Skincare Tips for Cystic Acne, Dehydrated + Sensitive Skin

My Story

I’ve struggled with cystic acne since I was in middle school. I’ve been on and off medications, and I really had no idea what worked for me until I really started doing the research. I spent a few months with a dermatologist and still couldn’t find a solution. I was extremely close to starting Accutane, a very harsh medication that you take for severe acne. Thankfully, I found a few different products and learned what regime works for me. In addition to that, I had to make a few lifestyle changes to really make a solid difference.

In the past, the winters were terrible. My face dried out so badly that my skin started peeling and my cystic acne hit its worst points. For a few months, my skin was in constant pain. It was really painful to put on or take makeup off, but it was basically pointless to put it on in the first place because it couldn’t even hide the dryness or acne. Luckily, I had it a little easier in the summers. I always made sure to stay in the sun so I could keep a tan and clear face. I had significantly less breakouts and my skin was much more hydrated than it was in the winter months. But, until this past year, I was ignorant to the importance of sunscreen so I’ve been left with sun damage and a few too many wrinkles for a 21 year old.

What I Did Wrong

Since middle school, I’ve tried to buy all the products to help my skin. I tried proactive, curology, and every other product that I found with good reviews or a promising description. My “skincare routines” were anywhere from 3-5 steps every night. At the time, I thought that was a good thing but I was actually over treating my skin. I also never researched the ingredients of the products I used because I just trusted the claims on the bottle or the reviews that I saw. I failed to realize that some products just didn’t work well with me, I just figured that it was my body/skin’s fault that it was getting worse.

I also really never understood the effect that my diet had on my skin. After deciding to do some “testing” on what did and didn’t work, I now know that I can’t consume dairy, soda, or french fries for multiple days and have clear skin. Funny how the things we love the most can be the worst for us.. But in all seriousness, if you’re struggling with acne, you should eliminate parts of your diet for a specific period of time to see what could be causing the breakouts.

What I’ve Learned

Over these last few months, I’ve completely turned my skin around. I still have scarring from acne and sun damage, and unfortunately I’m not sure if that will ever go away. But on the other hand, I rarely break out, my skin is more hydrated, and it’s not in constant pain – so I’m considering that a win! Here are some of the tips that I’ve learned to make these significant changes 🙂


  • Drink caffeine. Aside from the obvious coffee, soda, or teas.. I realized that even taking my pre workout was making my face a lot worse.
  • Always trust a dermatologist. I went to one for months and my skin didn’t get better until I started listening to my own body.
  • Eat poorly 24/7. A lot of the sugary, fatty, or carby foods that we all love are the worst for our skin. Like I said before, eliminate foods for a while to see what is/isn’t working for you!
  • Skip taking your makeup off or washing your face. You are honestly asking for a breakout if you skip it!
  • Go to the gym with makeup on. Your pores open up when you sweat and you don’t want the makeup to clog your pores.
  • Pop acne or touch your face. If you have to pop something, use a specific acne popping tool. They are super cheap and can be found on Amazon, at TJ Maxx, etc. They help eliminate the scarring.
  • Put too much product on your face – whether that be makeup, self tanner, or skin care products. Let your skin breathe.
  • Use abrasive scrubs or peels too often. This will irritate your skin.
  • Use expired products. Check the dates!
  • Use products with a lot of ingredients. Simple = better!


  • I can’t stress this enough, but wear your freaking sunscreen. I ignored this for so many reasons – I thought it broke me out, I didn’t think I would get as tan with it on, I didn’t like the way that it felt on my skin, etc. But if you do your research, you can find a sunscreen that doesn’t break you out or feel greasy, while still protecting your face from sun damage and wrinkles.
  • Drink as much water as possible. Good for hydration and clearing skin.
  • Try a jelly makeup removing cleanser instead of wipes because wipes can dry your face out, leave a lot of unseen makeup behind, and irritate your skin. Use a makeup removing cleanser and then immediately follow up with your regular cleanser.
  • When introducing new products to your skin, try them out one at a time. Try one for a few weeks and see if that works before starting something else, even if it has different uses/benefits. If you’re trying a bunch of new things at once, you will never know what the true cause is if you have a breakout.
  • Research what products will be best for you and your skin type.
  • Manage and regulate your stress levels. High stress can cause acne.
  • Wash your face twice a day (timing it right if you do workout/sweat or wear makeup).
  • Keep your makeup brushes and applicators clean.
  • Moisturize daily – even if you have oily skin. I thought I had oily skin, but it turns out that my skin was so dry that it was overproducing oil in an attempt to compensate.
  • Let your face breathe once in a while, don’t wear makeup every day. Don’t clog the pores too much.
  • Wash face immediately after sweating.
  • Talk to a dermatologist! They may be able to discover things about your skin that you didn’t originally notice. Just take their advice with a grain of salt because sometimes you actually do know best.

So, I hope you guys can learn from my mistakes and use some of these tips that I’ve learned over the years! In my next skincare related post, I’ll share some of my favorite products for clearing up my skin and keeping it hydrated. Have a great week! 🙂

Skincare Routine Worksheet on Etsy

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: