My Skincare Routine for Hormonal Cystic Acne, 2016 Edition

My Skincare Routine for Hormonal Cystic Acne, 2016 Edition

“Where do you get skin like that–from your parents or does it come in a bottle?”


Reader, I think the earth sort of wobbled under my feet when I heard that. I was wearing expensive, amazing foundation at the time, but I haven’t heard an in-person skin compliment from a [female] stranger no matter what fancy base makeup I was wearing since…gahh, maybe high school?

Yeah, I’m one of those people who had great skin in high school and then got cystic, hormonal acne once I turned 30. Chances are, your story is similar if you’re here reading this post. Welcome, put your feet up. This one is long because it’s the most important post I write each year and–WOW–do I have some major finds to share.

For a long time, I thought I’d have hormonal acne until, you know, my hormones finally agreed with me that they need to not. My mom similarly dealt with hormonal acne at my age. Plenty of people with great routines do, too. Given that I wasn’t willing to take prescription pills that drastically alter my hormones, I believed that I’d have to accept things the way they are. Were.

What a difference a year makes. One year ago I reluctantly shared my routine, expressed doubts in the products I recommended, and sounded a bit resigned to the hormonal acne life. I thought I’d be living with the same skin no matter what for at least the next decade until my warring hormones decided to chill out and move to a golf course or give up drinking/start doing yoga.

I’m not done with my journey yet, but I’m not resigned anymore.

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Skylake Oriental Herb Cool Shampoo Review

Almost two years ago I nervously walked into Skylake on 32nd Street in Manhattan while on my lunch break (I documented my visit in a post and later mini reviewed some of the products I bought, including this shampoo). At that point, I had no idea what “hanbang” (traditional East Asian medicine/beauty) meant, but somehow I knew that this was a really different approach to kbeauty than the glossiness of Su:m 37 and Sulwhasoo. At that time the shop was filled with bags of herbs, handmade soaps, and ingredient mix-ins. It was much closer to a traditional Chinese medicine shop than Sephora.

Skylake Oriental Herb Cool Shampoo Review
I remember the shop smelling a lot like cloves. It was shocking to me at first, but I grew to really like it.

The shop has since changed enormously from when I first saw it; it now has just a few shelves of Skylake products and instead has more space for mainstream kbeauty brands. Still worth a visit, but not nearly the same transportative experience completely centered on this unique brand.

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I Tried 11 BHAs and here’s my fav: Paula’s Choice Resist 2% BHA

Since discovering Skin & Tonics just over two years ago, I’ve known that a good BHA is an essential part of an anti-acne routine, but I was truly stuck on finding the right one for my skin. I’ve never fully reviewed a BHA on fan-b despite my anti-acne skincare obsession–I simply couldn’t find one that I was truly wild about. I wondered if I really needed a BHA, I’d go long stretches without one, and I sort of gave up hope. I thought that I’d have to choose between clear pores and a major dry flake situation (which could contribute to clogs and enlarged pores, so wtf) or continue to apply BHAs only when I thought my skin could handle it, leading to a lot less consistency and more breakouts.

I Tried 11 BHAs and here's my fav: Paula's Choice Resist 2% BHA
I’m on my second bottle of Paula’s Choice Resist 2% BHA; I’ve upgraded the packaging to an airless pump.
Continue reading “I Tried 11 BHAs and here’s my fav: Paula’s Choice Resist 2% BHA”