My Acne & Depression Story + The Clean Skincare Routine That Changed My Life

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In a moment, I am going to divulge my clean skincare routine with you all. But first, I wanted to share the backstory of how I was so broken down with depression and cystic acne that it led me to ditch my salon shampoo and Secret stick to dive into the unknown crunchy world of being conscientious of the toxins lurking in my cabinets.

For more than half of my twenties, I struggled with several health issues resulting from imbalanced hormones (I wasn't aware of that for a long time though). From isolating depression, to embarrassing cystic acne, to crazy brain fog, to crushing infertility, my twenties were ROUGH. I'm not even talking about the whole awkward post-college part no one tells you about which is trying to discover who you truly are and what you're good at (which certainly wasn't my college major - haha!). That's a story for another day, but I digress. Besides the awkwardness, and besides my health journey, I wanted to share a simple switch (in my thinking and in my choices) that played a key role in balancing my hormones 3.5 years ago. 

In late October of 2014, I was beyond fed up with my skin. I had just spent another $200+ on an acne line of skincare that made my skin WORSE. Although I had taken some minor steps to eating clean(er) and getting rid of toxins in our home leading up to that point, I hadn't really examined what I was putting on my skin. 

One night when I was desperately searching the depths of the internet for a solution for my skin woes, I read something about how a certain preservative in the majority of our hair and skincare products is actually an endocrine disruptor and can be toxic to our reproductive organs (among other things). Which means that it can mess with our hormones! This preservative is called a "paraben." There are quite a number of different variations of them, but they all have "paraben" tacked onto the end of the name in an ingredient list. I've since learned that parabens aren't the only toxin to watch out for, but I had to start somewhere. 

I was at my wit's end, so I literally pulled everything out of my makeup bag, the shower, and the bathroom cabinets and dumped it into a pile on the floor. Anything that touched my skin was having the ingredient list scoured by your's truly. I was floored at the growing pile of bottles in my trashcan.

I wish I would have known about the Think Dirty app back then! That app is a must if you're on this detox path too.

To be honest, I was skeptical that removing parabens from my life would make a difference. I had tried so many different things for my skin over the years and nothing helped. Nothing.

Since my bathroom cabinet was pretty bare after this purge, I decided to only use the simplest of ingredients on my skin to eliminate any possible toxins that could be aggravating my acne. My skincare routine I am going to share with you today is basically what I switched to back then. But first, let me tell you what happened after that toxin purge.

By Thanksgiving of 2014 (less than a month later), my skin was the clearest it had been in years. I woke up every morning in total shock that my skin was healing more and more and less and less breakouts were popping up. We went home to visit my family for the holiday and my family even noticed the difference in my skin. I was thrilled to have my confidence back and not have to carry around my makeup bag for touchups throughout the day. 

I also have to mention that within 6 weeks of getting rid of parabens, my depression and brain fog also cleared away and we got pregnant with our first son! My life changed so drastically that I cannot ignore the timing of things. I felt like a whole new person (hence the rather dramatic title of this blog post).

That began my journey of getting rid of toxins in our home. This was also the time I began my journey with essential oils. I wanted to know exactly what I was putting on my skin for my sake, and also for the sake of the little baby I was growing! Purchasing my starter kit with Young Living gave me the perfect tools I needed to replace so many different toxic products in my skincare, medicine cabinet, and underneath the kitchen sink. 

My skin isn't perfect all of the time. Our home isn't 100% toxin-free (although we are getting there!). I eat foods I shouldn't. But let me tell you, I am on a mission to do my best with the energy, knowledge, and time I have. We are all a work in progress.

Now, let me share with you the clean skincare routine that changed my life. 

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CLEANSE

I decided to switch to oil cleansing. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I've washed my face with actual soap in the last 3.5 years. I cannot recommend oil cleansing enough - for any type of skin. I won't wax eloquent on this topic much longer, but I will highly recommend you go read this blog post for more information on oil cleansing and what oils are best for your skin type. I recently discovered Sara, the writer of Healthy Skin Glows, and I wish her blog would have been around for me to read back then!   

I personally just use sunflower seed oil to cleanse since my skin tends to be dry. I get this one from Amazon. Many times I'll wash my face twice if I'm wearing makeup.

Using a microfiber cloth helps effectively and efficiently remove the oil + dirt + makeup from your skin. I personally use the Norwex body cloths or their makeup remover cloths.

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TONERS

When I first switched to this clean skincare routine, I just used witch hazel for my toner. It seemed to work for awhile, but I've had much better results since switching to a rosewater based toner. I've worked on the recipe for awhile, and I'm loving the current concoction I'm using. It balances and nourishes my skin like you wouldn't believe a toner could. I blogged the recipe for my AM + PM toner here.

I will also switch things up and use the Restorative Sea Culture Hydrating Toner by 100% Pure. Or sometimes I'll use both!

I generously spritz the toner on my skin and pat it in. Before it has completely dried, I lock in that moisture with my serum(s).

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SERUMS

Serums are a more recent addition to my skincare routine. I unknowingly skipped over them my whole life, but now, I'm 30. My skin is more needy. And serums are the bomb. I really should have started using them sooner because they are a great way to target specific skin issues and get the good, active ingredients down into the deeper layers of the skin. 

I have three different serums I rotate (or maybe I use them all at once - no judging). I know that might sound excessive to most people, but I have like 3 more I want to buy. Ha! 

Awhile back, I splurged and bought the Vintner's Daughter active botanical serum. It's basically heaven in a bottle and I have zero regrets. It's amazing. Would I buy it again? Probably not - but only because I have a diy serum that works even greater wonders and only costs me $14.90 to make. And if you're wondering if I would be so kind as to share that diy serum recipe with you, the answer is yes. I share that here

The last serum that I use and love is the Treatment Serum by Marie Veronique. I've never found something (clean or unclean!) that stops breakouts in their tracks - and without drying out my skin. I only use it when I see a breakout starting to brew, and a little goes a long way with this serum. I'm really in love with the Marie Veronique brand. I'll take one of everything, please.

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MOISTURIZERS

Right after I apply my serum(s), I go right in with the moisturizer. No need to wait for the serums to obsorb. I use one of several different moisturizers depending on my skin that day or whether it's morning or night. 

The simplest thing I use to moisturize is just my sunflower seed oil I use to cleanse with. However, I prefer using ozonated sunflower seed oil to moisturize with as it is more effective (more moisturizing and more absorbent). I'll typically do either of these at night. 

If I'm in a hurry and need to put on my makeup immediately, I'll opt for a lighter lotion. I really like the Hydra Drench Cream from 100% Pure. It's pretty rare that I don't have 5 minutes for my oils to absorb though, and I really prefer my oils. 

My go-to moisturizing oil lately has been the Protect Day Oil from Marie Veronique. As I've mentioned before, I've just been really impressed with their skincare. 

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LIPS

I will also use my Norwex body cloths to gently exfoliate my lips once a week or whenever needed. It's the easiest and most effective thing I've ever used to get rid of dead skin.

Every night, I put Rose Ointment from Young Living on my lips as a lip mask. I've had the same tub of it for two-three years! It lasts forever. I use it on my face sometimes too if my skin is extra dry or I need to lock in a spot treatment.

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SUNSCREEN

Last but not least, we have sunscreen. I use the Everyday Coverage Tinted Sunscreen in Light by Marie Veronique. The coverage is quite sheer, so it doesn't do much as far as covering anything. I just love it because it doesn't feel like I have anything on my face (unlike every other face sunscreen I've tried), it doesn't burn my eyes, and it's made to work well with face oils. You can literally follow your oil moisturizer with this sunscreen and it just melds into your skin.


For me, ditching the toxins and switching to clean products was a pivotal decision. Because I saw such a drastic physical change in myself, I had this rude awakening to the dangers of toxins in my world and what they were doing to my body.

If you're reading this and thinking yes! I need less toxins and more goodness in my life, head over here to read more. I would love to help you get started.

Please feel free to share this post with a friend or family member who might be struggling with some of these same issues. I know I wish someone would have shared this information with me all those years ago. 

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