Beauty Wellbeing

My Updated Skincare Routine

Having undergone some changes in my skin, it was time to revamp my skincare regime. Here’s my new and improved routine!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am crazy about makeup and beauty but skincare is my first love. Well-looked after and healthy skin makes for amazing looking makeup and maintaining an effective routine is so important. From a young age I have battled with acne and a host of other issues with my skin.

August 2016. This wasn't even the worst of it!

August 2016. This wasn’t even the worst of it!

It has taken a lot of trial and error to find the best routine for me. I still have some scarring (more on the un-photographed cheek!) and still break out, especially during periods. My main problem areas are as follows:

  1. Acne: Until the early part of this year, I had conquered this but new medication resulted in the side effect of severe cycstic acne (painful breakouts under the skin), leaving my skin scarred and textured.
  2. Hyperpigmentation/Scarring: The acne I was suffering left me with quite severe dark scarring. I also have hyperpigmentation around my mouth and nose.
  3. Texture: As a makeup enthusiast, a smooth base is key. I’ve suffered with tiny rash-like spots on my face which can often leave makeup looking cakey.

In this post, I will outline my Morning and Night routines, discussing various products and their effectiveness. At the end, I will discuss some of the more targeted treatments I have been using. Do feel free to skip to the parts you feel are most relevant to you!

My Morning Routine

Every morning I wash my face with Dudu Osun African Black Soap. I have been using this soap for over a year now and it’s been key in clearing acne and also reducing oiliness. This soap uses natural ingredients so if, like me, you have sensitive skin it isn’t too harsh. I buy mine from Pak’s, my local Black hair shop but you can also purchase it on Amazon, eBay etc. UK-based brand Kokoa UK (£8.99) also does a great organic African black soap sourced directly from Ghana. (7% of the company’s profits go to WWF and Mama Hope charities so I would definitely check them out!)


Black soap can be quite drying however so to counteract this, I then go over my face again with Neutrogena’s Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Cream Wash (£4.99). The result is a squeaky clean fresh-feeling face and over time both products help in reducing blemishes and preventing breakouts.

I use these products with my Formula Daily Advanced Facial Cleansing Brush (£22.50) from Marks & Spencer. This brush has completely transformed my cleansing routine. My face really feels like it is getting a deep clean and with two settings and two types of brush heads you can adjust the brush to your needs.


I then tone my face with Mario Badescu’s Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion (£15), wiping a few drops over my face with a cotton pad. This toner ensures your face is completely clean and leaves your skin feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Next, I moisturise with a few drops of Vitamin E Oil and SR Skincare’s Luminosa (£5.90) moisturiser – a moisturiser aimed at hyperpigmentation, scarring and uneven skin tone.



A quick note on this moisturiser because the “Skin lightening” on the bottle can be alarming and had me doing the Mr Krabs meme! This moisturiser absolutely does not lighten your skin. What it targets are those areas where your skin is over-producing melanin in a localised way i.e. scarring, hyperpigmentation, sun spots etc. The website states: ‘Please Note – this is not a skin bleaching cream. It will not lighten the skin beyond its genetically pre-determined colour. It’s ‘lightening’ properties refer to its ability to restore the actual tone of areas of skin that are darker than they ought to be.’ And having used this moisturiser for around 3 weeks now and paying close attention to the ingredients, I can confirm that this is the case.

Finally, I go over this with Mac’s Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 (£24) Apparently, the formula for this has changed and not for the better! I will update when I next re-purchase.

My Night Routine

If I have been wearing makeup, I first use Garnier Cleansing Wipes for Sensitive Skin (£2.69). They take off even waterproof makeup and are a great first step. I then wash my face with black soap and the Neutrogena face wash using my cleansing brush.

I tone my face with my Mario Badescu toner and then, my routine changes slightly! At night, I prefer to moisturise with shea butter. I use raw organic Fairtrade 🙂 shea butter from Akoma Skincare (from £2.43). I melt it a little first before I massage it into my skin. Kokoa UK also do a raw whipped shea butter which is slightly easier to work with. I find shea butter can be a little heavy for during the day, especially if you have oily skin already but it’s great for nourishing your skin at the end of the day.


If I have any spots, I will use tea tree oil on a cotton bud followed by Epiduo – a gel prescribed by my GP which contains benzoyl peroxide. These are really effective for clearing up spots quickly.

Targeted treatments

So as well as my above daily routine, there are a few additional things I do to target my specific problems…

Turmeric face masks:

These masks have been absolutely magic. I mix turmeric, gram flour/besan & honey (plus a drop of water) to form a thick paste. I then put it all over my face and leave on for around 45 minutes. Together, these ingredients help to fade acne scarring and give your skin an overall healthy glowy appearance. I try to do this mask twice a week.

Chemical peels:

I have recently started using mandelic acid (15%) peels (£8.35) and I have been so pleased with the results. Mandelic acid is relatively mild and at 15% it works more like exfoliation than actual peeling. Before applying the acid, I cleanse my face with the Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser (£14). This allows the acid to really penetrate your skin and work more effectively. I apply the acid with the applicator that comes with it and leave it on for around 3 minutes before applying the neutralising gel and rinsing my face.

This acid is also highly recommended for darker skin tones. Not only has it helped to fade scars but it has given my skin a wonderful glow.  My skin also feels so smooth and even. Even if you don’t have acne scarring, I would highly recommend doing a peel once in a while to refresh your skin. I do this once a week.



I also take tetralysal once a day. This is an antibiotic that has been crucial in preventing acne. I still do break out occasionally but it is nowhere near as severe as it was earlier this year. I have taken these antibiotics before so I’d say my body is ‘used to’ them but there can be side effects, including nausea, dry skin and a bit of a funny tummy.


I know it seems like a lot of products but all of the steps have been necessary and effective for me. As well as the above routine, I also no longer eat dairy on a regular basis which has improved my skin considerably. Those pesky forehead spots? Dairy could be the cause. I drink 2 litres of water a day and eat a lot of fruit and veg, all of which has also made a significant difference.

I still have a way to go with my skin, with scarring in particular and also pores, but I’m certain I have found a routine that will get me to my skin goals. For any further questions or advice, feel free to leave a comment, tweet me @oliviazao or drop me an email at!

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  • Reply Carmen December 29, 2016 at 7:37 am

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  • Reply 5 Affordable Acne Remedies – OliviaZao March 26, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    […] Currently, my skin is in an ‘okay’ state. I have recently (unintentionally) stopped taking antibiotics so my skin has taken a little while to adjust but we are back on track. My current focus is working on hyperpigmentation and scarring, which I shall go into in more detail in a separate post. (For more on my skin journey, see here.) […]

  • Reply hammer of thor May 17, 2017 at 4:40 am

    very nice job

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