I Decided To Start Actually Taking Care Of My Skin After 15 Years Of Terrible Acne, And Here’s What's Actually Worked

I Decided To Start Actually Taking Care Of My Skin After 15 Years Of Terrible Acne, And Here’s What’s Actually Worked

I have a confession to make, internet.

After years of writing online, a couple of books that detail some of the more personal parts of my life, going viral, doing Facebook Lives, and everything in between, I’ve still never been as vulnerable online as I’m about to be. This article is about to be the scariest thing I’ve ever posted, the most raw, the most honest, and reveal my maybe, number one insecurity to the masses.

I am about to show you all pictures of myself with no makeup, no filters, and no retouching.

But let’s back up.

Talking about skincare, beauty regimes, and makeup in general is something that is either SUPER fun for you, or something you completely dread.

For me, I was in the latter half for a long time.

And that, friends, (I’m going to call you friends, pals, buddies, comrades etc for the rest of this article to make myself feel better about what I’m about to show you. Deal with it.) is because since I was about 12/13, I have had really terrible, awful, no good, very bad skin.

My first memory of acne is when I was about 12. I was in a school play and my mom was helping me apply my makeup prior to the show starting and I had a massive, angry zit right on the bridge of my nose. Now to me, this was slightly embarrassing, but I was a preteen and a tomboy and frankly, didn’t really care. But then, all of a sudden, my mom started to squeeze my nose between her two index fingers.

“What are you doing?!” I remember yanking back and looking at my throbbing nose in the mirror.

“You have a pimple,” my mom explained calmly, tissue in one hand and a makeup sponge in the other. “I’m trying to get it to pop so it won’t be as big.”

What followed for the next 15 years was an all out battle between me, myself, and my skin. To give you an idea of what I’m working with, this is me:

This photo is also filtered and retouched, unlike the rest will be. Just wait.

I am super pale, have pores that suck everything up, have oily to combination skin with bouts of eczema, breakout like crazy from certain types of makeup and skincare lines, breakout during my period, am working on my struggles with dermatillomania and anxiety, wear makeup almost every day out of insecurity, and lemme tell you! It’s been a journey.

I have tried  l i t e r a l l y  everything.

Proactiv? Tried it. It took a layer off of my skin and I looked like I had suffered a chemical burn.

Birth control? Tried it. It did nothing for my skin but did kill my sex drive and make me gain 10 pounds.

Regular facials? Tried it. They absolutely are lovely and therapeutic and help but they’re expensive and not regularly maintainable.

Every drugstore product under the sun? TRIED EM TRIED EM TRIED EM.

At this point I bet you’re probably wondering,

“Hey Kendra, why didn’t you just go to a dermatologist?”

And fair question, bud! I did. But for as shitty as my skin was, it was never cystic (thank gawd), and never bad enough that I reached the point of wanting to pump my body full of medicine for something that arguably could be cured with the right skincare regime. There are crazy side effects with medication, and if they could be ultimately avoidable, I would very much like to avoid them.

So! That brings us here.

In 2017 I set out to actually, for the first time in over a decade, really truly take care of my skin. I consulted with my friend Cristina (a literal goddess with no visible pores who also has a great Twitter account – follow her), a super sweet lady at the downtown Seattle Sephora named Eileen, and some lovely people at Sunday Riley who had some great suggestions. And with that dove headfirst into the skincare swimming pool.

And here’s how it’s going and what I’ve been using.

Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a bumpy (pun intended) ride.

Disclaimer: THIS POST IS NOT SPONSORED. Every product in this post I purchased myself. I am not being paid to tell you about this stuff. I just like these things, and I’m starting to feel okay about my skin like Anna from Frozen said, for the first time in forever.

What I’m Using That Has Worked


Soy Face Cleanser by Fresh


Fresh’s products are lovely. That’s the best way to describe them. They’re all natural, suuuuuper gentle (which is a MUST for sensitve skin like mine that panics at the sight of too thick a moisturizer), and remind me of what I would envision throwback skincare to be like. The Soy Cleanser is gentle enough that it doesn’t shock my skin in the morning, but still does enough that I feel like I’m getting a good cleanse in the AM, and will dissolve anything that held on overnight. It’s not a super frothy cleanser, which took some getting used to, but I really like it. I also like to (as I have found out) keep a travel sized version in my purse when I’m flying so I can wash the recycled air and neighbor breath off of my face when I’m flying. This is my morning cleanser or my “just need a refresh” cleanser.

Checks and Balances by Origins


I’m SUCH an Origins fan. I feel like their products actually do what they say they’re going to do and come at a pretty reasonable and fair price point. Checks and Balances was my go to even when my skincare regime was “wash face, go to bed” and that was it. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it gets all of my makeup off. It leaves my skin feeling exceptionally clean, which is what I want from a cleanser. I absolutely recommend this. Keep it in your shower or just around. It’s my must have. I use this at night before everything else to give my skin a great clean before diving in with anything else and honestly, I would be hard pressed to find another staple cleanser. I love it that much. I cut my last bottle of this open to scrape the rest out. Seriously. Not exaggerating. With scissors and everything.

Ceramic Slip by Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley
Sunday Riley

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold on this cleanser at first. It’s a very slippery, almost watery consistency and it doesn’t take makeup off as well as I would have expected from a $45 cleanser. BUT, that being said, it is a life saver when I’m breaking out. The clay works its way into your pores and helps with angry spots and reduces them almost overnight. That’s no joke. After getting all of my makeup off when I’m having a tougher day or week, I wash my face with this at night and it helps immensely.

Serums, Creams, and Oils

Good Genes by Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley
Sunday Riley

So if you want to know what’s been saving my skin, it’s this. Does it smell like a dentist office? Little bit. Does it make me cry when I have to buy a new bottle? Yep, sure does. But does it work? 100% absolutely no questions asked. Good Genes is solely responsible for helping to fade the marks that every zit leaves behind on my skin, helping my skin retain elasticity, making my overall complexion brighter, and so much more. I am just mad at myself for not biting the bullet and trying this stuff sooner. It is basically gold in a bottle. My skin is sensitive, like I mentioned, so I only use this once per day. I like to use it in the mornings, but may try it at night for a week to see how it goes. But regardless, this is a new staple for me. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Luna by Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley
Sunday Riley

The idea of putting OIL on my already OILY face honestly made me want to vomit. I initially just got a tester of this because I was certain it would make me breakout like crazy and force me to rethink all of my life choices. And at first…well, it did. As with any other major skincare regime shifts there was an “it gets worse before it gets better” period that made me so frustrated I cried. But then seemingly in a matter of days, it got better. Now at night when I put on Luna I can feel my skin cells rolling around like they’re in a rap video being rained on and bathing in it. My skin drinks this stuff up and is so so grateful.

Pep-Start by Clinique


I am 27, okay? Even thought I don’t fully know what eye cream does and thankfully don’t really deal with puffiness and dark circles, I should still be using it…right? Anyway, Clinique products have always been around me since I was little (my mom was a big fan) so I’ve been giving this a try for the last few weeks. And honestly, I like it! It gives me a little bit more of that “I’m up!” look in the morning, which is what I assume eye cream is supposed to do.


Cosmetic Warrior by Lush


If you aren’t impressed with the smells from Good Genes, you’re really not going to be into this mask. Comprised of garlic, eggs, honey, and tea tree oil, she’s not exactly the belle of the ball. The consistency is real funky, the smell is bizarre, and it can leave a film on your face if you don’t rinse thoroughly enough. BUT I have it in my fridge at. all. times. Because it works. Garlic and tea tree oil are natural bacteria fighters and cleansers, while the eggs and honey don’t leave your face so dry that you feel like you’re in a desert. It works. Your face is happier after using it. Plain and simple.

Ten-Minute Rescue Mask by Origins 


I have never met a zit this couldn’t punch in its zit face. What I mean by that is that I have never used a mask that so effectively calmed and healed trouble areas. Not Proactiv, not pure tea tree oil, nothing. I leave this on while watching YouTube videos on trouble areas or while I’m soaking in a bath and then just rinse before finishing my night routine with Good Genes and Luna. It’s ridiculously effective. I will absolutely always have this on hand at all times moving forward.

TonyMoly ‘I’m Real’ Sheet Masks


Sheet masks are admittedly, kind of weird. You sit there looking like Leatherface for 20/30, and leave with some goo still there only to pat it in? Like I said, weird. But they’re so hydrating, and can be basically customizable based on what skin issues you’re looking to solve. My favorite thing about the TonyMoly pack is that there’s a mask in there for anything. Breakouts? Check. Just need some extra hydration? Check. Pore shrinking? Check. Plus they’re really cheap. I like to toss them in the fridge for a little cooling action on top of the mask. Super ~* luxurious. *~

Face Wipes

Sephora Collection Wipes in Rose


Not gonna lie, I tried REALLY HARD to stick to a strict skin care regime for almost 2 months. But I like wine, and I stay out late sometimes, and sometimes I just binge TV shows and don’t WANT to do 4 steps before sliding back into bed. In the past? I would’ve paid for that by having 6 new zits by morning. But these wipes are actually incredible. They cleanse without drying, they brighten and hydrate, and they didn’t cause me to breakout. I have a pack on my nightstand, in my bathroom, and in my bag. I love them.

And On The Next Page We Have The Unfiltered Results!


Keep up with Kendra on Instagram, Twitter and kendrasyrdal.com