The Essentials: An Acne Breakout/Congestion

I’m back (I thiiiink) and I hope to stay. This time, I’m only going to subject myself to the goal of three posts per month in hopes to not overwhelm myself. I spoiled myself,  I think, with a fairly regimented skincare routine for three years or so and so when I stopped using it consistently for a few months (particularly my prescription retinoid), I definitely noticed a difference. About six weeks ago, I eagerly found myself going back full-tilt into my skincare routine but I definitely found I had to make some adjustments; I definitely did experience some purging. I will note that experiencing stress and fighting off a few different bugs along with re-introducing actives into my routine definitely played a role. Do I even know what I’m trying to say? Basically, I’m saying that I experienced some breakouts as I reacclimatized my skin to a routine and I’m going to share some of the most essential products I used while dealing with these. I hope the advice and product recommendations could help someone struggling with consistent breakouts or maybe a random outbreak. I have five products to mention but I’ll have to give a possible shoutout to a serum I used containing a nice dose of niacinamide, as it may very well have drastically helped with normalizing pore activity and helping with inflammation.


  1. Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment with 4% BHA ($36 US): Despite being more of an AHA kind of girl when my skin is in complete order, I found myself reaching for a BHA on a very regular basis because my issue was mainly stubborn pore congestion, which BHA that is formulated at the proper pH, in an effective concentration, does incredibly well – when they are not laden with irritating ingredients, that is. It helped so much that I definitely overdid it with chemical exfoliation by using this daily all over the face. It was not irritating despite the high percentage of BHA because of the timed release formula and the inclusion of a myriad of antioxidants, anti-irritants and cell-signalling ingredients. It quickly made work on my congestion and did a particularly impressive job on my quite severe monthly hormonal breakout around my chin. I like to use it a few times a week as my chemical exfoliant but I also love using it as a spot treatment to clear up stubborn congestion.
  2. Differin Gel XP: I’m not going to include a picture or a price of this prescription adapalene because its price and appearance greatly changes upon the market. I had been using Differin religiously for a few years before I accidentally stopped for months and I believe this stopping was the main cause of the problematic congestion popping up for me. When used long-term, I personally experienced a dramatic reduction in breakouts to maybe 1-2 per month, almost no pore congestion and a significant reduction to post acne inflammatory hyperpigmentation. I accredit to helping my skin return to its less congested state. If you suffer from congestion that is difficult to treat, I recommend talking to your physician about topical products such as this one. I do note that the regular strength is OTC in the US.
  3. Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin ($29 US): I encourage everyone to use SPF all the time with religious devotion but this is particularly important (in a cosmetic way) for healing breakouts, as it radically reduces the inflammation that allows them to heal and prevents the marks from darkening due to sun exposure. This sunscreen is the easiest for me to use as it works as a moisturizer and does not irritate my skin. It has loads of nice emollients, anti-irritants and antioxidants and doesn’t contain irritating alcohol, fragrance etc.
  4. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($38 CDN): I believe thorough cleansing is necessary for all skin types and conditions but when you’re suffering with congestion or unsightly spots, it’s even more important to thoroughly cleanse without stripping or irritating the skin further to prevent further congestion. I like using this fragrance-free cleansing balm to break down makeup and sunscreen before following with an uber-gentle cleanser to finish the cleansing job and pick up any remnants of makeup. The gentle cleanser will also ensure the skin is truly cleansed afterwards.
  5. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($9.90 CDN): Because acne is an inflammatory disorder, you are going to be dealing with some degree of inflammation and irritation from both the breakout itself and the process of healing it. I like this rosehip seed oil as an addition to my routine to help combat this inflammation and irritation. It’s entirely an organic antioxidant-rich plant oil – without potentially problematic essential oil components – that is rich in fatty acids as well, helping to combat inflammation and restore the skin’s barrier. An impaired skin barrier often leads to even more breakouts, so it’s important to take steps to ensure its not compromised.


Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

2 thoughts on “The Essentials: An Acne Breakout/Congestion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s