Acne Regret #1: Overdoing it with actives and prescriptions

Over the past decade I’ve made a number of regrettable decisions when it comes to treating my acne, and I wanted to share these regrets in a series of posts for all my of acneic friends out there!

I used to blast my skin with every sort of active ingredient and prescription ointment known to humankind because I was so frustrated with the negative feedback I received about the way my acne looked, and the physical irritation of cystic acne was no joy either. Because of this, my skin barrier was super fragile and my skin became quite dehydrated, red, and sad. My skin never had a moment to breathe and repair itself, and it showed. •

In a bout of desperate online searching I came across @liahyoo ‘s video “Clear Acne without Acne Treatment: Minimal Acne Skincare Routine”, and it entirely changed the way I viewed and treated my skin. Following Liah’s instructions I tried downsizing my skincare routine to just a cleanser, toner, hydrating product, and sunscreen for a number of weeks to see what would happen.

This little skin rest gave my skin barrier a chance to chill the hell out, and my skin became less irritated and dehydrated. Only after a long break using just the basics did I begin to gradually (VERY gradually) incorporate AHAs and retinol back into my routine. Even now that my skin is relatively clear, I still revert back to my barebones routine of @tatcha Deep Cleanse, @herbivorebotanicals Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Green Tea Toner, @zoskinhealth Rozatrol Normalizing Serum for red, sensitized skin, and whatever sunscreen isn’t breaking me out at the moment.

If you’re in the same boat I was, or are overwhelmed by the hoard of skincare products in your bathroom cabinet, sometimes it’s nice to just press pause and keep it simple for a bit. It’s been a long, LONG process but I’ve finally gotten my skin to a point where it doesn’t physically irritate me, I have minimal breakouts, and my redness is at a fairly manageable, healthy level.

Fungal Acne: I needed this video a year ago!

About a year ago I got this weird rashy breakout on my forehead, and I could not figure out what to do about it. I worked at a spa at the time and the estheticians just told me it was likely a stress rash, and told me to keep using the acne products that I had from there. Eventually it did clear up, but it was really quite stubborn and caused me a lot of grief. Not to mention it was unbelievably frustrating because I didn’t know specifically what it was or how to fix it.

Then this video popped up on my subscriptions feed last night, and I knew instantly that this had to be what I had on my forehead last year. I can’t say for certain obviously that it was for sure fungal acne, as it was never diagnosed by a dermatologist, but the pictures, causes, and symptoms all align with my experience of it.

I am so grateful for Youtubers like Liah Yoo who work so hard to do their research and do more than recommend whatever expensive skin care line is trendiest at the moment. I wish I had known how to treat fungal acne last year!! At least this time around I am prepared in case it ever comes back full force.


Going foundation-free semi-permanently has been on my mind a lot this past year. When my skin was really clear, I was going without face makeup to work the majority of the week in the summer. However, as my skin started to break out due to hormones and severe stress this semester, I found myself reverting back to my old unhealthy relationship with foundation, where I felt that I had to cover my acne at all times because it was ugly. I realized that I was getting back into this negative puddle of self esteem crisis, and wanted to get out of it because I started doing the usual spiral into self hatred and feeling ugly.

I had seen Liah Yoo’s #foundationfreesunday posts a few times on Instagram, and today I finally went and watched her “How to Go Foundation-free”  video. I really like Liah because she’s not only super knowledgeable but absolutely kind and positive and lovely. Her video made me realize that going foundation-free more often may help my skin recover from these stress breakouts, and eventually I may re-develop that confidence I had when I had clear skin. In lieu of this, I started looking for more foundation-free videos and Youtubers, and made a personal goal of going foundation-free three days and week and going from there. I’ve compiled a very list of foundation-free tutorials, if you’d like to check it out as well!

Foundation-Free Youtubers/Youtube Tutorials:
JkissaMakeup: Here’s a video in which Jkissa describes how and why she goes foundation free. What I found particularly helpful is her section of the video where she discusses contouring and adding blush to foundation-less skin. I personally love her because she’s cruelty-free and manages to create really flawless looks without using foundation. From what I’ve seen from following her for awhile, she does have pretty dry skin and tends to go for a dewy finish.

The Anna Edit

Mariah Leonard

Keara Graves: Side note: I really enjoy that she is gender inclusive in her tutorial!