Every skincare product that has helped my terrible acne

I posted a picture of my medicine cabinet on Instagram this week, at which point it came to my attention that some of you think I have too many skincare products. To which I say: NEVER ENOUGH. No really, I think I do a decent job with concealer but I have some pretty aggressive hormonal acne and I have a product for every phase of the fight against it. So today I thought I would take you on a medicine cabinet tour you didn’t ask for 🙂

Let me start by saying if you’re a beautiful nymph who has never had a zit and only washes their face with water this post is not for you. See also: anyone who is anti-chemicals, anyone who suggests that my face would be better if I would only… (go vegan, stop eating gluten, drink 10000 ounces of water today). I have TRIED IT ALL and have come out the side very, very pro chemical. I don’t wanna hear it! 😉 Thanks in advance.

Here are my end-all-be-all worth your money totally excellent acne treatment products:

Dr. Dennis Gross Daily Peels. These are nuclear strength and I love them. I do not recommend you use them daily because they’re super harsh. Also, they’re expensive. I use one a week. I actually cut them in half and reseal up the second half of each towelette for later in the week. Live like you’re on a college budget with the skin to prove it, kids! They go on sale during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale–the only time I’ve ever seen them at a reduced price.

GlamGlow Mud Mask. This is the most aggressive mask I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting on my face. When I remove it I can feel heat coming off my face (so it’s endothermic? Exothermic? Science nerds help?). Because of this, I tend to use it as a spot treatment for The Behemoth. You know, that mega zit that comes in on your chin that is proceeded by 6 days where you can tell it’s riding into town but it’s not at the surface yet. Put the mudmask on for those six days, preferably overnight. It really helps.

Sunday Riley Good Genes. Are you detecting a pattern here? Up until a few years ago I thought my only option was spot treatments. Now I know that PEELS ARE LIFE and promoting skin turnover helps my acne go away so much faster. I am sorry to tell you that this $100 product is the best thing that has ever come into my life. I am sorry I know it as well. I use it every other night after I moisturize (it’s intense, my mom told me not to use it every night, idk, she knows stuff).

Dermalogica Clear Start. This is a not as strong salicylic acid. I use a thin layer of it every night before I moisturize. It’s more of a maintenance thing than a spot treatment but I think I’ve seen results.

And for category 2, here are all the other skincare products that help me pickup the pieces once I have aggressively treated my acne:

Youth to the People Glow Oil. Ok, this was a recommendation from my new Haldi box (more on that in a second) and it’s been game changing. As my skin concierge explained, I have some pretty harsh products for acne, and oils can give skin the necessary moisture it needs when you’re putting intense things on your face. I have been using it nightly and it does NOT break me out and I wake up looking miraculous and dewy and my skin is NEVER dewy. My Haldi recommendations have been a great success so far–if you want them to build you a box of personalized skincare the service is currently invite-only but you can put my name in (Rebecca Rice) to build a box 🙂

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid. An acid? In the nice skin products category? Yes, yes, yes. If you, like me, could put moisturizer on your sahara desert of a face four times a day in the winter to no avail, you need a hyaluronic acid. Put it on before you put moisturizer on top and it will help your skin absorb moisture better. Magic!

Biore PA++++ Sunblock. You should know I am a sunblock evangelist. It’s the best antiaging product out there. If you start wearing it today, everyday, your skin will look much much better 10 years from now than if you don’t–regardless of skin damage already done. Listen, I’m playing the long game here because I look ok now but I’m gonna look AMAZING in the 75+ crowd. Anyway. The best sunblock is THE ONE YOU WILL WEAR (source: My dermatologist) and this is IT, baby. It is completely weightless, leaves no white cast on your face, and is never greasy.

You’ll notice some things in the picture of my medicine cabinet that I did not remark on so let me just remark now that these products were just ok for me: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil, Laneige Lip Masks, The Ordinary Retinol (I think this does its very important antiaging job, actually, I just don’t see daily effects).

Ok, I think that’s all. Tell me your desert island skincare picks! Lord knows this medicine cabinet has room for them…

14 thoughts on “Every skincare product that has helped my terrible acne”

  1. Loved the post!!
    I used to be that woman who never had a zit on her face, but my skin has changed as I, hmmm, matured 🙂 too early to say aged, I guess.
    If my skin was normal before, now it’s thinner and drier, and I have various food intolerances, so if I’m not careful I’ll eat something that will break out my skin. Sometimes it’s nothing serious and pimples would go away in 2 days. But sometimes I have HORNES on my forehead, and no product I tried before helps now! Also, I have to deal with hyperpigmentation and scaring. Anyway! I’m gonna give a go to that mud mask you mentioned and spot-apply it overnight. And you gave me courage to try The Ordinary Retinol. My aesthetician insists I give a go to retinol as it helps with marks and scars and even calms down the behemoths monsters (she says?) Thanks for the post Rebecca! And as for those who said you have too many products… let’s see their faces in their 50s 💁🏻‍♀️✨


    1. Hahaha love all of this friend! Ok for acne scars I’ve actually done some laser resurfacing and I’m really happy with it (my aesthetician did it). It’s expensive ($100-$200) but I will probably do it one more time. I did two treatments and my scars are so much better now!


  2. Clinically-proven chemicals (including prescription ones) are the way to go, in my experience! I went straight from bad teenage acne to bad adult hormonal acne, so I’ve been using prescription acne treatments (primarily Retin-A Micro 0.1%, some other products mixed in at times) for well over a decade now. Using hormonal birth control (I use Syeda, a Yazmin generic) is also necessary for me to keep my skin under control, alas. Over-the-counter products that have helped me in the past include the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA/Salicylic Acid liquid and various Vitamin C serums (really hard to find a reasonably priced one that’s more shelf-stable, though). Sadly, my skin’s gotten more sensitive as I’ve gotten older, so I can’t currently handle regular use of over-the-counter “actives” on top of using Retin-A Micro at the moment. I use argan oil from Trader Joe’s as part of my moisturizing routine.

    The one “you should try x” lifestyle tip that does have noticeable benefits for me personally is cutting down on dairy products, because I do eat kind of a lot of them normally. My skin isn’t perfect when I go without, but it does improve noticeably. But I really love my lattes, cheese, and ice cream, so I can never stick with it…


    1. I have tried Vitamin C and I just don’t see results…am I doing it wrong?? Haha the only lifestyle tip that works for me is not drinking..I think it really inflames my skin, which is just too bad because I really like wine!


      1. Hm, so I like Vitamin C mainly because my skin gets a lot of dark spots after the acne has healed. The one noticeable benefit I get from Vitamin C is that it speeds up the healing process for those a bit, maybe it’ll take 5-6 weeks to noticeably fade rather than 7-8 weeks, something like that. I think Vitamin C is supposed to have anti-aging benefits too, but not that I’ve ever seen on my own skin. (Though alas, my acne concerns are so front-and-center for me, it’s hard to even notice small aging-related changes to my skin!)

        One other complicating factor is maybe that there aren’t a lot of good, reasonably shelf-stable Vitamin C serums out there. I think the only ones that worked for me even a little are the Paula’s Choice (but it has a short shelf life even in the fridge, by the end of 2 months it starts to oxidize) and the Timeless 20% C+E Ferulic (but it can cause bad breakouts on some skin types and while the pricing on Amazon is great, one can never be sure how long the bottle’s been sitting on a shelf at their warehouse).


      2. I recently had good luck with Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C serum. It definitely improved my overall skin texture and made it more even, and lightened dark spots from previous breakouts within probably 4 weeks. It’s also affordable! Even the experts at Beautypedia think it’s pretty good, and they hate nearly everything, so I take that as a win.



  3. Haha as a fellow hormonal acne sufferer (also in the 30+ age range, which is just insulting because I now also have fine lines), I feel this so hard.

    Two of my faves that you have but didn’t comment on: cera ve cleansers and cetaphil lotion. Because sometimes you need a boring, cheap cleanser and lotion to balance all the expensive acids.

    Also, I’m a big fan of Paula’s Choice BHA for affordable, gentle daily exfoliation. Looks like you’ve got that covered with dermalogica but just in case you want another option.

    I really, really want a big bottle of Good Genes. I used a sample and it’s $$$ but so good.


    1. Hiii love this!! I love my CeraVe but Haldi recommended I make a switch because it has parabens in it. I haven’t done enough research into the health risks linked to parabens yet to make a decision, though! I have heard only good things about Paula’s Choice. Maybe I should give in! Hahaha


      1. I’m not anti paraben per se – like if I can find a product that works without it, cool, but I can’t always because sometimes the alternatives add things that are harsher.

        But if you want a non-cerave cleanser, I’m currently loving La Roche Posay Toleraine – the gel one for oily skin. It’s gentle but gets crap off my face, and no fragrance or parabens.

        I also like the cetaphil lotion a bit more than cerave I think, and it doesn’t have parabens. In winter when I need more moisture I out manuka oil on top. Might try HA underneath this winter to see if that helps.


  4. My hormonal acne literally disappeared when I was prescribed benzyl peroxide gels for night use. Had great success for years with the combination of benzyl peroxide and adapalene, until going off it due to pregnancy and having wicked hormonal breakouts every month (but with scars that took much longer to heal). Laser treatments helped a bit, but not enough. I’m now using a pregnancy-safe benzyl peroxide and clindamycin combination and can honestly say I haven’t had a zit in close to a year! Topped with a simple cleanser like Cetaphil and good moisturizer / sunscreen combo, and at 30 I finally have consistently clear skin.


  5. Also I said manuka oil above, but meant marula oil. I used a sample of the drunk elephant one last winter but the ordinary makes a cheap version!


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