How I Manage My Acne: Cleansers

I started getting breakouts when I was about 13 or 14 and only just got my acne under control last year. I would say I’ve tried almost everything that would fit into my budget, stuff like cleansers, acne cream, toner, specially formulated creams from the dermatologist, you name it!

My skin in 2011. (Excuse the strange pose, I don't know what I was doing. Photo Credit: Janella Gangat)

My skin in 2011. (Excuse the strange pose, I don’t know what I was doing. Photo Credit: Janella Gangat)

Finally, after testing loads and loads of products, my skin has finally cleared up. I’m not a hundred percent sure what particular product did it for me because I did trial a few things at once, or if it was more of an environment related thing, because I did live in Sydney for a year (where there was definitely a lot less pollution compared to Manila). Whatever it was, I’m just glad to not have red spots all over my face all the time. However, my skin is by no means perfect. I have a ton of scarring and hyper pigmentation from years ago and I still the odd pimple every now and then, especially when I’m getting super hormonal a week or two before my period. Living with acne is all about management and finding what works best for you.

I’m going to attempt to do a comprehensive walk through of my journey to (almost) acne-freedom, so here’s to hoping that someone out there finds my rambling useful. I also just wanna say that I am by NO means an expert, all of the products I’m about to mention are things that have been recommended to me by family and friends or random stuff that I decided to pick up at the drugstore. These products may have worked for me, but they might not for you depending on your skin type and any allergies you may have so I do recommend that you check out the list of ingredients before purchasing any skin care products, do a bit of research online or better yet, visit your good old dermatologist. And just so this conversation doesn’t get too overwhelming, I’ll be talking about different categories over the next few weeks. So, let’s talk cleansing.


First up is the Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam, which is part of the three step Clinique Acne Solutions range. Individually and collectively, the products within this range are expensive. I think I purchased a full sized trio for $99AUD, and on it’s own this cleanser costs $29AUD (Sorry Filo folks, I have no clue how much this costs in local currency). I do recommend, where you can, to get a free trial kit to see if this product works for you as it would be a huge waste if you don’t use them up. Although if you do purchase a full sized bottle of this cleanser, it does have up to three months worth of product. What I did love about it is that it is super mild and not very drying, however it can be quite harsh when used in combination with the Clinique Acne Solutions Clarifying Lotion (which I will get into in the next blog).

After repurchasing the Clinique cleanser a few times, my pockets started to hurt a bit from having to shell out almost $30 per bottle, but my acne had already cleared up quite a bit around this time so, I figured why not find a different cleanser that won’t make me feel like I’ve been robbed every time I swipe my debit card. And that was when I found the Clean & Clear Essentials Self Foaming Facial Cleanser at the Woolworths right by Kogarah station. Much like the Clinique Acne Solutions kit, this also came in a set of 3 (cleanser, toner and moisturiser) but costs so much less. This comes in at $8.99 AUD for a 150ml bottle, I am going to talk about the toner and moisturiser that came with it in later blog posts but for now I will say that all together the Clean and Clear 3 step kit comes to a grand total of $24.81 AUD. I found that this cleanser works pretty well, it is a bit harsher than the Clinique one but it does a better job of clearing up any residue your makeup wipe may have missed. It is so much more drying to the skin so be warned, if you do pick this up don’t forget to use a healthy amount of moisturiser to avoid getting icky dry patches. While I do recommend this product, I have to say keep your expectations of it to a minimum. It works pretty well, but it is a far cry from its Clinique counterpart. I see this more of an alternative for people on tight budgets (such as moi), but if you do have a bit of extra cash stowed away I think you’d be better off going for a splurge instead. In Manila, I don’t believe we get the same packaging, but we this product is available to us. The local variety is labelled as Clean and Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Wash, however it doesn’t have the “foaming” nozzle so I’m not a hundred percent sure how that works as I haven’t tried it myself. But, in case you do try it and find that it doesn’t actually foam when you pour it from the bottle, MUJI sells self foaming containers that you can decant the product into.

Next, I tried the LUSH Dark Angels Fresh Facial Cleanser ($16.95 AUD per 100g/in Manila I get mine within the 500-600php range, which isn’t far off from it’s dollar equivalent). I switched to this because I figured, after drowning my skin in chemicals it would probably be best to go for a gentler alternative. And you know what, I’m glad I made the switch because I swear by this stuff. It’s half the price and lasts just as long as the Clinique Cleansing Foam. It keeps for 3 months, sometimes even longer but I don’t recommend you use it more than a week or two past its best by date as LUSH products do tend to go mouldy (you gotta remember that their products are made from natural ingredients, so this is pretty unavoidable). Dark Angels also doubles as a fresh face mask because of its mud content and triples as a mild daily exfoliator because of the black sugar. It can be a bit scary to use at first because it is super dark but once you get over that initial fear, and its fragrance, that is, if you don’t like sandalwood oil, you’ll love it! It’s super mild, and leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. It also gives me a bit of a glow, which is very handy when you’re looking especially tired.

At the minute I’m trying out LUSH’s Herbalism Cleanser. To be honest, I’m not really feeling it. It’s alright but it doesn’t do too well for my skin. But, we shall see. I’ll let you guys know how I get on with it in the next few weeks. So… that’s about it for now. Next week we’ll get into toners and facial wipes so please do keep an eye out for my next blog post. In the meantime feel free to share some of your tips with your fellow oily-skinned, acne prone homegirls (and dudes) in the comments section below. xx