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I’m no stranger to acne, but oh my goodness my skin has taken a drastic turn since the pandemic started in March. I know I’m not alone with this issue, because the combination of pandemic stress + masks 24/7 is a deadly pair for your skin. My interest in sustainability also emerged during the pandemic, so I’ve been on the hunt trying to stop hormonal acne with ethical products.
Anyone who’s struggled with any kind of acne knows that treating it without any medicated/active products is virtually impossible, so not every product on this list is ethical or sustainable. I’m not one to necessarily be self-conscious about my skin, but the fact that hormonal and cystic acne is actually painful makes me want to do anything to get rid of it.
So, without further ado, here is how I treat my hormonal acne with (mostly) ethical skincare products:
PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide Creamy Cleanser
Benzoyl peroxide is such an amazing ingredient to treat hormonal acne. The BHA is in many prescription acne products but is very accessible over the counter. I’ve tried the CeraVe BP cleanser as well, however, it was much too harsh for my skin. The formula feels very similar to PanOxyl’s cleanser, but my skin dried out and felt irritated after using it.
PanOxyl’s cleanser is much gentler, and I use it twice a day with no irritation problems. This cleanser is not an ethical product, but as I mentioned before, ethical skin care with effective active ingredients is very difficult to find and/or afford. This product works wonders for me, and I try to compensate with other brands and products elsewhere in my routine.
Differin Gel is a MIRACLE worker and an absolute essential for hormonal acne. The retinoid is powerful in rapidly turning over skin cells and subsequently clearing and preventing those deep down cystic breakouts. However, Differin Gel requires some very important knowledge before using:
- Expect a loooong purge. Whenever you use a retinoid, your skin turns over new cells so quickly and unearths 6 months worth of breakouts that were stewing beneath the surface that would come up at some point. Purging means your skin will get worse before it gets better, and the period can last up to 4 months. I’ve been using Differin Gel for about 8 weeks and I am (hopefully) at the end of my purge. Using this product definitely takes some patience, but it is soooo effective.
- Be careful what ingredients you use with a retinoid. BHA’s like benzoyl peroxide are perfectly safe to use along with a retinoid, but beware of AHA’s. Retinoids are powerful and make your skin more vulnerable to harsh products, so it’s essential you do some research to make sure your products are compatible.
- WEAR SUNSCREEN. Regardless if you use a retinoid or not, sunscreen is non-negotiable. Without using sunscreen every morning, allllll those products you put on your face are absolutely worthless. Retinoids make your skin so sensitive to the sun, so it’s even more imperative you wear sunscreen when using one. AND, I know you probably have acne scars and sunscreen will prevent them from getting worse.
The next portion of this post will feel like a Cocokind ad. While I do receive a small commission from the links on this page, they are definitely not paying me to write this post (I’m not that important ahaha). I 100% LOVE all of these products and would never recommend anything that I don’t actually use.
Cocokind Turmeric Tonic
Cocokind’s turmeric tonic is so legit. This little roller ball tube is a clear spot treatment that I use right after cleansing and before Differin Gel. I roll it directly on the patches of skin on my chin and jaw line that are breaking out at the moment and gently pat it into my skin with my fingertips. The products absorbs quickly and feels so soothing on irritated skin.
The best part, however, is that this product actually makes a difference. I have been skeptical of natural skincare products in treating acne, but I’m so sold on this product and the entire Cocokind line. The brand prioritizes clean ingredients, ethical products, and is WOC owned. Overall an amazing business to support.
The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc Serum
You already know I use this cult classic. It’s definitely not the miracle worker everyone says it is, but it does help with redness. I figure this is something good to use over the longterm to help the general health of my skin, whereas many products on this list I use to help with specific problems. The brand is great, the product works, and it’s very affordable.
Versed Brightening Eye Gel
With a retinoid and a BHA cleanser, the delicate skin around the eyes can start to feel a little dry. I don’t like to use a super heavy cream under my eyes, but this brightening eye gel is the perfect amount of hydration. I don’t know if it actually improves the look of dark circles like it says it does, but it definitely feels nice and soothing on my skin. Versed also has a pretty robust sustainability mission when creating their products.
I’ve been hunting for a mineral SPF since they are better for keeping our water clean and reefs healthy, but sometimes they can leave an intense white caste. Fortunately, this SPF doesn’t require much effort to rub in, and leaves maybe a minimal white caste that’s barely noticeable. Because breakouts are my main concern, I love that this SPF doesn’t cause them. This was my first Cocokind purchase and it completely sold me on the entire brand.
I’ve tried all the masks. Aztec clay, sheet masks, sleep masks, etc. After trying the turmeric tonic from Cocokind and loving it, I decided to hop on their website to get the turmeric stick, which is more of a creamy consistency and used as a mask instead of a spot treatment. After seeing reviews that it worked best when combined with their chlorophyll mask, you know I gave in.
This turmeric stick is a creamier consistency than the turmeric tonic and actually shows up on the skin. I target the stick on problem areas and layer the chlorophyll mask on top. I’ve also used it as an overnight mask on its own, but definitely put a towel on your pillow since it will rub off.
This chlorophyll mask is just fun to use. It comes as a loose powder so you can make it any consistency you want. I like to mix it into the cap of the jar instead of my hands so that I don’t loose any of the product. It does smell a little earthy, but nothing really gross or unbearable. I like that it dries without making my skin feel tight after washing it off.
I’ve only used these masks a couple of times, and skin care is definitely a long haul journey so it will take some time of consistent use to see an effect from these.
And that’s it! Do you have any sustainable or ethical favorites that are great at treating acne that I didn’t mention? I love learning and trying new things, so drop a comment and let me know!
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