My Glowy Skin Care Routine + Why I’m Grateful for My Acne Journey


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I’m Makena, the creator and editor of Makeup By Makena — a beauty blog dedicated to empowering others through the art of makeup.






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Although makeup is what truly makes me happy and excited, I must admit that no amount of makeup can compensate for not taking good care of your skin. I have gotten so many requests to share my skincare routine with you all and to be honest, I have been putting it off for quite a while. I keep thinking, “Why would anyone want to know about my skincare routine when I have far from perfect skin?” Putting this hesitation aside, I want to take this opportunity to be real and raw.

I have struggled with acne since I was about thirteen. I would get many pimples in my t-zone and later developed large, painful cysts on my cheeks. I remember how much of a negative impact I allowed my breakouts to have on my self-confidence and overall attitude.  Although I still struggle with blemishes, I have finally found a skincare routine that works well for my personal skin type, which is dry, sensitive, and acne-prone.

Even though I will never forget the sense of embarrassment and vulnerability a bright red blemish evoked and wish there was an easier way to arrive at this realization, I can honestly say that I am now (sort of) grateful for my experience with acne; if it weren’t for my desire to conceal my imperfections, I would have never discovered one of my greatest passions in life — makeup. Although I do not wear makeup because I am insecure, it is true that my search for a good concealer led me to fall in love with everything makeup-related. Who knows? Maybe if I never struggled with acne, I never would have started my blog.

Today, I am discussing all of the products I use in my morning and evening skincare routine, why I love them, and providing insightful tips.

  • Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser (every morning and night): This is always the first product I use in my morning and evening skincare routine. My dermatologist recommended this face wash to me, and I love how it quickly and effectively removes all of my makeup without making my face feel tight or stripped of its moisture. This bottle — which features a pump — lasts me forever and I like the way the foamy formula feels. Like all of the products I will be mentioning in today’s post, this cleanser is non-comedogenic and fragrance-free.
  • Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion (every morning and night): Because my skin always feels so dehydrated and in need of additional hydration, I am extremely picky with my moisturizers. I will always, always repurchase this one! This is intended for nighttime use, but I apply this every morning and evening after cleansing my face. It soaks into my skin really well, leaving me moisturized, smooth, and dewy without ever becoming heavy or greasy. I love the way it wears under makeup, which is very important to me. Another reason why I prefer this specific formula is that it does not contain SPF; I do not like moisturizers with built-in SPF because they always irritate my eyes and often clog my pores, feel, thick, and leave a white cast.
  • Tarte Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (every morning): In case, you missed that last sentence, finding a sunscreen that I can tolerate, let alone love, is challenging. What would be even more challenging is having to deal with all of the advanced aging and skin damage as a result of never protecting my face from the sun. The Tarteguard, which I have repurchased several times, is my all-time favorite SPF. It has a thin, easily blendable formula that works wonderfully on my sensitive skin and adds the most beautiful dewy glow underneath makeup. Read my full review here!
  • Coola Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum* (every night): After expressing interest in the product, the brand was kind enough to gift me with this, and I have been using it religiously after cleansing and moisturizing every night since. Although I am naturally tan, my face is always dramatically lighter than my body so I love using this self-tanner on top of or combined with my moisturizer to even out my skin. More importantly, however, it features hyaluronic acid, argan oil, vitamin C, and plant stem cells to prevent aging. It’s never too early to take care of your skin!
  • First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy Overnight Balm (every night): I thought it was important to incorporate an eye cream into my routine to prevent wrinkles from rubbing my eyes due to allergies and makeup application. I sometimes forget but I have been trying to use this cream all over my eyelids and undereye area each night. There really is no way to tell if this will prevent wrinkles, but it does help with hydrating and eliminating any dry patches. I do think I will purchase either an entirely different product, most likely from Laneige or Mario Badescu, or something from this same brand but with different packaging when this runs out, as I find this thick formula hard to remove from the pot.
  • Adapalene 0.1% & Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% Gel (every night): To address my acne, Epiduo, or its generic alternative, is always the very last step in my evening routine. I apply a thin layer all over my face with extra attention to my t-zone. If I have any active blemishes, one helpful tip I have discovered is to apply the extra product directly on top of the blemish and then cover it with a small piece of toilet paper. This way, it does not rub off while sleeping and can treat the spot overnight. Even though acne treatments are inevitably drying over time, I like this specific formula because it has the consistency of my moisturizer and never makes my skin feel dry when I first apply it.
  • Doxycycline Hyclate (every night): Although this is not a skincare item, I would not be completely open with you if I did not mention this low-dose antibiotic. Because cystic acne is deep underneath the skin, topical treatments did not work for me, so my dermatologist suggested this. I have taken it for one year and it has made all the difference in preventing even the worst pimples and reducing overall redness. However, this does require a prescription so I am definitely not recommending this to you — I am just sharing my personal experience. You can talk to a dermatologist for more information.
  • LUSH Oatfix Fresh Face Mask (occasional nights): If I notice that my skin has dry, flaky patches I reach for this product, which I use after removing all of my makeup but before all of the other items I have mentioned. The oatmeal, banana, and glycerin are great for dry, sensitive skin, while the ground almonds exfoliate. I leave it on for 15 minutes before scrubbing into my skin and then rinsing away. It is messy and unphotogenic, but it makes my skin feel calm, hydrated, and much more smooth, which is a plus when applying foundation.
  • Laneige Water Sleeping Mask (occasional nights): For those evenings when I lose all hope that my skin will ever my be hydrated and glowy, I depend on this feather-light gel. I apply an even layer all over my face before I go to bed and leave it on overnight; I find that it works best after my moisturizer, serum, and eye cream but before my acne treatment since it really seals in moisture. It is a wonderful way to pamper dry, tired skin and I notice such an incredible difference in the plumpness of my face.



No makeup, no problem!


A few other tips I have for clear, healthy skin are to wash your pillowcases, makeup brushes, and beauty sponges as often as possible and to replace typical face towels, which accumulate bacteria when reused, with soft paper towels intended specifically for drying your face after washing it.

I strive to empower you in any way that I can, so I truly hope this blog post not only helped you find some incredible products and informed you about how to take care of your own unique skin type but also made you feel more confident in your bare skin and less alone. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I’m always happy to address them in the comments section.

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Hey, I'm Makena.

I’m Makena, the creator and editor of Makeup By Makena — a beauty blog dedicated to empowering others through the art of makeup.

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