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Post in Acne-Prone Skin

Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

Hi, looking to update my skincare routine! I have combo skin  with some acne scarring and large pores, and moderate breakouts about once a month.


The discoloration and pores have been improving with my current routine (below), but not the breakouts.


Morning routine: I've been using the origins checks and balances cleanser, the DE c firma serum in the morning for the acne scarring (working great, I think) and the tatcha water serum for a light moisturizer.


Evening: Cleanse with origins cleaner using foreo luna, DE frambois serum (again helping overall look of skin, i think, minus breakouts), and sunday riley enzyme moisturizer. 


Mask: peter thomas roth acne sulfur mask on breakouts and t zone 2-3 times a week


So, after starting this routine 6 weeks ago,  my skin is overall looking better, but i am still getting breakouts. some whiteheads on chin and forehead, and the ocassional deep breakout on cheeks. What should I add to my routine to address this? Was thinking the SR ufo oil at night, but is that ok with the DE, combining salicylic acid and ahas? Trying to avoid benzoyl peroxide, if possible, because it dries out my skin so horribly.



Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

Hey! I have oily (and super tolerant) skin, but I also get hormonal breakouts, once a month, and am dealing with scarring and large pores.  


I noticed a HUGE difference in my hormonal acne when I started doing this: Once a week, I use Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction Pads (high percentage of BHAs and AHAs), then wait about half an hour, then apply FARMACY Honey Potion mask. I ususally do this process 2X during the week right before "the time" where I get hormonal breakouts. The honey potion mask isn't marketed toward acne, but I've noticed it does a whole lot more for me than the PTR sulfur mask.

Note: the PTR pads are pretty intense and can be drying, so they might be too much for your skin. If that's the case, I think any BHA would help (AHAs alone just don't cut it for my skin)


For my pores, I honestly found that a really really long facial massage/cleansing with a cleansing oil does wonders. I just put the oil on my skin, then sit down and watch a short show or something while massaging the oil on my face for about 20 minutes. 


For reference, here's the rest of my routine: 


AM (every day) 

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleaner (love it-- helped my acne a lot in general)

Skin Laundry Balancing Antioxidant Toner

May Coop Raw Sauce

IT! Bye-Bye Under Eye Cream

I alternate between: 

a) Eve Lom White Serum (high % of niacinimide to fade scarring) + Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Water Cream + Dr. Jart Cicapair Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30

b) Clarins Mission Perfection Serum (Acerola/Vit C) and Cera Ve Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM (SPF 30 and niacinimide)


AM infrequent additions

-Sunday Riley Good Genes 1X or 2X a week

-on days my skin is really oily and not cooperating at all: Pomegranite Tonic Lotion (instead of the Dirty Laundry), no serums, then Ole Henrickson Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator + MURAD Invisiblur SPF 30

-spot treat acne with a swipe of the PTR Pads (I used clean scissors to cut a couple of the pads into small pieces, then dab only on acne)


PM (every day)

Biossance Squalane Antioxidant Cleaning Oil

depending on the day: NEOGEN Green Tea Foaming Cleanser or NUDE Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash (RIP :'C )

Skin Laundry Balancing Antioxidant Toner

May Coop Raw Sauce

IT! Bye-Bye Under Eye Cream


One or more of the following, depending on what my skin is doing that day: 

a) Sunday Riley Good Genes or Herbivore Moonfruit Night Treatment

b) Eve Lom White Serum

c) Clarins Mission Perfection


d) Sunday Riley Luna Night Oil (it's an oil, but usually I apply it in the serums slot, wait an hour or more, then continue on to hydrators or other serums-- it seems more effective, and I've noticed it tends to pill if applied after stuff, but doesn't pill if applied first)

depending on the day: Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb or Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Water Cream or CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

FARMACY Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm or Herbivore Lapis Face Oil 


PM infrequent additions: 

1X ish a week, use Origins Charcoal powder wash as 2nd cleanse

3X a week, exfoliate with one of: Ole Henrickson Pore Balance Facial Sauna Scrub, NEOGEN Bio-Peel Lemon Gauze Pads, PTR Max Correction Pads, PTR Pumpking Enzyme mask, or a scrub I can't remember the name of that has Vit C and whole strawberry seeds in it

3X a week, wash off mask: FARMACY Honey Potion, PTR Irish Moor Mud, PTR Cucumber, FRESH Black Tea Instant, and FAB 5-in-1 Bouncy Mask are my favorites

2X-3X a week, sheet mask, which I'm not convinced do much besides hydrate, but I do it anyway because they feel nice and relaxing. 


Hope that helps 🙂

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

@kitkat8821Without knowing more details about your skin condition (are you oily in nose, dry/normal on cheeks? Do you have dry patches? etc.) and simply looking at the products you're using, I have the following suggestions for your routine:


Ditch your cleanser. The pH of this cleanser is way too high - I remember using pH strips on this and believe it tested at above a pH of 7. You need a cleanser with a pH that suits your skin, which is typically in the pH of 5-6 range. Using an alkaline cleanser will strip your skin, damage the moisture barrier and irritate it which makes it more prone to breakouts. You will get different recommendations from talking to different people, but my personal favourites are Youth to the People cleanser and Cerave foaming face wash. Both are pH balanced and work very well for my skin. I'm usually against foaming face washes (e.g., the Checks and Balances you use made my skin feel really tight and dry) but the Cerave foaming action is barely there and not from harsh surfactants. I would recommend doing your research on ingredients in skincare and look at what to avoid (sulphates, surfactants that cause foaming, irritating essential oils, etc.)


Decrease or eliminate the sulphur mask from your routine. I'm surprised you mentioned that benzoyl peroxide dries your skin horribly, but sulphur is still frequently used in your routine. Sulphur does the same thing and using 2-3 times a week could dry out your skin, which is already damaged from breakouts. Contrary to popular belief, you need to moisturize breakouts because if you dry the skin out while there's an active breakout, your skin will take longer to heal and the mark will stick around for longer because you damaged it. I can attest to this...even though my breakouts might take a bit longer to go away, the mark goes away much quicker if I nourish vs. hit it with drying products. Which brings me to my third point...


Add a better moisturizer - I really do not think the water serum is a sufficient moisturizer unless your skin is really, really oily. In general, I don't find Tatcha products to be worth the money because the ingredients are generally fillers. No matter what treatment products you use, if you don't moisturize your skin properly the breakout marks won't fade and the breakouts will still keep coming, especially with the cleanser and sulphur mask currently in your routine. I recommend face oils for all skin types. The UFO is a good start, but you might need another face oil to use if you decide to incorporate AHA into your routine.


How long have you been using the AHA? Did you use it every day right away/do you still use it every day? Did you use any other AHA products before that?


If you didn't introduce the Framboos serum slowly, your skin might be breaking out from it. It takes skin time to build a tolerance to chemical exfoliants. When I incorporated AHA and BHA into my routine (one at a time; not both at once), I did it VERY SLOWLY. I first tried every other day, then every day, then my skin looked worse so I had to back it off completely before re-introducing to my routine 2-3 months later, only applying it 2-3 times per week. It took me probably a year to be able to use both in the same routine, and even today I don't use AHA every day (I do use BHA every morning, however). I had oilier skin before but relatively breakout free; when I introduced either AHA or BHA too quickly my face broke out like crazy in tiny bumps. Before you introduce another acid, I would really try to figure out the cause of your breakouts. Try backing off the DE AHA slowly and see if your skin improves. Only when your skin is used to it would I even consider introducing a BHA. Otherwise, I'm fairly certain your breakouts would only continue and at that point adding more products will not do anything if your current routine is irritating your skin.

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

@k617 thanks for all the detail! I have an oily t zone (most oily on nose), while cheeks are normal. Don't have any dryness until winter -- what moisturizer is best for day/night? 

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

I don't think I can give you an answer as to what is "best" because it will depend on you. What is perfect for me likely won't be perfect for you, unfortunately. If you are looking to use the UFO oil in the morning, that will probably be enough. I personally use The Ordinary's Buffet serum, Dr. Dennis Gross Hydration booster, and Biossance Vitamin C Rose oil at night. It sounds like we have similar skin types, although I am aging (29) so my skin is becoming less oily every year. I don't use any cream moisturizers (Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin or Dr. Jart+ Cicapair) until the winter since I fear that there are pore clogging ingredients.


I recommend looking into squalane as a moisturizer/face oil. Our skin naturally produces squalane so I think it's less likely to irritate your skin. If using a 100% squalane, something inexpensive like The Ordinary would do... a molecule is a molecule is a molecule if there are no other ingredients in the product.

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

Thanks for the responses! Going to try alternating using the UFO oil and the DF serum at night 🙂

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

I'm not an expert on this in anyway, I just know my routine which was similar to yours for a long time until my skin got drier as time went by. I'm still dealing with scarring but I don't have acne anymore. Here are a few thoughts I have for you:


--I definitely use both AHAs plus BHAs; however, I often use AHAs at night and BHAs in the morning. When I use TLC Glycolic Serum at night I usually use a different BHA in the morning, the Paula's choice 2% one, since the Drunk Elephant TLC serum does contain some salicylic acid to begin with. On nights when I've used Sunday Riley Good Genes I've occasionally used my BHA in places where I had additional congestion, and that seems to have worked fine. That said, there's nothing to stop you trying TLC + Martian together, I would just pay attention to how your skin responds and make sure you're not going overboard. I think for me, using BHA (Paula's Choice, UFO, etc.) with TLC serum would be too much, but my skin is much drier now than it used to be.


--If you can, fitting in a retinol is good somewhere. I'm not the best person to talk on this because I don't stick to them as well as I'd like, but generally I use the Skinmedica ones because you can start at a low strength (0.25 or 0.5), see how you tolerate it, and then move up over time. 


--Benzoyl peroxide was always super drying for me too so I get why you'd want to stay away from it.


I don't know if that was in any way helpful, but good luck and I hope everything is helpful for you! @kitkat8821

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

I use Sunday Riley good genes (with lactic acid) with the Luna  oil at night and have no trouble.  My skin is normally pretty oily, ask before I started this routine I had pretty regular breakouts. I've definitely noticed a reduction in the amount of break outs I have, and my skin is much more balanced. I've used the tidal moisturizer as my AM moisturizer, but I'm

so currently using the UFO

oil and I like it a lot more!  You might want to consider grabbing a sample of that,

and the good genes to try. I broke out really bad from the DE  Glycolic unfortunately but if you feel like that's working for you, stick with it:)

Re: Updating my skincare routine advice: Combining salicylic acid and ahas

Have you ever tried the eradikate acne cleanser and spot treatment.   I have had really good luck with it.  I use the cleanser 1/2 times a week as I find it to be a bit drying, but super effective for me.  

I also use the murad clarifying cleanser which is really effect as well.  

And on a side note.  Thanks for the inclusion of your skincare routine. I will have to give some of the drunk elephant products a try.  

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