acne story, skincare routine, garnier, murad, image, skin ceuticals, lush, glamglow, oily skin, irish beauty

My skincare routine is a post that I have wanted to write up since I first started my blog. However, I have also purposely put it off until now because up until a few months ago it was something that I was still really battling with. Skin care is something that everyone has to trial and find exactly what works for them, but with problem skin this can unfortunately take years. As I suffer with acne and persistently oily skin, this is something that I have been trying to get right for so long. My acne is hormonal, and not a single other person in my family has anything less than perfect skin, so my journey with it and trying to find what works and what doesn't has been a damn difficult one! If you don't want to read the story of my skin that's cool, just skip ahead to the products under the picture below!

So lets start with a bit of background info; I first started showing signs of acne when I was about 11/12 years old, making this ongoing for about 11 years now. It started with some congestion on my forehead and over the next few years grew into acne of my face, chest, back, arms and thighs, with areas of painful cystic acne. It was horrific during bad spells, and because it started when I was so young there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it apart from dabbing a bit of witch hazel on it. It wasn't uncommon for me to come home after school with spots of blood all over my uniform shirt from blemishes on my back and shoulders. It was such a kick to my confidence at an already awkward age.

It was probably at it's worst on my body when I was 15. My chest was absolutely covered in huge cystic blemishes which spread around the tops of my arms to my shoulders, making it impossible to wear bras or anything that wasn't baggy t-shirts for a lot of the time. This is when my Doctor put me on the contraceptive pill Dianette, which although isn't advised for long term use, worked wonders. This pill is often prescribed to people suffering from acne as an alternative to anti-biotics or other medications. It took about 4 months to start working, but once it did my acne almost completely cleared up.

I eventually had to come off this pill after about 3 years (which I have since learned is probably too long to be on it anyway) and switch to a different one which wasn't typically effective on acne. This was a bit of a shock to the system as my acne started to slowly creep back in. It thankfully never came back on my chest and thighs, but it did make a reappearance on my shoulders, tops of my arms and jawline. Not ideal as I just had almost perfectly clear skin, but still not half as bad as it once was which I was still grateful for. I was mostly able to control it with regular drugstore products and a topical solution from my Doctor.

Due to separate health issues, I eventually had to come off the contraceptive pill and all its other forms about a year later when I was 20. I still had my topical solution but soon realised this wasn't going to be enough. The acne on my shoulders and jawline was flared up, cystic and heartbreakingly bad. It was like being 15 again, I would even be out in public and suddenly feel a trickle of blood on my cheek from where a spot had decided to burst without my permission. I wasn't even really able to wear makeup, and when I did taking it off usually reduced me to tears from the pain of touching my face.

I eventually got myself a stronger adapalene and benzoyl peroxide solution gel called Epiduo which despite the initial redness, dryness and scaling, really improved my skin. I'm so glad I found this product when I did as I was considering going on Roacutane at the time, which I was always desperate to avoid because of the horror stories and side effects I had read. I still use Epiduo on breakouts today, I highly recommend it!

I continued to use Epiduo along with drugstore products until I discovered cosmeceuticals around this time last year. At this point I had a couple of cystic spots on my jawline and shoulders, but also a lot of congestion on my cheeks and chin, uneven skin tone from those nasty red and brown marks left behind from spots, and the beginnings of some pitted scarring on my jawline.

I quickly realised that active ingredients such as AHA and BHA were absolutely the key to good skin. Oil control became my main priority, and everything just followed from there. I started investing in good products and seeking tips and advise from professionals. Within 2 months the difference was insane. My tone and texture is unrecognisable, I still get spots but they're definitely manageable, I don't get cystic or painful blemishes, and I have little to no congestion or blackheads. I also got two skin peels last Summer which are now one of my favourite things ever and I desperately want more. I got an Image Acne Lift peel and an Obagi Blue Peel Radiance, which I found incredible and really kick-started my good skin chapter.

There are still things that I'm working on, mainly texture and tone, tackling and repairing scaring, reducing my giant pores and minimising spots, but I am definitely a hell of a lot happier with my skin than I once was.

The products listed below are working for me right now, but I do tend to mix it up quite often.

acne story, skincare routine, garnier, murad, image, skin ceuticals, lush, glamglow, oily skin, irish beauty


Garnier Micellar Water - Combination + Sensitive Skin 400ml - €5.33
The only drugstore product in my routine! I use this Micellar water to take off my first layer of makeup and eye/lip make up. I love having a cleanser that I can use with cotton pads in front of the TV before I go and start the main part of my routine. I was just using this on my eyes and lips, but it doesn't irritate my skin and I like taking off some of my makeup before starting with my main cleanser.

Murad - Clarifying Cleanser 200ml - €25
Probably the most important part of my skincare routine is my salicylic cleanser. This is essential for oil control. If you suffer with oily skin, you probably know the feeling of cleansing your skin and still not feeling clean afterwards, well salicylic cleansers abolish that and leaves you feeling squeaky clean and matte which lasts all day.
This product is a gel cleanser that contains 1.5% salicylic acid which is an BHA and helps kill any surface bacteria, loosens dirt and oil and is a time release, so it stays active hours after rinsing. It also contains green tea extract which honestly probably doesn't do too much, but it smells nice and apparently gives anti-oxidant properties which is always good. Another favourite cleanser is the Clear Cell Cleanser by Image which contains 2% salicylic acid, this is that little bit stronger but doesn't feel any harsher on the skin.
I use this first thing in the morning and in the evening by massaging it into wet skin for no less than 60 seconds, and then rinsing it off with a damp face cloth like the one in the picture above. The reason I use a face cloth instead of just water is for that extra bit of exfoliation, it really ensures that I have no dead skin left on my face. I also change this face cloth everyday, using one side in the morning and the other side in the evening before swapping it for a new one, as damp cloths or towels left in bathrooms are like magnets for bacteria. I use this cleanser on my shoulders too, but because its a bit of an awkward area I use it the same way but only when I shower.

Murad - Clarifying Toner 180ml - €27
Another from the Blemish Control or Blue range. Toners, in all honesty are not an essential part of my daily routine. They don't really do too much despite what we're told, but I do really like this toner as third step in making sure I have no dirt on my face, while the Witch Hazel in it is really refreshing. It can cause a little bit of irritation and tingling but with continued use it does just become a really refreshing product that makes my skin feel super clean. I apply a small bit of this after the Clarifying Cleanser in the evening with a cotton pad once all over my face and down onto my neck.

Murad - T-Zone Pore Refining Serum 50ml - €55
This is from the Pore Reform or Pink range. I really love this product. Big pores have been an issue for me for the past 2 years or so, especially on the apples of my cheeks, but this serum and others like it are slowly starting to combat them. I tend to stay away from serums as they're usually oil based, and in the age old debate of "Fighting oil with oils" I'm on the strongly opposed side. I try to use only oil free products or products with very little amounts of oil in them, and although this serum does contain glycerin, it doesn't at all feel greasy on the skin and dries in almost instantly. It also contains glycolic and salicylic acids, which help break down and dissolve any oils or dirt that may open or block your pores. I use this product after the Clarifying Toner by squeezing half a pump onto my finger tips and pressing it into my t-zone and apples of my cheeks only. Because I need to use so little of the serum and the bottle is 50ml, this product is going to last me months!

Murad - Skin Perfecting Lotion 50ml - €33
Moisturiser is not a product I use every day. I have oily skin, so I don't need to moisturise twice a day, and I often don't moisturise my whole face even when I do. I use this product as I need it and on certain dry areas only. After using the above active ingredients on my face it sometimes feels like I really need to moisturise afterwards and other times it doesn't, I never moisturise just for the sake of it. I like this moisturiser in particular because it's very lightweight and sinks into my skin immediately. It also contains a small amount of retinol which increases cell turnover revealing healthy, smoother skin beneath the surface. This product is super moisturising without feeling greasy, I also find it's brilliant for soothing and bringing down any inflammation in blemishes.

Murad - Renewing Eye Cream 15ml - €85
This product is tiny but mighty! I only started using eye creams a few months ago as it was the only product I have never thought to purchase for some reason. I have the darkest circles around my eyes, I've had them since I was a child so they're not even from a crappy lifestyle or lack of sleep, making them nearly impossible to shift! This eye cream is definitely helping though, especially in the outer corners of my eyes where I find I have these dark brown/red marks that drive me insane and take up the majority of my concealer. The consistency is very thick and creamy, I only need a tiny amount of this product, less than half a pump for both eyes. It makes my under-eye area unbelievably soft and refreshed, making it the perfect crease-free base for makeup. I use this product once a day after my face moisturiser or serum at night.

Image - Ageless Total Repair Creme 56.7g - €75
This is probably one of my favourite products ever. It contains a highly concentrated amount of glycolic acid and retinol which is perfect for tackling my pigmentation and pitted scaring left behind from acne flare ups. As this product is quite a harsh one, it takes quite a while to build up, but I still wouldn't use it every night, I maybe only use this 3-4 times a week. I apply it as my last step before bed because although the creme is smooth, the glycolic is a powerful exfoliant which helps to resurface your skin as you sleep, working with the retinol for cell turnover. This product also contains anti-oxidants which help with skin healing and an over all glow. It also helps firm this skin making it a fantastic product for anti-aging, not that I think I need that just yet!
I only need the tiniest amount of this product, in fact, before I got the full sized tub I had a small sample tube which lasted about 2 months! I apply a thin layer to all of my problem areas, concentrating mostly on my jawline.

acne story, skincare routine, garnier, murad, image, skin ceuticals, lush, glamglow, oily skin, irish beauty


Lush - Mask of Magnaminty 125g - €7.50
As many of you will know, I am a huge Lush fan, from their bath and shower products to their skincare. This face mask is one of my absolute favourite Lush products, and although I use mostly cosmaceuticals right now, this mask will remain one of my most used products. I wrote a post on it previously (which you can read more about here), and it's still one of my most read posts on my blog.

Murad - AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser 200ml - €39.50
I originally bought this exfoliator from the Murad Age Reform range to help with my laser hair removal sessions, as the glycolic and salicylic acids help the hairs to fall out of the skin faster, but I have since also realised that it makes a lovely cleanser/exfoliator! Whenever I use this product I wont use my Clarifying Cleanser, as they're both salicylic cleansers, but I like to use this one every now and again if I feel like I have a build up of dead skin that's harder to lift. It has good abrasion but not too much that it feeling harsh on my skin for times when I'm feeling a bit sensitive.

Glamglow - Supermud 34g - €56
This mask is probably one of the most hyped beauty products on the market at the moment. Of course I totally bought into this and went straight for the full sized tub putting all my trust in bloggers and Youtubers raving about it. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. This mask is probably the most famous out of the Glamglow range and luckily for me is targeted toward oily/blemish prone skin.
This mask contains a ton of active ingredients including, salicylic, glycolic, lactic, mandelic, pyruvic and azelaic acid, so it's not just a wishy-washy popular mask that realistically does nothing for your skin. It is a kaolin clay mask which is my favourite as it means although it goes onto your skin dark grey, it will lighten as it dries showing up all of the gunk and oil that it is pulling out of your skin. I also love that this mask washes off super easily, unlike some that clump and make it really difficult. The only thing I dislike about this mask is the smell, it smells to me like licorice which I'm not mad on but I can deal.
I also picked up the smaller 15g tub of the Youthmud, which is equally as nice but a little more tingly on the skin.
I use this mask by applying it to clean skin with a flat foundation brush as this way you use less product, leave it until it has dried which is usually 10 minutes, and wash it off with warm water and a clean face cloth.

Murad - Blackhead and Pore Clearing Duo 50g - €59.50
This product actually comes as part of a duo which I forgot to include. Step one is the tub of exfoliaor in the picture above, and step two is a pore refining sealer which just helps to close and shrink the pores after the exfoliator has cleaned everything out of them. You also then use the sealer again about 12 hours later to reseal those pores.
This product is just a really easy, not too harsh, exfoliator that really does shrink pores and actually helps keep blackheads away. Unfortunately it is quite heavily perfumed and smells really sweet and fruity, but if you don't mind scented products then this is perfect for you.

acne story, skincare routine, garnier, murad, image, skin ceuticals, lush, glamglow, oily skin, irish beauty


Skin Ceuticals - Mineral Radiance UV Defence SPF 50 50ml - €41
SPF is something I'm a little bit obsessed with. It's one of the most important parts of my routine, and I never leave the house in less than SPF 20. I'm really prone to pigmentation, and although some chemical peels have helped remove the majority of it, I still have some remaining on my cheeks, so of course I'm going to do whatever I can to keep any more from appearing. This sunscreen is broad-spectrum UVA/UVB to make sure you're protected on every level. It also has a slight tint to it that automatically matches your skin tone which is perfect for being poolside on holiday.
Some other favourite sunscreens are Image Prevention+ SPF 30, Image Pevention+ Daily Matte Moisturiser SPF 32,  and Heliocare Gel SPF 50 which I have ran out of at the moment but still have some sample bottles which I have pictured above. All of these products are oil free but also extremely moisturising. I use them after cleansing my face in the morning instead of a moisturiser, making sure I cover my entire face and neck. The Image Prevention+ range also make the nicest base for daytime makeup I have ever used.

These products are the ones that are working for me best at the moment. I love and recommend them all, but I also encourage everyone to go through trial and error to see what works best for you. I'm not saying to get clear skin you have to run out and get all of these specific products right away, but if you do try any of them I would love to hear about your experience with them - tell me about it or your acne curing products below!


  1. Loved this post Niamh, I suffer a lot with my skin too and found this post really helpful. I have been looking into getting peels and facials done and think I now know what I'm looking for!
    Susan x

    1. Happy to help! It's an awful feeling when you've tried everything and nothing is helping. Peels are incredible, totally worth it, I'm dying to get some more! Therapie Clinic are a good shout if you're looking for somewhere to get them done :) x

  2. One of the best decisions of my life was to start taking my skin care regiment seriously and invest in some quality acne solutions. 9 months later and I couldn't be happier with the results. Looks like you've definitely gotten a system down that works for you. Even though it certainly seems like a lot of work, it's worth it.

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  5. Yes, I have used this product and it has come up with perfect results. Trully unique in every way. The copper face mask happens to be the best there.

  6. Never tried Murad products. I think it is not available here in the Philippines, but i have tried Garnier Micellar Water! Works wonders! <3