My Tried & True Non-toxic, Natural Skincare Routine for Acne-prone Skin that WORKS!

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My journey with non-toxic skincare started about 13 years ago and I can’t believe that much time has passed! I’ve seen the incredible evolution of natural, plant-based skincare from where it started to where it is now and let me start by saying that natural skincare has come A LONG way! ๐Ÿ™Œ There are SO many options now that it’s actually become overwhelming and I’ve often made the mistake of trying too many things at once or venturing into skincare that is meant to be “one sized fits all”, yielding disastrous results for my chronic, adult acne. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

So, let me express how EXCITED I am to finally be able to share with you the natural skincare routine that not only helps keep my moderate acne at bay, it also feeds my skin with vital, plant-healing nutrients that offer incredible anti-aging benefits for clear, glowing, truly HEALTHY skin! ๐Ÿ‘Œ This post will contain a variety of brands that I feel are affordable, especially in comparison to a lot of luxe, organic skincare lines out there. I love to support small businesses run by people who truly care about the products they create and sell. It makes a world of difference in the end, in more ways than one! ๐Ÿ’ž

Let’s jump right in!

Natural Skincare Routine for Acne-prone Skin

Key Factors to Address for Clear Skin

Key factors for maintaining clear skin using natural skincare:

  • Balance
  • Exfoliation
  • Keeping Pores Clear
  • Addressing Chronic Inflammation
  • Nurturing your skin’s microbiome with skin-loving nutrients

If you are prone to acne and clogged pores or have been suffering from acne-prone skin for many years, like I have, your skin is most likely shedding an excessive amount of dead skin cells. These dead skin cells get trapped in our skin’s natural oil production and clog the teeny, tiny hair follicles that we have all over our face and body, thus leading to a build-up of bacteria and ultimately a clogged pore that turns into a full-on inflamed breakout. ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

Chronic acne sufferers usually have a combination of factors that lead to acne, which is why addressing acne from a holistic approach is truly ideal. The only way to do this is to look at the WHOLE picture. Factors that lead to chronic acne to consider:

  • Genetics (we can’t change our genes, we just have to make the most of what we have!)
  • What you’re applying on your skin, aside from skincare (ie: makeup, sunscreens, finishing powders, setting sprays, etc.)
  • Rule out food allergies/sensitivities that may be leading to breakouts
  • How clean is your diet? Food is fuel for our bodies to run optimally. We release toxins through our skin.
  • Hormonal Imbalances (ie: Thyroid issues, going off of birth control, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, etc.)
  • Gut health (The majority of adult acne sufferers also suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and/or Leaky Gut Syndrome).

All of the above factors can contribute to chronic acne and if you have one area that’s not being addressed, there is no magical topical solution to an internal problem. Conventional Acne Treatments aim to treat the symptoms of acne, rather than the cause of acne. Even in this case, conventional acne treatments aren’t very effective in the long run (if they ever work at all) because the acne will just keep coming back.

I’ve personally been suffering from acne since puberty (23 years now! ๐Ÿค”) and my acne became severe when I stopped taking hormonal birth control in my early 20’s. Then I began to have digestive issues and was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, which is now full blown Hashimotos Disease at the age of 34. I’ve found that I needed to look at the whole picture and the entire health of my body as a whole to really get to the root cause of why I continued to have acne even in my 30s! ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ This is an entire topic that needs its own series of blog posts, however, I want to mention it here so that you can keep these factors in mind when doing your own research. There’s A LOT to take in, but I promise, you’re not alone in experiencing this struggle! ๐Ÿ’ช

This post is ALL about my detailed skincare routine to address acne on the surface of the skin. Even if you’re still working through addressing the internal factors, your skin will definitely still benefit from this routine! So, let’s get into it!

*This post contains both affiliate & non-affiliated links; I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use the links I provide. Read my full disclosure here๐Ÿ’žโœจ*

Natural Skincare Routine for Acne-prone Skin

Double Cleansing

Exfoliation in a non-irritating manner is ESSENTIAL to slough off dead skin cells that will otherwise clog pores prone to breakouts if you allow them to build up on the surface of your skin.

The best way to really deep-clean your pores is to Double Cleanse! I Double Cleanse at night using an oil-based cleanser first and then use a second cleanser to remove the oil residue left behind. I have super oily skin, so for me, when I’ve tried oil cleansing as the only method to cleanse the skin, without using any form of traditional cleanser, my skin freaked out every single time. Every. Single. Time! I tried sticking with it for months to see if it was an initial “purging”, but, nope…just regular good ‘ol clogging leading to breakouts all over my face, in places I never even break out!

For many years, this led me to avoid attempting the “double cleansing’ method, thinking it was just adding an extra step to my routine that I didn’t need. However, after FINALLY giving it a go, using many different oils and blends of oils, I can attest that it does make a really big difference over time. If you want glowing, healthy, radiant skin, double cleansing is where it’s at!

My favorite oil blends to double cleanse with are: Sandalwood Best Skin Ever Oil blend by Living Libations or RAIN Replenishing Oil Wash Cleanser from Good Medicine.

Note: It’s interesting to note that I’ve found that certain oils that tout amazing skin-healing benefits that break me out when I leave them on my skin (like Tamanu oil, for example), if they’re included in an oil blend to use during double cleansing, I can use most oils and still yield the benefits WITHOUT the breakouts! (except you, coconut oil, you’re still a no-no! ๐Ÿ˜…) I can only assume this is because my skin is absorbing the oil to a certain degree as I apply the blend as part of my first cleanse, however, the second cleanse removes the buildup that would otherwise clog my skin from heavier oils.

So, this opens up a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to trying ALL kinds of oils I could never even look at before! Applying different oils to the skin has been all the rage in green beauty and there’s a reason for that! With the RIGHT oils for your skin, applied in a manner that works for your skin-type, plant-based oils are nature’s gifts to our skin’s health and vitality! I have never, ever yielded such amazing results with conventional skincare that simply strips the skin, rather than feeding it with essential nutrients to increase its overall health and balance.

When I double cleanse at night, I work the oil-based cleanser/blend into my skin for a few minutes, massaging in circular motions to work the oil into my pores to help dissolve build up from the day (dirt, dead skin cells, oil, bacteria). When I do this, I can literally feel the hard plugs being pulled from my pores, while any texture issues, healing breakouts, and flakey skin are being cleared away. It’s amazing to feel this in action!

To amp up the oil-cleansing process, you can either use a konjac sponge after you’ve massaged the oil into your skin for a few minutes, OR, if you have the extra cash, the PMD Clean is down-right amazing! The PMD clean is like a konjac sponge x1000, because it uses high-frequency vibration to boost collagen production in the skin, while increasing exfoliation like nothing else can! I’ve watched deep, under the surface blemishes come to a head from using the PMD clean, which enables me to use a spot treatment to heal it, whereas without the PMD clean, those cysts can build a home in my skin for weeks if not months. The PMD clean also helps speed up the healing of other blemishes that are already on their way out. It’s also really fun to be able to give yourself a full face massage during your skincare routine!

Second Cleanser & Morning Cleanser

Then I follow up with the cleanser I use both morning and night. I actually stumbled upon this cleanser when I was pregnant with my son in 2016 and I’ve gone back to it ever since! When I was pregnant, my skin was breaking out horribly, and I couldn’t turn to any of the typical, harsh topicals like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to try to control it. That’s when I found “Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash โ€“ Cleanse Acne-Prone Skin โ€“ OB/GYN and Dermatologist Recommended”, which is gentle, yet extremely effective at exfoliating and treating current blemishes! This Belli Cleanser uses lactic acid, which is derived from goat’s milk, to keep pores super clean and rid of any build-up.

I’ll be honest, this cleanser, although considered safe for pregnancy, is not the most natural option out there and it does contain the controversial preservative, phenoxyethanol. So, this may not be the best option for the Purists out there, however, after switching to green beauty and non-toxic living over a decade ago, my personal opinion is that a small percentage of a preservative like Phenoxyethanol, which rates a 4 on EWG Skin Database, is better than no preservative or a natural preservative that freaks my skin out. Plus, It’s a cleanser I’m washing off my skin, so I give more lee-way when it comes to a cleanser versus something that’s sitting on my skin all day or night.

Most importantly, in your green beauty journey, you have to find the balance that is right for YOU and your skin’s particular needs. Educate yourself to make informed decisions that you feel comfortable with, but please don’t feel that you have to be completely, 100% non-toxic in order to live a healthier life. In the end, it comes down to balance and focusing on not only on what you’re putting ON your body, but what you’re putting IN your body via food, supplements, medication, substances, etc.

Natural Skincare Routine for Acne-prone Skin

Treating Inflammation

When it comes to maintaining clear skin, the most important thing to address, after exfoliating to ensure pores stay unclogged, is the actual inflammation that’s present all over the surface of your skin, both within the current breakouts you have, as well as everywhere else. If you’re prone to acne, you have inflammation in your skin, even in places you don’t normally break out.

The first step is to use a toner after cleansing and after trying dozens upon dozens of toners that have led to more breakouts or have simply done nothing at all, I stand by Twinkle Apothecary’s Toning Mist. This is a simple blend of Witch Hazel, Aloe, and essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang, and chamomile. It smells absolutely amazing and I truly look forward to using it morning and night. Witch Hazel has a plethora of skin-healing and balancing benefits, while minimizing pores, balancing PH levels of the skin, and acting as a natural anti-inflammatory. I’ve tried the Thayers brand (which I actually keep on hand to mix up dry face masks into a paste), but I always go back to Twinkle’s Toning Mist. (โœจYou can save $5 off your first Twinkle order using the links I include in this post!โœจ).

I address inflammation with my all-time favorite, Holy Grail Status, 100% Natural and Plant-based serum that I’ve raved about for years: Nap in the Meadow Face Serum. I’ve dedicated a long, thorough review with before/after pictures, that goes into detail of all the benefits of every single ingredient in this magical elixir! To sum it up quickly here, Nap in the Meadow Face Serum is an aloe-based serum that soaks right into your skin and contains powerful anti-inflammatories such as aloe vera, turmeric C02 extract, elderberry extract, and a multitude of the very BEST essential oils to heal acne, scarring, & hyperpigmentation, such as blue tansy, lavender, helichyrum, copiaba, etc.

I truly can’t be without Nap in the Meadow Face Serum and it is the backbone of my entire skincare regimen. I use it both morning and night, 2 pumps, mixed with a face oil that DOES NOT BREAK ME OUT. This is key because there are SO MANY face oils marketed for acne-prone skin that are laden with oils that clog my skin horribly. My two favorite face oils are:

Black Locust Firming Concentrate from Earthwise Beauty, which contains Nature’s Retinol: Bukuchiol Extract. This serum HEALS skin and boosts collagen levels like NO other serum I’ve ever tried in my 34 years of life! It’s incredibly emollient and a little bit goes a very, very long way. Don’t let the high price tag scare you off. At least try the sample size! I’ve dedicated a full, detailed review with before and after photos and ALL the benefits of Black Locust Firming Concentrate in this post.

What I do to make my Black Locust Firming Concentrate serum last as long as possible, is mix it with a less pricey oil that also addresses acne-prone skin with a simple blend of oils and essential oils. Twinkle Apothecary finally released a face oil specifically for acne-prone skin and I love it! It’s a super simple blend of rosehip seed oil (great for scarring), hemp seed oil (perfect for inflammation), and kalahari melon oil (great for balancing) with a light blend of lavender, tea tree, and cannabis essential oils to treat bacteria.

The Face Oil for Acne from Twinkle Apothecary smells super earthy, but it goes away as soon as you apply it and doesn’t linger. I love blending it with Nap in the Meadow, which smells heavenly, to get that magical experience of the senses that only natural skincare can truly provide! My skincare routine is not only great for my skin, it also offers amazing aromatherapy benefits! This face oil in the 2oz size will last you forever and when mixed with a drop or two of Black Locust Firming Concentrate, you’re able to extend the lifespan of this pricier serum, while also creating the most potent, natural blend to combat acne, inflammation, and to heal the skin down to its deepest layers!

After cleansing and toning, I mix in the palm of my hand two pumps of Nap in the Meadow Face Serum, 2 drops of Black Locust Firming Concentrate, and 1-2 drops of Twinkle Apothecary’s Facial Oil for Acne. I rub this mixture all over my face, neck, around my hairline, and back of my neck where I have a lot of tension. This combo is super lightweight, absorbs into my skin, and is totally customizable depending on time of year/season, or how oily/dry your particular skin is.

If you need LESS moisture, apply 1 drop of Black Locust and 1 drop of Facial Oil for Acne and if you need MORE moisture, apply more drops of whichever oil your budget allows. Both of these facial oils are ideal for adding moisture to the skin without clogging your pores, which is VITAL, whether you have oily skin or super dry skin (either skintype can be prone to chronic acne).

Spot Treatments

If there is one thing I will never admit out loud, it’s how much money I’ve collectively spent over the past 23 years on spot treatments that DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I kid you not, both natural and conventional spot treatments are virtually useless at truly making a current breakout magically go away. I’ve tried DIY options, every prescription medication that a dermatologist can prescribe, I’ve been on two rounds of accutane in my early 20’s, and I’ve tried super pricey natural spot treatments that were a complete waste of time and money.

But, you live and learn, right? ๐Ÿ˜… At least, that’s the goal!

The difficulty with spot treatments is that many of them will bring the blemish to a head (meaning, it makes the “pus” inside rise to the surface. The issue is that once it rises to the surface, what do we do, then? Now we have a huge, very visible, raised blemish that we’re not supposed to pick at in order to prevent spreading the bacteria around and/or pushing the bacteria further into the pore. The solution is to have a specialist properly extract each blemish, but who the heck has the time, money, or ability to do that in the real world?? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ Especially if you have a lot of acne! And, during the pandemic, no one is going out for non-essential appointments (or at least, most people I would like to believe aren’t).

So, what’s the solution? There actually is a solution to this problem that has bothered me for decades and I actually only stumbled upon it this past year! This spot treatment truly WORKS the way a spot treatment is intended to work: Colloidal Bandages that you apply on the blemish itself and the bandage literally pulls and absorbs ALL the gunk out of a blemish, speeding up the healing time, making other topical products more effective at getting inside the blemish once you remove the bandage, and they completely remove the need to PICK AT YOUR SKIN! Plus, if you DO pick at your skin accidentally, these bandages will be your saving grace!! ๐Ÿ‘

I kid you not, where have these been all my life???? Are they new? Have I just been oblivious?! I don’t know, but I am blown away and so freakin’ RELIEVED! ๐Ÿ˜€

The caveat is that these bandages are now being sold all over the place and they are NOT created equal. There have been SO many crappy, crappy brands that I tried on Amazon and if you try one of those inferior brands, you’re going to wonder what the heck I’m even talking about. The bad brands are shiny, obvious on the skin, don’t adhere well and have a teeny, tiny amount of of the treatment on each patch, so not only are they ugly, they’re also virtually useless.

In order for these banadges to work, they have to stay on the skin (a lot of brands don’t adhere properly and you’ll wake up in the morning with clear, circular tiny bandages stuck in your hair, on your pillow, in your sheets–ugh!). There are A LOT of brands and different options because these bandages can be worn during the day, under makeup, and they have SO much potential, which is why choosing the right brand for these acne patches is really important!

I was SUPER excited to find a brand that offers a multitude of options, as well as one option that has BIG bandages for an entire surface of your skin that’s prone to breakouts (jawline, a cluster of breakouts on your cheek, back, etc). This was a total game changer for me!

At first, I loved the concept of the bandages, but if you have moderate acne, you’re going to rip through one box in a few days because you can only use the bandage once. Once the bandage pulls the gunk out, it turns visibly white and when you remove it, you’ll see ALL the yucky, icky stuff that lives inside a pimple. So, rather than having a spot treatment bring all that to the surface and not have any way of getting rid of it without making the situation worse or leading to more scarring, these bandages pull all the gunk out for you! How awesome is that?! All you have to do is remove the bandage after it’s full and you can apply another bandage if there’s more, or you just follow up with your skincare routine, which will heal the remainder of it!

These bandages/acne patches have been a lifesaver for me, especially in regards to minimizing scarring and leftover hyperpigmentation once a blemish does finally go away. ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Natural Skincare Routine for Acne-prone Skin

Facial Steaming/Masking Treatments

This post is SO long, but when it comes to healing acne in a holistic manner with natural ingredients, there’s just a lot of explanation that comes with it. So, to keep this from getting too long, I’ll quickly state that in order to maintain the clarity of my skin, I facial steam my skin twice a week and apply a mask twice a week. I did a full blog post on HOW to facial steam for Acne & Ultimate Skin Health and in that post, I also go into what masks I recommend and use.

Facial Steaming has been a surprising game-changer in maintaining clear skin for me and it’s another thing I only discovered this past year! I find that facial steaming ensures that my pores stay clean and clear, which makes exfoliation that much more effective in my routine, as well as maximizing the products I apply afterwards. I also show before and after photos in my post on how to facial steam plus all the benefits of facial steaming!

Lastly, I use a mask twice a week to ensure that ALL of the impurities and bacteria buildup are pulled from my pores and cleared away. I’ve found that using masks that are gentle, yet healing is the ideal face mask to keep my skin happy, clear, and glowing. I actually love mixing up different mask blends, but my two favorite masks to blend together are: Twinkle Apothecary’s Green Tea & Aloe mask (This link saves you $5 off your first Twinkle order) mixed with Earthwise Beauty’s Catharsis face mask (Code CLARITY15 Saves you 10% at Earthwise Beauty!).

Geek out with me for a little bit ๐Ÿค“ and learn about how amazing Green tea is for acne! I did tons of research on how green tea can help acne! Here’s what I found: green tea supposedly works just as well as Benzoyl Peroxide in some studies!ย Not only does Green tea possess impressive anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically, it’s also purported to reduce acne up to 50% and reduce sebum by 70%!

Green tea assists with acne so well because people with acne-prone skin tend to have a hyper-reactive inflammatory response to the bacteria that causes acne and green tea helps reduce this inflammatory response. Studies have shown that acne-prone skin reacts to bacteria much more strongly than normal skin. The immune system goes into overdrive mode when it detects bacteria, which is how an otherwise harmless blocked pore becomes an outright blemish. 

Genetics is a big part of this inflammatory response: some people are just more prone to forming pimples than others (there are a lot of other factors to address, but overall, this would explain why not everyone with an awful diet has severe acne and vice versa!) Due to genetic predisposition, acne-prone skin-types are more sensitive to androgen hormones, which leads to an overproduction of oil on the skin. Green tea helps with this by blocking the androgen hormone receptors in the skin. How does this happen? Green tea helps by hindering the conversion of testosterone to DHT in the skin; something that occurs far too often in acne-prone skin. So, green tea is amazing for acne because it counters the main reason acne-prone people form blemishes in the first place: genetic sensitivity to hormones and inflammation!

I’ve personally found that masking with matcha green tea, whether in a DIY mask, or the Twinkle Green Tea & Aloe mask, is the best way for me to reap the benefits of green tea applied topically. When I’ve tried various green tea facial serums, I had the issue of getting breakouts from other ingredients in the formula, and the type of green tea varies tremendously. So, to play it safe and get the best results, I choose to apply green tea as a mask and it can also be left on as an overnight spot treatment!

In Summary

AM:

PM:

Twice Weekly Treatments:

***Note***If you have a lot of active breakouts, you can use a matcha mask daily. Either just the powder itself mixed with witch hazel or lavender hydrosol or the mask recommendations above are both gentle enough for daily use. I mask twice a week as a maintenance now that my skin is mostly clear.***

You can save $5 off your first Twinkle order with any of the referral links I’ve included in this post!

And, you can save 10% off any order at Earthwise Beauty with coupon code CLARITY15!

Natural Skincare Routine for Acne-prone Skin

Conclusion:

Phew, I know this post is A LOT of information, but I really wanted to hit all the major points of HOW I’ve finally healed my chronic acne using ONLY natural products without any harsh topicals. For the longest time, I really didn’t think that was possible, especially after reading posts by big beauty bloggers who claim they managed to heal their severe acne with argan oil! It’s impossible to heal ongoing, chronic, moderate-severe acne with ONE facial oil, such as argan oil. BUT, I’m here to share my story to show you that it is, in fact, possible with the right ROUTINE!

The right routine will not only address those pesky internal factors I described at the beginning of this post, it will also create the ideal balance that your skin desperately needs to stop the cycle of acne. By using carefully selected products, working on addressing chronic inflammation in the skin, and establishing balance to your skin’s sensitive microbiome, your skin will drastically improve!

I wanted to wrap up this post with that information on how green tea helps to address inflammation in the skin of an acne-prone person because this really highlights why Nap in the Meadow face serum is so incredibly effective. It all comes down to curbing the inflammatory cycle and nurturing the skin we’re in with healing, soothing, plant-based ingredients that offer SO many wonderful benefits!

The best way to look at skincare is to look at it as a time for self-care. Do your mindfulness exercises while going through your routine and truly enjoy the whole blissful, sensory experience! Read a good book, journal, or listen to your favorite podcast while you have your face mask on. So, rather than seeing it as “work”, turn it into some quality, much deserved “me time”! You and your beautiful skin deserve it!

I truly hope you’ve found this post helpful! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’ž

Check out these related posts!

Guide to Earthwise Beauty: Plant-Based Skincare for Acne-prone Aging Skin!

Black Locust Firming Concentrate: My HG Face Oil for Acne, Scarring, & Aging!

Nap in the Meadow Face Serum Review for Acne, Aging, & Scarring with Before & After Photos!

Guide to Facial Steaming for Acne & Ultimate Skin Health!

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Julie

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