I’ve had a relatively bane-free adolescence, and my skin woes thus far had revolved around sensitivity due to dryness, eczema and the occasional zit or two. The last bottle of Mario Badescu Drying Lotion that I bought was from 2014… which gives you idea of how infrequently I needed it. But since the beginning of this year, my skin has taken a dramatic turn. You may have heard me lamenting it on several occasions here in the context of skincare, and I was determined to find the “cause” of the breakouts. It has taken me months to finally admit that those pesky zits that keep popping up and refusing to go away are not just the random hormonal/dietary insurgence, much less the result of inappropriate skincare, but a perpetual state of adult acne. The change in mindset has set me on a course to figuring out how to get things under control, and I am in the midst of rebalancing my skincare routine to learn to live with my adult acne. So, today I would like to share with you 5 basics that have made it into my daily life!
Before I delve into the products, let me first put things into context. My skin is dry and dehydrated, even with the break outs that I’m experiencing, excessive sebum or oil is not the problem. Hence it has been tricky for me to fix the problem because most acne treatments tend to focus on drying out the zits, which only results in severely dry flaky patches on my already dry skin. When it was only 1-2 random isolated zits, I could still apply things like the infamous Mario Badescu Drying Lotion and other similar salicylic acid-based products on those zits alone. But when it grew into clusters, those products dried out my cheeks and caused sensitivity-related problems like eczema to flare up.
In spite of the differences between adult and pubescent acne, the way a pimple develops is the same. When pores get clogged due to dirt / improperly removed makeup / dead skin cells / etc, natural skin sebum gets locked in, forming white heads and black heads. And when bacteria moves in on those wells of sebum, it results in pimples. This bacterial infection spreads and acne, and if improperly treated or left unchecked, it can be very devastating. So with the 5 basics that I’m introducing today, I’m focusing on keeping the skin relatively clean and free from clogged pores, while respecting my mature skin’s hydration needs.
1. June Jacobs Anti-Aging Blemish Control Foaming Cleanser
I love self-foaming cleansers because they feel so much gentler on my skin and hands, and just generally saves me time in the mornings. This June Jacobs Anti-Aging Blemish Control Foaming Cleanser quickly became my favourite morning pick-me-up from the moment I received it. It is incredibly gentle on my skin, does not sting in the slightest even when I had tiny open wounds from trying to pop those zits. However, don’t be fooled by it as it contains 1% salicylic acid, tea tree oil and willow bark extract to address those zits and white/black-heads and encourage cell turnover. The key is in the thoughtful blend of anti-irritants, anti-oxidants and soothing ingredients such as blue daisy extract, turmeric extract and camphor. This is my top pick for those suffering from acne and dry irritated patches on the skin at the same time!
For a full list of other ingredients other than Salicylic Acid, please refer here. June Jacobs Anti-Aging Blemish Control Foaming Cleanser is available at Sephora, priced at SGD83 for 150ml.
2. Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleansing Gel
In case a face full of foam does not feel “clean enough” for you (I sometimes feel I need something more thorough at night to remove every last trace of makeup and dirt), you should check out Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleansing Gel. The namesake Irish Moor Mud contains high levels of organic content, and boasts a host of reparative and anti-aging benefits for the skin. However, what really gives this cleansing gel its signature black hue is the addition of activated charcoal, which draws out excess sebum from the skin and cleanses the skin well. Lactic acid and salicylic acid both make an appearance here, clearing away dead skin cells and helping to unclog those pores.
The gel texture is lovely and soft, moulding to the skin well and works up a decent lather when mixed with water. It cleanses my face well without leaving it feeling tight nor uncomfortable. The full list of ingredients can be found here. Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleansing Gel may be found at Sephora and retails for SGD75 for 250ml.
3. The Body Shop Tea Tree 3-in-1 Wash, Scrub & Mask
The Body Shop’s Tea Tree range of acne-busting skincare is a popular favourite amongst teens, and one that has established itself in our mass consciousness. Tea Tree oil has anti-viral and anti-fungal benefits, and is deemed to be as effective as benzoyl peroxide at treating acne without causing any redness and peeling. In addition, this cleanser has Kaolin clay to remove excess sebum; and salicylic acid to help remove dead cells.
When my skin is most stressed out and irritated, I don’t always reach for physical exfoliants. But occasionally, I find myself looking for one to clear out the dry scabs and flakes. It is also a good idea to exfoliate those fresh scars before applying any scar-lightening treatments to boost absorption. The Body Shop Tea Tree 3-in-1 Wash, Scrub, Mask contains some physical exfoliants that feel decently rounded that they don’t cause further damage to my delicate skin. I use this about once a week or when needed in the morning, taking a quarter-sized amount in my palm and massaging it onto damp skin in circular motions. After rinsing it off with warm water, my skin looks fairer and brighter. There is also an invigorating fresh minty sensation afterwards that perk me up. It may also be used as a mask – simply apply a thicker layer on dry skin, leave on for 5 minutes then rinse off.
For a full list of ingredients, please refer here. The Body Shop Tea Tree 3-in-1 Wash, Scrub & Mask is available at all The Body Shop stores, and retails for SGD29.90 for 125ml.
4. The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution
I hadn’t made it a point to start collecting many serums designed for purging acne as hydration ranks higher in my list of priorities, and an all-over concentrated product for drying out acne just does not quite fit. In my youth, I had tried out The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil and found it to be too strong and stingy for my sensitive skin. So I approached this new Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution with a good dose of caution, and only applied it to my problem areas. However, as my acne worsened (due to long-distance air travel and the recent bout of haze and stress), I started applying this rather liberally all over my face. Surprisingly, this new serum did not sting nor irritate my skin! Instead, it helps to keep my skin balanced, absorbing excess sebum without drying it out excessively. It contains the namesake Tea Tree oil as well as salicylic acid to treat acne, and is balanced by aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder and sodium hyaluronate to sooth and hydrate. The light watery texture is quickly absorbed by my skin, and allows me to proceed with the other steps of my routine right away.
The bottle I have does not contain the ingredients printed on the back and I do not have the original box with me. However, I found them listed on Makeupalley here. The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution is available at all The Body Shop outlets, and retails for SGD32.90 for 50ml.
5. Algenist Perfect Clarifying Pore Corrector Mask
There are lots of clay masks in the market, but many of them leave my skin feeling like the Sahara Desert. Until recently, clay masks did not feature very highly in my beauty arsenal, and they were not the most attractive in terms of texture and appeal. However, I recently discovered Algenist and hailing from one of my favourite cities in the world, I found this Perfect Clarifying Pore Corrector Mask to be irresistible.
Apart from the traditional Kaolin clay, this mask features Algenist’s trademarked blend of polysaccharides extracted from algae, that promotes cell turnover and protects from environmental aggressors with strong antioxidants. The Algenist Perfect Clarifying Pore Corrector Mask comes in a bouncy gel texture that allows for a thin layer to be spread easily across the entire face, and layer up more as needed. It dries quickly within minutes, and also contains tiny physical exfoliants that further helps to remove build up of dead cells and dirt. This is perhaps the most deep cleansing mask that I like to use without stripping my skin of its essential moisture.
For a full list of ingredients, head on over here. Algenist Perfect Clarifying Pore Corrector Mask may be found at Sephora, and retails for SGD55 for 60ml.
These are all lovely basic skincare items that help to keep my acne in check. They do not completely eradicate the problem though, but keep the problem from getting out of hand. I am still learning my skin’s evolution, and will keep you posted on my progress! In the meantime, if you have any experience with adult acne, and tips to share, please leave me a comment below!
I’m fairly confident that you, my dear readers, are savvy enough to know that this post merely represents a selection of products that I consider to be “basics” for keeping my skin clear and free from congestion, which is the root of acne. These 5 products do not make up my actual daily skincare routine, clearly I do not use 3 cleansers + 1 mask all at once! Also, I do NOT recommend you do that! I believe in picking and mixing products selectively as it suits your skin conditions at any point of time, and love trading ideas in the comments section below.
However, I would like to point out that much as I love comments (and hence do not require pre-approval before comments are made public, nor do I moderate them), I have to draw the line at brands or PRs who hijack my platform and the conversation to promote their own products or embed links for commercial purposes. I do not feel such practices promote the integrity of this site, and I hope this community respects my policy.
This post featured products that were kindly provided for my consideration. Regardless, all opinions expressed here are my own honest, unbiased views.