An international make-up and beauty blog with Belgian roots and a Swiss twist

How I got my acne under control by changing my skin care routine

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Remember this post? A terrible experience with an anti-acne product left me scarred in more than one way and made my already bad skin even worse. For me that was the last drop that made the cup run over – or should I say the last bit of pus that made the zit pop? – and I decided make some radical changes to my skin care routine. And it worked! My skin still has a mind of its own and I still have to cover up a few breakouts here and there in the morning, but the contrast with how bad it was just a few weeks ago is huge! How did I do it? It was actually quite simple. All I had to do was strip down. And by that I mean switch to a stripped-down skin care regimen. I went back to basics and stopped using 1001 different creams and lotions and stopped constantly changing my routine. I now follow a very basic skin care routine that is based on consistency, and these are the four main pillars that I follow:

1. Cleansing: same cleanser, AM and PM

Vichy Normaderm Tri-Activ Mask review swatches

I used to use two different cleansers – one for my morning routine and one for my evening routine – and one of them was a moisturizing cream cleanser. Now I use the same pore-purifying clay-based cleanser with salicylic acid twice a day, the Vichy Normaderm Tri-Activ Mask.

2. Moisturizing: one product only

Vichy Normaderm Total Mat Fresh Hydrating Gel review swatches

Skin care routine (How I got my acne under control by changing my skin care routine) (2)

Before I changed my routine I used to apply serum, eye cream, daily moisturizer or night cream and then a chemical anti-acne treatment of some sort. Now all I use is my Vichy Normaderm Total Mat Fresh Hydrating Gel after cleansing in the morning and the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum after cleansing before bed time. And that’s it.

3. Treating acne: the natural way

Skin care routine (How I got my acne under control by changing my skin care routine) (1)

In the past ten years I have tried almost every product out there to get my acne under control, but since mid-January I’ve been using only 100% pure natural tea tree oil to treat my breakouts. I put a drop of oil on a q-tip, apply it on my spots before going to bed and just let the oil do its job.

4. No more extras

In addition to my usual skin care products I also used to use scrubs, peelings, masks, you name it, but I’ve scratched all that now. I want to stress my skin as little as possible and give it as much structure as I can, so that means no more treats for now. I’ll probably reintroduce a scrub or something eventually, but when I do I will make sure to do it very slowly and gently.

Skin care routine (How I got my acne under control by changing my skin care routine) (3)

Simple, right? Who would have thought! I guess less really is more. My back to basics skin care routine has definitely paid off so far, so I’m going to stick to it. And who knows, maybe I’m finally on the road to perfectly clear skin…

What is your current skin care routine? What is the best way for you to keep your skin happy and acne-free?


  1. The third one I have to try for sure because I have heard so manuy good things about it and I use the great make-up from it!
    It’s only very expensive! A face with spots doesn’t look great!
    The first to looks also prefect to me!
    But I can tell wen I buy something expensive I just use a little bit! ;-)

    I wish you a wonderfull day…..

  2. Hey Melissa, I’m glad you found a routine that works for you! I also tend to keep things simple when my skin is acting up. If your skin can’t deal with a million new products (I don’t think anyone’s can), just stick to what works!

  3. Hi Melissa, I have been through phases when I’ve overloaded my skin with masks, scrubs,acne treatments ect ect. I have now started to use the same cleanser and moisturiser am and pm. I use a Vitamin C Oil before my moisturiser in the morning followed by Sun Block.
    You don’t mention a Sun Block in your post, do you not use one?

    I have heard good things about Tree Tea Oil and will give it a go as I do get acne every now and then

    • Nope, right now I don’t. I usually use a mineral sunscreen though, but as I’m trying to keep my routine as simple as possible I scratched that. I don’t see much sun lately anyway. If any at all… I’m a vampire ;-)

  4. Superartikel! Moet ik allemaal maar eens proberen, want door de tentamens is mijn huid een ramp! Zelf gebruik ik veel te veel producten, maar heb inmiddels Dode Zee-crème en -zeep besteld, dat zou goed helpen en brengt het aantal producten naar beneden! :)

  5. Wat een goed en fijn artikel! Ik merk dat door minder suiker te eten m’n huid ook beter is.

  6. Wat fijn dat je huid hier zo van is opgeknapt! Ik wissel soms wel af met producten; de ene keer voelt mijn huid iets vetter en dan ga ik voor een product dat dat in toom houdt, zodat ik geen puistjes krijg, maar de andere keer is mijn huid vrij droog en dan smeer ik er hydraterende crème op. Merk dat ik vooral één keer in de maand een wat vettigere huid krijg en de rest van de maand is mijn huid juist wat droger.

  7. Great routine, i want to test Normaderm !!

  8. I should have a make up routine… I like Vichy products… these sound great, I will invest in these… luckily I don’t have a lot of acne but I do like to have my skin soft and supple :)

  9. Yay!Good for you for taking care of the problem. I’ve only done simple things too when trying to clear my skin, and lay low on scrubs.:)

  10. Haha moest echt lachen met die laatste foto’s ! Leuk dat je eindelijk je acne onder controle hebt. Dat product van estée lauder ziet er echt ontzettend chic uit x

  11. Woot! So glad you found a routine that works for you. Avoiding triggers, keeping it simple is really the key. Take note of those ingredients, it’ll help for future purchases. :)

  12. Normaal gezien heb ik een droge, gevoelige huid en heb periodes waar ik rond m’n mond en neus roodheden heb…zoals nu op dit moment :-s, ik gebruik nochtans een natuurlijk product voor de gevoelige huid. Ik probeer me ookaltijd te houden aan maximum 3 producten als het op gezichtsverzorging aankomt….. Reiniger, eenzelfde dag en nachtcreme en een wonderolietje voor de extreem droge plaatsjes :-). Ik wil wel graag eens de Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair proberen!

  13. Goed om te weten! In de winter kan me huid nogal droog en schraal zijn.

  14. Good to hear it has helped you a lot!

  15. yep sometimes less is more. I learned that lesson recently when my skin got irritated from using an expensive japanese soap. ugh! i now switched back to one hypoallergenic facial moisturizer and not use too much base products as much as possible

  16. Back to basics, Great that you found out your ideal routine! The products all seem very good, no extras needed. I got to know that my skin was happiest when I applied a moisturizer at night-because it was producing oil like crazy which stuffed the pores for lack of oil. Sounds logical right.

  17. less is really more melissa, when it comes to skincare. Our skin knows how to manage/repair by itself , and when we use all these different products , it just gets more confused & starts acting cranky! I just stick to one cleanser & moisturizer, thats about it. :) I am so so glad that your skin is getting good now xx

  18. Dit zien er allemaal fijne producten uit! Net wat ik nodig had want door examenstress heb ik er heel veel last van!

  19. Less is more denk ik he. Fijne routine, ik ben die van mij ook aan het aanpassen om te zien waar mijn huid het beste op reageert

  20. Congratulations on finding a routine that works for you! Fighting acne can be hard on the self-esteem. Personally, I have to limit the amount of products I try from subscription boxes because I do not want to overwhelm my skin with too much. It can be a difficult balance between wanting to try new things and sticking with what works. I wish you luck!

  21. Fijne routine! Ik gebruik ook geen aparte crèmes meer voor alles. Gewoon één goede crème, klaar :D.

  22. Ah, I’m glad it was a success so now you have baby skin ;)

  23. I love this :) will definitely be looking into the Vichy products and the tea tree natural product. Going to write it down right now.. thanks!

  24. Comme toi j’ai dû totalement changer ma routine de soins pour le visage pour me débarrasser de mes petits parasites!!! Pour ma part la marque Bioderma a changé ma vie ;)))

  25. Zo fijn voor je dat dit lijkt te helpen!! :)
    Ik gebruik zelf ook maar weinig; een dagcrème van Garnier, Kruidvat rozenwater en eens in de paar dagen een hele milde scrub van Dove :)

  26. Lijkt mij een zeer fijne routine! Hopelijk blijft dit werken voor jou. Succes ermee! x

  27. Glad you’ve gotten it under control! Simple sometimes really is best. I think my skincare routine is a little excessive at the moment because I’m trying some new things, but I try to keep it pared down as best I can, as well.

  28. Less is more inderdaad :D Super fijn voor je dat het nu bijna allemaal opgelost geraakt :)
    Die estee lauder is wel een pareltje hé! Prachtig product :)

  29. I know someone who loves beauty products and was trying everything on her skin. The results…Acne. Simple is always better and very chic might I add. Good for you!

  30. I like this, No extra is better save time and penny as well.

  31. I love that Vichy scrub it’s great!

  32. Merci pour l’astuce ! Jvé m’acheter de l’huile essentielle d’arbre à thé :)

  33. That success baby’s the best.:D I did read a lot about not changing your products constantly so this makes a lot of sense. And you use such high quality products, I sure your skin’s loving it!

  34. So glad you had such good results with paring down your routine! :-) Tea Tree oil was the saviour of my adolescence, I swear!

    Mine is fairly simple – I use a Michael Todd Tropical Fruit Scrub in the morning (I have dry skin, so something has to take off all the flakes and roughness, but I use it gently), and the Freeman Feeling Beautiful Kiwi/Yoghurt cleanser (I have a post about this latter one) in the evening. I have some other assorted scrubs and cleansers that I sometimes swap out for these, but those two are my mainstays at the moment!

    I have a couple of masks that I use occasionally, more for fun than anything else. They don’t seem to irritate my skin, but I’m not sure they’re doing all that much for it. It’s just nice to have a ‘spa hour’ every now and then! :-)

  35. Heel erg fijn om te weten :D fijne producten gebruik je! x

  36. Awesome!!! My skin has been acting up so badly lately, I need to change somthing as well…good for you though!!

  37. I don’t do much too, just cleanse + moisturize every morning and cleanse + serum every night. And a face mask once a week, and my skin is ok so far! I guess less really is more :)

  38. Goed artikel! Dit lijken me erg fijne producten! :) Ik heb ook een fijne routine die mijn huid rustiger maakt!

  39. Good to hear that it helped a lot. There is a great deal to learn from this.

  40. The last bit of pus that made the zit pop?! Really?! Haaaa Melissa, you always make me laugh! Thank you! It’s great you’re going back to basics, I did the same and it’s been working. My skin is less reactive now, but zits do appear from time to time. And I banished scrubs for a whole year (because my cleanser had salicylic acid, and that’s exfoliant enough), now I’m re-introducing them little by little, and it’s been great. Anyhow, going back to basics has been working for me and hopefully it will work for you too! :)

  41. That was actually kind of funny to read, because that’s exactly what I did for the last few months. Cutting down my skin care routine to the absolute necessary. It works! I even cut out the traditional cleanser and just use cleansing oil instead and my skin loves it :)

  42. nathaliecolormepretty

    January 31, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    That was kind of funny to read, because that’s exactly what I did for the last months. Cutting down my skincare routine to the minimum and that works way better than trying to spoil it. I even cut out the traditional cleansers and use cleansing oil instead, my skin loves it. But it’s great for me to hear, that someone else has the same skin issues as I do ;)

  43. Such a helpful and awesome post dear ! I’m lusting for Estee Lauder night repair serum since so long ….

  44. mademoiselle mode

    January 31, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I love Estee Lauder products :)


  45. Wat super dat dit goed voor je werkt:) De vichy producten vind ik zelf ook erg fijn, alleen heeft het tot nu toe nog nooit goed geholpen tegen acne. Misschien is de matte variant ook wel geschikter voor mij, bedenk ik me nu. Ik heb zojuist weer een middeltje van de huisarts mee gekregen, hopelijk gaat dat werken want het is echt bad op het moment:( Volhouden dan nu he je routine en misschien is een scrub eens in de week wel helemaal geen verkeerd idee.X

  46. writtenbysuzanne

    January 31, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Finding the right skincare routine can be hard! I have very sensitive skin, so trying new things is always a little scary :)

  47. Hard to believe you had skin problems, you always look so flawless!
    I just started using tea tree oil for dry scalp, and it works wonders.
    P.S. Happy New Year!!! I missed your blog :-)

  48. I love this!! I’m happy to hear you have it under control. Hard to believe you had that problem since your skin is so flawless and beautiful! :)


  49. wow…v nice post n helpful too

  50. Ik heb sinds kort ook mijn huid onder controle met de producten van IMAGE skincare!!

  51. Really great routine! Sometime using only the essentials is best for your skin, especially when you’re suffering from acne.

  52. I am so happy you’ve found something that works and is healing your skin. One of my friends only wears liner and only washes her face with water and guess what? Her skin is perfect. No zit factories, no enlarged pores, no redness. That, combined with this post of yours, is making me ponder the simple route myself. That will be my February challenge and I’ll let you know how it turns out! Thanks for the skinspiration! ;D

  53. Ik weet dat Tea Tree heel goed moet doen tegen blemishes,
    maar tot nu toe vind ik beetje half om half werken… en ik
    vind de geur nog altijd apart :P Xx

  54. I use to be a little out of hand with my skincare routine (I think I had over 10 products!) but I’ve since stripped it back heaps and I feel my skin is definitely a lot better than it was. I agree – less is more! ;)

  55. Klinkt heel goed. Gebruik jij ‘s avonds na je Advanced Night Repair nog eens je moisturizer of gebruik je ‘m solo? Ik ben momenteel aan de Kiehl’s om te reinigen en hydrateren doe ik nog steeds met Shiseido. Works like a charm tot nu toe!

  56. Ik gebruikte ook ‘s avonds Normaderm, maar ben overgestapt naar een ander product dat nog feller optreedt ;)

  57. I’ve been using at-home chemical peels and that seems to keep my skin in better shape that it would be otherwise.
    Fewer daily products is a good idea too.

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