I had horrible acne because I was allergic to this super common chemical
I’ve had all the types of acne — literally, all the acne.
I turned 12 and my face exploded. And like anyone else, I went to the drugstore and bought the entire skincare aisle assuming I could scrub the bumps off my skin. I know you’ve probably tried that horrible apricot scrub you can get at every drug store — you know, that shit that’s like gravel in a bottle?
My face got so bad I had to call in an actual doctor to help me. And he decided to do something interesting: stop any and all over the counter products. Which sounded crazy — because like, wouldn’t all the bumps just come back?
Like one of those investigators who obsesses over weird murder cases, my doctor had a thing about him where he HAD to figure out what was wrong with my skin. My crazy doc then had a crazy idea: maybe my acne wasn’t normal acne? Maybe I was allergic to something that was in every product I had been using!
With more investigating, my doctor figured out I was allergic to benzoyl peroxide, which is the active ingredient in almost every over-the-counter acne product.
So we started on a crazy regimen to zap these babies and eliminated all traces of benzoyl peroxide. In order to initially clear my face, I had to see him once a week and get my face sprayed with a chemical to “freeze” the bumps; take antibiotics twice a day to kill the bacteria; get a glycolic acid peel and full facial every two weeks; and put on a shit ton of prescription topical cream on a daily basis.
I had to wear a baseball hat when I was outside in the sun because of how many chemicals I had on me. It was a dangerous time.
Once my face was clear, we needed to figure out a face regimen that I could do without all the crazy medical prescriptions and harsh chemicals. It was decided then that I was only allowed to use products with a very low percentage of salicylic acid, including even my makeup. I highly recommend Clinique’s Acne Solutions foundation, which has a low percentage of salicylic acid in it that can help keep acne at bay. There’s also a BB cream version which is only available online, and has 40 SPF — so it’s great for summer (I’m not sure why this isn’t carried in stores, best kept secret!) and literally goes on invisibly.
READ ALSO: How To Tell If Your Phone is Giving You Acne
Covering up couldn’t be all I was worried about — I needed to find products that had all natural ingredients in them, because my doctor said there was a high possibility I could be allergic to many of the other chemicals in other cleansers.
We then made one simple rule about all my skin products that’s always remained the same: Read the ingredients on your skin products like you would ingredients for your food. If it’s full of chemicals you don’t know and can’t pronounce, it’s likely it’s not good for you!
So here I’m going to share with you what I’ve found that works for me — Here is my current list of recommended face products for the sensitive ones like me. I do have throw a disclosure out there: checking with a dermatologist is best — especially if you think you have underlying allergies, since they are NOT to be fucked with.
If you like to do a round of makeup wipes before cleanser, I recommend the cleansing cloths from Ogee. I’ve tried a bunch of different cloths, and they often leave behind a weird residue or fragrance — with these ones there’s no weird chemical remnants. Ogee is this radical brand where everything is organic, and the co-founders straight up source jojoba oil a farm to make their products the highest of quality. Let’s just say when you’re tired of not knowing what’s in your face products, Ogee is literally the only brand you wanna fuck with.
I recently found these little pulsating babies by Foreo which you can use along with a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil or the Frank Body Creamy Cleanser. The Foreo products use T-sonic pulsations to gently clean the skin, lifting away 99.5 percent of dirt and gross shit. Not to mention, it’s made from silicone — so it’s easy to clean and won’t collect bacteria like a regular brush.
Next, try Frank Body’s creamy face scrub, which has coffee in it so you can gently scrub the day away instead of trying to use gravel to exfoliate. Frank Body also uses coffee in everything, and coffee has caffeine in it, and like, I’m sure you’ve heard caffeine is great for skin. So, it’s a total win and smells yummy too.
You may choose to use a toner or not, I personally like how it feels to spray on a toner when it’s hot af in the summer — plus, regular water can dry my skin out. I like to use Epicuren’s Brazilian Propolis Mist on a day with no makeup, or after I’ve washed. As the queen of being-allergic-to-fucking-everything I do have to warn that you should NOT use this if you are allergic to bees or honey, in which case you might be better off using the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Rosewater. Both sprays are super bomb, and will make your face super soft! But reminder: read the labels!
It can be hard to find a light moisturizer that doesn’t clog those pores — but I say go with anything with a high amount of hyaluronic acid in it, which is better for moisturizing and preventing wrinkles. Frank Body has a great daily moisturizer, that I like to use at night, or you can use a few drops of Ogee’s Jojoba Restore Face Oil with the Cetaphil brand of moisturizer (look for that hyaluronic acid label!) if you are super sensitive.
Extra tip: If you are super dry at certain times of the year, put a few drops of Ogee’s Jojoba Restore Face Oil in your makeup, and literally, life changes happen.
I like to go for the bonus round and do the wrinkle prevention, but I hate how most wrinkle creams are thick and can make me break out again. When I found this serum — which is not crazy expensive like a lot of serums are — I almost lost my mind. Get yourself all the bottles of Ogee Seeds of Youth Serum and bask in how amazing it feels. Again, this brand is amazing — I mean, a jojoba farm? Such dedication.
Lastly, keep your makeup brushes clean and throw away sponges every few days! These are the biggest breeding grounds where bacteria can form, and you don’t wanna spread it all around your face! My fave brush cleanser is IT Cosmetics Brush Love, which is also made for sensitive skin AND has collagen in it, so again it’s a total WIN.
It was a bit of a struggle to find what worked for me — my biggest recommendation is to look at the ingredients of everything, and look for common threads and patterns in things when you begin to notice a problem. Some acne will be traced back to hormones, but there are a million causes for the many different kinds of acne. If you get a new product, definitely try the skin patch test and keep the Benadryl nearby!
For me, it’s clear (pun intended) that more natural products are def the way to go — just like your body, be gentle to your face and your skin. And know that even some of the worst cases of acne, there is hope in figuring out what can work for you!