My Skincare Journey- Acne/Aging/Pigmentation

Today I’m going to talk you through my skincare routine- which has evolved over time and has given me the best skin of my life. Prepare yourself for many photos and product lists!EditAcne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine pinnable image I’m not going to apologise for my own face, first of all. I have acne, so sometimes I don’t look great. If I can help someone out with their own skin issues, I’m willing to put my face out there. This is an update to my old post The Ordinary Skincare Results. Things have changed somewhat, read on!

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- My History 

A bit of background- I’ve had acne since I was a teenager. I took Roaccutane when I was 16 and it didn’t cure it. I’ve tried every prescription drug available to man to no avail. My acne is mainly cystic but also every other sort of spot one could have. I’m also 38 and have the normal issues of aging and pigmentation that are common. So treating my acne is my primary aim but I also want to look fresh and nice, as you do. 

In the old days, (Aka Before Deciem) I would buy a product eg Clearasil face scrub for acne, or get a prescription from the doctor, give it my best shot, only to find my skin got really dry and flakey. My acne might get a bit better but then it would worsen, I would still look grim and feel disheartened. 

Today I have the best skin I have ever had since I was a young child. I’m confident that it’s here to stay. I look fresher, plumper and my skin feels smooth. Here is how I went through the process of learning how to use the skincare that would normalise and improve my oily acne prone skin-

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation-

Here are photos from early 2016-

Acne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine- Before The Ordinary
Acne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine- Before The Ordinary
Acne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine- Before The Ordinary- full face open pores
Acne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine- Before The Ordinary

There were spots and pores. Not the worst acne ever, I’m sure, but enough to make me feel down. At that point I was using a foaming cleanser, a weekly scrub contains scratchy bits, (heavily perfumed) Olay Regenerist Serum and that’s about it. 

I bought a few The Ordinary products on a whim in December 2016- Buffet, Lactic Acid and Niacinamide. You can see from my old results post that The Ordinary products really improved the texture of my skin. This is my regimen December 2016-


  • Foaming Cleanser, dry with face towelBuffet and Niacinamide 
  • Buffet and Niacinamide plus Lactic Acid

I had yet to find a sunscreen that didn’t break me out and was just relying on the spf in makeup (I know! Criminal!) This is the initial result after a week or two-

Acne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine- Just After Discovering The Ordinary- close up nice clear skin
Acne/Aging/Pigmentation Skincare Routine- Just After Discovering The Ordinary

I was absolutely thrilled and swore my devotion to Deciem for all eternity….

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- Flailing in Ordinary Confusion!

But (cue sad music) weeks/months after the photos were taken I lost my way and had more acne and a bit of dryness. I was sort of chopping and changing cleansers and moisturisers and generally being disorganised and sporadic with my skincare. The progress I had made with my skin all seemed to be lost- my skin was dry, spotty, old looking. I didn’t have a particular regimen and once again floundered. In the early part of 2017 my routine was more like this-


  • Foaming Cleanser of some sort, rinse with hot water, dry with hand towel, 
  • Matrixyl, Salicylic Acid, 
  • Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50


  • Foaming Cleanser/Face Scrub in the shower, 
  • Salicylic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, Lactic Acid 
  • Advanced Retinoid 2% or Vitamin C (Hylamide C25)
  • BiWeekly AHA 30%/BHA 2% peel

Skincare buffs will immediately notice the holes in this regimen. There was no moisture being added but at least I had found a spf that doesn’t break me out in Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection. I was under the impression that because I have oily skin I don’t need a moisturiser. My skin was not good, what I was doing wasn’t working. This is what I was getting on the above routine-

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- Ordinary Confusion- close up of spotty chin
Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- Ordinary Confusion
Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- Ordinary Confusion- side face with visible pores
Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- Ordinary Confusion

I wasn’t paying particular attention to what I was using at any particular time and was changing things before I could get a sense of the effects they were having. Part of this is the fact that I’m a blogger, I need to try different things to review them. But it was to my skin’s detriment. 
I was totally missing a few vital points- exfoliating and cleansing too much screws up your skin defence also, you need to provide skin with nutrition and hydration. 

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- Hitting My Groove

This July, I started learning about Asian skincare and how they put a lot of time and effort into their regimens. There is a lot more focus in Asian/Korean skincare on nourishing and hydrating the skin. Rather than just trying to exfoliate it into oblivion, the skin should be treated with respect. The same principles apply regardless of skin type. Korean skincare routines involve numerous steps designed to hydrate, ease irritation, correct environmental damage. I really started to look at what I was using and my focus changed. I also splashed out and bought the NIOD core products

I started showing my skin more respect and stopped battling against my oily complexion. My routine is a good deal more time consuming but feeling confident in my own skin is a great motivator to putting that effort in. Here is my current skincare routine-


  • Oil Cleanse,
  • Rinse with lukewarm water only, pat dry with separate soft face cloth (the Afterspa one is great),
  • Immediately, before the skin dries out, Mist with SDSM by NIOD,
  • 3 drops of Copper Amino Isolate Serum by NIOD patted to whole face,
  • A couple of drops of NIOD Re Pigment to pigmented areas,
  • 3 drops Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex gently patted in,
  • Salicylic Acid To T zone and jawline, 
  • Azeleic Acid suspension to whole face apart from eye area,
  • Hylamide Sub Q eyes to under eye area,
  • Natural Moisturising Factors mixed with a couple of drops of Reservatol and Ferulic Acid to whole face,
  • Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection spf 50


  • Double Cleanse with Hylamide High Efficiency Cleanser and MZ Skin Cleanse and Clarify AHA Mask/Cleanser, rinse with lukewarm water, pat gently, 
  • Spritz with SDSM by NIOD,
  • 3 drops of Copper Amino Isolate Serum by NIOD patted to whole face,
  • A couple of drops of NIOD Re Pigment to pigmented areas,
  • 3 drops Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex gently patted in,
  • Salicylic Acid To T zone and jawline, 
  • Hylamide SubQ Eyes or NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate,
  • 5% Granactive Retinoid in Squalane to whole face or Alpha Lipoic Acid,
  • EUK 134 0.1% Serum to whole face, 
  • Natural Moisturising Factors just before bed.

Twice weekly AHA 30% BHA 2% peel (after which I don’t use the Salicylic)

You might have also noticed that I ditched the Advanced Retinoid 2% and Vitamin C. The vitamin C is known to flare up acne in some. And the Advanced Retinoid 2% contains Carrageenan which scores 5 for comedogenicity. So both those things went out of the routine, I definitely think this helped with the spots. 

My skincare routine is a lot more involved, but it all has it’s place-

  • The NIOD products serve to normalise and moisturise. 
  • The Salicylic Acid and Azeleic Acid treat my acne. 
  • The antioxidants- EUK 134 and Reservatol and Ferulic Acid prevent environmental damage and slow down skin aging. 
  • The Natural Moisturising Factors moisturises my skin and builds up the acid barrier with essential ingredients. 
  • The Retinoid normalises my skin and allows more favourable aging. 
  • The AHA peel is for exfoliating. 
  • The Azeleic, AHA peel and Retinoid will all help towards treating my pigmentation. 
  • The Re Pigment is new ish. I’m giving it a trial to see if it helps with pigmentation- I’ll report back with results.

Here are my most recent pics, since starting to use NIOD/upping my game-

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- The Current Skin Situation- full face clear skin
Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- The Current Skin Situation
Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- The Current Skin Situation- side face clear skin
Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- The Current Skin Situation

I’m really happy with where I’m at. Im still tackling my pigmentation and I get the odd hormonal zit. Generally my skin is clear, my pores are smaller and I don’t suffer any dryness. 

Skincare for Acne/Aging/Pigmentation- The Take Home Message 

I feel like in the last few months I’ve had my blinkers taken off. I’ve achieved enlightenment. Just because one has oily non sensitive skin, doesn’t mean one should try and scrub or peel it into submission. Add more oil, add more water. Don’t rub it/scrub it/heat it.

Choose your skincare ingredients wisely. If you suffer acne, check products on Cosdna for comedogenicity. Avoid anything perfumed (which, by the way, rules out loads of products). Always use broad spectrum UV protection. When it comes to deeply ingrained skin issues like aging and pigmentation, you need to hit it from all angles. There is no one ingredient cure. 

For advice on cleansing, have a look at my mega cleanser post. I have found a lot of information from Reddit, I thoroughly recommend checking out SkincareAddiction and Asian Beauty, there’s a lot of useful information. Also for advice and help with Deciem routines join The Ordinary Chatroom where I moderate- come and say hi!
Most of the products I have mentioned are from Deciem. Hope you didn’t puke when you saw my spots. 


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Margie Jones says:

    Nia, I think you are my skin sister! Our path has been similar even the Accutane. I am now 64. I have heard, “You will outgrow it or at least you will have less wrinkles when you are older” all my life since I was thirteen. Well, now the pigmentation and rosacea have been added to my skin issues. I have never wanted to be beautiful or popular. All I wanted was to have normal clear skin. I would enter every class room since 7th grade and sit on the side of the room where my less broken out skin would show (did anyone else do this?). My acne colored my life. I would feel physically and emotionally sick when the cystic acne flared up and hide from the world. My room was my sanctuary. It affected my relationships and social life and didn’t help my shyness at all. My Mother took me to dermatologists where I had Sun lamp treatments and used sulpher products. In spite of this I managed to find fulfillment and confidence in teaching kindergarten and having supportive family and friends. Little children do not care what your skin looks like. I still wonder now how my life would have been different without the acne. Mother had the same issues and at 87, she is still struggling with skin problems. She had X-Ray treatments when she was a teen causing skin cancer on her face and neck a couple of years ago which were successfully removed. To make a long story short, I started using The Ordinary and Niod products and saw improvements after a few weeks! My t-zone is still oily, but the breakouts have lessoned and the texture and tone has evened out. I even have some glow on my upper checks. My rosacea has calmed. I have hope! You are so right, Nia, about the consistency and nurturing the skin with the right products making the difference. The icing on the cake is that my Mother’s skin has improved! I sent her some of the products I am using with the note, ” Hopefully these products will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin. ” After all this is how we always want to feel!! Thank you for sharing your journey and your routines. Maybe one day soon I will be like you and post a photo. 💟 Margie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for writing this Margie. I’m so sorry that acne has affected you in this way. I’m really pleased you have found the Ordinary, it really has changed my life- I know that feeling of wanting to hide away all too well. I can’t believe they used X-rays on your mother, that’s absolutely shocking. I hope you continue to make progress, keep in touch, I’d love to know. Get those Retinoids on you!! Xxx


  2. Lesley says:

    Nia, you’re skin looks fantastic. Whilst I don’t suffer from acne anymore, I do have ageing, mild congestion and sensitivity to deal with. I also use TO and some niod but also another brand of copper peptide that I alternate with retinol at night. Correct me if I’m wrong but I seem to remember reading that acids should not be applied after copper peptides as they render them inactive. Of course this information could be completely inaccurate and I would be interested to hear your view on this. I think deciem has really shaken the industry up and is fantastic in that it enables individual taylor made routines to be constructed which could explain why so many of us have such great results from these products. I also think through being more educated in individual actives makes us all question other products available and their efficiency. You must be thrilled with your results and I think you look lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lesley. I hope Deciem continue to grow, they have changed the beauty industry for the better and it’s only a matter of time before everyone gets with the program. According to Deciem you wait 30 seconds after CAIS before applying acids. Or acids first then wait 30 minutes. I’m going to ask them again just to check.
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting xx


  3. Lesley says:

    Hi Nia,
    I’m sure Deciem have that information correct, I must have read incorrect information somewhere so this sounds good to me.

    Lesley x


    1. I know what you mean, CAIS doesn’t work well with acids but apparently it’s ok if you let it soak in then use something acidic. X


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