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6 Major Acne Fighters and Skin Savers

I have struggled with acne for such a long time that I thought I’d list out all the things that I’ve done thus far to basically achieve acne-free, perfect skin.

Of course, I still have marks from my old acne scars but compared to what I have been battling since I hit puberty, I am going to take it!

You can read about my entire skincare regimen here and here.

I hope the following advice works for you as well. Let me know in the comments!



You need to really get rid of any trapped dirt or oil on your skin or in your pores but not to strip your skin or the moisture barrier.

The hardest thing for me has been to stop picking at my face and/or touching my face. I have to mentally slap my fingers away from touching my skin because inevitably, a pimple pops up.

Even with wearing sunglasses, I wipe them down carefully before placing them on my face because they WILL and HAVE trapped dirt and oil to the point where the next day, I have 4 major pimples exactly at the spots where my sunglasses touched my face (either side of the bridge of my nose and on my forehead).

Find a cleanser that works for you and doesn’t strip TOO much of the oil away. I currently am a huge fan of Paula’s Choice Oil Balancing Cleanser (use my referral code here and get $10 off your first order).

It’s fragrance and oil-free. It works and it is cheap.

I am not going to try and find another one for the amount of product I get (for its VERY low and reasonable price).

You need to wash your face at the very least, every night even if you’re just hanging out at home. I noticed that if I didn’t do that, my skin broke out, even though I didn’t do anything all day and just hung around the house.

I wash my face when I get up in the morning (after exfoliating), when I get home (after removing makeup), and before I go to sleep.


Maybe, but I am not knocking what works.


I do this step before I clean my skin in the morning. I only exfoliate in the morning, never at night.

(You can read about my entire regimen here and here).

I use the O.R.G. Mineral skincare product liberally all over my face (3 mists on my forehead, 3 on either of my cheeks) and I only buy the Body one because it does the same thing and costs less than the Face.

You can see my skin peel off at night. It’s kind of gross, and cool. When I put on a strong exfoliant the night before, in the morning, I get more dead skin coming off, but I NEVER rub my skin dry or raw, it is pretty much impossible with this product.

I have switched to using this over the Clarisonic Mia for being at home because sometimes I got a little overzealous with the Clarisonic going a little too strong and I burned my face down to the raw skin. *shudder*

It is not a pretty sight and it hurts.

I’ll be keeping the Clarisonic for when I travel.. or just for the body.

I also make sure to use a light salicylic acid exfoliant in the morning and at night. I like the one from (who else) Paula’s Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution in 2% in the morning (I put a few drops on my fingers and rub it into my skin and neck), and every other night, I use the stronger Paula’s Choice Retexturizing Foam instead.

Getting rid of the dead skin cells means that you remove any possible hope and option of dead skin cells trapping more dirt and sebum underneath your skin and causing pimples to appear.

You need to constantly help your skin shed those skin cells (which regenerate a lot over night) and help your skin stay as clean as possible without stripping it or ruining it.


I say “maintain” your skin by doing the following:

  • avoiding junk food
  • avoiding greasy & fried food (yes it does cause acne; I am proof positive and I can tell with my skin when I have eaten badly)
  • eating well – fruits, veggies
  • drinking pure water (not soda, not coffee or tea, and not anything but pure H20) although don’t over do it!
  • ..and oddly enough, taking 2 fermented cod liver pills and drinking matcha green tea each morning has done the trick

I started taking fermented cod liver pills after reading how it helped some hormonal acne sufferers online. I saw a marked difference in my skin, but it still wasn’t perfect.

It wasn’t until I had on a whim decided to cut out Starbucks from my daily routine and make matcha green tea at home, that after 6 weeks by being more budget-conscious, my skin was PERFECT.

Glowing, clear, no acne, no pimples, not even during rough hormonal periods.

Unbelievable and a total stroke of luck.

Now I do this every morning — pop 2 of those fermented cod liver pills, and wash it down with some matcha green tea that I mix with milk (half milk, half water). No sugar added, and it really makes a difference in my skin.


You can do as much as possible to your skin to help it, but you need to constantly make sure it is being treated.

I put a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide on my skin each morning and at night after I wash and exfoliate.

This has helped immensely because it kills all the bacteria and crap thats sits, feeding on your skin and it cut down on about 30% of my acne.

I use the Paula’s Choice 5% cream because my skin is pretty bad, but I may cut back to the 2.5% now that my skin is under control. I want to play around to see if I really need that stronger dosage or not.

You really need to make sure that you use salicylic acid to maintain your skin’s natural shedding process (see {EXFOLIATE} above), and to also treat your skin with a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide to eliminate bacteria build-up.


You would think with oily skin you don’t need to moisturize, and that is partly true, but when you clean your skin and get rid of all that oil, you are stripping some of that oil away and potentially hurting that moisture barrier which then tells your skin: WHOA, there isn’t enough oil on the skin to keep it moisturized, pump out more! MORE OIL! end up with an even oilier face than if you just moisturize with a light oil-free moisturizer after you clean it.

Lesson learned: Moisturize lightly, but don’t forget to do it so you don’t dry out your skin.

I like the Pure & Simple hyaluroic acid lotion because I’m used to using it, but any light moisturizer will do.

I’m afraid to switch because my skin is so used to this one… we’ll see.


Lastly, you want to make sure you shield your skin from the damaging rays of UVA and UVB from the sun.

See, since you’re exfoliating and doing all this great stuff to your skin to keep it clear, it is more susceptible to sun rays damaging it, so you definitely need to protect it.

I like Jane Iredale’s Powder-Me-Dry Sunscreen, and it doubles as a sort of foundation because when I brush it on my skin (I don’t use that stupid puff applicator), it ends up covering a lot of marks.

Wearing suncreen (whether it is this sunscreen powder or a real sunscreen), will also help you achieve a more even-toned skin and fade those nasty acne scars and marks.

That’s it from me!

Any questions, comments or tips!? Leave ’em below.


  • alana

    I too want to thank you for doing this acne series. I’ve been dealing with acne since I was 11. Tried a few products in my teens, none of which worked so I just let it be. Luckily for me, where I come from, “beauty” tends to be measured more by body type as opposed to looks and lets just say, I had the right body type so I didnt let my acne bother me too much.

    I read your first acne post however and decided it was probably time to revisit the whole acne thing, 12 years after I last tried an acne product. I have gotten so many useful tips and recommendations from your blogs (since you were fabulously broke in the city), that I thought you must be on to something, wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. That post also reminded me to give fermented cod liver oil a try, as I had read about its benefits some time before but had somehow forgotten to incorporate it into my diet.

    Anyway, I’ve been using PC products and cod liver oil since May. I skipped the anti redness solution initially but I finally caved and got it this month. I also switched out the 2.5% treatment for the 5% treatment. These along with the cleanser and the exfoliating foam have keep flare ups at bay. My skin is clean but not dry and apart from old scars, is smooth to the touch. I feel like I may finally have something that works here. Thanks for bringing PC products to my attention, you’re the best guinea pig a girl could ask for,keep sharing!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      *blush* you’re welcome! Glad to hear you’ve been a fan since Fabulously Broke in the City 🙂 I think gradually people are starting to find me through various channels and I’m pleased about that.

      Try the matcha green tea. For me it was the last missing link in the acne cure. Now my skin is perfect unless I eat badly (fried, oily, greasy, delicious LOL) or if I don’t take the time to wash my face properly … Or if I skip steps in my routine.

      Thank you! Glad it is helping

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Oh and for the old scars it is pricey but you can fade the dark marks with that C15 serum and wearing a hat/sunscreen .. My skin is working towards even toned perfection 🙂 I’m giving it until end of December. Then I might try something more drastic.

  • icecapades

    I was just about to ask you about the Clarisonic Mia! I remember you said you used it. When my original cleanser got discontinued, I tried a different cleanser. But I began to notice the pores on my nose, so I started using the Clarisonic Mia with the cleanser. I did that for over a year about once or every other day. Then someone gave me a bottle of their cleanser/exfoliator with beads and it helped diminish the pores on my nose without me having to use the clarisonic. The exfoliator with beads does the trick. It’s been two months since I’ve stopped using the clarisonic mia. You’re right, sometimes I worry if the brush is too harsh on my skin. It also sucked when I was in the shower ready to use the Mia brush but he battery died.

    I def need to try that C15 serum from PC. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I like the exfoliators with beads, but I hate how they get washed down into our water / sewage drainage system and pollute the ground water… so I don’t use exfoliating products like that any more.

      I still like the Mia but prefer this O.R.G. Mineral skincare because it feels gentler and NEVER removes more than the dead skin.

      • icecapades

        @save. spend. splurge.:
        The beads are actually very tiny and dissolve into the skin to remove clogged pores. I have a feeling these super micro-beads would dissolve in the water too, based on someone’s review who said after a specific time, the beads dissolved into the exfoliator itself.

        In case you’re curious, here is what I use: (not my website, btw)

        Never knew that about the drainage pollution with beads until you mentioned it. I looked it up online and it appears that the companies had used polyethylene (plastic) microbeads in their scrubs, which of course isn’t biodegradable in water. But I’ve read companies since then have turned to a more environmental-friendly solution.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          Oh really?!?! That is great news! I’m pleased to hear that because the environment has been on my mind lately for the past 6-10 years which is one of the reasons why we cloth diaper and why I’m working to reduce my garbage..

  • Irene

    I haven’t properly thanked you for your recommendations in these latest skincare posts. The cod liver oil pills and the paula’s choice cleanser have made a tremendous difference to my skin. So thank you!

    I wanted to give you a tip as well. Khiel’s midnight recovery concentrate really helps fade scars and keep acne under control as well. I put it on at night after I wash my face. It’s kind of pricey so I just looked up the ingredients and started blending my own. A little kitchen chemistry, haha! And I’ve perfected my recipe for the ultimate nighttime skin treatment.

    1/3 rosehip oil, 1/3 evening primrose oil, 1/4 argan oil and top it off with some lavendar oil. I buy all the ingredients from

    If you’re interested in oils for acne treatment have a read through this website –

    Dawn has some really interesting points about oils for acne prone skin and this has really helped me. Don’t be afraid to use oils on acne. You may be able to cut down on how much you exfoliate if you give this a try.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Irene I am SO HAPPY to hear you say that!!! Try matcha green tea if that helps bring your skin to perfection.


      I like helping with adult acne only because I have gone through it and it’s so demoralizing and painful…

      I will give the midnight recovery concentrate a try. It’s pricey but ..erg.. as for the ingredients perhaps I will do something similar. Primrose oil, etc.. I’m just so scared of OIL on my skin because it tends to clog my pores. I tried argan oil a few years ago and loved it.. until 2 weeks later my skin was clearly clogged.

      I feel like I want to stick to PC’s C15 serum above, and so far it’s been fading my scars well so I will stick with it until the end of the year to see if I don’t take any more drastic acton.

      Thank you so much!

  • Erika

    I found out that I was severely lactose intolerant and amazingly %75 of my adult acne cleared up as a result of cutting out dairy or only consuming organic lactose free products.

    Benzoyl Peroxide has also really helped, but I use it cautiously because my skin is so sensitive.

    I also tried the O.R.G. exfoliant at your suggestion. I get some dead skin off, but I haven’t noticed a huge difference overall.

    Now that you’ve cleared the acne, have you considered laser therapy to help heal and fade the scarring?

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I heard that about dairy too but that did nothing for me even going vegan. I have noticed a consistent difference over time with ORG. I am considering laser therapy but it is $$$$ and I’m scared of that tech. I use Paula’s Choice C15 serum and it has been doing a good job so far in fading!!!! That and a hat/sunscreen.

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