My Updated Skincare Routine (& why a $1 washcloth is more effective than the Clarisonic!)

My approach to skin care has gone through some major changes this year – and my skin is SO much happier because of it. Although it is still acne-prone, it feels glowing and smooth, not irritated or fragile.

The major source of these changes is Caroline Hiron’s amazingly informative skincare blog (here are my 2 favorite posts – Acne & Routines). Although some of the products she mentions aren’t easily available in Canada, the guidelines she provides are universally applicable.  She emphasizes that acne-prone skin should not be treated like an enemy that needs to be dried out – but rather, nursed with moisture and care, to bring it back to health. She advocates the use of balm cleansers and hot washcloths for cleansing – this deep cleaning lifts off sebum, sunscreen and makeup – reducing your chances of clogged pores and blemishes.

My current skincare routine:

Kiehls Avocado Eye Treatment, Sprectrojel

Apply SpectroJel and remove with a warm washcloth (rinse and repeat 3 times). Pour ProActiv toner on a cotton pad and spread all over my face, concentrating on blemished areas (the glycolic acid exfoliates and fades scars.) Finish off with Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture on my face and Kiehls Creamy Avocado Treatment on my eyes. Apply sunscreen if I’m going outdoors (I use the Vichy one on my arms & neck, my facial sunscreen is by Neutrogena).

Apply Clinique Take off the Day Balm, gently massaging into my eye area to lift off liner & mascara. Then I rub it in circles over the rest of my face to remove foundation and blush – paying special attention to areas prone to clogged pores (my cheeks & forehead). Rinse off with water. Put Spectrojel all over my face, rinse off with water and use a warm washcloth to deep clean all the product off. Spray Avene Thermal Water (*not pictured* – I’ve tried other thermal waters and they don’t seem to have the same effect. This soothes and heals my skin and restores its pH balance). Apply  Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture on my face and Kiehls Creamy Avocado Treatment on my eyes. Use Tactuo on acne-prone areas (this prescription cream contains benzyl peroxide and a form of retinol). I sometimes use a Kaolin clay mask like this one as a spot treatment.

Why a washcloth is better than the Clarisonic:

I was an early convert to the Clarisonic – I purchased mine in 2009 and have used it regularly since then (changing brush heads several times a year). It has some benefits – it removes all traces of makeup from my skin and prevents blackheads.

However, using a warm washcloth morning and night to cleanse has improved my skin in a way that the Clarisonic never did. The washcloth retains heat and gently deep cleans my skin while unclogging any congestion. It leaves my skin feeling plumped up and glowing.

I’ve gone from using the Clarisonic every night, to twice a week. Despite all of its sonic & deep-cleaning properties, I no longer think the Clarisonic is a necessity – but I’m HIGHLY dependent on my cotton washcloths (I picked up a HUGE stack at Costco so that I can wash and change them frequently).

Here’s a picture of my cheek, taken this morning. Although there is acne scarring, you can see there is a HUGE difference from its condition this time last year.

Right now, I’m focusing on keeping it clear, but eventually I want to address the pigmentation and scarring. For that, I plan on using SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF. This highly rated antioxidant serum contains topical Vitamin C which reduces hyperpigmentation and improves skin texture. I will definitely post an update on how this product works on my skin.

SkinCeuticals Sunscreen

Do you still use a Clarisonic? Do you find it effective?

DISCLAIMER: The Phloretin CF was provided to me by SkinCeuticals upon my request. The Vichy sunscreen was sent to me for consideration, but my opinions are 100% my own.


  1. Rachel
    July 12, 2013 / 3:35 pm

    Thank you so much for linking to Caroline's blog! Her blog post on ache really is life changing. Going home tonight and completely changing up my routine. I've been doing it all wrong.

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      July 13, 2013 / 4:42 am

      Glad you liked the link – hope her blog helps your skin as much as it helped mine 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Anonymous
    July 12, 2013 / 4:40 pm

    I'm glad that more gentle skincare routines are starting to get more attention. I spent years using stronger and stronger face stripping products trying to get my acne under control, and ended up actually making it worse. I ended up with a couple scars from cysts as a result. Since rethinking my skincare regime (and some serious dermatological intervention on the cysts, the Tactuo is also in my medicine cabinet right now), my acne is actually fairly minimal. I use my clarisonic brush maybe once a week to take off some dead skin, but that's about it. Thanks for linking to that other blog, I'm going to go check it out now.

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      July 13, 2013 / 4:45 am

      I was amazed at how much of a difference a gentle routine made! On one hand, my skin feels better because it's no longer dried out and flaking…AND my skin is actually getting better too! I'm still using the Clarisonic occasionally too – just in case it has some long term benefits LOL! But it's definitely no longer the miracle product I thought it would be.

  3. FashionableLena
    July 14, 2013 / 3:45 pm

    I've always took the gentle approach to my skin since middle school. My mother bought me Neutragena Translucent facial bar, and almost 30 years later, I still use it. Soap and water, Josie Maran Argan oil, and a scrub once a week. It also helps that my make-up routine consists of lipstick, mascara, and eyeshadow for special occasions. I haven't worn foundation/powder since I got married 17 years ago. My skin looks just as good now as it did when I was 11.Love your post.

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      July 23, 2013 / 4:57 am

      I've heard so many amazing things about the Josie Maran Argan Oil…I'm so tempted to try it, but I'm afraid to mess with what's been working so far. Love your gentle approach to skin – it's really paid off!

  4. z1477
    July 16, 2013 / 1:55 pm

    I find the less I do to my face the better. I tend to only breakout around my period and then it take a whole week for my skin to calm down. I am right in the middle of a breakout right now so last night I thought I would give the hot towel thing a whirl. I remember growing up my mother really believed in it so since you were also raving about it why not give it a try? Well what I didn't take into account is that I have heat allergies. After I take a shower I will get hives on my face if the water is too hot. So guess what happened after the warm towel on the face? I looked like a clown from a horror show with red welts all over my face. I went to bed all grrrr…why did I do that, but then when I woke up in the morning, all of the welts were gone and my skin did look and feel much better! Thanks for the tip ella!

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      July 23, 2013 / 5:00 am

      Oh my – perhaps a lukewarm towel would be better than a hot one if your skin has heat allergies. Glad your skin eventually responded well to the treatment though 🙂

  5. Erica
    July 23, 2013 / 2:38 am

    I really love to read about people's skin regimes. I have very acne-prone skin and I'm always on the lookout for something that will help. I will have to get washcloths because I don't find my clairsonic does much :s Thanks for this post!!

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      July 23, 2013 / 5:01 am

      I love reading them too – there are so many useful tips out there! Hope the washcloth method helps your skin 🙂

  6. TheSecretBlogger
    August 19, 2013 / 7:55 pm

    fantastic post! great tips Do pop on over to my blog :-)

  7. Jade Graham
    November 17, 2017 / 10:21 am

    I was using Clinique's Moisture Surge blablabla, the one with the really long name. It's the one with the pink tub. I loved it so much and it was one of the moisturizers that actually helped with my dry flakey patches overnight(!) I used the sample for quite awhile but the full size is so expensive, i couldn't bare it. Same goes to Belief's Aqua Bomb but also hella expensive. This one by Rosken did exactly what those two did but is way cheaper. A little goes a long way with this one so it lasts me quite awhile. does acne no more work

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