Skincare update AKA How I got rid of my acne

My best advice to people suffering from  acne is simple: find a GOOD dermatologist and follow their advice.

Last year I experienced REALLY bad breakouts – I’m STILL unable to pinpoint what made my normal skin turn into a mess  – skincare, weight loss, stress, diet, hormones – who knows? At first I tried things that had helped me with mild acne in the past: (the 2.5% benzyl peroxide treatment, going to an esthetician and using Dermalogica products). None of these made my skin any better. I was chatting with my sister about what to do next, and she said – why don’t you go and see our dermatologist? I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before – it would have saved me a LOT of time and money (In 9 months I had spent at least $500 on facials and skin care products).

My appointment was in October 2010. My dermatologist prescribed 2 antibiotics, a topical one (Clindamycin) and an oral one (Minocycline) and told me not to use ANY moisturiser. Within 3 months I started seeing positive results, and by June 2011 I was advised to stop taking the oral antibiotics and just use the Clindets wipes twice a day. I was also allowed to use an OIL-FREE moisturiser on my skin (I missed using moisturiser – I really think it prevents wrinkles, without it my forehead was starting to show lines – thankfully they’ve disappeared).

I took photos during the course of my treatment – this is a close-up of my left cheek – which was the biggest problem area. These photos are not pretty – and I’m a little bit embarrassed sharing them, but if it helps someone else suffering from acne – then it’s worth it 🙂

My skin was quite bumpy when I first started my treatment. Slowly the bumpiness has diminished and my skin now feels smooth to the touch. However, as you can see – I still have hyper-pigmentation from old acne scars. These are taking their time to fade…There are products that could speed up the healing process, but I am VERY hesitant to experiment with skincare now (I tried a sample of  Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair – within 4 days I had 2 large blemishes…luckily they disappeared after I stopped using it).

My current skincare routine:
-Wash in the morning and evening with Cetaphil bar soap. In the evening I use my Clarisonic – and if I’ve worn make-up I wash my face twice.
-Use a Clindets wipe all over my face (especially my cheeks)
-Apply Neutrogena Oil-free moisturiser
-If I’m going to be outside I apply Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Water-Light SPF 60. This particular “water-light” version is the best drugstore sunscreen I’ve ever tried – other ones (even other Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer ones) have made my face feel tight and itchy – this feels like nothing – and is designed to be worn under make-up. It even provides a smooth base for foundation – I love it!
-I purchased the Olay Total Effects moisturiser because of it’s anti-ageing properties, however, even though it’s listed as oil-free, it caused tiny bumps on my forehead, so I just apply it to my naso-labial folds, neck and hands.

So far, sticking to this skincare routine is working for me – but I have to be consistent. If I ever skip washing my face, I’ll end up with a blemish the next day! I’m having good luck with Neutrogena products, so I may cautiously experiment with their Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream (it is also oil-free but contains Retinol).
I know that everybody’s skin is different, and what works for me may not work for you – but I hope that this post has been helpful!

Have you ever suffered from acne? What helped it get better?


  1. Lilly's Style
    August 31, 2011 / 8:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing this info with us. I think your skin has improved quite a bit. Unfortunately, I haven't been so lucky. I have been to two different dermatologist and have tried different medications but nothing worked in the long run. I still break out..and it's been 10 years since I first got acne. It's not as bad as it was but each time I break out it always leaves a scar (and I'm not even touching my skin). So frustrating. Therefore I'll have to look into some type of laser to minimaze the scaring.

    • Soon to be slender!
      September 10, 2012 / 4:44 am

      Hi, I know that this is getting to you late. but I thought I would let you know that I sufferred from acne my whole life even after kids in my late 30's. I finally discovered OBAGI clenziderm and nuderm products. My mom got them from her plastic surgeon and I thought I would try them. I ordered them on-line from amazon and use the clenziderm in the a.m. (except moisturizer) and use everything else at night. The only soap I use on my face is the clenziderm liquid soap and i do that am and pm.This has made my face WAY WAY WAY better.I had tried everything, even accutane 3 times. This is the only thing that has ever worked. (p.s. I also switched to ENJOY sulfate free shampoo at same time and won't switch back since I think this has helped from me getting breakouts) it is expensive but worth it

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      September 11, 2012 / 2:20 am

      Thanks for the OBAGI recommendation – it's amazing how it worked where accutane didn't!

  2. Anonymous
    September 1, 2011 / 1:48 am

    So glad you found a routine that works for you! It's great that your doc's advice was spot on for you. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Make Mommy Chic
    September 1, 2011 / 2:24 am

    Hi Ella, I'm glad to hear that your struggle with acne is coming to an end. I don't have acne now (however, 20 years ago that was another story) but I do struggle with sensitive skin and have to be very careful with the products that I use or else I break out in bumps. I remember buying the prevage cream (with shoppers points) and it made me break out after the first day so i had to return it. Have you used any of the Kiehl's products? I know that they have products for acne/sensitive skin and my experience with their products have been very positive! I'm glad that you shared your experience, I'm sure it's going to be helpful to a lot of people 🙂 Thanks for the post!

  4. Ella Pretty Blog
    September 1, 2011 / 4:54 am

    Lilly – I know how frustrating it is to try medicines that don't work. I think it took around 6 months for my skin to really improve…before that, my derm thought that he might have to switch to something stronger – thankfully it all worked out in the end. I've heard that laser treatments really work well for some people – hope it has amazing results for you :-)Andi – I'm SO glad that my derm worked out for me – he really has a great track record, but even then – acne is such a complicated phenomenon that treatments don't always work. My sister's friend went to the same derm a couple of years ago, but he wasn't able to cure her acne (but then again, I don't know how strictly she followed his advice).MMC – I love Kiehl's eye cream, and when I last went, they gave me samples for their problem skin line…but I since I'm happy with my current cleanser/moisturiser I haven't tried their samples out yet (also I'm kind of scared to mess with a good thing)…although I'd LOVE to find anti-ageing products that won't trigger acne-prone skin…I'm really hoping the Neutrogena retinol cream will suit me – I read that it was recommended by Dr Oz.

  5. Cindii
    September 2, 2011 / 6:27 pm

    Wow, that's for sharing. 😀

  6. Katherine
    September 5, 2011 / 3:49 am

    Thank you for posting this – I still break out (when will it ever end??) so I am always sensitive to finding acne treatments…your skin looks like it improved sooo much!

  7. Bravoe Runway
    September 10, 2011 / 6:52 pm

    I am SOOOOOO glad to discover your blog! I turned 30 this year and it was like the city of zits overtook my entire chin and lower jawline!!! I tried everything and the 1 blemish fighting treatment OTC by Ole Henriksen was discontinued! I've gone to the dermatologist only to have them sell me this junk cosmoderm product that was alpha 10% lotion. He had recommended an oral drug, not contraceptive, to help the acne IDK why I turned it down other than I had to go in for a blood test to ensure the potassium levels were stable. I use a clarisonic but I think I am going to go with the oral medication! Thank you thank you thank you for addressing this issue because adult onset acne is not the same as we battled in our teen years!

  8. Ella Pretty Blog
    September 11, 2011 / 4:09 am

    Thanks Cindii and T!Katherine – Isn't it strange that women are breaking out as adults – especially when most of us have healthy diets and take care of our skin? Hope you've found something that works for you :-)Bravoe Runway – thank you for your comment – I'm glad you found my post helpful, it means a lot to me 🙂 I read so much about acne – and tried so many things (each with a decent 3 month trial period)…it was hard to put so much effort in with such little results. I'm so thankful that my derm's treatment worked out for me…although it took 6 months for a solid improvement – when I went for a 3 month check-up, my derm said that if my skin didn't start improving, he would put me on a stronger/different treatment -so grateful it didn't come to that, since the stronger meds can have side effects. I hope you find an effective acne treatment that works for you 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *