It was nearing the end of summer. I was outdoors more than usual, sitting beach side in the sun, chatting with my family and drinking frozen lemonade. So breakouts were the furthest thing from my mind. Then, one hot morning I woke up to a breakout on my right cheek, a couple spots beneath my chin and one or two on the other cheek. Screams ensued. Not quite, but the screaming in my head would have alarmed enough people had I opened my mouth to release them.
Here’s the thing, when my classmates were battling ongoing, typical teenage acne and breakouts, my skin was sailing along mostly untouched. For most of my life I’ve had problem-free skin but now out of the blue, in the fourth decade of my life, breakouts seem to want to come party with me more frequently.
But I’m fighting back so here are the products I’ve been using, in the order I apply them to my skin each night.
Cattier Paris Purifying Lotion
I spritz this onto clean skin to tone and rebalance. I also use it as my product of choice when I do a lotion mask, at least four or five times per week. Cattier Paris Purifying Lotion has tea tree oil, rosemary oil and peppermint along and lactic acid plus aloe to soothe the skin. All of the ingredients in this Purifying Lotion are of natural origin or sourced from organic farming. With a mild herbal scent, this lotion is packaged with a spritz top so you’ll never waste any product. You can either spray it directly onto the skin or onto a cotton pad and spot apply if you didn’t want to use it all over. Although the lotion is targeted at oily skin with imperfections, it has been an integral part of the breakout and dark spot fight club for my dry skin.
Crème de La Mer The Treatment Lotion
For ease of reference I’ll refer to this as The Treatment Lotion. When I was desperate, and the breakout was still new and raw, this made its way into my routine because of its treatment and stabilising factors. The Treatment Lotion is formulated with La Mer’s Miracle Broth™, along with a slew of other ingredients including fermented ones such as yeast extract, plus seaweed extract, niacin (Vitamin B3), alfalfa, sesame seed and eucalyptus oils.
Since using The Treatment Lotion the texture of my skin has improved dramatically. With a smooth yet watery consistency, it’s fast absorbing, has a mild scent and just a couple of drops are needed for the face. I use it by placing drops into the palm of my hand then patting it into my face and neck. Part of a breakout and dark spot treatment routine should also include seeking to improve skin’s overall texture, so The Treatment Lotion has delivered a thousand fold. One of the other brilliant aspects of this lotion is that it prepares your skin to receive other products layered on top. Plus it increases hydration exponentially. I’d highly recommend looking into this product, especially if you’re prone to breakouts or if you really need a product that dramatically improves your skin’s texture.
Garden of Wisdom Mandelic Acid 10%
Mandelic Acid is derived from almonds and is a gentler form of Alpha Hydroxy Acid. With its antibacterial and exfoliating properties, it’s great for acne, tackles dark spots, fine lines, uneven texture and other hyperpigmentation. Garden of Wisdom Mandelic Acid 10% also has hyaluronic acid, lactic acid and lactobacillus fermentation. This serum also contains Sodium PCA, a humectant that binds moisture to your skin. Sodium PCA can be derived from plants, coconut oil and fruits, making this serum free from potentially harmful ingredients and also suitable for vegetarians.
Acids such as glycolic, have the potential to be too harsh for darker skin tones and may result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. So Mandelic Acid appears to be a better anti dark-spot treatment option for deeper skin tones, plus it’s kinder to skin if you have rosacea or heightened sensitivity.
With a water-like texture and a mere whiff of scent it comes with a pump top. I use two pumps then press it into my face, starting on my cheeks then working outward onto my neck. It’s suggested to be used every third night of the first week of use, then every second night until you determine what your skin can handle. This is a solid re-purchase for me, because of its effectiveness and also because it’s so well priced.
Sesderma Azelac RU
The next exceptional product in my breakouts and dark spots routine is Sesderma Azelac RU, a brightening, anti-hyperpigmentation serum that also helps to even out the skin tone, tackles rosacea and sun damage, regulates sebum, acts as an anti-inflammatory and offers affirmative-aging actions. At this point, you may be thinking all of these products essentially do the same thing. While using them separately, I saw results. But in desperation, I combined these products and saw results faster.
Sesderma Azelac RU key ingredients are azelaic acid (comes from wheat, barley and rye), niacinamide (vitamin B3), retinol (vitamin A), and vitamin C. Fast absorbing with a light creamy texture and a mild scent, this serum delivers on its promise to correct and improve the appearance of the skin, but you may need to be prepared to play the long game with this because improvements took a few weeks to become apparent.
Crème de La Mer The Perfecting Treatment
This was the wild card product as I was not expecting it to become a part of my anti breakout, anti dark spot skincare routine but it snuck up on me. I received it as a GWP (gift with purchase) when I bought The La Mer Treatment Lotion and paid it scant attention at first. Then, late night reads led me to realise it had multiple uses, such as upping skin glow, offering hydration, blurring imperfections and softening skin over time. Plus, it works splendidly as a primer.
So in the spirit of adventure, but a rationed one because of its sample size, I started adding it as the last product in my night time routine. And the next morning, I’d wake up to smoothed, and yes, softer looking skin. I didn’t realise it at first but when I didn’t add this to my night time routine, I could see the difference the next day. Texturally, it’s a gel cream that slips into the skin, leaving it feeling nourished and cocooned. Is La Mer’s The Perfecting Treatment a must? T’is not, but it’s quite magical and I love what it does for the overall look of my skin and some day, I’ll splash out and buy it. In the mean time, I’ll keep using the tiniest amount as not much is needed.
The Also Rans
A dermatologist, or a product formulator or a chemist may disagree but here are the other things I’ve been doing to fight breakouts and dark spots:
Turmeric, honey and matcha face masks. I whip them up in the kitchen and only make about one and a half tablespoons and wear for close to half hour a few times per week. The turmeric stains the bathroom sink (fun) but I’m convinced this concoction shortens the life-span of new spots.
Washing my face with water that I’ve boiled first. Yup, I now keep a 2 liter glass jar of boiled water next to the sink and that’s how this face gets cleaned twice per day.
A method I first came across in Chizu Saeki’s book, The Japanese Skincare Revolution. It entails moistening cotton squares with water first then applying your toner/essence onto the damp cotton, preferably cotton squares that can come apart in layers. The saturated cotton squares are then applied to damp skin, worn for three minutes then removed. Skin is then ready to receive your other products.
If you’re into using acid-based skincare or if you’re a wash and go person, sunscreen is non-negotiable, because these products increase photo-sensitivity (sun sensitivity).
Lastly, I’m not suggesting this exact routine will work for everyone and I’m also not insisting that you blow your budget to buy products. Ultimately, my hope is that there’s something in here that can be helpful and of value to you.
*All of the links in this post are non-affiliate links. Three of the products mentioned link to British and European based websites.