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From Acne to Clear Skin

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Recently a new blog reader emailed me. She said one of the first things she noticed was that I had beautiful skin. (I was beyond flattered as I read her email! Thank you for making my day Krista!)) She wanted to know what I used on my face, and as she searched my blog and learned that I had struggled with my skin. (For you others new to my blog, you can read about my skin struggles and what I tried over the past few years here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)

I realized it’s been almost a year since I last updated you on what’s happening with my skin, and based on the previous responses I got from all of you (i.e. wonderfully helpful), I wanted to share how things are going to hopefully help anyone else struggling with their skin. My skin still isn’t perfect but it’s a million times better than it used to be. In fact, I currently don’t have any breakouts. I do still have blackhead issues and some scarring from my previous wicked breakouts but even those are starting to improve. 

I’ll share a close-up pic with you but you have to promise not to judge my ungroomed eyebrows or fading eyeshadow. 

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This side of my face used to be completely broken out. It was so bad that I was embarrassed to go to work. Now, there is still scaring but my foundations covers it up for the most part. 

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Here’s a picture without any makeup on where the scarring is.

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The last time I updated I had figured out that Cosmedix really wasn’t working for me, and had gone back to using Simone France.  While that worked very well, I found the “Sandwich” cleansing process a bit arduous and it was very expensive to buy everything for the system. Through Simone France and other research, I’d figured out that I had dry skin (and had been upsetting my skin more by using harsh acne-treating products) so I needed to stop drying it out more. After my 3 months’ supply of Simone France ran out, I switched to an at-home formula of the oil cleansing method. 

The first oil-based cleanser I tried and loved was a Shu Uemera one (this one). It was just a sample but after using it for just 2 weeks my skin was so much better. Of course, rather than doing the simple thing and buying a full-sized bottle, (I tend to be cheap) I thought I’d try at-home oil cleansing solution. For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been doing a mix of 1/3 castor oil (cold-pressed, organic) and 2/3 olive oil. I rub it on dry skin, massage it in with my hands and use a soft gentle washcloth (wet with hot water) to remove it. It leaves a bit of a residue but that was my moisturizer. I just rinsed my face with water in the morning rather than washing it with anything, and then moisturized. 

I’ve also been exfoliating 2-3x a week with either my clarisonic (putting the oil cleanser directly on the wet brush) or with the Simone France Refining Scrub in the AM. I’ve also been using retinol on a regular basis to try to clear my pores – they’re really clogged all along my chin and lower cheeks. I was using the Image line but can’t find it (I got it on vacation at a spa and you can only buy it through a certified professional, not online), so I recently got a ROC product from (using eBates); I’m easing into it since it was making my face peel.

But in the past two weeks, I’ve changed course again after getting a cleanser in my Birchbox. I liked it so much after 1 weeks that I bought two full-sizes immediately – it’s the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. It costs more than my at-home oil cleanser, but I’d gotten sick of the mess that made. Plus, I had some Birchbox points to redeem so it was all free. 🙂 I love the way it smells, that it uses natural ingredients, and the creamy texture. I also like that I get daily exfoliation using the cloth it comes with. 

Skin products aside, I’ve figured out a dietary trigger to my acne — not dairy, not gluten, SOY. I made the connection that my skin was the absolute worst when I was a vegetarian eating tempeh and tofu all the time. I’ve experimented having heavy soy products when my skin is clear (like soy sauce or the sauces on sushi) and I break out every time. And, I think the reason Cosmedix didn’t work for me is because it contains a high concentration of soy products. (Their sunscreen is soy free and I still use that daily because I LOVE it.) I figured out the soy connection when I did the Conscious Cleanse. It never even crossed my mind but it makes sense as chin and around the mouth breakouts (my biggest issue) are related to hormones and stress, and I’ve read from multiple reputable sources that soy can mess with hormones.

So, here’s what I’m doing now and I hope it continues to work:

  • AM and PM Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish
  • AM and PM moisturizer (I haven’t noticed that I”m sensitive here so I’ve been using up a Simone France one and also got a Neutrogena Naturals one I like)
  • Work up to nightly Roc retinol use (I’m at every other day right now)
  • A mask of some variety each week. I may still invest in the Simone France Instant Radiance and Complexion Perfection masks because I love them. 
  • And an eye cream, ‘cuz this gal is getting fine lines. 😉

Any favorite masks you’d recommend? What’s your favorite line of skin care? I’d love for you to share what’s working for you in case others struggling may want to try your suggestions instead of mine. 

Thank you all for your support on my skin journey! xoxo

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    27 responses to “From Acne to Clear Skin”

    1. Teri, have you tried using CeraVe? I bought the cleanser and the regular moisturizer (well, and the face moisturizer with SPF 30 — but I love the original plain moisturizer more) and I LOVE them. I started breaking out all along my chin and back over the last 6-9 months and since using them, it has cleared up and lightened up my scarring. I bought them all at Target (~$12-$14 each). If you haven’t already, you should definitely try it. My skin is super sensitive — any random acne cream WILL burn my skin and this stuff is amazing!

      • I recommend Vanicream. It is a better, more natural version of CeraVe, also can be purchased at drugstores! Similar price point too

    2. I have had AMAZING results with Rodan + Fields. They are the dermatologists who created Proactiv. They have skin care lines for fine lines and wrinkles (Redefine), reversing sun damage (Reverse) acne (Unblemish) and rosacea and excema (Soothe). I have been using the redefine system and I am actually seeing wrinkles disappear. It has been AWESOME. For my kids (7 and 11) who have excema I have been using soothe with really great results. This system has been so great. The Redefine comes with a 2 minute mask you do each morning and night. They also have a Marco Vacuum that vacuums your pores. Excellent! I have seen some really dark pores come clean in seconds. I love it. Check out my website and do the free consultation. I can send you some samples. Message me your address! I can’t tell you how much I LOVE LOVE it!!

        • It’s our solution tool. It’s under customize your routine. It takes you to the solution tool. I vacuumed last night. Its so awesome. You only vacuum once a week. I have done it three times and I can see a difference! My brother in law has a huge pore on his face and we were able to vacuum out the built up gunk and he was so impressed! (It was fascinating and gross at the same time!!)

    3. I too have worked through a lot of very many of the same skin problems! for me its been a very long journey and i can totally relate to anyone with the same problems! eminence skin care has absolutely rescued my self esteem. its organic and all natural and the entire line is incredibly amazing (and smells like heaven!)

      Teri, you said cosmedix didn’t work for you and you mentioned you had some scarring still. did you try try the reflect sunscreen? its completely worked wonders in healing my long term scars and new small scars that have popped up as well! i highly suggest it, i use it every single day and its amazing. and check out ALL of the eminence masks, they are THE BEST!

      sorry for the long rant!!! i’ve been through all of the same problems and so i get really excited now when i can relate to others on the same topic!

    4. I love your skin posts – thank you for sharing. I’ve struggled with my skin since I was about 12, so for over half my life now, and it seems like my issues and skin care routine both constantly evolve. I have been using Cetaphil cleanser (the kind you use without water) for a very long time now. I also use my Clarisonic brush and Purpose cleanser, although not regularly enough. As for masks, I love the “Aztec Secret” clay mask, mixed with apple cider vinegar. It’s cheap and lasts for a long time; I got mine at Whole Foods. I like the Clinique 7 Day Scrub cream rinse-off formula for exfoliating. I admire you for sharing the close-up skin pictures – you’re beautiful!

      • I’ve also used that Aztec Secret. It feels powerful but I haven’t used it consistently enough to see if it makes a different. I should try. 🙂

        Thanks for your sweet words too. Have a great day!

    5. Research Caprylic Acid.
      My face was the same, and once I took out trigger foods it was so much better… But then added Caprylic Acid and all those red spot “scars” ended up not really bring scares after all. Just a different type of skin reaction. They are not ALL gone, but the change is amazing!
      Please try it. I take 2 a day. So much of what happens on your face starts in your gut, and Caprylic Acid is good stuff.

    6. Your skin looks great Teri, interesting that soy was the culprit, I might need to consider that, although I am pretty convinced that dairy is my poison really. It also seems like happy stomach = happy skin, if I could just figure out how to make my stomach happy.

      I will however recommend two things, actually they are not things they are websites, they have helped me a lot, not just with acne but with skin wellbeing overall. I don’t want acne, but I am also old enough to not want dry skin if I can at all help it, as well, it makes me look every bit my age. I’d like to live in the illusion that I do not look it at other times…

      Anyhow, first up is Beautymouth aka Caroline Hirons,, her cheat sheets in the right hand menu are a brilliant first stop. She is also really frank, if something is bull she’ll say so, she might also be a tad bossy, but in a good way. 😉

      Secondly a rather different blog, but delightful noneteless, Ruth Crilly at She had some problems with breakouts related to milk, and shares how she got it under control as well as how she dealt with the scarring, along with a lot of other stuff. Very funny. She has a youtube channel too (warning you might get stuck for a while), the acne story is on there too, I am not sure how easy it is to find from the homepage.

      These are both UK based unfortunately, but a lot of the products they mention are available in the US, and some are only available in the US… You lucky people 🙂

      • both of those websites look awesome! thanks for the tips!

        I hope you can figure out your stomach issues too. it’s so frustrating. It’s been a life changer since getting my gut figured out (for the most part!).

    7. Ha, I came to this post super curious if you had tried the Liz Earle product because I just tried it last night for the first time! I loved the smell and it felt so luxurious and pampering…I really liked it!

      • It seriously is luxurious! I’m obsessed.

        BTW, I’ve realized yesterday that I spend my whole day waiting for an email that you’ve updated your blog. It totally brightens my work day! 🙂

    8. i love when you post about this kinda thing! glad you are finding what works! hope you and the man and the pup have an awesome weekend. xoxo

    9. Thanks for sharing your skin woes, Teri! I’ve had bad acne for more than 20 years (wow, that’s depressing!) and it always seems like everyone else has comparatively perfect skin. So it’s nice to hear I’m not alone. I’m going to try oil cleansing tonight!

      One product I’ve found that works great is Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle 12% Glycolic AHA. It’s inexpensive but has cleared up my skin better than any product I’ve ever used. I highly recommend it!

    10. Well now I want to know what makeup you use because I definitely couldn’t tell you had any scarring! 🙂 thanks again for the suggestions!

    11. Your skin looks really great! I hope you update us again soon on your skin and what you are doing, in your most recent posts it looks like you have no issues at all! What kind of foundation are you using in the picture above? You can hardly see your scars at all!

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