how i’ve improved my acne (East Asian skin)

Two posts in one day let’s goooooooooo.

The first part of this post has my entire acne backstory so if you’re not interested in what is basically me just venting and being salty you can skip ahead to the TL;DR section where I’ve written down what I’ve tried and what’s worked (plus what’s not worked).

I’ve had acne since 4th grade. Mainly raised bumps across the forehead and redness in the cheeks/ under the undereyes area. While friends and teachers never said anything, my family– good-intentioned souls though they were– gave me shit for it.

This was actually back when I was still shampooing my hair everyday, which you really shouldn’t do by the way. For me that habit was a direct result of my auntie pointing out my dandruff every time she came over and making embarrassing remarks about me not washing my hair (untrue), which was often. Obviously I’m still salty but bear with me and work through the salt friends. Anyway, in retrospect, I can say that daily shampooing did affect my acne by making it worse. My scalp was overproducing oil like crazy and what’s directly connected to the scalp? Yo face. So of course my face wasn’t doing too hot.

Worse, my aunt pushed an oil-free face wash on me that was much too harsh. Neutrogena might work for some people, but for me it left my face feeling extremely dry after using it (and yes, I did moisturize afterward), so of course my face would respond by upping its oil production and giving me worse acne. And of course my aunt responded by saying this was because I wasn’t washing my face enough. I believed her when I was younger but after googling it I realized that over-washing your face irritates it further (by now I’ve made it a point not to take advice from family members without fact-checking for myself first).

Over the years my family has employed various ways to try to “cure” me– Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, yogurt masks, some kind of green herbal mask, taking me to see some dragon lady who had tools she used to literally scrape the acne off my skin (that HURT by the way), taking me to see a dermatologist who prescribed me some topical cream and pimple ointment etc. My acne wasn’t improving much, and my soul was becoming more scarred than my face would ever be. Nothing say “you’re not good enough” like your family telling you “you’re ugly” through not only their actions but also their words everyday. Please don’t do this to your kids. Like yes, it’s part of Chinese culture to let your kids know their shortcomings so they can improve but growing up in America gave me different expectations of what parents are supposed to give their kids and I just didn’t know how to brush off the rejection.

By high school I was using Cetaphil’s face wash once in the morning and once at night, which was much better for me. I was still using Aveeno body lotion on my face. While this routine didn’t give me extra pimples, it wasn’t working any miracles either. My cheek/ under my undereyes was still red. Forehead bumps were still there, though less prominent maybe. My nose area was super bumpy but also had pieces of skin flaking off so I guess that it was dry but oily at the same time since my face was trying so hard to compensate through greater sebum production (I’ve only figured that out recently). My face would also generally feel pretty oily by the end of the day.

By college, I was like fuck it the internet knows all I’ll look there. I started using alcohol-free witch hazel toner (Thayers) and 100% jojoba oil as face moisturizer and that actually helped a lot. Shout out to for making me aware of this combination and encouraging self-love! The effectiveness of the jojoba oil made me realize that the moisturizers I’d been using all this time just weren’t moisturizing enough. All this time, I’d thought my face was too oily, when in actuality it was really still just too dry. The oil existed because my pores were trying to compensate by creating more sebum.

Then just last month I discovered the awesomeness that is Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme. One day after I’d run out of jojoba oil I just grabbed this off of my sister’s table (she uses this to spot treat a few dry spots on her face). I just decided to use this on my whole face because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. My questionable decision worked though because 5 minutes later when I looked in the mirror again (enough time for the stuff to get absorbed I guess) my pores were drastically smaller. If you really want pics, ask for them in the comments lol.

I give more details about how each product worked for me in the TL;DR section just scroll down. Thanks for reading though this part!


What’s worked for me:

  • Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleaner
    • This is much gentler and cleans well enough for my needs.
    • My sister likes Kiehl’s Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cleanser. It’s pricier but also very gentle (I use it every now and then when it’s in front of me).
  • Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner
    • My pores are huge and after some researching on the internet I came across this as a solution. Went for alcohol-free because products containing alcohol dries out the skin and can irritate it.
    • I use this after washing my face. I usually apply it with either a piece of cottonball (feels wasteful to use the whole thing lol) or with a thin cotton pad.
    • Works aight. My pores didn’t actually noticeably shrink until I started using Eucerin in combination with this (keep reading, I bring it up below).
    • I’m thinking about trying some alcohol-free tea tree oil toner in the future.
  • 100% Jojoba Oil
    • I used to use this on my face after putting on witch hazel toner (it’s good to wait like a minute or five in between applying so the witch hazel actually gets a chance to do it’s thing).
    • I’d just use enough so that my face felt moisturized. For a while, this was the only moisturizer I used on my face.
    • gentle face wash+Witch hazel+jojoba oil routine did a lot to improve my acne. My under my undereyes area wasn’t as red (still a little red though) and the forehead acne went away!
    • Pores weren’t as big but still kinda big.
  • Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme
    • I know this sounds crazy but stay with me.
    • My sis has some dry spots on her face and she uses this to spot treat.
    • I didn’t have lotion or jojoba oil handy with me one day so I just grabbed the Eucerin and put it on after the witch hazel.
    • I looked at myself 5 min after I applied it and WOAH my pores had shrunk. Never had then been smaller (other than when I little and had no acne I guess). And the dryness on my nose was completely gone.
    • So now I use this instead of jojoba oil. It’s been working pretty well.

What hasn’t worked for me (but maybe it’ll work for you lol):

  • Neutragena Oil-Free Acne Wash
    • My face was generally pretty oily but this sucked for me. Much too drying. Had me go looking for a gentler option.
  • Zinc supplements (30 mg)
    •  Another solution I found on the internet.
    • Didn’t hurt me but didn’t really notice any improvements to my acne either.
    • I’ve also heard though that this in combo with vitamin A supplements works best if you’re trying it out to improve acne. I’m just poor af and decided to save money and just choose one of the two.
    • Pros: I did notice though that less hair would fall out while I was in the shower though (woooot) and it actually helped with my period! This is probably too much information but I usually know my period is coming because I’ll just start getting depressed for no reason, and the feeling stays with me til my period ends. On the supplements though, my depressed feelings were replaced instead with cramps (really mild ones)! I usually don’t get cramps but a mild stomach ache was much preferable to being sad.
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
    • Probably would have worked better if the stress of feeling like I was being forced (family pressure) to drink it didn’t increase my cortisol levels and just end up breaking me out more….
  • Acupuncture
    • Probably would have worked better if the stress of feeling like I was being forced (family pressure) to go through it didn’t increase my cortisol levels and just end up breaking me out more.

Moral of the story, don’t let others determine what you’re worth. Give the middle finger to those who belittle you or try to force you into doing something that makes you question your own self-worth. It’s your life; you’re the only one who needs to be able to face the mirror and look yourself in the eye at night before bed.


my failure with ‘No-Poo’ aka no shampoo (Asian hair)

Heyo friendssss my first post years and years ago said I might use this site for book reviews but spoiler alert that didn’t work out at all because ya girl here has commitment issues and also youtube/tumblr/fanfic got in the way ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ With that, let’s just move on to the real reason you clicked on this post.

First off, a little bit of background– I was 18 when I started no-poo, my hair is dark brown almost black and medium-course, and I’m of full Chinese descent (thickness, shape and texture of East Asian hair is different from that of other races).

When I was younger (like end of elementary school and during middle school I guess) I’d wash my hair everyday thinking that was the best way to control oil production and dandruff (I would wash my hair every evening and my hair would always be super oily by the next evening). In reality that daily shampooing was just making my head produce more oil (and dandruff) and eventually I finally googled it and realized that shampooing every 2-3 days was much, much better. After that transition period, it was while later when I thought: if shampooing less helps control oil, then not shampooing at all must be even better.

The first time I tried no-poo,  I made the tragic mistake of going for it during the school year. There ended up being several cheat days when I’d cave and use shampoo because the greasiness of the transition period was too much for the public eye. And then like three weeks into it, when the greasiness just didn’t go away, I just gave up. I had only been using water and conditioner, except on my cheat days. In retrospect, I was in California at the time and California residents get the joy of using hard water. Hard water contains more minerals than soft water; combined with added chlorine (more perks of California water) I don’t think it was doing a great job of cleaning my hair. Even after washing, my hair would hold onto the dried skin shed from my scalp and the general dirt collected throughout the course of the day. Not great.

I gave no-poo a second chance when the summer came around. At that point I was chillin in the East Coast (specifically Connecticut) where OMG the water is so much better. It was good enough to drink in the shower (which I did yaaassss) and it left my skin feeling great– also by this time I had also stopped using body wash; it’s great, would totally recommend, just use a small towel/washcloth to rub away at the dirt on yoself.

Back to no-poo. This time, I had baking soda and apple cider vinegar on hand to use as my shampoo replacements. I don’t really remember how much water I mixed in with the baking soda but there are tons of suggestions online just look it up lol. I think I used the apple cider vinegar undiluted. I didn’t give myself any cheat days since that messes with the transition period and probably makes it so your head never really figures out that it needs to produce less oil. I would wash my hair everyday with the baking soda and vinegar since it was so greasy (not to mention itchy– all that oil production came with more dandruff) all the time. My hair was constantly in a ponytail in an attempt to hide how disgusting it was. Two weeks passed and nothing changed. My hair stayed disgusting. I started “washing” it with some cheap but good walmart coconut conditioner at some point but that didn’t help either. After a month of no results I gave up.

Since then, I’ve just started using shampoo that has no sulphates (that’s the main cleaning agent in most shampoos– it strips away all the oil and dirt but leaves hair dry), went back to my old routine (shampooing and conditioning every 2-3 days). I started putting a bit of 100% jojoba oil into my scalp, which has resulted in my dandruff going away completely! I also use the oil on the ends of my hair, because that helps with split ends or something like that.

In the end, no-poo was a bust but my hair still looks pretty good so meh.

Wow that was a long post. Sorry for the lack of pics. I didn’t think I’d ever be sharing all of this so there’s no documentation. Hope it still helps someone out there ;P