Top 6 Skincare Products That Transformed My Skin

Having problematic skin can be a huge confidence blow. Whether it's acne, scarring, dry, oily, or discolored skin, it can take a heavy toll on your self-image. Unfortunately, I'm no stranger to this struggle. Ever since high school I've dealt with horrible acne and the subsequent discoloration and scars that tend to linger long after the breakouts have gone away. I've spent many nights feeling ashamed and insecure because of the massive constellations forming on my face. Waking up and seeing new red dots forming on my cheeks made me want to crawl into a hole and never emerge.

Over the summer, I finally took control of my skin, fell down a rabbit hole of skincare education, and majorly transformed my skin. Of course, I still deal with breakouts, especially during my period, and have "good" and "bad" skin days, but overall, my skin has never looked better and my confidence has never been higher. Over the past 10 months, I've spent a lot of money and time finding the right regimen for my face; now I'm here to share the top 6 products that transformed my skin so you don't have to do the same.

1. Paula's Choice Daily Skin Clearing Treatment 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide ($18)

If there's one product that did the most heavy lifting to eradicate my acne, it's this one. Before this, I had tried so many actives and treatments, but never benzoyl peroxide. If only I had known what I was missing out on. Within a couple of weeks consistently using this my skin was looking clearer than ever. I love this treatment because it works to proactively prevent acne and retroactively treat it, making it a staple in my routine.

How to use: Apply in the morning and/or night after cleansing and before moisturizing. Be conscious of conflicts when using other actives. *Travel size is available for $6


2. Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($30)

This cult favorite truly worked wonders for my skin. Compared to other BHAs and chemical exfoliants, this one by Paula's Choice wipes them all away. Chemical exfoliation is great for clearing away dead skin cells and speeding up cell turnover to actively fight acne and fade scarring.

How to use: Apply at nighttime ONLY after cleansing, on a completely dry face. Follow with moisturizer. Be very careful when using this with other serums, most actives don't mix well with BHA. Only use 2-3 times a week and always wear sunscreen the next day. *Travel Size is available for $10 and lasts a long time.

3. Great Barrier Relief ($28)

If I was stranded on a dessert island and was only allowed to bring one skincare product with me, it would without a doubt be this one. This skin barrier repairing serum is like a magic in a bottle. It's filled with so many great ingredients for calming, soothing, and moisturizing sensitized skin. On top of all that, it helps to fight acne too. It's truly the Hannah Montana of skincare products. After using actives like Benzoyl Peroxide and BHA, this product is a must. Using this product for only one week led to visibly smoother, softer, and more even toned skin. Great Barrier Relief is on the pricier side for its size but definitely worth the splurge if you want to treat yourself (or a friend)!

How to use: Apply morning and/or night after cleansing and all other serums and before moisturizing.

4. Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum ($12)

Good Molecules is the most underrated brand in the skincare game. They have affordable price points like The Ordinary but with better formulas and packaging. This serum does an amazing job of treating discoloration and acne scars. It's only been in my routine for a short period of time but I've already noticed a big improvement the fading of my acne scars.

How to use: Apply morning and/or night after cleansing and before moisturizing.

5. Cosrx Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask ($16)

To say that I would sell my soul for this product is an understatement. Although this is technically an overnight mask, I use it morning and night on top of my regular moisturizer. Putting a thin layer of this light mask on my skin everyday helps to keep it well moisturized and ensure that no trans-epidermal water loss occurs. On days when I don't pair this product with my regular moisturizer, my skin feels much dryer and stiff.

How to use: Apply morning or night after moisturizing.

6. Hero Cosmetics The Mighty Patch ($13)

Gone are the days of popping pimples and damaging my skin. Now, whenever I see a white head pop up, I slap a mighty patch on, go to sleep, and wake up the next morning to a clearer face. I love pulling off the patches and and seeing all the gunk it extracts from my face and watching my acne spots shrink and start to fade. Hero Cosmetics also sells Invisible (great for daytime wear) and Micropoint (good for brightening and fading) patches.

How to use: Apply regular skincare routine and place patch over acne spot morning or night. Wait at least a couple of hours before removing.

While clearing my skin has been a long and tough journey, I've learned valuable lessons and grown to love myself no matter what my face looks like at the moment. I've spent a lot of time watching my skin slowly change and adapt, giving me a newfound appreciation for this organ that is meant to protect my body. I am now able to accept my breakouts without shame or insecurity, knowing that it does not effect my inner or outer beauty. It's much easier said than done, but if you are struggling with acne or other skin concerns, allow yourself some patience and grace, and remind yourself that it does not define you or your worth. Remember, you are beautiful, regardless of what your skin looks like and with some time, it will get better.