Stop Using Your Clarisonic And 5 Other Things My Dermatologist Told Me To Do

how-to-care-for-skinAt 23 fucking years old, I’m experiencing breakouts for the first time in my life. It’s profoundly distressing. I mean, I’ve had pimples here and there before, but they’ve grown more and more frequent and the zits are more abundant.

One specific complexion defection was the last straw for me; it was in that crease between my upper lip and nostril. The offending blemish was stressing me out so horribly, I dramatically wondered whether or not it was okay for me to leave the house without a veil. Years of blessedly clear skin kept me from learning how to properly treat and cover up distracting, upsetting pimples, so I popped the fuck out of it and it looked like hell. Teary eyed and bloody faced, I called my dermatologist’s office to set up an appointment. My exchange with the receptionist went something like this:

“Does Dr. Skin* have any appointments available today?”


“There are no appointments left today, but we can get you in tomorrow.”


“It’s an emergency.”


“What would your visit be concerning?”


“I feel hideous!”


“We can fit you in tomorrow at 4.”


“See you then.”

Obviously, my dermatologist needs a new receptionist who knows to prioritize a 23 year old girl with one zit over any patient that has skin cancer or some other shallow waste of time. At least 24 hours later, when I finally got in to the doctor, she looked like such a beautiful angel (with a giant engagement ring gleaming in the natural sunlight of her SoHo office) that I forgave her for her receptionist’s dismissal of my life threatening emergency.

“Tell it to me straight doc, have you ever seen anyone with such terrible acne and deep wrinkles at the same time?” I asked (not verbatim). She assured me that I am actually totally nuts** and over-reacting, making mountains out of pimples, but that there are things I could do to help with breakouts and the condition of my skin.

Here are the 6 super easy tips my dermatologist gave me:

  1. Simplify by not using so many products- I love trying new potions and tonics and masks and goos on my skin, but I wasn’t giving any products a chance to work because I was switching them up all the time. My product-slut ways were irritating my skin and preventing it from reaping the benefits of diligent skin-care.
  2. Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers- My dermatologist and I are both into Cerave for cleanser and moisturizer. I’ve been laying off more experimental products and my skin has improved big time. Cerave and Cetaphil are the obvious choices. You can get them on the cheaps at drug stores. I feel like a dope having wasted money on fancy cleansers while I could have been buying the spermy looking stuff frome Duane Reade.
  3. Stop using the Clarisonic Brush- This was heartbreaking because I love my clarisonic(I still use it on the ol’ bod), but it was tearing up my delicate face skin and spreading blemish causing bacteria all around. This tip was specific for my sensitive skin, but it might be worth giving your clarisonic a rest if you find yourself breaking out a lot. See if it helps.
  4. Same goes for gritty exfoliants- I still use them on my body, but I’m being way gentler and exfoliating my face with less frequency. Trying to let it do its thing without my interference. I was just bothering it more and again spreading bacteria around into little cuts caused by harsh shards of whatever in my scrubs.
  5. Wash pillow cases, clean cell phone- Your cell phone is basically a glass rectangle covered in feces, your pillow cases are similarly disgusting, though in a slightly less scatological way.

Basically, just simplify your whole routine. I thought I loved my complicated skin rituals and experiments, but I love having my nice skin back more.

*Not her real name

**By the way she said it was really soft and lovely and I want to brag about that since it’s literally the best compliment a vain loony-toon like me could ever receive.

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    • Katie

      First of all, Blisstree, I like it when you do makeup/beauty/skincare/body health articles a lot.

      Secondly,your “I feel hideous” made me laugh out loud in my office.

      • Joanna Rafael

        Thank you so so much! Hopefully, we’ll have more makeup/beauty/skincare/body/laughs soon. Feel free to email me at

    • Deane Alban

      Oh, pahleez. You’re 23 and have breakouts and think that’s profoundly distressing?!? Get a grip! I’m 60 – got it SIX-ZERO and I still breakout.

      • Joanna Rafael

        Breakouts can be profoundly distressing regardless of age. Some people care more about their skin than others, big fucking deal. Is it hurting you that I stress out about what I look like?

      • Deane Alban

        It’s not hurting me if you stress out, it’s hurting you! One day, if you are lucky enough, to get older, you’ll look back at your younger self and wish you hadn’t gotten so stressed about things like this. I’d simply like to see you have a sense of proportion.

      • Joanna Rafael

        I’ve got me under control! Thank you for your concern.

      • Kass

        From reading this article, that’s debatable.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Jeez louise, this isn’t constructive. Please tell me that you’re trying to say something along the lines of “I hope that one day things like breakouts don’t bother you anymore, and by the time you’re 60, you’ll feel beautiful despite small hiccups.”

      • Deane Alban

        Thank you Julia, that is exactly what I was trying to do!

    • Lauren Lever

      Regarding Cetaphil and Cerave, which do you use for cleaning vs. moisturizing?

      • Joanna Rafael

        I use Cerave for both. Right now, I’m using Cerave’s foaming cleanser because it makes me *feel* cleaner while it’s so humid out.

      • Lauren Lever

        cool, just ran out of walmart generic cleanser and have proactiv but I was wanting something a bit more simple! Will have to check it out. Oh 30′s, that awkward decade where you are buying both wrinkle creams AND anti-acne cleanser!

      • Joanna Rafael

        I might prefer Cerave just because the name sounds fancier!

      • Lauren Lever

        Yeah cetaphil is a few bucks cheaper, so I may get that, as the generic was like $3, and this is a whopping $9, #toughtimes

      • Joanna Rafael

        I feel you!

      • Isabel

        Blueberry and spinach smoothies help so much when the problem is related to food allergies, also use fresh skincare (Organic, without toxic stuff and preservatives). I use a brand called Odacité and my skin problems are gone. :)

      • Joanna Rafael

        I’ll check odacite out for sure!

    • Fabel

      I also started getting hideous pimples at around age 23-24 (I’m 26 now). What helped was eating better (most of the time…) NOT smoking (as much…) & yes, simplifying my routine. Right now all I put on my face is makeup remover & then I moisturize with coconut oil (I sound like such a douche right now, but my skin looks great. I also have weirdly sensitive skin)

      • Joanna Rafael

        I hope I can get my routine as simple as yours one day, dude!

    • historychick

      I highly recommend ordering ‘Love your Skin: Expert Skin Care Secrets Exposed’ on Amazon Kindle. I’ve had breakouts, and dermatologists, and a rainbow of products (gentle and otherwise) since 4th grade. Reading this book really gave me a lot of insight on the different skin types (which can change over the years, as you now know), what products work for them and why, and how to set up a routine of products that work best for where you are now. And dermatologists don’t always know what they’re doing either, especially if you have a variety of issues (like I do, sigh). I’m jealous that it took you 23 years to deal with a breakout, but sympathize with how frustrating it is to look in the mirror and want to bawl.

      • Joanna Rafael

        Thank you for your sympathy and the recommendation!!

    • Regina


      Have you tried a sensitive brush instead of the Clarisonic?

      • Joanna Rafael

        I’ve only tried the sensitive brush :(

    • The Milk Lobby

      Breakouts can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, which can be caused by common life stressors such as being a bad writer, being a boring person, or having a personality disorder.

      Or we may have poisoned your food. We do that.

      • Joanna Rafael


    • LynnKell

      How funny it is that the more you stress and do for your skin the worse it reacts. When I was in middle school I had clear skin. I’ve always had dark circles under my eyes so, I started wearing foundation. (I was a makeup junkie in the making) In high school I discovered I had the dreaded dark spots in my nose and began the 8+ years of struggling to get rid of light acne in dry sensitive skin. That combo is a bitch.

      Once a dermatologist told me to use a special soap… and nothing else. No moisturizer, no sunscreen, no face masks, no makeup. I stick to it except for moisturizer, I just can’t live without it. Cutting down on products and treatments did help, didn’t got rid of them (that would be done by contraception) but improved a lot. Now I only have a day cream, a sunscreen with color, a night cream and a zit cream for “special” occasions. I don’t use so much foundation, primers and powders as I used to and that help a lot too. I exfoliate with a super soft washcloth whenever I remember and aren’t in a rush, I only use a super tiny drop of soap to wash my face in the morning and I recently discovered the wonders of ColoreScience’s Sunforgettable powder sunscreen.

    • Mila

      Cetaphil is toxic sludge – I do not get why so many people are ready to put it on their skin – out of 8 ingredients: water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben, except for water, everything is lab made toxin.

      • gigi

        Yes, water is a toxin.

      • gigi

        Take a basic college level chem course before making ridiculous statements.

    • freakbeetch

      I have plans on getting the clarisonic but i’ve also seen online that when people stop using it their skins goes crazy and breaks out alot. So im wondering if i should get it or not, because i mean i would want to have good skin but if i stop using it and it starts getting worse, whats the point? Like if it ever spoils or if i forget to bring it along when i go on a week of holiday, i wouldnt want my skin to be breaking out real bad. Or is there like any way to stop it from breaking out?