I have sporadic adult acne. As you can imagine (or relate) it’s terribly embarrassing and frustrating when breakouts happen. I mean, I’m an adult for goodness sake this shouldn’t be happening anymore.

Though when it does, I suppose it’s not the end of the world. It’s not cancer or anything. As long as I don’t panic, the pimple will go through its cycle and heal within a week.

But then there are those times when I panic…

(Like that time I was on vacation with my in laws and noticed a few breakouts developing and rushed to the drugstore to purchase every benzyl-salicylic-retinoid-synthetic-AHA-BHA I could get my hands on to furiously apply with the hopes my pimple(s) would disappear before the family dinner only to have things get worse…much worse.)

This recipe for disaster I call “panicking” – over applying harsh drying products made with ingredients only oily, pubescent skin can handle – is the worse thing you can do when dealing with adult acne; which is much more sensitive, prone to dryness, irritation and usually the result of pore blockages from dead skin cells rather than excess oil.

We live in a culture that thinks more, bigger, stronger is better, which is fine if you’re weight lifting or picking out a pickup truck, but when it comes to adult acne I have found that simple and gentle are your best bet.

One brand that epitomizes this gentle handed approach is all natural skincare line Herbivore Botanicals. Developed by husband and wife team, Julia Wills and Alexander Kummerow, in their Seattle kitchen. This vegan brand offers one of the most efficacious and gentle solutions for adult acne AND has become my latest obsession.

Within the first week of using their line the redness around my chin and flares of my nostrils have soothed; my skin looks bright and clear; and any lingering breakouts have quickly healed.

My skin looks really good. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it does.

Here’s what I’ve been using:

Herbivore group3

Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Bar Soap: Paired with my Clarisonic brush there’s nothing these two can’t do. Makeup and excess oil are removed without over drying, and a refreshing detoxed feeling lingers on the skin. 

Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Facial Mist: This mist hydrates with coconut water while hibiscus flower provides a natural source of exfoliation (which we know is crucial to preventing breakouts). And the sweet rose scent feels extra decadent.

Lapis Facial Oil: Applied to damp skin, this oil melts into skin like butter (vegan butter of course). I wash my face multiple times a day to remove sweat and sunscreen after working out or walking my dog outside and it can often dry out my skin. This oil deeply hydrates and is one of the best face oils for combo/acne prone skin I’ve come across. My skin never feels dry or irritated. And the Blue Tansy oil reduces inflammation redness while acting as a powerful antibacterial agent. Love, is all I can say.

Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask: You’ll experience a tingling warm sensation with this mask as the natural source of salicylic acid (White Willow Bark) and fruit enzymes decongest and unclog pores. While most products with synthetic salicylic acid irritate my skin, this natural version doesn’t bother my skin at all. And has helped clear up the blackheads on my nose!

The Ultimate Skincare Collection For Oily/Combination Skin $146


-by Amy Chang
Photographed by author


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