How I FINALLY Cleared My Skin

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have perfect skin. I’m very fair, so I am pretty suseptible to sun exposure (I think I’m always a little bit sunburned even with my best sunscreen efforts). I also have sensitive skin so the littlest thing (a bad fragrance, a weird color, something rubbing my face the wrong way) will cause irritation. And… I have stress-related acne. (I was literally born with acne, so I should have known I would have been in for the long haul.)

My skin has been something that I have been working on since about sixth grade. I’ve had horrible bouts of acne, medium issues, and sometimes good periods of time. When things were bad, I would drive myself (and probably my skin) crazy with trying to fix it. And when things were good, I would knock on wood and try not to jinx it because I knew it was a temporary fluke.

Finally, FINALLY, my skin is under control, and I couldn’t be happier. I wear heavier foundation on “photoshoot” days for the blog, but on regular days I skip it entirely now. I would never have thought I’d be able to skip foundation and still feel confident with clear skin.

I get pimples here and there that are related to stress, but here’s what has gotten my skin clear.

How I got rid of acne

All these photos haven’t been retouched in the slightest. Seriously the clearest skin I’ve ever had, and it’s not a fluke!

How I cleared my skin

I know everyone has unique skin issues. What works for one person, won’t work for another. A “miracle” product may cure someone’s acne and cause acne for another. That said, here are some basics that I’ve always followed and then I’ll list the products that really have been the game changers for me. There’s a chance that something here might help you!

1. I wash my face in the shower every day and at night before I go to bed. Washing my face thoroughly after a workout though is probably the most important. The key is to use a gentle cleanser, so you don’t dry your skin out. I have friends who don’t wash their face before bed, and I don’t know how they function. I feel super gross if I even consider going to bed without washing my face and removing makeup. Not to mention, I know my skin would freak out.

2. New towels and sheets and pillowcases. I think it goes without saying, but changing out linens is so important for consistently clear skin.

3. Drinking a lot more water has 100% helped my skin. I’m not fully convinced that what I eat affects it (maybe it does for other people?), but increased water intake definitely helped my skin. When I get a little dehydrated, I notice a difference in my skin’s coloring and texture a couple of days later.

4. As I mentioned, I’m prone to acne when I’m really stressed. Which is, like, a lot of the time. BUT, meditating has significantly lowered my stress levels. I’m sleeping better and feeling calmer throughout the day, even on days that would have stressed me out before. I wouldn’t say I’m calm as a cucumber, but I’m feeling a lot better. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my skin has cleared up the year I started meditating! A great perk if you ask me.

5. Frequent facials are a bit of an expense, but overall worth it for me. I try to go every four to six weeks. It’s just nice to get a deep clean by a professional.

6. I clean my phone all the time. They’re breeding grounds for bacteria!!! Between holding a phone up to your face and touching the screen all day long… gross. I actually try my best to use speakerphone and headphones only when talking on the phone, so the device isn’t pressing against my skin.

Products that cleared my acne

These four products have been the best things for my skin. I can’t recommend them highly enough. In fact, if you read here every day, you know how much I love them. These are all 10/10, five-star, two thumbs up products!

SOY FACE CLEANSER // Some Fresh products irritate my skin (mostly the masks for some reason!), but this cleanser is THE BEST. If I try a new cleanser, even for a few days, my skin goes haywire. This one is truly the best out there. It calms my skin, removes makeup, and thoroughly cleanses.

DR. BRANDT MICRODERMABRASION // This one is a little pricier, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this! I actually received it first in the FabFitFun box collaboration I did this spring. I’m obsessed with this stuff. My facialist recommended an exfoliator, and it took me a bunch of trial and error before I found one that a) worked and b) didn’t irritate my skin. Because it’s a scrub, I try to limit my use of it to two (three times max) a week. It’s the product I reach for the most after a super sweaty workout!

MEGA MUSHROOM SKIN RELIEF // This face mask is the most recent addition to my arsenal. It CHANGED my skin. Whereas other products feel like they help my skin, this stuff really feels like it changed my skin. I’ve always had uneven coloring, and this mushroom mask is miraculous. It’s labeled as “skin relief, ” and I think it’s the most accurate description. I’m so in love with it that I’m going to try more products from the line.

Night-A-Mins Moisturizer // If you only pick one product from this list, definitely go for this one. This is the moisturizer that first started my journey to clearer skin. All this time I thought I had oily skin and that moisturizers would make my skin greasy and then break out. Nope. I needed more moisture! I put this on every night, and my skin is downright glowy when I wake up. My skin is not as great if I skip a few days of it!

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I have been trying so hard to get my skin under control. It can be such a frustrating task but I am hopefully it will eventually start to clear up. It’s great to know that everyone struggles with this and that you found a solution. I will have to try these products and see if I have any luck with them!

Taylor |


Finally, at 27 years old, I figured out my acne issues too. After trying what felt like every product on the market, including done prescription remedies, what finally did it was a tea tree oil cleanser from Trader Joe’s. Who would have guessed that $5 at my favorite grocery store would do it. I had horrible cyst acne all over my chin/mouth area and after a couple of weeks with the cleanser it is gone! It has stayed away for months too. Tea tree oil is supposed to be a natural anti bacterial, so maybe that was the key.


Same skin here.
I wash my face every night and after work out. Best face cleanser is any Shu Uemura, for body I use Mixa. NEVER wash my face in the morning, only eyes (best tip ever)- no towel. Oleum ricini for eye bags. Ayurvedic face self-massage for good facial expression (2min). Water helps. No.6. good point.


I totally agree on these tips! Water and cleansing are so important. My food trigger is definitely chocolate (especially hot chocolate!), so I avoid it when I’m having skin issues. What do you use to clean your phone?


I just use a slightly dampened (with a little bit of hand sanitizer) paper towel… super simple.


An esthetician recommended filling a small spray bottle with rubbing alcohol. Spraying that on your phone, then using something soft (eyeglass cloth, even though I use a paper towel, too) to clean it off. It works really well!


As someone who deals with blemishes, thank you for this post! I may have to go ahead and try out that mega mushroom mask! How often do you use it?

Kaitlin Czurylo

I have been meaning to try these products you’ve recommended here, but I am just always so hesitant to mix up my routine (even if it isn’t the best routine to start!!). I have a couple questions – putting on moisturizer at night… how long before you hit the pillow do you apply? I always felt like it would make my skin freak out and make my pillowcase yucky, but I know it is important to wear. Also, how often do you do the skin relief mask?

Thanks for always going into detail about your favorite products – I find it so amazingly helpful 🙂


I usually wait for my moisturizer to dry before I go to bed. How long that takes just depends on the brand, but it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.


Good point! I should probably clean my phone – YUCK! It’s got like a years worth of gunk on it, for sure.

I struggled with minor acne most of my teenage years. It wouldn’t be much, just the occasional giant, deep pimple (I like to call them horns). I’d get so embarrassed sometimes I would try to stay home!

Here’s what I found works for me:

1). Try products and pay attention to how you react to them. Only use one new product at a time to see how your skin reacts.

2). Know a lot about your skin! I have skin that tends to be oily, but I also have tiny pores, which makes a terrible combination! Because of the size of my pores, pimples don’t “pop” for me, they actually just end up scaring, so I don’t pick anything. If I’m breaking out, it means I have too much oil or moisture on my skin and I need to dry it out a little bit.

3). Pay for high quality products. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. La Mer has done wonders for my undereyes!

These have all helped me to get great skin!

Alex Cole

I can definitely relate to skin problems! I struggled with acne for the longest time and although Accutane took care of the bulk of it (not ideal to take medicine like that but my skin needed the magic bullet), I still battle breakouts. Recently I’ve also started dealing with anxiety-related eczema, too! Talk about a slew of issues. I’d definitely agree that gentle cleansers are the way to go; I always thought I needed a harsh cleanser to get my skin clean, but it’s calmed down a lot since I switched to Cetaphil! Thanks for the tips.

Alex C. //


One thing that has made a huge difference for my skin (which at least from a distance looks better than ever but upclose I still struggle) is using a fresh washcloth to dry my face every single time. In the morning when I wash my face and at night after I shower I use a fresh washcloth both times. Yes, I end up washing 14 washcloths a week but I swear that this has helped so much. Even though I wash my bath towel and linens frequently, this little trick has definitely cut down on pimples.


Great tips and congrats! You look amazing 🙂 The thing that turned my skin around was going on a good quality zinc supplement and taking it consistently. I went from painful acne to totally clear skin in a few months. Apparently much of the population is deficient and it can cause a lot of skin issues, including acne. I’m surprised dermatologists don’t recommend it more often.


I LOVE that mask, especially for cold mid-west winters. I recently received a sample of the Dr Brandt exfoliator, and while it’s pretty harsh for my skin, I’ve been using it once a week and am enjoying it so far!

Ally Dunavant

You should totally try the Origins Dr. Andrew Weil Mega-Mushroom Soothing Skin Lotion. I have horrible hormonal, cystic acne, and after starting to use this product about two weeks ago, my skin is finally beginning to clear up (knock on wood!). Can’t wait to check out the face mask next! It’s a great line.


Accutane gave me the most perfect skin, but since it has been a while I have been dealing with breakouts again. Not as bad, but still annoying.

I agree with using a freshly washed washcloth after every use and keeping your face and chest area clean – especially after working out.

I picked up L-Lysine supplements today because I read such great reviews on its anti-acne effects – hopefully it will help at least a little bit. I also love the activated charcoal mask by Origins and use that 2x a week.

I also use a serum that has tea tree oil, retinol, vitamin C and salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide in it. Since I have combination skin I often struggle to find a product that will not dry out/leave my skin greasy.


I agree with washing your face after a workout!

I also heard a tip once that it is also a good idea to wash your face before you workout as well. That way your sweat won’t move dirt, makeup, and grime around to clog your pores. You will just be sweating “clean” sweat. I haven’t tried that one yet as I’m lazy, but I get the idea… but for sure I always wash asap after a heavy sweat session!


Do you have problems with hairproducts affecting your sensitive skin? I can’t wear any kind of gel or product, so I choose good skin over good hair :/ Even conditioner I have to be careful with. Just wondering if you knew any magic hair products that won’t break out my jawline 🙂

Sarah Tort

Hi Carly! Thanks for the tips. I have been struggling with my skin as well and would have never even thought about the fact that my phone could be a huge issue. Is there a certain type of disinfecting wipe you use for your phone? Or do you just use a basic Clorox type wipe? Thanks again!

Shannon Karup

Have you ever used Colorescience Sunforgettable. I use it daily on my face, neck and hands to keep my skin protected from the sun. My friend is the clinical educator for Colorescience and I’ve been using many of their products for several years now.


I also love the Nightamins moisturizer! It’s cleared my skin up so much. What’s your go-to day time moisturizer?


Im a bit older than you but struggle similarly with these skin issues- add to that hormone fluctuations after having 2 kiddos! I use the Origins Checks and Balances wash in addition to the Fresh Soy cleanser you mention here- love them both! I’m ordering Night-a-mins as we speak after seeing you rave about it 🙂 Happy Thursday!