My Skincare Routine (The Battle Against Cystic Acne)

I've always suffered from acne since hitting puberty, and in fact, I actually took Accutane when I was young. Not gonna lie....despite all the side effects, Accutane really did save my skin. My acne never came back as bad as it did after taking it...well, not until recently.

Around the beginning of September, I developed cystic acne on the left side of my face. It was really awful and painful, guys! So bad I couldn't even touch it some days. I'm used to breaking out, but not to this extent:(

There were many factors involved: sudden change in diet (i.e..eating too much fried food and seafood), hormonal issues, trying new products that didn't work...they just all culminated into this one massive disaster. I tried so many things but everything was making my skin worse...even my usual skincare stuff that never broke me out! What to do?

I've decided to completely overhaul my skin care routine, and ended up getting a prescription topical treatment from my doctor. (I should point out that even though Accutane worked for me, I really don't want to use it again.)

And so, I present my Before and After, and what I've been using that has been working so far:

October 2/2016 (no makeup)
October 17/2016 (with RCMA foundation- the only foundation I'm using now)
 After (I still have a long way to go but it's getting better.):
Nov 14/2016 (with RCMA foundation)
Nov 15/2016 (no makeup)
My daily arsenal:

Overview of all the products

1) Cleansers
Shiseido Senka Perfect Whip (AM) and Perfect Oil (PM- for makeup removal)
I know the Perfect Whip gets such a bad rep for its high PH, but out of all the cleansers I've tried, this is the one that I found really worked for my skin. These two are now a permanent part of my routine.
PS I use it with a foaming net to get a great amount of foam.

2) Toner/Essence (AM/PM)
I've said on this post before how Son & Park Beauty Water and Missha First Treatment Essence are part of my basic skin care routine. I did end up not using them for a few days to see how my skin would react, and it made my acne so much worse when I did! Never again!
I use the Beauty Water first after cleansing, then follow it immediately with the Missha FTE.

3) Spot Treatment
My doctor prescribed a Clindamycin/Benzoyl Peroxide cream to use at night, and that helped really calm the acne. During the day, I use the Clean and Clear PersaGel.

4) Moisturizers
Because the treatments above are so drying to the skin, I have to use moisturizers along with the sunscreen. The Innisfree Green Tea Moisture Cream is just awesome and I use that on my forehead and eye area. The rest of my face gets the Neutrogena Oil-Free SPF15 moisturizer, and then the Biore sunscreen (during the day) on top of everything before makeup.

And of course, one must not forget sheet-masking! 

Currently no exfoliants. My skin is currently not liking the AHA/BHA ones I've tried, and am kinda ambivalent to try new products lately.

I also now change my pillow case more often, clean my cell phone all the time (as it touches my face), and I incorporated these into my diet:
Drinking more green tea, and taking the Probiotic pills once or twice a day
I am quite happy with this routine I now have. Unfortunately though, this means I now have a lot of barely used/new skin care products that are "on hold"...sigh....#firstworldproblems

I hope this post is somewhat informative and helpful to someone out there suffering from acne.


I used to have the worst acne as a teenager so I feel you Emmy. I remember you mentioning you were having some breakout issues awhile ago. My breakouts went away when I hit my 30's but I still get skin freak outs every so often. Do you use a deep cleansing mask of any type? I find them more effective than sheet masks when it comes to acne. The Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is a particularly good one.
rooth said…
That recovery is awesome, I'm glad you went to the doctor for that. My skin definitely still gets hormonal freak outs - ugh
Love! Happy weekend.

Shon said…
Hey pretty girl! You look great and your skin is doing well with your new routine. Ha ha love seeing your kids peace sign in the photo...Hey guys!!

Happy Thanksgiving dear friend to you and your lovely family.
LL Cool Joe said…
What ever works to make it better is good. I got this really weird mark on my face and went to the doctor, and was given a cream that didn't do anything, then I managed to get hold of a product called Simple Derma and it was gone in days and I'd had it for weeks!
I'm so sorry that you're going through this again, it must be frustrating after not having cystic acne for so long. Keep on doing whatever you're doing, it seems to be working well. I also agree with Rowena, are you incorporating any deep cleansing mask? Might help cleanse the skin.

Shireen | Reflection of Sanity
Valerie said…
I definitely understand what you are going through! I suffer from acne...usually hormonal, and it drives me crazy. Thanks for sharing this really helpful post! :)
Love seeing the products you're using!
Fashionably Idu said…
Oh no, so sorry you have to deal with this. My sister suffers from bouts of cystic acne every once in a too. I'm glad your new routine works out. I'm sure you'll get back to the 'barely used' in time.
Marta said…
So sorry to read about your problem with acne! I've been so blessed when it comes to this issue, and I can't even imagine how hurtful (both physically and psychologically) it must be. Glad to know you're getting better, though!
I was fortunate to not experience acne as a teenager but when I got a pimple, you could see it from space! Lately I've been getting rogue cystic pimples and I know what you mean when you say they hurt. I'm someone who pops pimples, not matter what you tell me, that's the way to get rid of them for me! What's super annoying about these new ones is that you can't bloody touch them. And they hurt even when you're not touching them. Thanks for the bit of background info. I've been perplexed on how and why these have started to appear so perhaps diet or hormones are to blame.

Emmy, after graduate school and my first professional job I had a really bad outbreak. I was like WTH!?! I went to a dermatologist and she put me on accutane (had to do liver tests etc). It cleared up within months. But I think they've banned it in the US since then. LOL I haven't had any major problems, but some flare ups on my chin. REN has been really good for my skin. The clay heals it up. Glad you have a system that works and sought professional advice.
Hi Emmy, wow, I am sorry to hear about your acne. Although, I did not have acne as a teen, I do have severe allergies that makes me break out in hives or if I am stressed out! A co-worker with acne uses Clinique's acne line. I only used their regular line, but she liked that. Otherwise, perhaps natural remedies would work-you will have to look into it based on your skin but my mum always used natural healing oils and herbs so I rarely had much issues. I know that apple cider vinegar (acv) may help. I use an Indian healing clay mask with acv 60/40 ratio water/acv since I have sensitive skin. My sister used to mix a spoon of acv with water to heal cuts because it fights bacteria, we always had acv in the house. Hope this helps!
Vision By Mila said…
I've had my issues too. The moment I stopped the treatment, everything came back. All that money and antibiotics for nothing. I decided to just take good care of the skin and no meds anymore. I did not have cystic acne though, just the "normal" stuff. And mostly on my shoulders. Yay. Not.
jade said…
I won’t strip all the moisture off my face but just making it ready for the next steps. I don’t do double-cleanse in the morning, back facial nyc

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