How I Got Rid of Under-the-Skin Acne

Two years ago, you'd find me religiously - and I mean, RELIGIOUSLY, using a mask once a week, exfoliating twice a week, never EVER sleeping with make-up on, and every morning and night - removing make up, face washing, toning and moisturising. Yet, my face looked like a 12 year old's and constantly covered with at least one or two massive painful bumps as well as regular spots here and there.

These spots were under the skin, and MOUNDS, not bumps. They never turned into whiteheads, they weren't always red, they just stayed there, being incredibly, incredibly painful. There were two things that worked to control them - one was fish oil tablets, which I was impressed by, but I'm so forgetful and I didn't want to have to buy fish oil for the rest of my life! I'd much rather buy skincare products for the rest of my life, haha!

Everywhere you look online, you're told that spots are because you're dirty, and you become obsessed with this vigorous cleansing. However, the truth is that a lot of the times it's not, and people have different causes for their spots and go about treating their spot problems differently.

Eventually after trial and error and nudges in the right direction from a certain Caroline and my facialist, I arrived at the conclusion that my skin was dehydrated. Completely unaware that this was related to my spots, I slowly started injecting my skin with hydration (not moisture! Moisture is for the surface of your skin to soften dry patches etc., - I'm talking deep skin hydration!), and realised that my spots were going away..

I thought this would be worth writing about, because I can't imagine it's too uncommon that someone gets these angry big spots and they think they need to clean more and strip their skin of oil - there's a common phrase of "drying them out" that is apparently completely inaccurate.

Anyway, I wanted to write about some products that really changed my skin. Everyone's skin is different, and this is only my story of how common perceptions of acne didn't help me at all and it may not work for you. In case you're stuck in a similar rut, here are the products I used to feel slightly more normal.. you know, being able to skive and use micellar water, and then not waking up wondering if Mt. Everest has migrated onto my chin..

Again, I want to emphasize the difference between moisturising and hydrating products - the former is more for dry skins, and the latter for dehydrated. I don't quite believe that many drugstore products have used enough good quality ingredients to have that technology of delivering hydration to the depth of your skin, so many of my products are high end, but as you can imagine, I've found them to be totally worth it. I also found hydrating products aren't always the richest or thickest products - in fact, they're often more water/gel based.

Anyway, here are the selection of products that I use today on a regular basis to keep up my skin's hydration - the four that I started off with and kick-started my war against big painful acne are marked with a *.

Currently trialling this and finding this to be a good alternative to a hydrating serum - not the best, but it seemed to do the job when I was without a hydrating serum and incurred massive, painful spots. Full story below ;)

Nuxe Gentle Toning Lotion
My replacement for the 3 Roses toner mentioned below, this is a soft, hydrating and nourishing toner.

REN Ultra Moisturising Day Cream*
My favourite moisturiser EVER, this thing makes sure I don't get oily during the day by delivering hydration. It also has enough viscosity to smooth over dry spots.

AHAVA Time to Clear Refreshing Cleansing Gel
A gel-based face wash that's really refreshing and helps to balance your skin with hydration.

NUXE Lotion Tonique aux 3 Roses*
Such a hydrating and refreshing toner, I wish they had this in the UK! It's gorgeous and I can't wait to get another bottle the next time I'm in France!

Elemis FreshSkin Peachy Perfect Face Wash*
An affordable, gel-based face wash that is super easy to use, refreshing and helped to hydrate but cleanse well.

Origins Vitazing
Better for days where my cheeks are dryer than usual, but this also provides good hydration that keeps me from being oily.

Dr. Jart+ Water Up Serum*
Perhaps the product that made the biggest difference to my spots - this stuff hydrates like CRAZY. I drifted to Hydraluron after I finished this, but I'm going straight back to this afterwards!

YON-KA Lotion
My morning toner, this is more refreshing and herbal than my NUXE Gentle Toning Lotion and has a healing effect in addition to hydrating which is great for my dry patches and regular spots.

Bodhi Desert Rose
My face oil of choice, this is for nights when my skin is feeling DEAD. This injects hydration, has the most relaxing smell and is just a bundle of joy for tired, dehydrated skin <3

Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser
This isn't pictured above. It's a great face wash in the sense that it got rid of my spots - but I also know it's also a really harsh product where you'll have to restore moisture to your skin otherwise. So I haven't repurchased it but I thought I'd mention it as it works quicker and better than the gel face washes above, and it's most definitely not hydrating!

I didn't go out and buy all these at once - I started with a hydrating toner and having realised the great effects it was having, I continued to buy hydrating products instead of oil-controlling ones. You might also notice that a lot of these products are from brands that don't use nasties - that's just what I prefer, and have found works well on my skin.

 My fantastic four ;)

As you can probably tell, delivering hydration not only made these mounds go away - they also controlled my oil. So these days I can wear tinted moisturisers and dewy foundations without really worrying about it sliding off my face. Sure I've got to be careful, but it's nowhere near as messy as it used to be. It's great not to be limited to the matte, powder-based foundations!

You can also probably tell that I use the word 'balance' a lot, and still don't quite use cleansing balms or rich moisturisers - that's because at the end of the day, I'm still combination skinned, although normal-combo rather than oily-combo, and have a slight oily tendency down my t-zone.. however, it's nothing compared to what I used to be - I atleast don't have to blot every 2 hours anymore! I do keep a tub of the Organic Pharmacy Carrot Cleansing Butter in my cupboard for the winter months :)

Although I still get spots, they're never these mounds of pain that I used to endure constantly. They're small bumps that stay for a day or two, that I imagine is from my unhealthy intake of alcohol and fatty foods, with a dose of stress for good measure. But they're nothing compared to those big boys.

Interestingly enough, when my Dr. Jart+ serum ran out, I decided to be cheap and not repurchase for a bit. Five days before a BIG day, the big, painful acne of old returned - 3 of them to be precise. I ran out and unable to find Dr. Jart's serum at my local Boots, I turned to the coveted Hydraluron. In five days, I was down to about half a spot, if that (I still feel the tiniest bump under my skin it was that big!). This shows how much my skin loves hydration and that it's not having no for an answer!

Please note that I'm not a skincare specialist - this is just how I understand my skin to operate! :)

How did you get rid of your spots? What are your must-have products?



  1. Great, informative post, Yu! I also find my skin doesn't like it when I hammer at it with oil-control products. It seems to do its best when I use basic cleansers and gentle, naturally-derived AHAs to exfoliate (I was using the Clarisonic Mia for three years, but realized I was getting lots of whiteheads -not the kind with pus, the bumps under the skin- which went away when I stopped using it), and light-feeling moisturizers. I've had moderate acne since I was 10, so I had years to try everything to fight it. The simpler and cleaner products I use for my skin, the better it looks :) I'm glad you're spreading the word.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about these spots I've suffered with them on the side of my face and it's horrible! Thanks for this post I might try some of your recommended products :)


  3. This is great information. I have dry patches here and there along with a lot of dark spots and ace scars with once in a blue moon breakouts. Maybe hydrating my skin will help it look a little brighter and healthier because it looks so dull :( I might try some of the products you mentioned :)

  4. This is SO useful, I always get under skin spots and never know how to shift them!

    Maria xxx

  5. Its great that you love NUXE~
    If you can't get more in the UK, check out my online French skincare boutique where I stock NUXE and many more French skincare brands~
    And if you can't find what you're looking for, I also do private requests as well~

  6. This is a brilliant post, so few people realise the difference between dry and dehydrated. My skin is host to a few under the skin mountains at the moment, so i'm going to give your holy grails a try.

    Also, you'll be happy to know the NUXE toner is available from M&S - in fact it's a free gift at the moment if you buy two of their products, or you can buy it for £13. :D

    Thanks for the awesome post! xx


Post a Comment

Popular Posts