Acne Sucks. Clearing It Up Doesn’t

Skincare is incredibly important to me.  As someone who’s suffered from acne since day 1 of puberty, I’ve had a roller coaster ride of trying to find the right products and treatments for me.  I dabbled with ProActive early on (thanks dad for calling 1-800-PROACTIV lol) and teen facials from my local spa.  But none of this helped.  And as a teen coming from a fairly conservative family, birth control for “hormone control” wasn’t an option early on.  Makeup wasn’t much help either, since I went to a Catholic all-girls school and it was kind of weird to wear makeup at a school for all girls.  We prided ourselves on not having to “dress it up” since there were no guys around “to impress”.  This was all pre-college.

Once I got to college, I tried out lots of face masks that claimed they were “amazing, magical acne cures” and even gave birth control a whirl.  None of this helped either.  Don’t get me wrong, my face cleared up at times but never enough to feel like I could confidently walk outside without makeup.  And while the cheap, drugstore makeup I was using covered it up pretty well, it definitely wasn’t good for my skin.

Finally, after years of spending thousands on skincare products, I’m finally seeing my skin clear up.  *PS THIS ISN’T A SPONSORED AD*.  I’m just really excited about my skin and want to help other people out.  I’m so thankful to these products because I feel like I can finally go outside and not be judged.  I get a lot of these products are pricey but I don’t restock often (every 4-6 months) and and they nearly completely cleared up my skin.  And taking medications and hormones wasn’t the route I wanted to take to clear up my skin.  I’m pretty distrustful of medications and only use them if absolutely necessary (i.e. if I get pnemonia or am hospital bound–we can thank my Mom coming from the former Communist Poland and her distrust of all things authoritative).  So for that reason, I refused to take any hormone pills.  Actually, it makes me really angry when dermatologists only recommend hormone pills/birth control, as my dermatologist did.  He said there was no holistic way to clear up acne.  I’m here to say this is UNTRUE.  Because I’m not taking any and all my products are working for me.  I talked to my esthetician about this and she helped lead me in the right direction to products that actually work for my face.  Go see her because she is a life saver – Corinne at Spa Nordstrom in Troy, MI.

So here’s my daily skincare routine and things I do to help my skin.  Also note that I have combination skin.  It’s super oily around my T-zone (forehead, nose, upper cheeks, chin) and dry around my jawline and the rest of my face.  I also have mild rosacea and red undertones in my skin.


  1. I wash my face with PCA Skin’s Facial Wash and dry it with a microfiber towel.


  1. I use a serum afterwards.  I’m currently using PCA Skin’s Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum but have used Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate too.  They both are really great products.  Kiehl’s is more affordable but I like the texture of PCA Skin’s serum more.
  1. To reduce the redness in my skin, I dab on a bit of PCA Skin’s Dual Action Redness Relief on my nose and upper cheeks and sometimes on my forehead, since these are my most red areas.  PCA Skin also has a redness reducing serum called Anti-Redness Serum.
  1. Lastly, I put on a moisturizer with SPF.  I know everyone says you HAVE to wear a moisturizer with SPF during the day but if your foundation has SPF, I don’t find this to be super necessary.  Nonetheless, I usually use an SPF moisturizer.  My current daytime go-to is Trish McEvoy’s Beauty Booster SPF 30 Cream.


  1. I also sometimes use tinted moisturizers if my face is looking especially reddish.  My favorite is Trish McEvoy’s Beauty Booster Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30.  It does a great job of covering up the redness but I wouldn’t recommend it for dry skin since I feel like it dries my skin out a bit.


  1. Now you can put on (or don’t put on) makeup!

I sometimes use essential oils instead of a hydrating serum.  It depends on the season because essential oils will dry out your skin, even though it gives you a dewey look afterwards.  So I try to use essential oils during the summer, while I stick with hydrating serum during the winter months.  This can be rotated in and out depending on the oiliness or dryness of your skin!  My two favorite essential oils are Rain South Africa’s Lavender and Jasmine Oils.


Okay so the nighttime routine is more time consuming because your face is tired from being out and about all day and needs to be rejuvenated before you go to bed.  It’s SO important to treat your face before going to bed.

  1. Remove all of your makeup.  I use Trish McEvoy’s Makeup Remover with organic cotton pads.  Typically it takes two cotton pads (front and back) to remove all my face and eye makeup.  Trish’s makeup remover doesn’t irritate my eyes and doesn’t leave my skin with an oily film (you guys know what I’m talking about and it’s so gross).


  1. Wipe off any excess makeup and makeup remover with a warm, damp microfiber towel.
  2. Next I use Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser.  It has these little exfoliating beads in them that are amazing for getting rid of the top layer of dead skin cells on your face and any leftover makeup.  However, I only use this cleanser when I’m not using an exfoliating face mask afterwards.  I don’t want to over-exfoliate because it over-stresses my skin.  So I’ll use the PCA Skin Facial Cleanser I mentioned in the “Morning” route above instead.
  1. Dry your face with a microfiber towel.
  2. FACE MASK TIME!!  This is one of my absolute favorite parts of the day and I love to experiment with different face masks.  I use one every day.  Currently, I’m rotating every other day between an exfoliating and a moisturizing mask.  (Steps after the mask continue after I go on a tangent about how obsessed I am with face masks).

My exfoliating mask is Tata Harper’s Clarifying Mask.  This seriously saved my life.  If I could tell anyone to get one product to help with their acne, this would be it.  Apply it on dry skin and leave it on for about 10 minutes.  15 max.  Leaving a mask on longer than the instructions say won’t help you.  Actually, it could damage your skin!  I slightly wet my hands and rub the mask in circular motions on my face.  This might sting a bit but that’s normal.  I kind of aggressively rub against my jawline, nose, chin and temples, since this is where little blackheads like to form on my face.  Then wash it all off with your hands and then take a damp microfiber cloth to remove the rest.


My hydrating mask is Kiehl’s Calendula and Aloe Soothing Hydrating Mask.  This mask is funky because it has a jelly-type texture.  Again, I put this mask on dry skin but make sure you leave a fairly visible layer on.  Leave it on for 5-10 min MAX and then massage it into your skin with wet hands.  Then take it all off with wet hands and then afterwards with a damp microfiber towel to remove the rest.


I’ve also experimented with other masks and these are some of my favorites:

Nügg Flaxseed & Peppermint Oil Revitalizing Face Mask: You can get these at Whole Foods for like $3 in individual pods.  They’re really refreshing and it soothes your skin so much.  Pro tip: put it in the fridge beforehand to make it feel even more cool and pepperminty on your skin.  


Kiehl’s Ginger Leaf and Hibiscus Firming Mask: This is a great overnight mask that doesn’t over-hydrate your skin but instead leaves it feeling firm (hence the name) and like you filled in wrinkles that are starting to form on your face (we all have them, don’t lie).  If you use this mask, you don’t need to put on a serum or moisturizer.  Just leave it on overnight.


Trish McEvoy Triangle of Light Eye Mask: I don’t get dark or puffy eyes but if I’m seeing those lines under them from being sleep deprived, I’ll throw these on for about 5-10 minutes.  They do lighten up the area around your eyes and give it some extra serum that helps.  I have no clue what the serum is but it helps.


      6. After taking off my beautiful face mask that makes my face feel totally rejuvenated, I put on some serum.  You can use one of the serums I mentioned in the “Morning” routine.  I also really like the Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser.  I know it’s labeled as a cleanser and is supposed to remove makeup but it has a lot of ingredients that nourish and moisturize your skin, so I use this as a serum alternative sometimes at night.


      7. Time to moisturize your skin!  I go between a few different moisturizers.  My daily one is Tata Harper’s Clarifying Moisturizer.  I also really love Tata Harper’s Rebuilding Moisturizer because mattes out my skin since my face gets oily.  I also sometimes (1-2 times a week) use Trish McEvoy’s Even Skin Vitamin C Cream.  It stings a bit but that’s just the Vitamin C doing its magic.

And VIOLA!  You are ready for bed!


  1. EXFOLIATE.  This is so important and should be done once a day.  Get rid of those dead skin cells!
  2. Never go to bed with makeup on (DUH).  You’d be shocked at how many of my friends don’t do this after a night out.
  3. Please don’t use those makeup wipes from the drugstore or anywhere else.  They just spread dirt around your face, not clean it up.  Use makeup remover and cotton pads instead.
  4. Microfiber towels are one of my greatest discoveries (thanks to my esthetician’s recommendation actually – s/o to Corinne at Nordstrom Spa).  I found these awesome baby microfiber towels on Amazon from Sinland that are perfect for travel and I get about 4-6 uses out of each one before washing it.
  5. The Biore Pore Strips are terrible.  Don’t use them or any other peelable charcoal mask on your face.  When you peel it off, it does remove some of the blackheads and crab in your proes, but it also removes a lot of facial oils that are important for your skin to repair itself.  It also will sometimes rip off layers of skin really aggressively and leave you with flaky, dry, peeling skin later.  The exfoliating masks and cleansers I mentioned above are way better and safer for your skin.

I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on any skincare updates, my favorite masks, etc.  I’m actually going to a Tata Harper event this weekend at Nordstrom, so I’m excited to see what new products they have!

PS: Me smiling in Florida because I didn’t wear makeup except for one day (for Church – no makeup in the pic below) and because I love my Tata Harper Facemask.

xoxo Kasia

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