Natural Acne Tool Kit: Skincare Favourites for Oily, Combination + Acne-Prone Skin

I’ve tested and reviewed a lot of products over the years, which I know can be overwhelming if you’re just searching for the best X or Y to suit your needs.  For that reason, one of the things I want to do this year is put together some resources of my favourite products across various categories.  That starts today with my favourite skincare products for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin.  

I thought this was a good one to kick things off with since acne and breakouts are something that most of deal with at some point in our lives.  My story is pretty typical: I had some acne as a teenager, my skin cleared up in my twenties, and now, at almost 32, it’s something I’ve been dealing with more again over the last couple years. I've never had bad acne by any means, but I deal with breakouts around that time of the month, minor skin congestion, and my skin has a tendency to get oily and develop some shine throughout the day, particularly in the summer months.

My approach tends towards products that are both gentle and effective.  Harsher products have never worked for me -- in fact, more often than not, they've just caused more problems -- so my top picks are products that combine potent blemish fighters with skin-friendly formulas that encourage healing and healthy skin function.

Unpopular opinion, maybe, but I’m not convinced targeted acne cleansers are really necessary.  They’re often stripping or overly drying -- which can be counterproductive and cause your skin to produce even more oil -- and since they’re only on the skin for a minute or two, they aren’t my favourite delivery method for acne-fighting ingredients either.

Having just said that, the Foaming Face Wash is one acne cleanser that I really do love.  Thirsty Naturals is a pretty new Canadian line specifically formulated for teenage oily and/or acne-prone skin, and the Face Wash is fantastic even on my decidingly not teenage skin.  It’s an aerated foam with an impressive rich lather and super ingredients like witch hazel, willowherb, and Thirsty’s bioactive complex of Australian super berries. I especially like using the Face Wash as a second cleanse at night, after I oil cleanse to remove makeup, as it leaves the skin feeling extra fresh and clean, yet very comfortable.

Grounded Sage Pure Amore Gel Cleanser
Pure Amore is a soap-free cleanser with a fun jelly consistency that glides across the skin easily with zero lather.  It deep cleans with exfoliating enzymes and fruit-derived AHA’s but feels like one of the gentlest cleansers you’ll ever use.  If you deal with clogged pores or skin congestion, Pure Amore is a godsend that magically removes any and all gunk from your pores.  I was blown away by the difference I saw in my skin after just a couple uses last summer, and it’s remained a regular in my routine ever since.

Grouping these into one category, since I really only have one top pick for each!  These work well individually and in combination with each other.

Sola Skincare Balancing Facial Oil
The Balancing Facial Oil is a longtime favourite and one that I've repurchased more than once. It's a beautiful blend that combines healing argan, tamanu, camelina, sweet almond, jojoba, and meadowfoam seed oils with anti-inflammatory, calming, and vitamin-rich Chinese herbs.  The oil is simultaneously lightweight, nourishing, and gently clarifying, and it does an excellent job keeping skin moisturized, clear, and happy. As the name suggests, it’s also phenomenal for balancing excess oil production.
[Note: this is not a vegan product as it contains zhen zhu mu or mother of pearl.]

Grounded Sage Hydra Healing Skin Rescue Gel
The Hydra Healing Gel is a hydrating gel toner that works to infuse water-based moisture into the skin.  It’s loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and a low-dose of natural salicylic acid from a blend of aloe vera, chamomile, rose, wild cherry, white willow bark, and licorice root and is a gem for soothing skin and healing blemishes and inflammation.  This product did a wonderful job taming my oil production in the peak summer months, while also visibly plumping and minimizing fine lines thanks to the extra hydration boost. It also helps to speed up the healing of any dark spots and hyperpigmentation left behind after breakouts.  I finished my first jar a month or two ago and it’s one I plan to rebuy in the spring, if not sooner.

Organation Customized Facial Cream
As a fully customized product, technically Organation’s Facial Cream could work for any and all skin types, but I’m very much in love with the formula I created last year for dehydrated combination skin.  The simple customization process takes into consideration a variety of factors including skin type, age, sensitivity, and environment, and lets you select ingredients based on your current skin concerns.  You can find more details on the process (and my custom creation) in my original blog post. I used my jar to the the last drop several months ago, but it’s another one I would absolutely rebuy in the future -- once I finish off some other moisturizers!

Clay-based masks are my favourite for clarifying and managing breakouts, however it's worth stressing that you don't want anything overly drying.  I’m a fan of customizing my masks too, and usually prefer powder formulas that require mixing.

EvanHealy French Rose Clay
The French Rose Clay is a simple blend of pink kaolin and rhassoul clays, two of the gentlest clays out there.  It’s a super finely milled powder that, once blended with water or other mixers, works to pull all the gunk out of your pores without overdrying or distressing the skin.  Since you already have to mix them up, I like to get creative with powder masks and add in hydrating oils, essential oils, and/or other ingredientes. You you can also switch out the water for a toner, tea, floral water, yogurt, or honey.

Marin Bee Detox Masque 
When I need a mask that’s ready to go as-is, the Detox Masque is one of my favourites.  Made with a full one-third California wildflower honey, plus kaolin clay, aloe, sulfur, oats, salt, pumpkin enzymes, and green tea extract, it works to gently exfoliate and draw out gunk and excess oil, while reducing redness and soothing surface inflammation.  It does smell a little like sulfur, which I’m not crazy about, but it works well enough to persevere past that. I keep this one in my shower for masking in a hurry, and it invariably leaves my skin looking fresh and glowy in only a few minutes.

Spot Treatments
A must for any acne toolkit!  I have a few different options I like to rotate between.

Thera Wise Ac+ Acne Ointment
No surprise here -- Ac+ Ointment is one of my most talked about skincare products!  This gem uses a low 0.5% dose of naturally sourced salicylic acid, along with witch hazel, tea tree, tamanu oil, aloe vera, oat beta-glucan, alpha lipoic acid, and prebiotics to effectively combat breakouts without compromising the skin’s natural defenses or barrier function.  The ointment not only speeds up the healing of pimples and breakouts, it also really minimizes any post-breakout marks or scarring. I also use this “off-label” on areas where I have larger pores and it works well to keep them extra clean, and therefore less noticeable.

LifeFlo Salicylic Acid 2% Roll-On
The Thera Wise ointment is always my first pick spot treatment on bare skin, but I love using the Salicylic Acid Roll-On on days when I want to touch up mid-day or over makeup.  A cooling clear liquid that dries quickly and goes on invisible, it’s a breeze to reapply throughout the day.  In addition to salicylic acid, the roll-on contains additional antibacterial and acne-fighting ingredients like colloidal silver, amino acids, and lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils.  LifeFlo also sells this in a much more economical spray version that looks like it would be very handy for larger areas and body breakouts.

Essential Oils + Tamanu Oil
I also like to DIY my own treatment from essential oils and tamanu oil.  Tamanu oil, which you may have noticed in a few other ingredients lists here, is a fantastic skin healer and works phenomenally well on blemishes or applied all over the face, and I like to use it with some combination of frankincense, lavender, eucalyptus, and/or manuka essential oils for an extra blemish fighting kick.

Avarelle Spot Patches
I’m new to hydrocolloid pimple patches, but after seeing them trending all over the place, I ordered these natural ones from iHerb and I’ve been mega-impressed!  Like hydrocolloid wound dressings, the patches work to draw any dirt, oil, or pus out of a pimple, helping it to flatten out and heal quicker. Avarelle also includes tea tree, calendula, and rosehip seed oil to help things along.  I opted for the PM patches, supposedly thicker and more secure than their AM counterparts, but I’ve worn them out during the day and they’re pretty discreet as long as you change them out once they start to fill up with goo, something that I’m sure would be necessary with the AM ones too.  I’ve only used the patches a handful of times since I don’t get “that kind” of pimple too often, but I’m very happy to have them on hand when the need arises.

Makeup Removal
When it comes to makeup removal, oil and balm cleansers are my everyday choice. They're gentle and take absolutely everything off and deep clean your pores without any need for scrubbing that might further inflame or irritate any active blemishes.  I usually make my own oil cleanser (using some variation of the recipe I shared here), but if you’re looking for an option to buy, two that I really enjoy are the Clean Kiss Kiss Me Clean Cleansing Oil and Zion Health Ancient Minerals Cleansing Oil Make-Up Remover

And that’s a wrap!  Did I miss any of your favourites?  What other types of product roundups would you like to see next?
Some products first received as PR samples.
Contains affililate links.

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