Great looking skin only mattered to me once I no longer had it. Having emerged unscathed from the teenage acne years by employing a simple, low-maintenance Noxzema regimen, I didn’t think much of my skincare routine.
But when I got to college, I started getting pimples on my cheeks pretty frequently. Was it the 2 a.m. cheesy fries? The midterms? The bad sex? I never figured it out, but the one thing I did know was that freshman year was the most inopportune time for the breakouts that I had dodged during adolescence to show up.
Thus began my obsession with finding the product that would cure my adult acne.
My first stop was Proactiv. I won’t go into too much detail, but just know that it damn near burned my face off. I used the much publicized potion WAY longer than I should have, at the behest of friends who told me that it would get worse before it got better.
It never got better. I was pretty bummed because, in the words of loyal Proactiv user Diddy, “I didn’t want no bumps on my face.” Plus I know it works well for many other people -- not me. But I decided to not torch my skin anymore and I gave it a break by opting for Dove bar soap. It was gentle enough on my body and I figured it wouldn’t wreak havoc elsewhere.
The Dove was mild, to say the least. At times it felt like I wasn’t even cleansing my face at night. Whether I’d simply splashed my skin with water or actually washed it with soap was anyone’s guess. The breakouts didn’t stop, but the face-fire that Proactiv set had been extinguished.
Next, I went the all-natural route. I followed a now-defunct beauty blog run by a woman who called herself “The Moptop Maven.” She had dewy, glowing, chocolate brown skin and I trusted her advice. Moptop swore by the “oil cleansing method,” which involved slathering your face with the essential oil best suited for your skin type (mine was grapeseed oil, ideal for oily, acne-prone skin), then placing a hot towel on your skin to open your pores so the oil could seep in, and finally rinsing the oil off with cold water, thereby sealing your pores closed.
I’m not sure if it was because I had tried this method at the peak of summer, but I was effectively a greaseball. Not only was my already oily skin shining bright like a diamond, but the excess moisture had also exacerbated my acne problem. I reassigned grapeseed oil as a salad dressing ingredient and never looked back. (Again, this may work for you which is great. For me? A big old no.)
I resolved then to only treat my zits on a case-by-case basis. A friend had recommended Dermalogica’s concealing spot treatment, and I was sold on the product since its active ingredient was sulfur, and not the salicylic acid that had failed me many times before. The treatment worked for me, but only if I caught a pimple in its very beginning stages, before it was anywhere near the surface of my skin. Still, it was progress.
Once I found the Dermalogica solution, I settled into a vanilla routine of Cetaphil cleanser and moisturizer, and opted to be on high alert for new outbreaks. Sometimes I caught them on time, but most times I didn’t.
Then, my skin revolution happened.
I attended a luncheon where Mireille Guiliano, author of the upcoming book French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, was speaking. At the end of her talk, Guiliano gifted everyone with a bar of her favorite soap from the Provence region of France. I figured if French women knew how to stay thin while eating croissants, then they probably knew a thing or two about skincare.
A few days after the lunch, I had dinner with my friend Jodie Patterson whose line of beauty products, Georgia by Jodie Patterson, is full of rich creams, cleansers, and moisturizers. Jodie had just come from a product shoot, and pulled a sample of Georgia’s gold luxury skin cream out of her bag and told me to try it.
Both products sat on my shelf for days before I put them to use. I swapped my Cetaphil face wash and lotion for Guiliano’s mystery bar (the label and website are entirely in French. Send help.) and Jodie’s amber-scented moisturizer. I noticed a difference immediately.
After washing with the soap and applying the cream, my skin looked healthy, even-toned, clear, and radiant. I began using my newfound beauty cocktail religiously, and woke up every day with the same results. I’d rush out of bed to the bathroom mirror expecting to catch a budding pimple, but nothing surfaced. It has been a month—the longest I have ever gone in my adult life without a breakout. And though I hope that my beauty bubble won’t burst any time soon, I’ll be racking up the makeup-free selfies just in case.
Do you have a magic cocktail for clear skin? Let's discuss.