Life + Health + Vanity + Wearables

About skin.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long, long time now. Skin—and, more specifically, adult acne—is something I’ve touched on briefly here and on my old blog, but never really in depth. It’s such a sensitive, personal subject, and it’s hard to talk about. The skin on our faces is so intimate, but we show it to the world every day. I’m constantly trying to reconcile that fact.

I don’t like having my photo taken. I’m OK taking my own photo (which is why most pictures of me also contain a camera and are in reverse), but the second someone else aims a camera at me I feel extremely anxious. I imagine the photographer at home, hours later, zooming in on my skin and discovering all of the many things that are wrong with it. It feels naked; it feels bad. When I take a photo of myself, though, it’s more about the act of taking the picture than it is an examination of my face. It’s safe, and if it looks bad, I can delete it and no one else ever has to know.

It really all comes down to skin. Forget the shape of my nose or the color of my eyes or anything at all about my face, because the only thing I’m seeing when I look in the mirror is whether my skin is flaky or red or if I have a pimple or two or seven. The condition of my skin plays a huge role in defining my confidence, my overall mood and even my productivity on any given day. My rational mind tells me this is ridiculous, but my irrational mind has used personal days to stay home from work because of breakouts. So.

My skin was fine when I was teenager, OK in my early 20s…and then it just got progressively worse. I never used to wear foundation, but my the time I was in my early 30s it was a daily operation. Ridiculous amounts of time spent every morning dotting on teensy amounts of concealer over red marks with a tiny brush, all so no one would have to know my terrible secret. It’s hard to explain this stuff with anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to deal with adult acne, so if you fall into that camp, please try to cut those of us who have some slack. To be 37 years old and battling breakouts and wrinkles at the same time sucks. It makes you feel like you’re perpetually trapped in a delayed adolescence while simultaneously running out of the years when you’re supposed to look your best. It’s embarrassing. It makes you feel inept and unprofessional and dirty. And you will try anything to make it all better.

So here’s where I’m at right now, and I can say this with confidence: My skin has never looked better. Well, maybe it looked better when I was 15, but this is as good as it’s been in the 22 years since. Every now and then I have a minor breakout, but it’s generally just one small blemish that goes away pretty quickly and doesn’t make my life too horrible while it’s around.

Here’s the rundown:

1. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser
This is the least-glamorous face wash I’ve used in my adult life, and I admit I was really skeptical when my dermatologist recommended it to me. I like to use things in pretty packages that are only sold at tiny drugstores or fancy department stores. Again, I know it’s ridiculous, but I’m biased against a cleanser that’s available everywhere for $5. But yeah, my dermatologist was right, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever washed my face with. I actually use it twice at night: Once to do a quick makeup removal, and then again right after to deep-cleanse with my Clarisonic. Speaking of my Clarisonic…

2. Clarisonic Mia
I LOVE MY CLARISONIC. So much. I’ve had it for a couple of years now (it was a Hanukkah present from Daniel, who understands my quest for pore perfection), and we’ve been on a journey together. At first I loved it, and then I hated it, and then I really wanted to like it again, and now I love it and can’t imagine being without it. The trick is finding the right cleanser to use it with. There’s a lot of debate over whether it’s better to use it with a foaming or non-foaming face wash, and I really think it comes down to your skin type. For me, a gentle, foaming, soap-free cleanser works best. I use it every single night.

A couple of notes: I use the replacement brushes made for delicate skin. I can’t see why the new Mia 2 is worth the extra money, so my recommendation is to just go with the original Mia. It’s the cheapest model Clarisonic sells, and it does everything you need it to. I don’t know anything about the cheaper facial brushes that Olay and Neutrogena make, so I can’t advise you there—but I can say that my dermatologist was adamant that I only use a genuine Clarisonic. I already owned one, so fine by me!

✚ EDIT: Reader Tallin commented that is having a 20% off sale right now that includes the whole Clarisonic line.

3. Ziana Gel
I realize this might be a controversial inclusion since it’s a prescription product that combines a topical antibiotic (clindamycin) with a retinoid (tretinoin), and I hesitated to mention it at all. I’m not big on using antibiotics, and I was initially hesitant to start applying them to my face. I’ve also had bad experiences with prescription retinoids in the past. I think I just got to a point of desperation, though—I weighed my emotional well-being against the potential risks, and I decided to fill the prescription.

Ziana has been amazing. Aside from inflamed blemishes, I’m really prone to clogged pores and closed comedones. After using Ziana (just a tiny, pea-sized amount over my entire face at night) for a week, the improvement in my skin’s texture and clarity was noticeable. After three months, my face was completely clear—and I mean completely. I’ve been using Ziana for a total of six months now, and my skin just looks so much brighter and smoother and healthier. Some of the reviews I read complained of redness and drying, but I didn’t experience any of that. Maybe they were using too much or not using a moisturizer? I don’t know, I can just tell you that it’s been wonderful for my skin.

4. Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
I first wrote about this eye cream four years ago, and I’m still using it now. I usually only put it on at night since it’s a bit too emollient to wear under makeup, but it’s hydrating enough that the effects last even during the day. I’m careful when I wash my face in the morning to not get cleanser around my eyes, though, so maybe it’s just residual amounts that are doing the trick? Whatever it is, I love this stuff. No, it doesn’t cure me of my undereye circles, but it does keep the skin around my eyes soft and dewy-looking, and that’s good enough for me.

5. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse
I wrote an entire blog post about how much I love this stuff a couple of months ago, so I won’t dwell on it again too long now. The love affair is still going strong! Much like my Clarisonic, this is something I can’t imagine ever not having as part of my skin care routine. I’m forever thankful to Ilenia for recommending it to me! No more dry patches, no more irritation…just soft, happy skin.

So that’s about the size of it. I do also use a sunscreen daily, of course (a spray from Paula’s Choice that was just discontinued, much to my chagrin), as well as Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant when I feel like I need exfoliation, and Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads if my skin seems dull at all. Nothing else—and yes, that means that my formerly-beloved Mario Badescu is no longer in my life. I have a much simpler routine now, and it’s all come down to finding the right products for me.

I still feel a bit hesitant to publish this post since I know very well that skin is an incredibly personal thing and that everyone will react differently to various products, but I also understand how reassuring it can be to know that someone else is dealing with the same issues. I may not be jumping in front of cameras anytime soon and I still have no plans to ever leave the house without makeup, but at least I can look at my face now and not just see the state of my skin—and when I do, I’m mostly OK with it. Happy, even.

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  • Reply hungryandfrozen December 8, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for being so open about this. I had appalling skin in my mid-teens. It cleared up eventually but I’ve always been scared it’ll swing back that way. My skin is generally pretty okay, but whenever I look up close I feel almost ill at how blotchy and sun-damaged and scarred from the teenage acne it really is. On the other hand, partly through sheer laziness and partly through having quite sensitive skin, my routine is very simple and could probably use a shake-up – just apricot oil for a cleanser, Nutrimetics Nutri-rich oil at night, a tinted moisturiser for the daytime and tea tree oil to dot on blemishes (not that it seems to do anything, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something.) Am curious about this Ziana gel, will look into it – and also nice to know that the cheap Neutrogena cleanser has been so effective for you!

  • Reply Ilenia December 8, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I love this!
    Now I feel I have to try the kiehl’s eye cream.

  • Reply Erica December 8, 2012 at 12:50 am

    In my teens I never had more than 3 pimples on my face at any given time. I watched quite a few friends battle chronic acne throughout high school and college but I never had any issues worth seeing a dermatologist over. Now, though, at 25, I have the worst acne breakouts I’ve ever had, and its extremely frustrating. So I feel your pain. I’m still in the process of figuring out what will work for my skin. Fingers crossed!

  • Reply Allison December 8, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Ugh, I know that feel, bro. (Only I’ve NEVER had good skin; I’ve been battling breakouts since I was ten, so at this point, this is just how my skin is, and I can’t really remember anything different.) I’ve been on some form of prescription acne medicine that entire time (though rarely one with an antibiotic, since I’m allergic to so many of those). I don’t think there’s a big issue with using antibiotics for your skin — I just wish they worked better for me!

    I think I’m going to see if there’s any kind of after-Christmas sale on a Clarisonic. This post is convincing me.

    • tallin December 8, 2012 at 2:30 am

      Allison, check out They’re currently running a 20% off promo on the site, and it includes Clarisonic.

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:44 am

      Oh wow, thanks for the tip, Tallin!! I’d never heard of that site before. I’ll edit the post—that’s a great discount.

      (Allison, it’s 20% off with the code GIFT20. They have a whole Clarisonic store!)

    • Allison December 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Oh yay, thanks!

    • tallin December 8, 2012 at 11:00 am

      You’re welcome! They also carry the Peter Thomas Roth line…also 20% off. 🙂

    • ananda December 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      I have been wanting a clarisonic for a while, but was having a hard time paying that much to try something new, well I just bought a Clarisonic Mia from that totaled $78.30. It’s 30% off with coupon code 121212, and they’ll take another $5 off if you sign up for an account. Not bad!

  • Reply Chris! December 8, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Oh whoa. Thank you for writing this post. Strangely at the same time it makes me want to throw my head into my arms, sobbing NOTHING WORKS! WHAAAAAA! They should put photoshop in a bottle, that’d make piles of money!

    I’ve had acne since I was 12. I’m 35. All my acne did was move from my T-zone to my cheeks, jaw, and neck. I have 2 monster pimples that will never see the light of day, on my neck. As in, alongside my vertebrae. Why! Ugh!

    Sorry for the rant. Thank you for allowing me this…

  • Reply Lin December 8, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Now imagine having all those skin issues PLUS thick, dark facial hair. I think battery acid is my only option at this point.

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:27 am

      Lin, have you been tested for PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)? I’m sure your answer is yes, but mentioning it just in case…

  • Reply Johanna December 8, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Oh, hugs to you, Anna! Adult onset acne is totally traumatizing and bewildering. And you’re right, people can be so judgy about how you deal with it. I tried organic and naturopathic stuff for years before finally just saying f*ck it and going with hard, hard chemical drugs (minocycline). Now my skin is awesome, and I totally wish I hadn’t screwed around for so long before going to a dermatologist. Congrats on finding a system that worked for you; you always look totally gorgeous in your photos!

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:32 am

      Johanna, I actually took minocycline (Solodyn) for about a week over the summer, but I had to stop. It made me so unbelievably tired and sick…so scary. I was waking up during the night from extreme nausea and headaches. I’m glad it worked for you! Yeah, it’s an intense drug, but it’s temporary. Happy you got the results you were looking for.

    • Sara December 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      I tried minocycline too (years ago) and had the same wierdo reactions as you did Anna. I even kept the bottle and wrote “This made me crazy” so I’d never forget the name of it. Besides the headache and nausea, I actually felt like I was going insane. Now I won’t take anything that’s a “..cycline” just in case!

    • Kate December 19, 2012 at 8:52 am

      I’ve been taking Minocyclene for a few months and reading this made a lightbulb go on above my head. I had no idea it could be contributing to my crazy feeling. I thought it was the birth control. [cue heavy sigh.]

      Anna, thank you for the post and everyone, thank you for commenting. I seriously feel so relieved knowing I’m not the only 30-something who has been dealing with crap skin for the last 18 years. My skin problems consume me. I have done the Accutane thing FOUR times. My derm says I’m the first patient he’s ever had to not completely clear up after one round. Hooray!!

      Some of my acne is cystic and my skin is SUUUPER sensitive. I used Retin-A Micro Gel twice and had red, flaky irritated skin screaming at me for a week. I’ve taken every prescription medicine available and used a plethora of products, but lately I’ve had success with The Body Shop’s Aloe Gentle Exfoliator followed by their Tea Tree Oil every night. Just yesterday my fiancé commented that my skin has been surprisingly clear. Just thought I’d share some gentle products that are working for me. I have a list going of others’ recommendations too. 😉

      Now, I’ve got to focus on fixing wrinkles, dull skin, and the acne scars!

  • Reply Melissa December 8, 2012 at 1:24 am

    A great post Anna. I had great skin up until 21 years old when I suddenly got rosacea & adult acne. It seemed to happen overnight, with no warning! I find it terribly hard to look at myself and see anything other than bad skin. I tried prescription medication to no avail. Now I just kind of deal with it but I know it affects me in ways, like not wanting to be in photographs or talk to people.
    At the moment I’m using a cheap Tea Tree foaming wash & Jojoba oil, which is excellent for dryness.

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Melissa, I have intermittent bouts with rosacea as well, and what’s really worked for me is drinking apple cider vinegar at least a few nights a week. I just put a couple of tablespoons in a big glass of water and drink the whole thing down (you get used to the taste—I actually love it now!). You need to use the raw, organic kind that has the “mother” in it. Bragg’s is a good brand that’s readily available in the US.

      I can’t promise it’ll work for you, but it’s cheap and it’s worth a shot!

    • anne December 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

      My grandmother swears by apple cider vinegar … she sips on a drink of it, honey, and warm water every morning (it tastes better than it sounds).

      Thanks for this post, Anna. Your skin sounds a lot like mine. As someone who laments having worse acne at 38 than 16, and somehow also (and unfairly) dry skin, I really appreciate the product advice.

    • sue b. December 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Melissa, that happened to me as well.. all of the sudden, rosacea and very sensitive skin at 38, I did tried the apple cider vinegar a few times but not enough, however when I did tried it at the very minimum, I did noticed a change….I had huge red bumps that went away, so I want to try it again… I had tried the tea tree stuff too, but it was too drying for my skin, and after many products… I tried the Dr. Weil for origins (not cheap but a little goes a long way and it does last…), I got samples first, they last me a couple of weeks, that was enough to see if I didn’t get a reaction and to notice any change, I only got the cleanser and night cream… hope this helps

  • Reply Danielle December 8, 2012 at 1:25 am

    Well put. I started using the Mia 2 a few months ago and love it (mine was also a gift, for some reason I was hesitant until it was bought for me!). Finding skin products that you like and trust is huge; I know exactly what you mean. It starts and ends my day on a good note and I actually look forward to my skin routines!

  • Reply Michelle December 8, 2012 at 2:17 am

    I’m glad you wrote about this. I’m 28, and I had terrible skin as a teenager, and though it got better, it is still far worse than the average non-teenager. I look around me and realize the only people I know with skin like mine are 17 year olds. It’s awkward. My parents always ask why my skin is breaking out or looking better and I don’t know. It comes and goes. It’s hard to be an adult and feel like people see me as a teenager still. I am constantly mistaken for about 10 years younger than I am. Maybe that’s flattering, but it’s also weird to be constantly talked down to and to know the major reason for that is my bad skin. Anyway, I guess it’s just nice to know other adults deal with this too, so thank you.

  • Reply Annelies December 8, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m 26 and battling with acne and dry lines on my forehead while other people my age seem to enjoy the best skin they’ll ever have.

  • Reply Jackie December 8, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Thank you for this.
    I’m 35, have food allergies, wacky hormones and my skin freaks out if I eat dairy… my face can look like a war zone sometimes. I’ve gained a few make up tips to help here and there, but ugh. My mom thinks the acne is one thing that keeps people from thinking I’m in my 30s.
    The funny thing about this post, I seriously just bought a Clairsonic Mia2 tonight! I cashed out 2 days of vacation 2 buy myself something nice, (boots or sunglasses) and unexpectedly I bought this. I hoping this sucker helps me out a bit!

  • Reply Charlotte K December 8, 2012 at 3:12 am

    I’m glad you mentioned the antibiotic product because I know a lot of people who have adult acne (and teenage acne for that matter) and the only thing that ever really resolved it for them is an antibiotic. That’s what causes acne–bacteria–and there are cases where an antibiotic is appropriate.

    I don’t have a lot of issues with my skin, but it is dry and aging at this point in my life (mid-50s). I bought Huile Prodigieuse on your recommendation and it’s wonderful. My skin feels completely different. I’m not wild about the scent, it has a soapy quality to me, but it’s worth it!

  • Reply Lynnie December 8, 2012 at 4:01 am

    Great post, Anna; thanks for sharing your experience and what works for you.

    I’m in the very same boat and have just (two weeks ago) embarked on a new skincare routine that I’m hoping will do the trick to clear my own adult acne. Will be looking into Ziana gel if not, and those PTR pads look very interesting.

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Tip on the PTR pads if you buy them: CUT THEM IN HALF. Each pad contains wayyy more liquid than you need to cover your face—so wasteful. I just use clean scissors to cut the pad and then put the other half back in the jar. That effectively doubles the size of the package, making them downright affordable. 😉

    • Lynnie December 12, 2012 at 6:41 am

      Ha, excellent tip – thanks!

  • Reply amber December 8, 2012 at 6:10 am

    I was just discussing my skin problems with two friends last night! I am 28, and stopped taking the pill back in February. Ever since, my skin has been doing crazy things, and it has taken quite a chunk out of my self confidence. I always prided myself on my clear, smooth, even skin. Now, I get breakouts on my back and hormonal spots on my chin and around my mouth.

    I am not altogether sure that the same products are available in Australia, but I will ask my doctor about a topical antibacterial treatment.

    Thank you for sharing about such a personal thing.

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Amber, I’m not sure what the equivalent product would be in AU, but the thing about Ziana is that it also contains a retinoid along with the antibiotic—I think that’s the key to why it’s so effective on adult skin.

      I hope you can find something that works for you. x

  • Reply Neža December 8, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Girls, have you ever had thyreoid hormones tested? When I have them high (sadly sometimes too high), I noticed my skin allright. Maybe you could ask your doctor to send you to the lab for this blood test. There are many problems also associated with low thyreoid functioning and approximately 10% Americans suffering from it and only half of them knowing. 80% of them women.
    Just saying. Wish you all the best.

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 8:24 am

      Thank you for bringing that up, Neža. In my case everything is totally normal hormone-wise (I’ve been tested for just about everything a human can be tested for!), but you’re right that adult acne can often be a symptom of another underlying problem.

  • Reply Alicia December 8, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I have a teenage daughter who came to me in tears about her skin, so I appreciate what a deeply felt issue this is.

    I took her to a dermotologist and he prescribed an oral antibiotic and benzoil peroxide gel and suggested an over the counter soap, lotion and moisturizer. And he emphasized the importance of sunscreen.

    I was AMAZED at the improvement to her skin within a month and struck by the fact that this one visit to the dermatologist (plus one follow up) saved her years of searching through all the hundreds of thousands of products on the market (expensive and possibly exacerbating) and a lot of emotional pain.

    If one has health insurance, I would highly recommend consulting with a dermatologist.

  • Reply Jules December 8, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Thanks for this post. You are right about relatability – I’m in my 30s and because of YEARS of commitment to perfecting my makeup, people assume that I have much better skin than I do. Even with the camouflage, I’m still aware of all imperfections and in particular, the acne. I feel like a tit when I try to explain that I’m constantly trying to make my face happy — and it’s weird to feel like you’re a totally different person with or without makeup on.

    It warms my heart that you’ve broken the cycle to maintaining good skin rather than battling to keep it clear! I’ve had good luck lately with skin oils but I am so surprised about the neutrogena.

    Does this mean you’re still wearing foundation every day or is this enough to go without?

    • Anna @ D16 December 8, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Jules, I no longer wear a true foundation, but I do wear a very sheer tinted moisturizer ever day (and concealer where I need it—mostly old dark marks, capillaries, and of course under my eyes). It doesn’t do much in the way of coverage or concealment, but it does give me some illumination and a more even skin tone. Also? I just like wearing makeup.

  • Reply Anna December 8, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Bravo! My whole late teens/early 20s were spent battling acne and I’ve been on Accutane twice. (That miracle drug. It was a godsend.) Luckily (thank every little being in heaven), it’s settled down and, at 25, I feel like I’m finally in control and my skin even looks PRETTY now. It must be hell suffering through the same problems in your 30s, but it’s wonderful hearing you are able to feel better about your skin now.

    Hang in there.

  • Reply Emy Shin December 8, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Thanks for this post! I’m in my twenties and have been battling acne since my tween years. It can be completely demoralizing to see friends who suffered though teenage acne with you having flawless skin now, while yours just gets worse and worse. Around 4-5 months ago, I started using prescription Tretinoin gel, and though it took a while, my skin is slowly starting to clear. I am hopeful it’ll remain this way.

  • Reply Catalina December 8, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I’m 22 (tomorrow!), so I don’t know if I fall into your “adult acne” category, but to me I do.
    My teenage years were practically acne-free, one of my very few genetic blessings in the category of things that you get at 12-14 that make the rest of your life hard. And then, last year, STRESS! sent my body spiralling into weight loss and weight gain and hair loss and a lot of other things…and acne (womp womp).
    It won’t go away, and I know it’s stress because I just got a hormone test and my cortisol levels are high. (Although I assumed it was stress before the testing). I’m currently still a student and when exam season rolls around, prepare the concealer!

    Don’t know what my point is exactly, just that I know how you feel, so thank you for this post. I too find it unfair to get acne now, it looks so out of place! I’ll be trying some of your suggestions, specifically, I’m planning on buying a Clarisonic. I hope to find my ideal routine soon, too.

  • Reply Julia December 8, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for posting this. I think you’re beautiful, by the way, and have an amazing sense of style.

    I was diagnosed with adult acne and rosacea in my mid-20s and went through a pretty harsh trial of antibiotics because of how bad the former had gotten. Fortunately, I found a regimen that seems to work fairly well for me and involves no antibiotics: Body Shop Tree Tea Face Wash, Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Moisturizer when breakouts loom or it’s summer, Body Shop Seaweed Moisturizer all other times, Body Shop tea tree oil acne stick/wand for blemishes, and whatever Body Shop eye moisturizer I feel like trying out. See a trend?

    Your routine sounds like it wouldn’t bother my rosacea too much, so I might have to give the facial wash a try along with the eye cream once I use up what I have in the Body Shop stuff. I live in a rural area where I have to order most stuff online, so I tend to buy in quantities lest I run out!

    • Anna @ D16 December 9, 2012 at 2:18 am

      Funny, tea tree oil is one of those things I have to be reeeeeally careful with. I have been able to use it (diluted) as a spot treatment, but if I put it all over my face or use multiple products that contain it, my skin becomes very sensitive and reactive. Of course, that’s true for my skin and a lot of products!

  • Reply Leah December 8, 2012 at 11:02 am

    thanks for this post! I’m in my early 40s and struggling to figure out the changes in my skin and what products to use. thanks to the discount you posted, I am now going to try the clarisonic I have wanted for years! I also bought the nuxe oil. fingers crossed! your honesty is always appreciated.

  • Reply Beth December 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for the post. I also had clear skin as a teen, and then started getting acne in my twenties. Then last year I had a really stressful year at work and my face just erupted. I’m now on a similar regimen to the one you described, and I’m completely clear again (though I am still self-conscious of the acne scarring). Yay for scary antibiotics?

    • Anna @ D16 December 9, 2012 at 2:20 am

      Beth, are you currently using a retinoid? I still have some very very faint icepick scars (I doubt anyone else would ever notice them), but aside from that the scars are completely gone now—I assume due to the retinoid content of the Ziana gel.

  • Reply Lindsay December 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I’ve had similar issues (at 31) and just wanted to share that Neosporin can be really helpful in preventing/healing acne scars–I just put it on once or twice a day after the inflammation from the pimple has started to go down. It’s probably not right for everyone, but it can be a good inexpensive, readily available option.

    • Lynn December 11, 2012 at 3:28 am

      I second this advice!

  • Reply Abbi December 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Ohhhh this post. I totally relate. I’ve always thought the skin makes the face and its all I see when I look in the mirror. I’m so jealous of my friends that can run out for brunch with no makeup and still look so natural and beautiful! I hate being high maintenance but I just don’t feel comfortable if I’m having a bad skin day. Recently I’ve felt like I really found my groove because I found the perfect mix of neutrogena cleanser (cheap, simple, and awesome), my clarisonic, and paulas’s choice BHA (salicylic acid) and AHA (glycolic acid) exfoliants and moisturizers. My skin tone was getting really smooth and even and breakouts were lessening and totally manageable. Then I got pregnant and my face went nuts! On top of crazy breakouts I went from oily skin to dry and flaky! Totally foreign to me so all of my years of research and experimentation are down the drain and I have to figure out a new system. Sigh, anyway, I feel you sister.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:22 am

      Abbi, try the Nuxe oil! I’ve found it very effective at normalizing the balance of my skin—I have that same “oily, yet dry and flaky” thing, too, but since I started using that oil is just feels normal.

  • Reply Deanna December 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I totally understand your pain! At 32, I have finally this past year (for the first time in my life!) gotten it under control. I even did the acutain thing briefly in my early 20s, it was so bad. I was horribly self-consious (Job interviews and client meetings were the WORST) and I cried at least once a month over how bad it was.

    My secret, antibiotics from my doctor (which I’m now weened off) and a microdermabraison wand. That worked wonders, so I’m so happy to hear that your Mia is so good. I love these tools. I feel every girl should get one as a right of passage at the age of 21.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know you are not alone. And there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just finding the right cocktail and then HOPING and PRAYING your hormones don’t change to mess it up again. And just so you know, those of on this end of the screen would never have known about your skin issues unless you told us – every picture you post of yourself looks GORGEOUS on screen 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Thanks, Deanna. I would never post a picture of myself with my skin looking bad, though. I know that might sound disingenuous, but one of the best things about the internet is that you can (literally) put your best face forward. I’m also pretty handy with the makeup, and, when necessary, Photoshop. 😉

  • Reply Anne B December 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for posting this. Acne is so deeply affecting that it’s nice to connect openly with other people affected. The past year has been hard for me because I turned 26, which meant that I’ve had acne for half my life. And wrinkles are not far off at this point. Especially because of all the harsh products I’ve used to dry out my skin over the years. I’ve tried so many things at this point – probably the entire drugstore inventory when I was a teenager, several prescriptions, including Accutane (the worst drug in the world), and so many other expensive products and treatments.

    Like Chris above, my acne was just whiteheads on my T-zone through my teen years, and now i get cystic acne along my jaw line and on my neck. My boyfriend is always surprised if I mention how painful it is to get a new pimple.

    Like some other commenters, I also love the Body Shop Tea Tree oil cleanser, I am so averse to anything harsh at all. Salycylic acid is the devil in my opinion, I do not understand how this is good to put on your skin, but I know everyone is different. This cleanser, plus Philosophy oil free Hope in a Jar is my regime right now, and I use a tea tree oil treatment on breakouts when necessary.

    I’m experimenting right now with cutting gluten out of my diet. I don’t have any digestive issues with gluten, but both my dad and sister do, so I thought maybe a sensitivity could be part of the problem. Within one week my skin was noticeably less red and much smoother looking. I ate a slice of homemade pizza at a friend’s house last weekend though and not only did I get a new cystic pimple right away, I also got a cold sore on the skin below my lip. Not sure if the cold sore is related, but I’ve never had one not actually on my lip before so it seemed surprising. Now I have the holidays coming up and lots of delicious

    Anyways, I’m just rambling now, but thanks for the opportunity to share and hear what others are doing. I’m going to look into this clarisonic thing 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:27 am

      I hope you get some results from the dietary changes! I was so hopeful when I cut out dairy a few years ago that it would make a difference in my skin, but no dice. Same goes for gluten. It’s frustrating how hard it can be to identify the source of the problem!

  • Reply Mary December 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks, Anna! Older than you, and fighting wrinkles, age spots, acne and rosacea! It’s a bummer — but I look younger than a lot of my friends with clear skin (some consolation!).
    I just wanted to say that I have been using Burt’s Bees Res-Q ointment – a tiny bit! – to help clear up breakouts. I think I read about from your blog or twitter — but I find it really effective and stock up whenever I find it! It seems like oils — the right ones — may be the way to go.
    Thanks again!

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:29 am

      Yes, I did tweet about the Res-Q ointment! It’s great stuff. I haven’t been needing to reach for it as often now that I’m using the Nuxe oil, but it really is wonderful on any kind of irritated spots or dry patches. I even use it as an eye cream during warmer months.

  • Reply Kate December 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Anna, as much as I love the other aspects of your blog it’s been your posts about skin care that have had the biggest impact on my life. Brief backstory: I also had perfect skin as a teenager, but around the age 21 started having terrible, terrible breakouts. Along with a few other symptoms, that lead me to revisit an endocrinologist and my diagnosis changed from hypoglycemia to PCOS. I tried several treatments since then but didn’t have any luck until you posted about Mario Badescu. I used to feel like I could never be in a photo, and all I saw when I looked in the mirror was my red, flaky, broken-out skin. But based on your recommendation I went to the Mario Badescu counter and got a new regimen and my self confidence, and ability to see myself, have never been better. I still have breakouts and flakiness, but maybe some of these suggestions will help me with those last few vestiges of troubled skin. So, in short–Thank you.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:32 am

      Kate, that’s so great to hear. I really do know how hard it is to face yourself when all you see are the bad parts. I’m glad you’ve found some products that help you! I still stand by Mario Badescu products, and I miss them…is that weird? I think I might need to try an MB eye cream or lip balm just so I can have them back in my life.

      Good luck on your continued journey toward happy skin!

  • Reply Carrie December 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. It is an incredibly sensitive issue, and one that people who are unaffected don’t seem to understand. I had a pimple here and there in my teens, but broke out into full-on cystic acne in my mid 20s. I couldn’t even smile without a cyst rupturing, I had no idea what to do or why this was happening. I took minocycline, doxycycline, and am now finishing up accutane. Finally on accutane I have things under control and I’m thinking the right skin care + diet might help me keep it that way (fingers crossed!). You are absolutely not alone with you skin frustrations, and I really appreciate you sharing your success with a skin routine. I’m definitely going to check out some of these products. Thanks again. xo

  • Reply Natalie December 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Anna, thank you. I’ve been struggling with bad skin my whole life and I can’t even begin to tell you my horror stories although I’m sure they’re similar to yours. I just ordered a Clarisonic in my favorite color and I’m really excited to try it out!

    One thing I’ve also been trying to do is eat more alkaline-forming foods than acid-forming foods – not only does a diet like that greatly reduce the chance of cancer & every other disease and illness, it makes your skin amazing as well. I’ve only been at it for a week but my skin is already clearing up.

  • Reply Puck December 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    My son, Tatum, is 18 months and as soon as he weens (hopefully soon) I will be checking in with a dermatologist. I can’t do much about my skin freaking out… I started getting my period randomly gain which always messes my skin up, but nursing hormones are causing chaos.

    Right now I use cetaphil cleanser with my Clarisonic and Bliss moisturizer. I dab that pink Mario B stuff on but not sure that it really makes things settle down faster.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:33 am

      I think the Mario Badescu drying lotion and drying cream are two of the most effective spot treatments around! If the lotion (the “pink stuff”) isn’t working for you, try the drying cream.

  • Reply Theresa December 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    After reading your blog a while back I bought the Nuxe dry oil. I am totally sold… Bought a day/night cream and a hydrating mask as well. Love love love them all. Wanted to recommend their eye cream for dark circles, my friend says its the best. Don’t have that issue myself (yet) but I think you mentioned you did.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:34 am

      Yes, I have horrible dark circles!! I need to try more Nuxe products—especially their eye cream.

  • Reply Sally December 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I LOVE my Clairsonic too! I have had awful, terrible skin and spent vast sums of money trying everything on the market. Now at 41 I am still trying to get rid of pimple, blackheads, as well as trying to combat wrinkles. My Clairsonic has been my absolute saviour – cannot live without it EVER. It is like how I feel about hair straighteners – how did I live without this for so long????

  • Reply Lizzie December 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    This post really hit home for me… I’m struggling with the same issues, pretty much. I’m 25, and even though my teen years weren’t that long ago physically, (mentally, they feel like it) it still feels incredibly awkward to be dealing with this nonsense. There are times when I don’t even want people to look at me because of it, so I can definitely relate to how you feel. I think I’ll give a few of these a try and see what happens. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply kay* December 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Anna, I am so so glad you decided to hit “publish” – this post, and the resulting comments, was well worth the wait! I’m still trying to figure out a skin routine…I don’t have extremely acne prone skin but I do get the occasional pimple or two that just irks the heck outta me! I feel like I’m getting close to figuring out a routine though – I’ve long been a fan on neutrogena cleanser (& moisturizer)…it was recommended by my dermatologist too years ago and despite being the least fancy cleanser I’ve ever used…I always return to it because it just works. I just bought a Mia yesterday and I feel like this might be the missing bit to my routine. It’s still on the 24-hour first charge…I can’t wait to use it. I will have to Nuxe product though…sounds interesting but is it for dry skin? I’d say I have combination/oily….will have to check it out.

    The resulting comments on this post have also been an incredibly good read…I think I’l also check out that body shop tea tree oil others have mentioned.

    Thanks Anna!

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

      The Nuxe oil is really for any skin type. My skin tends to be kind of oily throughout the day but also very prone to dryness/flakiness as well. The Nuxe oil has balanced all of that out. It’s great stuff! I think you’d like the smell, too.

      Can’t wait to hear how you like your Clarisonic!

  • Reply virginia December 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    When I was 20, my dad took one look at my broken-out skin and said: I don’t know where that came from; neither your mother nor I have ever had problems with our skin. My husband commented: wow, as bad as your skin has been all these years, I’m surprised you don’t have scars.

    I finally went to a dermatologist who put me on antibiotics (great for my skin, but bad side effects). She prescribed .05 retin-a (the Obaji brand, which my skin is able to tolerate), but I only used it when I had break-outs. That was my mistake; you really have to use it on a regular basis to prevent break-outs.

    I now receive compliments on my complexion. I cleanse with MD Forte in the morning (which is being discontinued, and replaced by Vivite), and apply Jurlique SPF 30. At night I apply Obaji tretinoin .05 after cleansing, and MD Forte night II or III night cream over that – again, Vivite will eventually replace the MD Forte products. Someone mentioned the Dermalogica microfoliant – I use that too when necessary.

    MD Forte also has a wonderful mask that will probably be discontinued, but here’s the link:
    It’s the glycolic acid in these products that works.

    Ponds cleansing cloths are great, too. Part of my problem was not washing my face after an evening work-out, so I made it a habit to grab a cleansing cloth, and do a quick face cleanse.

    I’ve used MD Forte for 20 years, and it solved my problems (along with the .05 retin-A). I’m going to check out the Clairsonic now…

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Virginia, I’m sorry your dad said that to you. The idea that someone is to blame for having acne is exactly why so many of us feel shame about it. (I am glad that you don’t have scarring, though!)

    • Lynn December 11, 2012 at 3:38 am

      It’s funny, I interpreted her dad’s comment differently. Basically that adult acne didn’t used to be an issue, so why is it now? It really makes me wonder about our food supply, environmental issues, stress levels, etc. Their generation’s skin regime probably consisted of washing their faces with Dove soap.

  • Reply emily December 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Thank you for your post. I am 26 and never had skin problems or really even many pimples, but this year my face broke out in a horrible rash. It has taken months to diagnose and it has turned out to be an allergy to formaldehyde. And most cosmetics (and just about everything else….furniture, carpet, you name it!) contain chemicals that release formaldehyde over time. Anyway, now I know how it feels to not want to have your picture taken or even leave the house some days. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:40 am

      Wow, how scary!! I suppose the silver lining—if you can call it that—of your allergy is that you must have a greatly increased awareness of product safety and consumer well-being now…

    • emily @ cabin fervor December 10, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Emily, I’m so glad you figured it out! My sister-in-law recently developed a severe allergy to formaldehyde. It took a long time to diagnose what was causing her TERRIBLE and almost debilitating rashes, but once she did it caused an actual lifestyle change for her and her family. It’s crazy how few products (household, personal care, etc.) she can use now. She sews a lot, and she has to handle the fabric with gloves until it’s been washed multiple times because the formaldehyde basically burns her skin. Walking into clothing stores makes her very dizzy because of all the dyes and chemicals in the fabrics. I have always noticed a faint dizziness when I’m in clothing stores, and now that I realize it could be from the formaldehyde I’m taking extra precautions to avoid products that contain it. Formaldehyde is not very good for anyone, let alone those who are especially sensitive.

      As for me, I’ve dealt with acne to various degrees since I was about 9 years old, and I have very angry, sensitive skin that is simultaneously dry and oily. Basically I’ve never known flawless skin. Thankfully it is looking better than it has in a long time though (with a few derailments now and then). I attribute my newfound less-bad skin to a few things: my Clarisonic Mia, the use of skin oils, and the use of organic or natural, petrochemical-free products as much as possible. (I have learned that petroleum is my skin’s nemesis and I kind of want to scream at every dermatologist who ever recommended Cetaphil to me.)

      So my more natural route lately is using Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild as my facial cleanser and my daughter’s California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo + Body Wash with my Clarisonic — sounds strange, but it’s a great combo for me. My primary facial moisturizer is California Baby Calendula Cream, and I’ve tried various skin oils with good results. I also use Witch Hazel as an astringent a few times a week — I’m not sure if it does anything, but I find the scent oddly comforting. I’ve been hunting for a good, natural undereye cream so maybe I’ll try Kiehl’s.

      I’ll be 30 next year, and I am a little worried about my somewhat hippie-like skincare regimen because the wrinkles are starting… I’m not sure if I should try something a little more potent to help with wrinkle prevention. However, in the past I’ve done Retin-A, tetracycline, clindamycin and other such products that pretty much dried me out and made me itch without doing much for the acne… so I am wary of these more potent things when the more natural route has been going OK so far. What to do…

  • Reply Maja December 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Does anything help with blackheads in the t-zone? I’m 43 and have pretty much given up. I feel like I have tried everything.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:48 am

      Maja, the Ziana gel has pretty much cleared up any blackheads along with everything else, but I think it’s probably overkill if that’s your main skin issue.

      Prior to my current regimen, I had great success with a Mario Besdescu product called Silver Powder:
      Put it all over your nose with a damp cotton round, wait 10 minutes, wipe off, and then follow with one of those Biore pore strips. If you do that once a week, I think you have a pretty good shot at being mostly blackhead-free. It’s great stuff!

    • chris! December 11, 2012 at 1:23 am

      I have had luck with biore strips. no, my skin isn’t perfect but my blackheads are less of an issue.

  • Reply CariStereo December 9, 2012 at 12:41 am

    A friend told me she stopped washing her face using tap water, because it was making her break out. She used cleansers to remove makeup and wash her face.

    I used to think that was crazy, but only recently have I started cleaning my face with witch hazel. I am nowhere near as obsessed/worried about skin as you are (though I should be as my skin scars so easily when I break out), but I will say that using witch hazel has improved my skin, and I really like using olive oil (which has antiseptic qualities) as a moisturizer, especially at night before I go to bed.

    It’s always been hard for me to get into a routine using beauty products, so I’m happy with these two things, but I definitely have been wondering about the Clairisonic brush, and I trust your opinion. It’s going on my Christmas wish list! 🙂

  • Reply Agnes December 9, 2012 at 1:29 am

    I’ve looked at your photos before and been jealous of your skin! To me it looks clear and wrinkle free and beautiful. Isn’t life funny? I have excema and get it all over my face sometimes, red and ugly. It’s horrifying.

  • Reply Tanja December 9, 2012 at 4:01 am

    “It’s embarrassing. It makes you feel inept and unprofessional and dirty.”

    For me that pretty much summons it up, why it’s so annoying!

    I’m 36 and until one and a half year ago I never really had any “real skin problems” other than the occasional tiny pimple or a bit sensitive skin around the cheeks. Now I’m constantly battling with clogged pores around the chin and the already sensitive and dry cheek area. At the moment I’m using Huile Lotus by Clarins (works really well!) and will definitely give the Nuxe oil a try after that. Thanks for that tip! I’ll also get me some of the Kiehl’s eye treatment cream. Always loved to use the Youth Code eye cream by L’Oreal (I know :-/), but now it comes in a totally different texture and they seemed to have changed the ingredients as well…

    The best cleanser for me is the SBT Cell Culture Face Cleansing Gel, since most gel cleansers are way too drying for my skin.

    I wonder Anna, do you use the Clarisonic for your morning cleansing routine as well or just in the evening? I’m really tempted to buy one…

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:44 am

      I only use it in the evenings, Tanja! I wash once with just cleanser, water and my hands to remove most of my makeup, then I use the cleanser with my Clarisonic to deep-clean. I know that might sound like overkill, but it’s the routine my dermatologist suggested, and it’s worked well for me. In the mornings I just wash with a tiny dab of cleanser, avoiding my eye area.

    • Tanja December 10, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Ah, good to know! Thank you, Anna!

  • Reply ann December 9, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Thank you Anna for your wonderful posting. I really love reading your blog. I would like to share my favorite beauty secret: Barleans fish oil omega swirl. Its a suppliment that tastes delicious and it does wonders for your skin. Soft smooth beautiful skin in a couple of days not JUST on your face but all over your body. Its one of those life changing products like your Clarisonic.

  • Reply Erica W. December 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I developed acne in my mid 20’s and it was horrible. I tried all sorts of stuff prescription and over the counter and holistic and finally after about ten years took Accutane (which I think is now off the market). I developed obsessive thoughts of dying while on it (which were labeled suicidal thoughts and are one of the known side-effects, even though i didn’t want to kill myself, I just kept thinking I was about to drop dead) and stopped taking it. It did cure my acne, but freaked me way out. I have kind of a lot of acne scars now (10 years or so since I stopped taking it), but I don’t feel bad about my skin and don’t just want to hide under a rock rather than being looked at like I used to. It’s such a tough thing to deal with as an adult, sorry you’re going through this, Anna, and glad you’ve found some products that help.

  • Reply gracie December 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I feel somehow relieved to know that you stayed home from work after a breakout, I feel bad saying that but it makes me feel more normal. I’ve struggled with psoriasis all my life and in my late teens it covered over a third of my body and I had patches all over my face, I felt so ugly and it paralysed me with anxiety. Now that it’s under control I still don’t like people looking at me on the bus or whatever, I’m so self conscious because of it. My boyfriend tells me it’s barely noticeable but I feel like there is a sign over my head saying look at me. People tell me I have lovely skin (my face is clear now) and I really have to laugh inside, if they knew what I went through. I can’t quite believe it when people say it to me! Thanks for sharing these, I’m going to try the eye cream.

  • Reply Ana December 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for the rosacea tip. Planning to try it as soon as I can find some Braggs.

    I had fabulous skin my whole life (don’t hate me!) until a year ago, when I got what I thought was adult acne. Everyone in my family kept asking what was wrong with my face, because I never had skin issues. I tried so many things to no avail and went to the dermatologist a few months later. Diagnosis: rosacea. Even with a prescription cream (Finacea, which has helped a lot) and the doc’s recommendation of CeraVe cleanser, I still get some deep cysts occasionally and am not sure what to do about them. But I’ll look into your recommendations and see if something works for me.

    Thank you for writing about this. And I feel the same way about photos being taken, but more because I’m not very photogenic (too many weird angles in my face or something). The photo I use most often as an avatar is one I took of myself in my old workplace’s bathroom. I avoid letting others take pictures of me, because I’m sure they’ll turn out horrible and I have no control over whether they get deleted. Arg.

  • Reply jenifer December 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    After trying everything under the sun — including dermatologists various protocols — it was oil cleansing that finally did it for me!

    • Chris! December 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Hey Jenifer! I’ve been doing OCM for a couple of weeks now. What’s your preferred mix? I have had pretty bad breakouts since I’ve been doing this but I think it’s the flushing effect. Also trying to figure out how much oil to actually use, when to stop putting on oil and start washing off, etc.

      My skin’s texture is far better overall but I’m still acne lady…new one when I woke up today.

    • Jenifer December 13, 2012 at 12:20 am

      I use just coconut oil — which, throughout the internet, isn’t considered the best but for most of us who use it, it’s fine — and a friend of mine uses just sesame oil, while another uses jojoba. Another is all olive.

      Honestly, i think if you take castor oil out of the equation (and all essential oils), you should be ok.

  • Reply Madison December 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Neutrogena is the best! I spent a solid year trying out super natural/hippie ways to try to fix my horrible-out-of-nowwhere breakouts, and then I tried the Neutrogena Naturals (probably not very natural, but oh well) line because I had a coupon and it saved it. I use their tinted moisturizer too!

  • Reply TAT December 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Curious as to what sunscreen you have in mind for daily use since your current fav is being discontinued? Fighting acne and aging is a complete drag. I can’t leave the house without makeup, even if my skin is in good shape. At 44 I realize there is no point fighting it and just try to make peace with the fact.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      I don’t have a replacement in mind, unfortunately! I just received the notification email recently letting me know. Such a bummer! It’s a really lightweight spray that goes on with absolutely no residue—it’s like not even wearing anything.

      My tinted moisturizer has a broad-spectrum SPF 30, but I never know whether to trust sunscreen that’s part of another product. Maybe I’m being silly…

    • rachel December 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      after reading this CNN article months ago
      and clicking on the link to the sunscreen guide…
      my husband and i switched to coola spf 30 face (i was using neutrogena – but then became aware of all the crap inside)
      my husband also has sensitive skin (and his own regiment very different from my own) and it’s the only thing he will put on his face for sunscreen. it’s pricey ($28) but its so light, organic, and (very importantly) does not leave us with breakouts the next day.
      hope it helps someone else!

  • Reply Katy December 10, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Anna, you are one of my favorite people on earth. I think you’re gorgeous and I’m so excited for your kitchen remodel! I came for the design and stayed for the fabulous beauty advice. I had some acne in high school (mostly right before any school dance) but it has gotten so much worse the older I get, and the scarring is ridiculous. I was pretty much at my wit’s end a couple of years ago, and then you turned me on to Mario Badescu. Freaking life-changing. But now, at almost 34, I feel like it’s starting to get bad again, especially around my mouth and chin. I’m thinking I will try the Clarisonic? I love my Cetaphil, though. I hope I can still use it. And debating on the Nuxe. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone!

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      That’s really nice to hear, Katy—thank you. x

  • Reply Zunni (Red) December 10, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Thanks so much for this post.
    My skin was clear, until my 30’s…. Now in my early 40’s, the situation is, if anything, worse. My skin is prone to spots and blemishes, but is also very sensitive with a tendency towards redness and flaking, so I have to avoid harsh skin treatment. In addition, I would prefer to use products that help with wrinkles.
    I know it sounds melodramatic, but my skin makes me feel embarrassed and self-conscious.
    I’m going to ask my doctor about the Ziana treatment and I will try the cleanser you recommend. I’m looking into sources for the Nuxe dry oil (I live in Australia.)
    Thanks again, Anna. It’s so refreshing and heartening to read a post like this.

  • Reply msd December 10, 2012 at 3:12 am

    One simple piece of advice I was given about acne, not sure if you have mentioned it before, is the importance of bedding, especially pillowslips. Even though we spend eight hours a night in our bedding, we tend not to think about it in relation to skin but it’s really important that it’s clean, regularly changed and also good quality.

  • Reply Simone December 10, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Well, I have been taught that the skin is the largest organ that our body has. It breathes and also discards unwanted “stuff” from our body. When I met my husband he had pretty bad acne. After a month of seeing each other it was gone. Weird now I think about it.
    Have you ever considered an environmental aspect to it? That it can have to do with the cleanliness of the air and environment in your daily surroundings? I mean, New York (in all it’s greatness) is probably not a very clean city. It’s just a thought. Since it started after you left home (your hometown looked very clean and natural)? Just trying to relate here I guess. I’ll stop now.
    In general, as a person with reasonable skin I would like to say that I never really make a study of other people’s flaws etc. So if and when we ever meet no need to feel self consious.
    I love you just the way you are (hahaha).

  • Reply L December 10, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Beautiful honesty, Anna and everyone who commented. Thank you for addressing “the gorilla in the room (on our face)”.

    But please, everyone, remember that your face(s) are much, much more awful to you than they are to anyone looking at you. When there is a flaw or a blemish, we who have it are completely sensitized to it, we see the flaw and not the person. Others are really much more generous: they see the person and may (and often do not) notice the blemish. But the blemish does not define us. Our actions do.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      Unfortunately self-consciousness and poor self-image aren’t really determined by the reality of what other people are seeing. It comes from within—and it’s not so easy to change that. I’ve been trying for decades, believe me…

  • Reply Shannon December 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Thank you, Anna! I’m about to be 30, and last year I finally had a doctor tell me that adult acne is something I’ll just always have to deal with. It was almost a relief after 15 years of doctors promising to cure it and then failing to deliver. I’ve done accutane (two rounds in my 20s… lovely) and tried every prescription. Mostly I just try to eat really well–which seems to help a bit–and deal with it.

    I’m still not above trying out new products that might offer some improvement though, so thank you for the recommendations! I’ll see if any of them work for me.

  • Reply Rachel B December 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Anna, thanks for your honest post. I struggle with very dry skin on my face and body, with bad acne on my back. I purchased the Olay Pro-X brush several months ago. I’ve read online reviews from men and women who find Clarisonic too abrasive for dry/sensitive skin, so I wanted to try the more affordable solution first.

    For comparison:

    – The Olay version is battery operated (Double As). Most Clarisonics are plug-in or rechargeable.
    – The replacement heads for the Olay version are way more affordable. But they’re white, so they stain easily. I believe the recommendation is to change them out every month, versus every 2 to 3 months with Clarisonic.
    – The Olay version heads fit on small knob. My head has fallen off several times in the shower. A pretty big design flaw.
    – The Olay version doesn’t come with a stand/cover, so it can be a challenge to keep clean.
    – Clarisonic offers different head versions (for sensitive skin, etc). You don’t have the same options the Pro-X for now.

    Overall, I’m satisfied with the Pro-X, but I would probably upgrade for the right sale price. Definitely consult with your dermatologist if you’re being treated for any skin issues before purchasing from either company.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks, Rachel! I had that same issue with finding the regular Clarisonic brush too abrasive, but the sensitive brush is super-soft.

      I did find this thread of comments from people who have used both the Clarisonic and the Olay Pro-X that you and others might find helpful as well:

  • Reply Jesse December 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    So reassuring to find that I’m not the only one who feels this way! Thank you for the post – and all the comments make for fascinating reading too. After developing eczema in my early 20s, I avoided all skincare products for years. (I have a slight allergy to nickel and formaldehyde – at that time, present in almost everything with a fragrance.) I washed with water, and that was it. Pimples and dry skin were preferable to wanting to scratch my face till it bled. Over the years my sensitivity has decreased, possibly due to lifestyle changes and vigilance: I don’t even use fabric softener on my clothes or bedding. My skin’s resistance has improved to the point where I’ve started tentatively experimenting with cleansers and moisturisers – yay! I tried Nuxe oil after reading your blog post about it, and absolutely loved the fragrance, but I suspect my skin is drier than average, as the oil actually made my skin dryer. But I didn’t react badly in any other way, so I’ve started experimenting with blending my own oils, which is working so well. (Rosehip and jojoba at the moment; I’ll be adding others that are in the Nuxe oil too – I need that fragrance!)

    So this is a roundabout way of saying thank you for the Nuxe post; I wouldn’t have tried oils without it.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Jojoba oil is wonderful! I do sometimes mix a bit in with the Nuxe oil if I’ve been out in the cold (or in dry heat) and my skin if feeling a little tight.

      At least you can keep using the Nuxe as a fragrance! You can put a few sprays in the bath or mix it with your body lotion. I also use it on the ends of my hair. I love the smell!

  • Reply jbhat December 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Wonderful post. I love how you are so honest.

    One of the best things I ever heard about skincare was from an aesthetician who was giving me a facial. She said that I needed to use a hydrating toner–that it would help with breakouts. And it really did. It seemed counterintuitive to me to further moisturize oily, acne-prone skin, but a hydrating toner has really had a positive effect on my skin. And I feel as you do about it–it’s so out there, laid all bare for all to see, on good days and bad. So not having to fret over blemishes has made a huge difference to me.


  • Reply Ariane December 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Try a gluten free diet ! When my sister got a diagnostic of coeliac disease earlier this year, she went gluten free and one of the positive “side effects” of this diet was that her skin became incredibly smooth and acne-free. At that time, I searched for documentation about coeliac disease and gluten and I found out going gluten free was good for fibromyalgia (which I have). And my skin became very soft and almost “glowing” too! Going gluten free is quite challenging (especially here in France since we eat a lot of bread !) but the reward is totally worth it. My sister needs to follow her diet for 12 months and then she’ll be done so, you shall give it a try ! Take care.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      I tried—didn’t make any difference in my skin at all, sadly. Neither did cutting out dairy, though that did help me in other ways.

  • Reply rachel December 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    anna – cheers to you for addressing this in your blog 🙂

    i wanted to share something that worked for me. i’ve had the WORST skin for most of my life, that left me with scars. i tried everything in the past, over the counter and prescription (and mail order – damn you proactiv commercials), i even did a round of accutane. nothing ever worked. my skin even reacts badly to the pill (melasma). wonderful luck. i’m in my early 30’s now and just 2 years ago finally found something that works for me.

    i just saw the oil cleansing method (OCM) mentioned briefly here, and it’s a pity because ocm is the only thing that has ever worked for me. it sounds nuts to anyone with skin issues to put oil on your face – but i’m telling you, it works. and it makes sense that it works. i wash my face when i feel i need to – not every day. sometimes not even once every week (that sounds crazy, i know, but after a few years on this you realize what your skin really needs).

    before i made the switch i had crazy oily skin, frequent breakouts and blackheads. in grad school i would wash and moisturize my face in between class because it was so oily. i was using cetaphil at the time. i had read a lot about ocm and one day just threw out all my face washing products and committed to this (i knew that i would be tempted to not give it a real chance if i had all the other products at home). the first week is when you learn what your mixture should be. its different for everyone – and you can’t give up then because your skin is still adjusting to not being completely striped of all its natural oil twice a day. my oily skin went away in a week. blackheads shortly after. i never get big, deep pimples anymore. none of it has ever returned.

    i love that everything that i put on my body is natural. i also love that it’s easy to take with me when i travel. i don’t need a bag of products (i travel ultra light weight – so when i can, i don’t check a bag). i make a small batch and store in a small glass container with a good lid. that and a small glass container of pure olive oil (for moisturizing my body, face, lips, hands AND for makeup remover) – is all i need for EVERYTHING.

    there are plenty of places to find out how to do the oil cleansing method online. every part is important, don’t skip a step. especially at the end after a cold rinse where you apply a drop or two of your oil (or just pure olive oil like i do) to moisturize. and only buy oil that is stored in glass – it absorbs plastic.

    my mixture usually is 1 part caster oil (found at whole foods) to 3 parts sunflower oil, one drop of tea tree oil and one drop lavender oil. i change when the weather changes and just pay attention to what my skin is trying to tell me. sometimes i wash (although it really feels more like a spa treatment) once a week – sometimes less, sometimes more.

    but most days i wake up, rinse my face in the shower and (while my skin is still a bit damp from the shower) use olive oil to moisturize my body and then use a tiny bit of olive oil on my face and lips before applying my eye make up. when i do cleanse, i do it at night and only when my face ‘feels’ like it needs it.

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks, Rachel. I actually tried the OCM for many months at a time on multiple occasions for several years (using different combinations of oils), but it never worked for me. Yes, it made my skin feel soft and helped sooth red marks, but it did nothing to stop future breakouts.

      It’s great that it worked for you, and I’m sure it will work for many others, but there is no one solution that will “cure” acne for everyone. (Unfortunately!)

    • rachel December 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      i’m sorry to hear it didn’t work for you 🙁
      i wish there was a cure all…

      i have to say, i feel grateful for my experience as a teen and throughout my 20’s and early 30’s dealing with this.. i know that feeling all to well to not want to be photographed, actually – to not want to be seen. i have to believe that somewhere this has driven a side of me that may not have been as motivated before. be it creative, academic, and otherwise. perhaps it has made me more kind, more thoughtful, more me. hmm..

    • Anna @ D16 December 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      I totally agree with you, Rachel. x

  • Reply Heather P. December 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Great Post!

    I have suffered from acne since the dawn of puberty, and while everyone told me in my teenage years that I’d grow out of it, I most certainly didn’t. At 29, I’m also starting to jump into that part of your life where you have to juggle treating the acne AND prepping for wrinkles (I say prepping, rather than fighting/preventing, because they’re coming whether I like it or not…that’s life!). It’s nice to see someone being so honest about the struggle to deal with both…because not everyone is so honest about it. If I have to hear another person tell me “just drink more water and moisturize” I’m going to slap them in their perfect little faces. And I mean that in the nicest way possible…I really do. 🙂

    ~Heather P.

  • Reply Valerie December 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I had really awful acne from age 13 to 27 – deep, painful cystic acne that would take weeks to heal. And I couldn’t stop picking!! Most of the time I looked like my face had blown up, it was so puffy & red & angry. It wasn’t as bad as some cases I’ve seen, but the humiliation of having these big sore spots all over my face was pretty bad. I tried all sorts of different skincare routines – water, no water, foaming cleansers, creams only, scrubbers, etc. and I also tried modifying my diet with very little success. It’s only been in the last year that my skin has calmed down, and the only thing that has changed is that I’m on a new birth control, Yaz. My skin is very clear now and I get *maybe* a minor breakout right at the beginning of my period but that’s it. I don’t really have a skincare regimen now and it doesn’t seem to be hurting. I know there are some who shy away from taking drugs for their health issues, but it’s been a godsend for me.

  • Reply erin December 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Anna, thanks for this post. I (like many other people) really appreciate the honesty, since it can sometimes feel like you are all alone with problem skin. I really started developing skin issues in mid-twenties, and am still struggling a bit to find my “perfect” combo. I may try the Kiehl’s eye cream and peel pads too, since I know from other posts that we’ve shared success with a few of the same things. Because of that, I thought I’d suggest the Eminence line if you haven’t found a new sunscreen that you’re in love with yet. I use the Tropical Vanilla Day Cream (spf 32) over a combination of rose oil and Nuxe every day. It’s a bit heavy, but a little goes a long way. My face can go from it’s normal dry and sometimes peeley to shiny and oily in a matter of hours, and this seems to be good at balancing it out (plus, the company is cruelty free and organic). Again, thanks for your honesty with the post – I love being able to hear someone that I can relate to and suggestions on new tips and tricks.

  • Reply TC December 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I really appreciate this post. I am 28 and I did not develop bad skin until about 21. I’ve been fighting it ever since, with periods of it being OK and periods of it being so horrible I feel depressed. Then I feel stupid that I’m letting something like my skin make me depressed, but you are so right when you say that it affects confidence. I’m still looking to find my right product/routine combo so I love hearing what has worked for others.

  • Reply Ashley December 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Oh girl. Preach. I’ve been battling acne my entire life. I’ve only recently developed a routine that works for me, then I went and messed it all up by using MAC products again. I had been using Urban Decay mineral powder for about a year, then I bought MAC studio fix powder in a pinch because I was at the mall and it was convenient.

    I’m swearing off MAC products again and am sticking with Aveeno Skin Clearing cream cleanser, Mario Bedescu buffering lotion and drying lotion and then mineral powder for makeup. Liquid makeup has never worked for me as I have an issue with matching skin tone and blending. I just use a scant amount of coconut oil as a moisturizer.

    I think I might have to add a clarisonic to my wish list this year though.

  • Reply Sarah Dear December 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! This may sound weird, but it is always nice when you hear that other people struggle with their skin. It feels like we’re all part of a crew of girlfriends in the world helping each other out.
    I don’t have severe acne, but my occasional bouts are bad. I’ve found a great over the counter Neutrogena product called “Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cream” which combines retinol with salicylic acid. Combined with my cheap Olay version of the Clairsonic – and for me, it’s working well so far. Especially when I remember to drink water! I’m definitely going to try out this Neutrogena cleanser too!

  • Reply Kate December 11, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Uhhhhh…… Trust me I know all to well the daily annoyances of feeling like I can and should never leave home without makeup on…. It is especially hard with soo many girlfriends who have perfect skin!

    What I have resorted to using Is dr. Bronners castor oil soap twice in a row (once for makeup, second time for cleansing)
    Then I use tea tree oil on a wet cotton pad as a toner
    I finish off with rubbing aloe vera gel all over my face to moisturize (gel from a plant I cut up prior to use)
    I the am I rinse off gel and apply makeup.

    Thanks for this post it is still a sigh of relief when I know I am not alone in this seemingly never ending battle.

    • Anna @ D16 December 11, 2012 at 7:04 am

      Kate, if your current routine is working for you then disregard my comment, but this all seems very harsh. I can’t even wash my face once with Dr Bronner’s without over-drying my face (which in turn makes it more oily)—I can’t imagine using it twice and doing it every night. Same goes for putting tea tree oil all over your face.

      Like I said, pay no attention to this comment if you’re getting good results, but if you’re not…maybe trying scaling back to a less irritation-prone approach.

  • Reply Lynn December 11, 2012 at 4:01 am

    I’m 44, have had light-to-moderate acne since age 11. The biggest problem I have is not picking at it! Finally in the past year it’s become clear it’s all hormonal for me (just deep zits on my chin).

    Here’s what I’ve found worked for me:
    1) IF YOU HAVE MONEY, I highly recommend ISOLAZ. It’s a laser treatment certain dermatologists offer. Essentially, they go over your face twice — the first time a mini suction cup sucks impurities to the surface. The second pass is with a light that kills the bacteria. You start by going once a week for 4-5 treatments, then after that only every few months. I say “if you have money” because those treatments can run $250-300 each, so you’re talking an upfront investment of $1,000. But believe me when I tell you IT WORKS! I used to inspect my skin closely in a magnifying mirror, and after Isolaz, there was nothing to look at or play with. I told my dermatologist they should do this on teenagers for free.
    2) Birth control pills. No zits while I was on them, zits when I went off. (But I didn’t like being on a pill when I wasn’t sexually active so I’ve been off for many years)
    3) Bio Soothing Cream that I got from a facialist many years ago. It’s a cream but also a bit abrasive. I find if I scrub it into an arriving blemish on my chin at night, it’s much improved (or never appears at all). It’s a teeny tiny tub that will last longer than the product (I replenish every five years or so). Also natural.

  • Reply DRT December 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I love your blog – I find a lot of inspiration here.
    Thank you for this post. It is so nice to be able to discuss these issues and see what works for others. I know that there are so many different kinds of acne and if effects everyone differently. My recent bout with adult acne is hormonal based. I also struggled as a teen and later as a 20-something, but I’ll stick to my recent bout and new routine.
    My Dermatologist determined that the type of acne I was experiencing earlier this year was based on over-production of androgens, male hormones, due to the location and type of acne (deep, cystic, large, painful located along my jaw line/chin). She put me on Spironolact pills, 2x per day. She also put me on two gentle topical prescriptions – Aczone (an antibiotic) and Fineacea (azelaic acid – for rosacea). Although retinoids are really good for your skin and help with fine lines, my skin is too sensitive to handle those products.
    For cleansing, I have used Cetaphil gentle bar soap for years at the reccomendation of my Dermatologist. For moisturizing, my Derm reccomended the over-the-counter brand CeraVe – they make “AM” and “PM” moisturizers. The Cerave AM has sunscreen, and the PM does not. They are cheap ($11-14 each and I’ve been on the same bottles since September), readily available at most stores (got mine at Target, but cheaper at Amazon), and also contain ceramides, found in more expensive products. Both work really well with the topical prescription creams and are very gentle themselves.
    This new routine is working wonders for me (since September) and my skin looks the best it has in years. I wish I could have found these results with some natural products, but nothing else worked for me. I feel so much more confident. I HATE that having bad skin has killed my confidence and added to depression at times over the years, you are so right that it is such a deep and personal issue, hard for some people to understand.
    Another thing I’ve had issues with is that I am very prone to little broken capillaries (angiomas), and I really despise those noticable ones on my face. I finally tried a medical spa and the Aura Laser. I’ve had the angiomas on my face zapped, and a few on my neck and chest, a couple of times now. It works! The procedure is a little uncomfortable (feels like any icy pin prick), but makes an incredible difference.
    I hope this info helps someone! 🙂

  • Reply Sarah December 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I am glad you decided ti publish this post, Anna. Because you are so right: it always helps a little to know you’re not the only one dealing with an issue. I too am dealing with adult acne (and it does indeed feel ridiculous to do so in your thirties). The pill keeps the more extreme break outs in check, but I am always on the look out to achieve a smoother, overall more even and healthy looking skin texture. And it is incredible tricky to find a cleaning and care routine that levels in at the right balance.

    The Nuxe oil is already on my wish list, the clarisonic looks promising too. Thanks for the recommendations 🙂

  • Reply debi December 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Anna!! Thank you for this. I just turned 50 last month and STILL dealing with acne, not to mention wrinkles. I too had better skin as a teen, and then in my 20’s it started to go all wrong. And like I said, here I am 50 and still having the same issues. I have tried many prescription products over the years. Currently I am using Mario Badescu, but I am still not clear. I will try your current selections, I am very excited to have a new plan!

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply Amy December 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve been waiting to say anything because I wanted to read each comment but haven’t had the time – so I’ll just say something and come back later to read the rest.

    Anyway, the real value of a post like this is the resulting dialogue, and the feeling that we’re not alone. So, thank you, Anna. Thank you for sharing, and thank you to everyone. Even if skincare is personal and no regime works the same for two people it is so good to be reminded that there are others out there with issues. Skin (notice that we call it “good” and “bad” skin?) is so tied to my self-esteem, and I hate that. I hate that something so silly has so much power over how I feel about myself – and how I feel others perceive me! But it’s good to hear that it’s the same for other people.

    In grad school I finally found a derm who took my acne seriously – and who understood how it made me FEEL. She told me we were going to make me feel better and wouldn’t stop until we found something that worked. Until then I had encountered doctors who looked at acne as a nuisance but not something really serious. So that is my advice to anyone who is still struggling – find a good doctor who will keep working with you and who doesn’t dismiss your concerns and feelings.

    (PS My current regime — for the past 5 years — is a Clarisonic and a prescription for spironolactone)

  • Reply my little apartment December 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Couldn’t help but be the 100th + person to THANK YOU. This post couldn’t have come at a better time, as I just had a (gin-induced) cry last night, while confessing to my husband that I hate my skin.

    It’s gotten so WEIRD in the last 6 months, especially with going off the pill, planning a wedding, getting married, traveling a bunch, and now it’s winter in Chicago…My face is flakey, it’s itchy, it’s breaking-out, and it’s RED. I have been struggling with solutions and trying to figure out what’s wrong, but nothing seems to fix it. I tried Mario Badescu on your recommendation and there are products that I LOVE (Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Aloe Vera Toner, Calming Cream, and the Rosewater Spray that I keep in my purse and use throughout the summer), but I don’t think they’re really working for me anymore.

    I have a MIA and I love it, but don’t use it enough. I just don’t feel like the MB Enzyme Cleansing Gel is the right paring with the Clarisonic, so I’m probably going to give that Neutrogena foaming wash a go.

    After having weird, cystic bumps pop up under my chin and around my jaw-line, I am looking forward to my first doctor’s appointment tomorrow. Hopefully she’ll recommend an antibiotic of some kind to clear things up. It’s just so weird and frustrating to suddenly be jolted into feeling like an awkward teenager again…I didn’t realize it, but I was hiding my face in my sweater last night and my husband asked why I was covering part of my face…I just burst into tears.

    UGH. Anyway….Thanks, Anna 😉

  • Reply Donna December 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    On the subject of sunscreen, I really like those from Elta MD and I believe they have both chemical and mineral-based formulas. I got samples of a bunch of them and liked them all.

  • Reply Kathleen December 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    It’s very nice of you to write about this, Anna. I’m in my fifties with two teenage girls and my face doesn’t look much different than theirs on any given day. Ugh, hormones! I’ve had the most enormous pimple this week in the middle of my nose. So glamorous. I might try some of the products you recommend. I’m also trying to work on how often I touch my face. Such a bad habit.

    On the subject of moisturizers, I bought some plain old Pond’s dry skin cream recently. My grandmother lived into her mid-nineties and had wonderful skin. That’s all she ever used. My skin is definitely feeler softer since I started using it and it absorbs nicely.

  • Reply kate December 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    It’s funny, I was JUST starting a draft on a similar post because the past year I’ve worked crazy hard at figuring out my skin and I think I finally have it down. Right now the Ole Henriksen line is changing my life, along with using Umbrian Clay (seems up your alley – totally all natural!) as a spot treatment on zits in the evening or overnight. It literally shrinks them in hours. I also recently got a Sephora gift card for my bday so I used the whole dang thing on some super fancy French eye treatment because freelancing has taken toll on my under eye circles. I am SO BLOWN AWAY after only one month of use! You use such an incredibly small amount each day that the price isn’t that insane in the end:

  • Reply Wendy December 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Anna!

    I really appreciated this post. I seemed to avoid the acne phase in high school. Now that I’m in art school for Graphic Design at 20 years old, the extra stress made me break out really bad. I break out and get dark spots that last forever. In addition, I’ve always had terrible skin with “chicken skin” on my arms. I get “allergic reactions” (My asian parents always have some obscure answer to health issues. This time it’s an allergy to beef.). It’s itchy and I get bug bite like scars behind on my arms, back, midriff.

    So I totally get where your coming from when you say you don’t like having your photo taken. I also always feel like I have to cover my skin so shopping for clothes can be difficult. My skin is my most sensitive insecurity. It’s hard to be confident, when that’s what you show to the world everyday.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing. You’re my favorite blogger out there. I always tell people to come read your blog. I feel like we are the same in a lot of ways, it’s nice.


  • Reply Melissa December 13, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Thank you for sharing this, Anna. It’s so true what you mentioned about adult acne being unprofessional and dirty. I feel like I can’t be taken seriously when I have blemishes. I know that it’s probably in my head, but I am still so self-concious when it comes to that. I’m still trying to find out my perfect routine. So far it’s been my Clarisonic Mia and the Fresh Seaberry facial oil. Still trying to find that perfect cleanser.

    And I just want to say that I adore you blog, specifically when you post about upstate NY. I’m from Westchester, lived in the city for a good 15 years, moved back to Westchester and am now finishing up my master’s in New Paltz. It’s a small world!

  • Reply Name December 13, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Years ago, a dermatologist told me that drinking colas (especially Pepsi) can cause breakouts. I switched to iced coffee (unsweetened) and my skin improved a lot!

  • Reply Peggy December 13, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I hope a lot of people get to see this comment. I am convinced that many people can relieve themselves of their acne problem simply by going gluten-free. I went gluten-free to subside some tummy issues but had no idea it would get rid of so many other problems I had, acne being one of them! It’s pretty amazing how clear my skin is now. I never thought I would ever be one of those girls with clear skin! And it doesn’t matter what cleanser I’m using or anything. Please try it. All you have to do is abstain for a week and see what happens! You may just see improvement in skin and more abundant energy or if you’re anything like me migraines will magically disappear, joint pain will vanish, no more sinus infections or eczema and even my hormones balanced out! Felt like I was getting arthritic and fibromyalgia. That disappeared too! Mind cleared, moods stabilized. List goes on and on. Every week or two I will recall another symptom I used to have that has been eliminated. Could you imagine if I had gotten a prescription for each of these ailments when in reality I just had to make a change in diet? I’m over the moon with how normal I finally feel! So please, please try a gluten-free diet if you have any of these symptoms. I wish I could shout it out from a mountain top. I don’t want people to suffer anymore! There isn’t a really good test for gluten intolerance. Just abstaining from it for a set amount of time and seeing how you feel is the best way. And if you want to read more about it just google whatever ailment you have + gluten intolerance and see if there’s a connection. I am blown away by how much gluten is the cause of so many issues! I am living proof!

    • Anna @ D16 December 13, 2012 at 6:46 am

      Hi Peggy, yes, this has been mentioned in several other comments.

      I tried. Several times. It didn’t make any difference whatsoever. I wish that it had because I have other health problems I was hoping I could attribute to gluten sensitivity, but it didn’t.

  • Reply NICOLE December 13, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I know I don’t know you, but somehow through reading your blog for so long I completely trust your recommendations and opinions 🙂 This post was the last little push I needed to buy that Nuxe oil. I’ve only been using it for half a week, but HOLY MOLY what an improvement!

    What was dry, flaky, oily, pimply skin is fast becoming the lovely and smooth skin of my dreams.

    Totally getting the Clarisonic next 😉

  • Reply Viv December 13, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Thanks for being so honest Anna. Seriously though, what is it with adult acne, i thought i was over that as a teenager. Being 37, with red inflamed spotty skin, is driving me mad !! i’ve just finished a 3 month dose of anti-biotics, which I was avoiding for years, but despair brought be to them. I thought it was a miracle, i couldn’t believe the difference in my skin instantly. But alas, good things never last, and the spots are slowly starting to reappear now that the anti biotics have stopped. I am defo going to try that Nuxe oil, it sounds lovely – who doesn’t like to feel like kittens.

    Just a warning on using sunsreen all the time – it prevents vitamin D being produced. We need at least 20 to 30 minutes unprotected a day (in sunlight) to make this vitamin on our skin. I’ve stopped using suncreen all the time (not that the sun shines much in Ireland), but i’ve recently been tested for Vitamin D and I am deficient. This vitamin is crucial for bone health, especially the older we get !!

  • Reply C December 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Adult acne is SO the pits, I’m there with you. Can I ask – the one thing I didn’t see and am curious about is sunscreen, do you not use it?

    • Anna @ D16 December 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Second-to-last paragraph. 😉

    • C December 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      I’m a SKIMMER! Thanks 😉

  • Reply Celia December 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! It really is personal, even though one’s face is obviously public. I have sensitive skin and acne since almost as long as I can remember. I’ve simplified my skin care routine and my skin is so much happier! I love Dr Hauschka products and use their Normalizing Day Oil (sounds similar to the Nuxe) and Cleansing Cream regularly. I cleanse in the evening with a home-mixed blend of castor and jojoba oils – a little more jojoba now that winter’s here. It’s the best!

  • Reply lauren December 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Anna, how do you store your clarisonic? I have an Olay brush and am contemplating buying the clarisonic, but I haven’t used my Olay much because I’m paranoid about the wet brush growing bacteria and then rubbing the bacteria all over my face the next time I got to wash. What do you do to prevent that from happening?

    Thanks. Lauren

    • Anna @ D16 December 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Every night I wash the brush head (it’s removable) in warm, soapy water (I use Dr. Bronner’s), shake off excess water, and leave it on the edge of the tub to dry. It’s completely dry in the morning.

      I’ve never seen the construction of the Olay brush, so I can’t comment on whether bacterial growth is a concern.

  • Reply Catherine December 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    This post is so timely for me! I found it via Making It Lovely, and I just saw my dermatologist today. Now that I’m finished having children and breastfeeding, I can take control of my hormonal breakouts, and she prescribed a combination of Retin-A and Clindamycin. I’m guessing I have to work up to using Retin-A regularly, but I will keep Ziana in mind. Thank you!

  • Reply kate December 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

    thanks for this post! super helpful. i’ve been eyeing the clarisonic and am finally going to try it. getting the PTR pads while i’m at it! i use atralin, which i think is similar to ziana, every night. ziana didn’t have much of an effect on my skin, but atralin is fairly gentle and makes a difference. i’ve also taken spironolactone. it made a HUGE difference in just a few days, but taking it long-term makes me nervous.

    also, it’s so obvious, but the more water i drink, the better my skin looks and feels. if i go a few days without drinking much water, i’ll break out and itch.

  • Reply Julie December 16, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Thank you for this. I had pretty decent skin until a few years ago (I’m 27). I’ve since been diagnosed with “adult acne” that is actually a form of rosacea. Prescription Finacea has worked pretty well, with the occasional Solodyn, but I also have frequent eczema which makes it tough! Super-gentle Cetaphil cleanser has been awesome, and I’m going to try the Nuxe! Question: Do you use the Neutrogena cleanser with your Clarisonic, or something else?

    • Anna @ D16 December 16, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Yes, I use the Neutrogena cleanser. If you read the descriptions under the product names, I describe how I use them. 🙂

  • Reply elizabeth December 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    hi anna – great post as everyone has said. i’m considering buying the mia, but i’m interested in why you first hated yours. were your problems solved by the sensitive brush head replacements? what was wrong initally, what improved, and why (if not because of the brush heads), please? i’ve skimmed through the comments, so hoping these questions aren’t redundant. thx.

  • Reply Shashi December 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Anna, sorry if you have addressed this already in your post (I may have missed it) but do you have recommendations for body exfoliators and lotions? I find myself being extra dry this winter – not sure if it’s my age kicking in or if what I am using just doesn’t work anymore.

  • Reply Lisa December 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I’m 33 now, and like so many others, have been suffering from acne since I was a young teen–deep, cystic acne has always been my specialty. It became particularly bad 2 to 3 years ago, even though I was not on any form of hormonal birth control. I’ve had a series of random peculiar breakthroughs in the last year and a half, though. One of the most significant was switching from a name brand whitening toothpaste to a sulfate-free toothpaste after reading about it on an acne forum. The change was so dramatic that I switched all the cleansers in my routine to sls-free, and while it did help my acne quite a bit, more than that, it really improved my skin inflammation level–I went from being puffy and red all the time to smooth and white.

    The second, and most unexpected help, was oil pulling. My sister had recommended I try oil pulling with coconut oil for teeth whitening benefits (since all forms of whitening products, including whitening strips, now seem to trigger a breakout). I swished the coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes first thing every morning for a few days, and completely unexpectedly, all the breakouts around my mouth/jawline/neckline disappeared. Several months later, and pulling has long since stopped being an inconvenience to me–the benefits are just too great to give it up.

    I still get a few surface breakouts from time to time (mostly around that time of the month), but another thing I discovered is that Mario Badescu Vitamin C serum does a much better job of healing pimples for me than any previous form of spot treatment I’ve ever used. I haven’t touched their drying lotion in months now, whereas before I relied on it heavily.

  • Reply Marisa December 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    After reading your raves and those on another blog I read (, I’m going to take the plunge and get a Mia.

    If you’re open to trying prescriptions, I have to put a plug in for spironolactone. It’s an off-label use (it’s actually a blood-pressure medication), but it’s an androgen blocker and it has been WONDERFUL for me. No side effects (unlike the minocycline – that stuff is the worst) and it’s made a tremendous difference. Now I’m mostly dealing with a minor pimple once in a while and trying to figure out how to get my skin to adjust to winter here in Minnesota.

  • Reply Kate December 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Thanks for this, for putting into words what so many of us feel. I’ve fought terrible acne for nearly 20 years. It was miserable throughout my teenage and college years and I tried to console myself that I would eventually outgrow it, but it’s just not true. All I can see in the mirror is my acne, and I hate it. I’ve done and tried everything, including going through 2.5 rounds of accutane, suffering all the side effects. It’s the only thing that made a noticeable change, but it would eventually come back after finishing treatments. It can be so heart-breaking, especially when people assume it’s because of being dirty, or eating poorly or through some personal fault of your own. I’ll continue to search for a solution, thanks for introducing me to some new products.

  • Reply Red December 21, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Hi Anna,
    After reading this post, I asked my doctor to prescribe a tretinoin cream. I was wondering if you used moisturizer after applying the tretinoin? If so, do you apply it directly after the cream or do you apply it later.
    I hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • Reply teresa December 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Anna–I appreciate your honesty. I am 46 and have struggled on and off with adult cystic acne. When I was on the Pill, i had no problems. But I went off it in my 40s because of headaches (and age). My skin has been pretty clear with clindomycin and tretinoin and I stopped wearing makeup. Until recently, it has started again. Ugh! It is so frustrating. The clindomycin and tretinoin are working for except in on my chin and jawline. I am considering trying spironolactone, which works specifically in that area (hormones!). Even though I would have to have my potassium levels checked (it was originally a blood pressure med) it is less invasive than Accutane apparently . I am having difficulty making up my mind about it. I suppose it could be no less invasive than the Pill, right?

    As for the drying of Clindomycin and tretinion, I have had good luck applying Clinique Moisture Surge Extra. It’s oil-free. Unfortunately, they no longer make it, and now I will have to try another version on Moisture Surge. I hope it works.

    It’s a delicate balance to battle acne and aging skin. And it seems your skin takes longer to heal as you enter your 40s. Sigh.

  • Reply jja December 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

    My secret or the secret of my now perfect skin is the use of good, well balanced BHA products for years.
    before descovering them I had the same skin issue.
    First of course is to let your doctor/dermatologist check if there is not some major hormon issue and if one needs a medicine. My best face wash is La Roche Posay Effeclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream. It gives me the best feeling of a pure skin I ever had. Now and then I try something else, just do state it gives me bad, greasy feeling.
    I remeber to use same Neutrogena cleanser some time ago and it was good!
    My dermatologicst was against CLARISONIC, maybe it is a german thing, since nobody here really advice you to use products like this. They even ask for extra caution since this can spread the “germs” really all over your face and make one acne spot spreads all around your face. Besides that it is harsh to the skin to use it every day (according to my dermatologist, i didn’t try it by myself), good AHA or BHA treatmant do the same work on a gentle way. I have to admit, I didn’t see this brand anywhere around for at least a year, german amazon stopped to sell it since the reviews were really bad and many customers returned the product. Germans like washcloths instead, I skip them too.
    Nevertheless it for sure works for some people and many dermatologist have sometimes different opinion on the same product.
    For antibiotic products: I also used some of the in the past and was satisfied, my problem was that they don’t work after some time of a permanent use, that is why I discovered chemical peelings in the first place. For skin care I do use some serums for years like vitamin c serum from SkinCeuticals and some super moisture lotion like Avene or La Roche. Or something from Paula’s Choice, also her sunscreen.
    Dermalogica daily microfoliant was bad for my skin, grapefruit oil is not something I want to use on tmy skin and for sure not regularly. Salicyl acid in a wash product is a trouble waiting to happen, since there is a big chance it will reach my eyes and the product stays on skin for too short time to do anything. I also tried Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads but the pH of this product was too low and it didn’t really do anything.

    Sorry for a long comment I do get very passionate when writting abour cosmetics, I used to have a blog all about cosmetics, but didn’t find a time for months to wrtite anything.

  • Reply lc December 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    i’m curious: do you put the nuxe oil on top of the ziana? the oil doesn’t block the magic of the antibiotic+retnoid? i will have to try this.

  • Reply JMS January 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Anna, I just found your site through a link to this page and I’m so glad! Thanks for sharing your experience on a topic so many of us are shy or embarrassed about.

    I started having acne problems in my late twenties (after having perfect skin, hardly even a pimple, as a teen) when I stopped taking the Pill. Had I known it would essentially ruin my skin I would have never taken it. I was getting major pimples, big deep ones, on my back, chest, neck and face. It’s been three or four years and it’s not nearly as bad now, but I still get random breakouts here and there and I also have some scarring (pock marks, dark spots – I have fair skin). My dermatologist prescribed Ziana and I’ve been using it as a spot-treatment, though I’ve been considering using it all over my face for the retinoid benefits.

    My questions is: I know you didn’t list a moisturizer, but do you think a moisturizer would work on top of it? My skin is just so incredibly dry and I just don’t see a single layer of Ziana adequately hydrating my skin, which is why I haven’t made the jump to using it all over. Also, when you use the un-wrinkle pads, do you do them in the morning or night? I’m only wondering whether it would be too harsh to use before putting on the Ziana…

    I use a few of the other products you mentioned, and love them. I’ve heard a lot about the Kiehl’s eye cream and am going to pick some up!

    Thanks again for writing this post!!

  • Reply Teresa January 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this…I’m going through the same thing, great skin all my life until 35 then -BOOM-, forehead acne that has not gone away for the past year and a half! I’m going to a different dermatologist in 2 weeks, writing down the long list of prescriptions that didn’t work… and I am going to ask about this Ziana gel* for sure! (*One thing I haven’t been prescribed yet!)

  • Reply Louise January 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for this post!

    I’m 17 and currently in those awkward teenage years of acne and hormones. Before high school, I had nice skin, then I slowly started to develop acne along my forehead and t-zone, and it’s started to spread to my cheeks. It’s been really frustrating for me, since most of my friends seem to have made it through with virtually flawless skin over the past couple of years, and make-up can only go so far.

    I’ll be looking into trying out the Mia from Clarasonic to hopefully reduce the amount of acne – thank you for mentioning it on your post ^^

    • Niamh April 7, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Hey Louise,
      I’m also 17 and had TERRIBLE skin till about a 4 months ago. I thought I had tried everything but my grandma basically forced me to go to a dermatologist and even though I really didn’t want to go it has been the best thing I’ve ever done. My skin has cleared right up so I am no longer anxious or upset or self conscious about it. My advice: SEE A DERMATOLOGIST! I though it’d be awkward or embarrassing but now I regret not doing it sooner, I wasted years trying to solve the problem myself!!!

  • Reply tracy January 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    anna, i know this comes quite some time after you posted this, but i just wanted to say thank you for doing so. i’ve been a longtime reader but a very sporadic commenter. i’ve come back to this post countless times to read everyone’s comments, and it’s comforting to know there are so many others who struggle with this. funnily enough, everyone around me seems to have wonderfully clear skin (wtf). for the longest time, i’ve just been dealing with it (especially after being pregnant and now still nursing), but i’m 31 – enough of this nonsense!! 20 years of acne is ridiculous. your post kicked me into gear, and apparently, i’ve made 2013 my mission to figure out my skin. i bought the clarisonic recently (omg WHY have i waited so long) and just purchased the nuxe oil. i look forward to the day when i don’t feel like i need to hide behind my makeup, or at least not spend so much time covering up all the breakouts! thanks again 🙂

  • Reply Jackie January 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (love your house, the kitchen looks fantastic, and I hope you feel better soon!), but haven’t commented before.

    I’ve had acne since I was 11 or 12, the only time it cleared up long-term was after being on birth control pills for years I had a several month completely clear phase, but it turned out I was also hypothyroid. Once the hypothyroidism was treated, the acne came right back (if it weren’t for the depression, fatigue, etc I would just skip the thyroid meds). I have also experienced for years with the low self-confidence and shame acne leads to. Thank you for making me feel less alone.

    I really appreciate all your recommendations. I just ordered a clairsonic mia and hope it helps! Otherwise, differin (weak retinol), basis soap or salicylic acid face wash, and trying not to pick at the deep cystic ones.

  • Reply Terry February 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Hey Anna. Really appreciate it that you posted about your skin routine and experience. Just wondering did you experience the “getting worse before it gets better” part or what people call initial purging?


  • Reply Miller June 19, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for the info had perfect skin as a teen but the past few years (28 now) my skin has sucked… problem is i pick at it because i keep getting little white bumps (milla/whiteheads?) so i squeeze at them but since they’re under the skin ti just inflames them and ruins everything… and then i squeeze them all, pores get ruined, etc etc.

    never ending cycle!

  • Reply Lo October 14, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Hi! I started Ziana a month ago. When did your skin start clearing up? I am at the 1 month mark and still getting whiteheads. Do you recall how the 2nd month was on Ziana? Did you still get new breakouts?

  • Reply Lo October 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Hello everyone who has tried Ziana! How is it working for you? I am 6 weeks in and still am getting new whiteheads daily. Will it get better? When did you notice it start working? I am losing hope for my acne prone skin. 🙁

  • Reply laura con November 20, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    I used to have acne, acne scars, redness in some areas of my face. For the last three months, I have been using the Somaluxe Amino Acid Face Cleanser and the Lady Soma Renewal Serum after the cleanser. The Renewal Serum has glycolic acid in it. I am sooooooo please with how well these products worked for my acne scars. They are less red, not as aggressive, and the overall look of my face is just healthier

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