skin, and I don’t need benzoyl peroxide (although I did when I was a teenager). Second, I use the LaRoche Posay micellar water for a second cleanse. Applied with a cotton round, it is gentle and preps my skin for my serum routine. Third, I apply the Drunk Elephant C-firma day serum. Because I love in the southern United States, I usually don’t need an extra moisturizer, but when I do, I use the Drunk Elephant B-hydra moisturizer.
Drunk Elephant products are, indeed, expensive, but they last. One regular size bottle usually lasts a full year, and it is powerful stuff.
Finally, I apply makeup. Because I don’t like the feel of too many products on my skin, I use Tarte Foundcealer foundation which has primer and SPF 20 protection. Sun protection is a must, but I have yet to find a sunscreen that didn’t make me feel some sort of yucky way about what it was doing to my face. This foundation is literally a lifesaver.
And, then, I apply the rest of my makeup. Day: on.
Like the beginning of the day, I start with a double-cleanse. In the evening, I wash first with a gentle cleanser – I prefer the LaRoche Posay gentle cleanser. Next, again, I remove the remainder of my makeup using the LaRoche Micellar water like the morning. Then, after my face dries, I alternate between using Differin all over my face and neck and applying the Drunk Elephant Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. Finally, I finish with the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream. While the Framboos Serum is often moisturizing enough in a humid, Alabama summer, I always moisturize and soothe with Protini around my hairline and then use this all over my face excluding my “hot zone” lips, chin, and nose, in the drier winter.
Now, if you were to ask me for the two most impactful products (as this could be an expensive shopping list), I’d start with Differin. Differin used to be only available by prescription, but now it is available over the counter and super affordable ($10-15 USD). Second, I recommend the Drunk Elephant Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. It’s seven times the cost of the Differin, but lasts a year. One pump covers my entire face—discovering Drunk Elephant was a game changer for me.
Note: You can try most of the Drunk Elephant products in a more affordable through their Littles gift set.