Do you ever feel as though finding the right skincare routine is a never-ending battle? I do. Especially after I began commuting to Brooklyn twice a week. Suddenly my already finicky skin became even more blemish-prone, and I developed what I've come to call "city chin". City chin is no fun, and it what happens when you immerse yourself in Uber pools, train rides, subways cars, office life and pollution. It's also probably from my phone and stress, but I'm blaming the extenuating circumstances. Anyway. After starting my new job, all of a sudden I was plagued by a constant galaxy of tiny bumps and blemishes across my chin and jawline, and was even getting occasional cystic acne. I've never had cystic acne. At 33, suddenly combatting acne was an unexpected and most unwelcome surprise. No thanks, no way. I needed to do something about it.
Turns out, that something was hiding in my pantry all along and cost next to nothing. I'd already been using organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar internally, mixed with lukewarm water as a drink before bed, but I was curious to see if it could do anything for the acne on my face. I mixed it up with some water and bottled it in a recycled glass container (mine was an empty vanilla extract bottle - washed of course), then applied it as a toner after washing my face. You guys. When I say my skin cleared up in days, I mean it. Days. And knock on wood... I haven't had a cystic breakout in over a month. Even during PMS. I've wanted to write about this for a couple months now, but was afraid I was experiencing a fluke. I don't think I am! I have had a couple of smaller blemishes, but the ACV, combined with the other products I've been using, seems to dry everything up and get it healed in half the time. Today I'm sharing the process for making your own apple cider vinegar toner, along with the other products I've been using. Because I'm so happy about it, and I want everyone to know! Drop $4 bucks on a bottle of Braggs, it's so worth it:
DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Toner: Combine 1 part organic unfiltered ACV (I like Braggs) with 1 part filtered water (you want a 50/50 mix) and store in a glass bottle. To use: soak a cotton ball with ACV toner and swipe across chin and t-zone in the morning and night (or once per day depending on your skin's needs). If you've never used ACV before, I recommend doing a patch test on your inner forearm before using on your face to ensure you don't experience a reaction. ACV can be drying, but I've found it works well for me when combined with a good hyaluronic acid and facial oil and it erased almost all the blemishes on my chin within days. I use this at night after cleansing and in the morning after splashing my face with plain water.
Yes, it smells like salad dressing. But the smell goes away as soon as you layer anything over it, so a serum and moisturizer or oil will do the trick. Trust me, I made Chris smell my face multiple times to make sure I wasn't stepping out smelling like a well-dressed salad. You can read more about why apple cider vinegar works for face and body here.
Youth to the People Firm & Brighten Serum: Similar to collagen, hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by the body, but over time we begin to produce less and less of it. H.A. is responsible for keeping the skin hydrated and clear, but when production wanes, the skin begins to wrinkle and thin. Along with eating hyaluronic acid-rich foods (basically all bright fruits and veggies contain trace amount of H.A.) I use this serum in the morning to keep my skin clear and healthy. Hyaluronic acid can also help reduce the appearance of under eye bags, so if that's not reason enough to use it I don't know what is. I use this in the morning after applying the ACV toner above. (learn more about the benefits of hyaluronic acid here)
Herbivore Phoenix Oil: I've learned by now that oil is 100% more compatible with my skin than any kind of lotion - this goes for body and face. Like goes with like, so an oil that works with the skin is going to work leaps and bounds over a lotion, at least this is what I've found. A good facial oil is key to the health and clarity of my skin. I absolutely love Herbavore's Phoenix Oil, which I picked up from Moorea Seal. Pricy, yes, but the bottle lasts a looooong time and the quality of the ingredients -- which include chia seed co2 and sea buckhorn oil -- can't be beat. Plus it smells incredible, which helps when you're putting vinegar on your face every day. I use this in the morning after applying YTTP Firm and Brighten Serum.
Tamanu Oil: Ok, so tamanu oil doesn't smell that great and it has a greenish tinge to it, which is why I only use it at night BUT if you've ever had issues with oils clogging your skin, try tamanu. Tamanu oil can actually help prevent breakouts thanks to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and it's an incredible hydrator, making it perfect for those with dry or blemish-prone skin. I'll layer this on at night after washing my face and toning it with the ACV toner above. This one is from Aura Cacia. (Read more about tamanu oil here)
Tea Tree Oil: I have a love/hate relationship with tea tree oil. On the one hand, it's amazing for drying up blemishes, on the other hand... the smell. I've been using tea tree oil since I was a teenager for preventing zits and it works, and it can work for so many other things too (keeping it real: tea tree is amazing for treating and preventing athlete's foot). I'll use this once or twice a week to treat any minor blemishes that may have popped up on my chin, or as a preventative measure after commuting to Brooklyn for the day. I've found that when paired with the ACV toner, zits dry up and heal in half the time. At night, after cleansing, toning and moisturizing my skin, I just dip the end of a cotton swab into the bottle of tea tree and dab it on areas that are prone to breakouts. Then I prepare for the cat and Chris to avoid me because both of them can't stand the smell!
Not pictured: Cleanser: I'm using Honest Co.'s cleanser right now and really like it. I wash my face twice at night - once to remove my makeup and then I'll lather my face again to remove any residue. I've never gone to sleep with makeup on -- removing it at night is a non-negotiable (I do work out in makeup, so judge me however you wish). I also love Ursa Major's Fantastic Face Wash and haven't decided which one I'll re-up on when I run out of my current bottle. I don't cleanse my face in the morning besides splashing it with warm water and toweling off -- there's no need.
This combination has been working SO well for me over the past month or so, I've been nervous to even share it in fear of jinxing myself. I've noticed huge changes in not only the clarity of my skin, but wrinkle depth, brightness, and under eye bags over the past few weeks - I actually feel really good about it! I'll try new products from time to time, but always seem to circle back to what's natural and simple. That's what works for me. I've also been working hard at managing stress, drinking a ton of water, and eating as many fruits and veggies as I can get my hands on.
I'd love to know what products you swear by. Do you use ACV? Is there a weird ingredient in your beauty routine? I'm always looking for unexpected fixes, so please let me know.