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Post in Acne-Prone Skin
Anonymous Insider

PLEASE help. :(




not sure if this is congestion/clogged pores, or fungal acne or what. but this is just destroying my confidence. It looks better than it did a week ago. I reaped the consequences of over exfoliating about less than a year ago and I’m still trying to recover , I’ve never been able to restore my skin to how it was before. 😕


my products.

Clarins orange cleanser.

Paula’s choice BHA 2-3x/week

claudalie SOS hydration quenching serum

Sunday Riley good genes.

I tried the SR CEO glow oil but I think it made my congestion worse so not sure if I will continue use.

no moisturizer I haven’t found anything that doesn’t clog my pores..

for PM same face wash- with the ordinary lactic acid & juice beauty’s retinol.


Re: PLEASE help. :(

Sunday Riley GG and other products destroyed my skin! Honestly. I liked the ceramic slip cleanser at first then noticed crazy breakouts after adding in Good Genes. Not all AHAs are created equal. 

I would also say you’re overdoing the actives right now. The redness/inflammation is kind of signaling that. You’re using 3+ AHA BHA prods which is just too much. And retinol!? And you’re like in your 20s?

I would seriously dial back and as hard as it is — this is coming from someone skincare obsessed. Stop using both cleansers, all AHAs and BHAs, GG and Sunday Riley in general especially ceo. I think your skin actually will only take a couple weeks to calm down. 

Use retinol like 2x a week for now if at all. (I’d take a couple weeks off). 

I recommend either cetaphil lotion, cerave lotion OR Drunk Elephant Polypeptide — the only things moisturizing/hydrating that do not break me out. And EltaMD clear sunscreen if you’re going outside. Protect yourself from sun damage and scarring and let your skin calm down. Focus on lots of hydration and no scents/irritating ingredients. 

I get that this is boring but as a recovering acid over-doer I can tell you you’ll get better and can add things back gradually. But not so many!!

Anonymous Insider

Re: PLEASE help. :(

Anonymous Insider

Re: PLEASE help. :(

It all started when I was trying to get rid of some clogged pores/closed comedones. I posted some pics in the Sephora community , someone recommended Paula’s choice BHA, and drunk elephants baby facial. Others recommended good genes and Sunday Riley’s retinol. Well i got all & reaped the consequences of over exfoliating… it was BAD. 
way worse than these pics! Big pimples everywhere and I finally got it to settle down but not go back to how my skin used to be!

I had great skin no hyperpigmentation, barely any break outs, just a cluster of closed comedones on my cheeks I was desperate to get rid of.

I have drunk elephants polypeptide! And the lala cream. I’m researching a good hydrating cleanser. Any suggestions? 
i don’t care about boring…. I just want my skin back:(

Re: PLEASE help. :(

@Anonymous You've still got an awful lots of actives in your routine if you're trying to recover from overexfoliation. Between the retinol, two different AHA products, an exfoliating cleanser, a BHA, and the glow oil all with no moisturizer... it's a recipe for irritation. For a diagnosis on what you're dealing with and help with the breakouts, I would recommend talking to a dermatologist first and foremost. But then I would slow down on all the actives and concentrate on just using a basic moisturizing and healing routine for now (gentle cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen as needed). 

Anonymous Insider

Re: PLEASE help. :(

I just wanted to thank you quickly for your suggestion, it’s only been a few days and after returning every product that has actives and just sticking with my Indie Lee calming cleanser & DE’s polypeptide moisturizer + hydration serum, my skin already looks so much better/less red/ a lot of improvement. Can’t wait to see progress the next few weeks. Thank you so much 🙂 

when it is completely healed and I’m ready to jump back into exfoliants to control closed comedones, what would you recommend?

I still have good genes, the ordinary lactic acid,  the ordinary peeling solution & buffet, & Paula’s choice/Juice beauty retinol and Paula’s choice BHA just sitting waiting to be loved again. Would any of these be good ( I know not all ) or would something else be better ?

Re: PLEASE help. :(

@Anonymous I'm glad to hear you're seeing some positive changes in your skin already! After a few weeks, I'd probably try working the BHA back in slowly, two or three nights a week. BHA tends to be really good at helping with closed comedones. I would give that a couple weeks and see how it goes. If you feel like it's not having the desired effect, you could up usage to three or four nights a week or try swapping it out for the retinol.  

Anonymous Insider

Re: PLEASE help. :(

Thank you for your reply. Do you think I should stop the retinol overall then? And any cleaners or moisturizers you recommend? 

Anonymous Insider

Re: PLEASE help. :(


Not sure really the key ingredients are Java plum orange & lavender to ‘soothe’ the skin so it says. I was thinking maybe to get something that actually has a healing or hydrating property, anything you suggest?

Re: PLEASE help. :(

@Anonymous. The excellent & thorough advice that @WinglessOne. & @quspork gave  far eclipses my efforts. A bland n' boring skincare regimen will likely bring back your skin to a stable, calm place.

Besides a pared-down routine, patience is necessary, of course. And you've a sympathetic cadre here in BIC. 

There's a site that is sorta helpful when researching INCI -  COSDNA (dot) com. It has a Rating system to indicate how *potentially* irritating various cosm. ingred. are. Wishing you Success!

ps- Maybe try a very plain Oatmeal &/or Aloe Vera bar soap for the face. The type that a natural foods store carries, as it'd ideally have a very short ingred. list. If you don't enjoy it for the face, it's obv. fine for hands.

I can't really recommend super-hyped, rather pricey brands (S.Riley, D.Elephant, K.Somerville). So many Actives are featured in their stuffs. Might work well for some, but wicked aggravating for others!

1 more thing: Patch Test all the stuff!

Re: PLEASE help. :(

@Anonymous. Just as guspork wrote, slow down. Give your skin a break from Active-ingredients. 

Does the cleanser have calming properties, say one with aloe Vera, or is fairly minimalistIc? 

If you wish to spot treat the irritations, it's probably best to be v.focused.

Anonymous Insider

Re: PLEASE help. :(

I would say normal/combo leaning more towards the dry side . Sensitive & acne prone, I can’t use products with any fragrance in it!

after your suggestion I used indie lee’s clarifying cleanser , some Paula’s choice niacinimide  and drunk elephants lala cream.. woke up with my skin slightly less bumpy/red. This is just what I have for now unless someone can recommend something better 

Re: PLEASE help. :(

@Anonymous  If your skin’s very sensitive to fragrance, remember to check ingredient (INCI) lists for essential oils and fragrance components like linalool, limonene, hexyl cinnamal, geraniol, citronellol, etc. They’re in most of the products you were using: 

  • Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Overnight Serum contains 2 essential oils at the end of its INCI list. 

  • Sunday Riley Good Genes contains an essential oil (lemongrass). 

  • Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser with Orange Extract—assuming that's the cleanser you used—contains limonene, linalool, and parfum/fragrance. Also contains orange fruit water, which might have additional fragrance components. 

  • Vinosource-Hydra S.O.S Intense Hydration Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains fragrance. 

  • Sunday Riley CEO Glow Face Oil contains an essential oil (bitter orange), linalool, limonene, geraniol, farnesol, citronellol, citral, and eugenol. My facial skin's fairly sensitive to fragrance components; this oil would make my face throw a painful red tantrum. 😬

I agree with @quspork about rolling your routine back to basics (cleanser, moisturizer, and AM sunscreen) and seeing a dermatologist or your primary care doctor for diagnosis and personalized treatment options. Sounds like you're headed down that path already. 👍 I’m not sure which specific Indie Lee cleanser you recently used, but I know that brand uses citrus peel extracts and sometimes clove extract in their products. Citrus peel extracts and clove extract can contain essential oils and fragrance components. Might not be as big a deal in a cleanser that has brief contact with your skin, but you should still watch out for those kinds of ingredients since your skin’s sensitive to fragrance. 


For a good gentle cleanser, check your local drugstore for CeraVe, Cetaphil, or Vanicream cleansers. Try skipping the AM wash unless you really need it, but do wash your face each night. If you find Drunk Elephant La La Retro feels too heavy after a while, consider a moisturizer by one of the 3 drugstore brands I mentioned. I use Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer in the morning on my mostly-dry combo skin. 


Oh, and make sure you use a broad spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 30) on ALL skin exposed to sunlight, all year long, regardless of weather or season. UV rays can worsen acne and existing skin irritation, among other things. You need to protect your skin, especially while it’s in a vulnerable healing state. 

Re: PLEASE help. :(

I might stop the retinol, just temporarily to give your skin a chance to recover while you sort out your base routine. What's your skin type? @Anonymous 

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