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I Finally Found My Perfect Skincare Routine

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

I may not have tried it all, but I’ve tried enough.

A year ago, my skin decided to riot against me. I had struggled with breakouts and blackheads throughout my teenage years as much as the next teenage girl, but all of a sudden, I looked like the before picture in a Curology ad. My skin looked dull, sallow, and lifeless, my cheeks and jawline were covered in the most painful, swollen cysts. My pores were clogged and my skin alternated between dry and oily. I tried ten-step routines, I tried three-step routines. I dissected every skincare routine on my tiktok fyp, trying whatever I could afford. 

Finally, as in, this past September, something changed. I finally found the right combination of products and healthy habits that have smoothed, cleared, and brightened my skin. While appearance isn’t everything, seeing the results of taking better care of myself has made me so much happier and more confident and I wanted to share how I got there.

DISCLAIMER: Everyone’s skin is different, and I’m not a licensed professional. This is just what worked for me!


In the morning, I wash my face with the Cerave Salicylic Acid Cleanser and either fan my face dry or dry it with a paper towel to avoid any bacteria from a cloth towel. I then use the Cerave Hydrating Toner on a cotton pad. I also like this Rose hydrating toner. I got an acne facial over the summer and the esthetician told me that hydrating toners are extremely important when using acid treatments. After toner, I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum followed by The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Anhydrous Solution. I also like their regular salicylic acid, but I find that the anhydrous solution gives me a little extra glow. 

Now this next step was the real skin saver. Neutrogena’s Stubborn Acne 2% Benzoyl Peroxide treatment stops my incoming cysts in their tracks. I use it as a spot treatment and make sure to wash my hands after, since benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabric. Once that absorbs, I go in with The Ordinary (please send me products, I’m your biggest fan) Niacinamide Serum. This stuff totally wiped out my blackheads and lightened the scarring on my cheeks. 

Finally, I use the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Sunscreen, which adds such a gorgeous glow to my (now) clear skin. I wait about ten minutes in between the niacinamide serum and sunscreen application, otherwise the sunscreen causes the rest of my skin care to peel off. 


If I’m wearing makeup, I’ll take it off with some micellar water and a cotton pad, then I wash my face in the shower with African Black Soap. I’m pretty sure this is the stuff that has done the most for my skin. I no longer breakout on my chest and back when I use this on my body followed by the Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion. After the shower. I let my face air dry, then use the same toner and hyaluronic acid from the morning. Next I alternate between the Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum or salicylic acid serum. Then comes benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide. Instead of sunscreen, I finish off with the Cerave Moisturizing Cream, not to be confused with their daily moisturizing lotion. 

3 Random Extra Things that Have Improved My Skin

  1. The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution is my holy grail for textured skin. I use it once a week. Don’t mix this with your retinol!
  2. Water. I hate to sound like a broken record, but any day I don’t drink my two Hydroflasks or more worth of water, I have a lovely pus-filled friend the next morning.
  3. I found that eating any candy besides chocolate makes me breakout, but I still eat it because it’s delicious and I deserve a treat. Anytime I get sour gummy worms or Swedish Fish, I make sure to drink more water than usual to hopefully counteract the sugar.

May you all find the perfect skincare routine, and have the glowiest skin ever.

Dahlia Bagley is a senior at NC State University and this is her fourth year writing for Her Campus. A lover of music, film, fashion, and pop culture commentary, Dahlia loves to share playlists, movie recommendations, trend predictions and anything else that piques her interest. Dahlia is studying Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and has a minor in both Spanish and English, meaning she is constantly talking, often in Spanglish. In her freetime, Dahlia enjoys shopping, reading, skincare, and spending time with friends. An avid creative writer, Dahlia has written countless poems and short stories, which she hopes to one day have the nerve to publish. Always on a quest for knowledge (read: random facts that will never come up organically in conversation), she also enjoys watching video essays and reading about various historical events. Though born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dahlia considers herself from Charlotte, North Carolina, where she has spent most of her life. When not in Raleigh for college, she is spending time at home with her parents, two sisters, and her wonderful dog, Vader.