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How to achieve clear, acne-free, blemish-free, perfect skin – Part Two My Skincare Regimen

So you may be wondering what I do now to have found relief for my acne-prone skin after reading Part One – The Journey to Clear Skin.

I TAKE TWO FERMENTED COD LIVER PILLS EACH DAY

How-to-get-perfect-clear-skin-regulate-hormones-with-fermented-cod-liver-pills

I had read lots and lots of notes about how omega-3s are so good for your skin and I should be loading up on avocados, salmon, omega-3s, fish, flax seeds and eating myself silly off this stuff.

While I tried all that, it didn’t do as much for my skin as discovering that these Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil 120 Caps (sold only by Green Pastures) are the thing to regulate my hormones.

I don’t know what it is, and I’ve half-heartedly read the propaganda on this stuff, but all I know is that IT WORKS.

IT. WORKS. in the way that Omega-3 fish pills never have.

I am almost done the entire bottle and I’ve ordered another, but it has definitely improved my skin. I no longer get little tiny pimples and the ones I do get are a lot smaller.

Of course, it could be that these pills along with the products I use now, make a difference, but whatever it is, it is working and I ain’t knocking it.

I wasn’t consistent in the beginning so it wasn’t working, but once I started taking it twice a day and making it A POINT to not forget it, it started making a big difference in my skin.

I EAT DIFFERENTLY

I’m really careful about what I eat now. I know if I eat junk food, it shows up on my face.


I’m super paranoid.

Junk food includes pretty much anything deep-fried, processed, or from a factory. That rules out a LOT of stuff. I don’t totally abstain but I pretty much refuse any offer of chips or candy at work as a result.

When I go to restaurants, I look for stuff without a lot of deep-fried-ness or fat because my skin basically can’t handle it.

 

If my body eats that stuff, it can’t process all the fat in a nice manner and what ends up happening is that it turns into huge pimples on my skin, almost like the fat is making my skin angry and trying to break out in the form of acne because my organs are rejecting the overload of fat and oil.

How’s that for a graphic visual?

For the GOOD junk food, that includes things like (good) French cheese which is very high in fat but not processed.

Even so, when I eat a lot of it, I see pimples appear on my skin, one or two, not as bad as before but it does happen.

Other good junk food includes homemade junk food (not deep fried though) like pizza.

Pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut = Bad Junk Food

Pizza from a local Italian restaurant where they make it by hand = Good Junk Food

Basically as long as the ingredients are good, as natural, fresh and as unprocessed as possible, the better my skin is, but I still have to watch the fat content because my body has to process all of it.

For instance, I can’t eat an entire avocado in one sitting, my skin rebels.

..and it goes without saying, no junk food from chain restaurants like KFC, McDonald’s etc.

IN A NUTSHELL: I EXFOLIATE, APPLY A SERUM, MOISTURIZE & KILL THE BACTERIA DAILY

So I use about 5 products on any given day. It sounds like a lot, and frankly I didn’t want to have to use them all, but I slowly found out that if I tried to even cut out one of the products, my skin would have a mini riot and tell me I was wrong.

Also, I have to warn you that it takes about 5 weeks for your skin to get used to these products, but the results are pretty much within a week, which is just… phenomenal.

I paid for every single one of these products out of my own pocket. NONE OF THEM have been given to me for free, promoted to me, or even hinted to be given to me in exchange for any kind of review.

I PAID FOR IT ALL.

HERE’S WHAT I DO IN ORDER, EACH DAY

I had to experiment a little with doing some things weekly, then increasing to every two days and so on. You may find what I am doing far too harsh for your own skin so I suggest you take it easy and experiment with it until you find the right balance for what works for you.

You don’t want to be too hard on your skin and strip it out, but you also don’t want to be too soft either (as I was in the beginning), or else you won’t see results and you’ll get frustrated.


EVERY MORNING

STEP 1: EXFOLIATE WITH

Every morning I spray (liberally) solution all over my face, about 2-3 squirts per section (left cheek, right cheek, forehead and nose/chin), and rub vigorously.

This stuff is the real deal.

My dead skin really does peel off and it isn’t the product reacting and pretending to be the dead skin, it is ACTUALLY dead skin cells. I’ve tried it on the back of my hand where there is barely any dead skin and I get no results, then I try it on my face and bam, some days it’s like I’m shedding an outer layer of dead skin.

They have one for the face which is less product and more expensive, but I can’t imagine it being any different. Skin is skin.

This stuff seems to work just fine, and I’d rather not be cheated out of my money.. that said, I haven’t tried it but it doesn’t look like it’s any different.

STEP 2: WASH EVERYTHING OFF AND CLEAN MY FACE WITH PAULA’S CHOICE SKIN BALANCING OIL-REDUCING CLEANSER

Paula’s Choice is the main brand I use for my skincare, but it isn’t the only brand I use because they don’t have certain products (exfoliant and moisturizer) that meets my needs.

I love love LOVE this cleanser. It’s a huge bottle and it’s only $15. You can’t beat that economy and it WORKS. It doesn’t dry out my skin, it doesn’t leave it oily, and it REALLY cleans it well without a stench.

STEP 3: APPLY A FEW DROPS OF PAULA’S CHOICE ANTI-REDNESS EXFOLIATING SOLUTION (SALICYLIC ACID 2%)

How-to-get-perfect-clear-skin-morning-step-3-exfoliate

You’re supposed to put it on a cotton ball and swipe it over your face but it sucks up a lot of product and you waste it… so I figured I would just pour a few  drops on my fingers and spread it all over my face like a liquid serum, and that has worked out well so far. *shrug*

I hate wasting product and I’ve gotten used to just using my fingers to spread it around

STEP 4: APPLY A FEW DROPS OF PAULA’S CHOICE RESIST C15 SUPER BOOSTER SERUM

How-to-get-perfect-clear-skin-morning-moisturize-serum-kill-bacteria

I thought serums and this stuff was a load of hokey (I’m a skeptic at heart) but being eager to try new things, I bought this (it’s pricey, even for Paula’s Choice), and started using it.

Being a HUGE skeptic, I felt like I was wasting my money… until a week later when I washed my face and realized that my skin felt super, SUPER soft like a baby’s bottom (and I would know, I actually have a baby where I can compare his bottom to my face), and my skin has this light little glow it didn’t have before.

I can still see all my acne marks and so on, but they’re starting to fade even more with this serum.

I’m pretty impressed and I am not easily impressed or convinced.

I’ve also done a lot of reading and apparently Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid aren’t hoaxes, they really DO help your skin, according to a lot of certified dermatologists. It’s just that this stuff has a short shelf life, and once you open it, you better use it within 3 months.

I don’t go easy on this stuff, I put on at least 2 drops per section (left cheek, right cheek, forehead and nose/chin), and I spread any excess down my throat and onto my chest.

I have noticed a big difference in my skin from using this serum and I am hoping it will help prevent wrinkles and fade old marks.

STEP 5: APPLY A SINGLE SQUIRT OF HOLISTIC VANITY BRIGHTENING HYALURONIC LOTION MOISTURIZER

If you aren’t sensitive to silicones, you can use any old moisturizer. Me, I have to find stuff that doesn’t have silicones in it and works well.

This stuff is also very pricey from Pure & Simple in Toronto, but I like it. It makes my skin soft, it doesn’t make it greasy, doesn’t dry it out, moisturizes and feels good.

Until I find a cheaper replacement, I will keep buying this moisturizer, it is my go-to.

I’m also considering using a few drops of argan oil in place of a moisturizer but I’m scared that any kind of oil at this point (where my skin has finally gotten to a good place!!!), will just undo all the work I’ve done.

STEP 6: APPLY A THIN LAYER OF PAULA’S CHOICE DAILY SKIN CLEARING TREATMENT 2.5% BENZOYL PEROXIDE.. BUT I AM INCREASING TO 5%

I bought the 5% before I realized my skin was actually pretty clear and awesome, thinking that I needed something stronger.

We’ll see if this stuff dries it out too much or if it’s perfect.

Anyway, I had gone a few weeks without applying this treatment ALL OVER my face in a light layer because I thought the salicylic acid from Step #3 was enough.

NOPE. I used to use it as a spot treatment, but then I realized I have to spread a thin layer ALL OVER my skin for it to work. I do this twice a day (once in the morning, once at night), and it has significantly improved my skin.

I no longer get little pimples or acne popping up unexpectedly, because this stuff is working all the time to kill the bacteria before it starts.

A must-do.

EVERY NIGHT

At night, when I come home, I do this.

STEP 1: REMOVE ALL MY MAKEUP

I use an actual makeup remover and wipe, and get rid of everything. If you don’t wear much makeup (which these days, has become me as well), then you won’t really need to do much in this department.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to remove ALL TRACES OF YOUR MAKEUP before using a cleanser. Don’t believe all that marketing crap that cleansers can remove makeup and also clean your face in one fell swoop, that’s a load of hogwash.

REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP FIRST.

Nuff said.

The makeup remover can be from any brand as long as it actually removes all your makeup.


Or you can go natural and use coconut oil.

STEP 2: WASH EVERYTHING OFF AND CLEAN MY FACE WITH PAULA’S CHOICE SKIN BALANCING OIL-REDUCING CLEANSER

How-to-get-perfect-clear-skin-night-step-one-Cleanse

I tried skipping this step a few days, thinking the makeup remover would be fine and just enough so that I wouldn’t have to wash my face too..

Nuh uh.

I NEED to do this step. See, makeup removers leave stuff on your face, and that stuff actually ended up making me break out in the areas where I used a lot of the makeup remover.

Makeup removers are greasier because oil removes oil and waterproof makeup, so naturally if you don’t also wash it off, it stays on your skin.

STEP 3: APPLY A FEW DROPS OF MY USUAL PAULA’S CHOICE ANTI-REDNESS EXFOLIATING SALICYLIC SOLUTION AND EVERY 2 DAYS, SUBSTITUTE WITH PAULA’S CHOICE RETEXTURIZING FOAM INSTEAD

How-to-get-perfect-clear-skin-night-retexturizing-foam

At night I use my Paula’s Choice Anti-redness exfoliating salicylic solution the same way I would in the morning, but every week (at first), I used the Paula’s Choice Resist Weekly Retexturizing Foaming Treatment with 4% BHA.

I noticed it making a big difference in my skin, but my skin still wasn’t perfect until I also started using this more often.

I went from weekly to twice a week, and now every 2 days I use this in place of the Anti-Redness solution.

It’s either ONE or the OTHER, NOT BOTH. You will kill your skin if you use both at the same time.

What works for me is every 2 days — foam. Every day in between, the Anti-Redness solution.

You may not want to or have to use this foam at all, but I’ve noticed it fading out my acne marks.

STEP 4: FOLLOW WITH THE C15 SUPER SERUM BOOSTER, MY MOISTURIZER AND A THIN LAYER OF BENZOYL PEROXIDE, JUST LIKE IN THE MORNING

How-to-get-perfect-clear-skin-morning-moisturize-serum-kill-bacteria

Then I finish off the entire routine with exactly the same steps as in the morning — I use the C15 serum, moisturize and put a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide all over my face.

By the way, that benzoyl peroxide WILL BLEACH YOUR TOWELS. Even if you are very careful and you wash your face and all that, the residue is still on your face, so when you go to wipe your face after cleaning it, you will STILL bleach your towels.

I suggest setting aside towels just for acne-care, or just buying white towels instead.

All of my lovely grey towels now look gross and orange.

——

SUMMARY

I know the above sounds like a lot. In fact, it’s not cheap.

I mean the C15 booster alone is around $50 USD. You can skip that serum if you want, but I really want wrinkle-free and damage-free skin, so I’m willing to splurge on it.

The stuff that is a REALLY good deal is mostly just the cleanser. $15 for a HUGE bottle is a steal.

(And no, rubbing an orange on your face is not the same thing as a concentrated vitamin C liquid in a serum to be absorbed easily, in fact you will probably irritate your skin with undiluted orange juice instead of helping it.)

Oh and if you use this Paula’s Choice referral link, you will get $10 off if you spend more than $15. Just make sure you see this window pop up first:

http://goo.gl/OrXehg
http://goo.gl/OrXehg

THE PRICEY BREAKDOWN:

Here’s what it all costs:

On average, it will be about $97 per month give or take.

O_o

$100 a month is pretty pricey, but I’d gladly pay it for clear, smooth, pretty skin.

I’m sure if I can replace that moisturizer with a silicone-free one, I am good to go, but it is well worth the $1200 a year it will cost to keep my skin clear, considering all that I have gone through.

Not to mention that if you’re like me, you also need:

  • Makeup removers
  • A sunscreen, I like Jane Iredale’s Sun Powder (I use a brush to apply it) ..or you can try Green Beaver’s Mineral Sunscreen
  • Makeup Forever HD Shine Control (basically 100% silica to keep the shine down from the sunscreen)

So there’s an added cost aside from the stuff that is acne-related

…and for me, it is worth every single freakin’ penny.

I LOVE my skin now.

I no longer feel like some embarrassed adult woman trying to pretend like she isn’t bothered by her terrible skin that she is sure that EVERYONE is staring at.

I was teased for being a teenager because my cheeks were just so covered in thick acne bumps at a few points in my life that no one could believe I wasn’t 16 and going through puberty or something.

I can bravely and actually go out without ANY makeup on and feel perfectly fine. Not that I didn’t feel fine before, but I am less self-conscious about showing my skin because I no longer have pimples.

Now, when I do a very light swipe of foundation (if any, because my powder sunscreen from Jane Iredale is almost like a foundation), my skin looks perfect. It’s dewy, luminous, glowing…. I look like I don’t have any skin problems and I’ve never suffered from it.

..and that is really saying something.

JUNE 2015 UPDATE:

I tweaked the regimen a bit and added matcha green tea that has completely 100 percent made my skin clear and acne-free.

Read all about it here on how my skin is now, finally blemish-free even during my tough months.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. S
    Shernaz

    Great post. i really loved it. When I read through your post, i felt what all i have experienced. its like you have written my mind out here. I have never tried the paula’s choice products. I am in Netherlands currently. I would want some advise from you. Let me know if we can get in touch through e-mail.

    Looking forward for a response from you as I am equally obsessed with achieving clear skin and tired of trying out things.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      Of course! Reply back and let’s see if we can do it naturally rather than chemically. I had to go with PC in the end but if I could have avoided it, I would have. Little by little.

      Reply
  2. a
    alana

    great post. I’ve struggle with acne since I was 11 and over the last 20 yrs, I have just accepted it as my fate in life. I gave up on treatments as nothing ever seemed to work and I just use whichever moisturizer is on sale when I need to get one. I remove makeup with coconut oil but recently started using a clarisonic mia with the clarisonic cleanser that comes with it. I follow up with witch-hazel applied with a cotton ball then my moisturizer. My T-zone is still pretty oily/shiny in pictures but I have noticed less breakouts since starting this routine but I know I need to step up my game as my skin is still is uneven and patchy with acne scars all over. I want to even out my skin surface and reduce the appearance of my scars.

    I’m excited to try a few of the products you suggest. My question is, do you still use your clarisonic in your new routine?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I use the Mia when I travel but at home it’s mostly product..

      I do not use the Clarisonic in my routine because:

      a) I forgot it at my parents’ house and they have yet to bring it up
      b) I exfoliate with the and my skin would be pretty thin after that.. I don’t want to scar my skin.

      Reply
  3. S
    Sense

    I did oral Retin-A courses at 22 and they helped immensely. My cystic acne stopped and even now, 14 years later, I might get the start of a spot but it goes away in a day or less! I was in your boat prior to the treatment–lots of acne. It was hell, I’m glad you have found your magic elixirs!

    Even though I no longer get acne so badly, I have learned to do a few things:

    1) at night before bed I clean my face with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (you could leave it on your face if you wanted to, but I rinse it off) and Apricot scrub (particularly my T-zone).
    2) I apply night cream. Right now I like Nivea, but I’m keen to try some of the Vit C and other enhanced creams.
    3) When I wake up, I soak a portion of a hand towel in the hottest water I can stand, wring it out, and lay it over my face (making sure the wet area covers my entire face). I leave it on til it gets cold. I don’t know if it does something to my skin (probably opens the pores?), but it wakes me up like nothing else can. I usually do some deep breathing while it’s on, too. Nice way to start the day!

    4) I apply a light moisturizer with SPF 30 to all exposed areas of my skin (but esp hands, face, neck, chest).

    It must work, because people say my skin looks like I’m 22 (or younger).

    Would love to know your beauty routine for makeup, and what you use!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      So I can vouch for Vitamin C being good with Ferulic acid. PC has the cheapest product with VitC, otherwise I remember shelling out $150 U.S. For VitC in a bottle half the size from Skinceuticals. Gack!!! As for the hot wash cloth I am sure it opens your pores 🙂 I will do a post for my makeup… Thanks for writing in 😀

      Reply
  4. NZ Muse

    It’s funny how different individual bodies are. Like, how differently T and I react to not eating meat. I think it’s especially true with skin – my guess is it’s pretty rare for the exact same skincare routine to work for many different people. Despite all the exhausting trial and error you got there in the end – hurrah!

    (For me it is leaving my skin alone as much as possible. Quick rinse with water in the morning – in fact these days sometimes I don’t even do that. Shower at night, again no cleanser. Will moisturise depending how on my skin feels. I’m not sure how much being on the pill helps my skin – if I revert to acne once I go off I will NOT be a happy camper)

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You must react well to being on the pill, unlike me. Once I went off it I was pregnant immediately but my skin also rebelled and broke out in huge red angry bumps.. I tried the no cleanse version to try and fix my skin and it never worked. 🙁

      Reply

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