Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Skin Treatments Worth Price Tag Feature Hero
Skin Treatments Worth Price Tag Feature Hero
Megan Charles / Her Campus Media
Style > Beauty

The Drugstore Skincare Routine That Saved My Skin (and My Life)

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 PSU chapter.

About this time last year, I was at my wits end with my skin. I suffer from hormonal acne, and as most know, hormonal acne is basically impossible to treat. 

A little history here, and for some credibility as well, I have been on accutane twice and tried just about everything under the sun since age 13.

Yes, accutane twice

For those of you who don’t know, accutane is a big deal. It can be very damaging to your body, so taking it requires monthly blood work and even quizzes to be able to renew the prescription. 

Not fun, but the end result is pretty awesome. 

So, fast forward to about August 2021, I’m about a year post second-round of accutane, and I noticed these little bumps starting on my cheeks. It’s always the cheeks. 

They multiplied. Eventually, my entire cheeks were covered in small, flesh-colored bumps. 

I tried what felt like everything and I waited months.

After chatting with a skincare obsessed friend of mine, she recommended a whole routine of products with specific ingredients that work together and fight acne. 

Finally, I did it. My face was completely clear within a month of beginning this routine. 

Let’s start with my first holy grail. 

But first, let me just say, I am absolutely no expert on skincare, this is just what has worked miracles for me personally. Take or leave what you please. 

Starting out at night with, drumroll please, benzoyl peroxide.

“Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic. It prevents acne-causing bacteria from growing and multiplying on your face.”


I was able to incorporate this into my night routine with a spot treatment, specifically the Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment by Neutrogena. I started sparingly, I would only apply it every three days. Eventually, I was able to use it every night. 

I paired this with my Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or my Acnefree Oil-free Acne Cleanser, with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. I try to keep a simple wash routine when using active ingredients. 

Now, this is an ingredient that can be quite irritating if you have sensitive skin, so be careful and watch out for sun exposure while using. 

Waking up in the Morning with Salicylic Acid 

“Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, meaning it breaks down the outer layer of your skin. This helps to treat conditions with abnormally thickened skin, such as calluses, corns, psoriasis, dandruff, and warts. It also can treat acne by helping to unclog pores.”


I would use an Acne Clarifying Cleanser by Peach Slices every morning. This contains 2% salicylic acid. Like I mentioned earlier, I try to space out my actives so they don’t irritate my skin. 

I followed the face wash with an Acne Exfoliating Toner by Peach Slices. Then, I added a PanOxyl’s Oil Control Moisturizer on top. This moisturizer has an added SPF 30, which I try to do daily since my skin can be more sensitive to the sun while using ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. 

Mid-day Gentle FACE WASH

One thing about my skin: she is very oily. When I could, I would do a mid-day cleanse with my Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser.

If I was feeling really fancy, I followed with The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Hyperpigmentation Serum. I love this stuff for smooth, even looking skin. 

This routine was a pivotal moment in my skincare journey. Currently, I use some of the same ingredients in my routine, but more sparingly and intertwined with ingredients my skin needs such as vitamin C.

My current skincare routine is a whole other conversation. Let’s save that for another time.

And that, my friends, concludes my skincare routine that took me from wanting to jump out of my skin to loving it. Do your research before applying products to your skin and be careful what you use together.

Allison is a senior at Penn State University, studying Public Relations with a minor in Digital Media Trends and Analytics. When she isn't writing for Her Campus, you can catch her cooking, making coffee, reading or staying updated while watching her favorite YouTube vloggers.