clean skincare

My Clear Skin Journey

My acne started at age 11 and at 31, I FINALLY am achieving the clear skin of my dreams, thanks largely in part to my clean skincare routine and the internal health process I took (below). After years of using harsh drugstore products, Accutane, and lots of tears, I finally have found my way to a healthier lifestyle and skincare products that work for me. If you are struggling with getting your skin under control, here are the first steps I think you should take: 


Skin Checklist: 

  • Take a gut health test. I suggest the Viome gut test, which you can purchase here: GUT TEST. I suggest this because an unhealthy gut usually leads to unhealthy skin. Living by my gut test results and eliminating the foods they suggested I should has helped me get my IBS and skin under control tremendously. 

  • Find a facialist you like and trust. Preferably one that will focus on clean skincare. I am lucky enough to live in Miami where we have a spa named Sana. Sana only uses non toxic, clean, effective skincare. When searching for this kind of facial, use key words like "holistic or natural facial" and see what you find. I suggest one facial per month to keep your skin clean and clear. 

  • Start removing harsh products with toxic ingredients. Simplify your skincare routine until you find a trustworthy facialist to help you build your routine. If you cannot visit a facialist at the moment, start with removing harsh products and testing out the products I recommend below. What works for me will not necessarily work for you, but the clean skincare I use is  gentle and effective for my acne-prone skin, so I am pretty confident in recommending them to you.


Here are the clean skincare products I have been using, along with some skincare tips: 

1. Washing your face

It is really important to cleanse your skin one time in the morning and two times (double cleansing) at night. Some of the benefits of double cleansing your skin include:

  • Improving breathability: This makes skin brighter and more youthful looking.
  • Nourishing: Cleans the skin without over-drying it. 
  • Prevents Congestion: My skin gets congested easily so a nightly double cleanse ensures I am removing all of the dirt and oils that accumulates during the day, so it can focus on healing at night. 

Other tips for cleansing your skin include: 

  • Make sure your hands are clean before you start massaging your face with cleanser.
  • DO NOT reuse washcloths without washing them first. This will spread bacteria. 
  • Use gentle washcloths. I will link my favorites. 
  • Cleansers with exfoliants should NOT be used daily. Your daily cleansers should be gentle and effective. 

photo of brianna terlizzi wearing skims

Must Have Cleansers: clean skincare edition

clean skincare cleansers

2. Exfoliating and Toning


  • Should only be done twice per week, at night. 
  • If using a physical exfoliant (a cleanser with exfoliating beads) do not rub the exfoliant harshly on skin. Be as gentle as possible. 
  • I prefer enzyme exfoliants which usually come in the form of face masks.
  • Benefits include smoother, brighter skin and fewer breakouts and wrinkles. 
  • I am currently using the Naturopathica pumpkin purifying enzyme peel as my exfoliant 2 nights per week after cleansing. 

Once cleansing is complete, and you have exfoliated (if it is a day where you need to) then move on to applying a toner. Some people also use an essence before toner for added hydration.  I am still in my exploration phase of essences, but I do like the current one I have which is by Augustinus Bader. 


  • Use one that is calming, helps restore hydration, and balances the skin. 
  • Toner should always be applied by mist, so opt for a spray-on toner. It should not be applied with pads, cloths, etc. 
  • It should not sting, so if your toner is stinging your skin, that means it is too harsh and probably has toxic chemicals in it. 
  • I am currently using the century flower toner by pai and LOVE it. Pai is one of my favorite clean skincare brands. 

skinny confidential ice roller
I cannot live without my Skinny Confidential Ice Roller

"Skincare is not about vanity, it's about self-love and self-care."


I hope this article has one, inspired you to start using clean skincare, and two informed you on the important skincare products and steps. My final tips for building a clean skincare routine are:

  • Use an organic silk pillowcase + wash your pillowcases often with a fragrance-free clean laundry detergent.
  • Drink lots of water, and take shots of organic olive oil!
  • Limit or avoid alcohol intake. Cutting alcohol almost completely out of my life has been one of the best things for my mind body, and soul. Now, on the occasion I do have a glass of wine, it is more special, and I stop at one.
  • Limit makeup use, and make sure makeup is also clean. I do not wear a lot of makeup so I need to do more research on clean makeup, but I do like the brand Ilia so far.
  • Lastly, your skin and your issues with it do not define who you are or your beauty. This is something I struggled with understanding while fighting bad acne, and now I look back and think about how much time I wasted not thinking I was beautiful because of my skin. You are beautiful, always remember that.

If shopping outside of my skincare edit, here is the list of ingredients you will want to avoid in order to build a clean skincare routine:

  1. Parabens : Often used as preservatives, they can disrupt hormone function.
  2. Phthalates : Found in many fragrances, they are linked to hormone disruption and reproductive issues.
  3. Sulfates : Commonly used in cleansers and shampoos, they can strip the skin of natural oils and cause irritation.
  4. Synthetic Fragrances : These can contain numerous undisclosed chemicals, many of which can be allergens or hormone disruptors.
  5. Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Releasing Agents : Used as preservatives, they are known carcinogens.
  6. Mineral Oil : A petroleum byproduct that can clog pores and hinder skin's natural functions.
  7. Silicones : Can trap dirt, bacteria, and sebum, leading to breakouts and irritation.
  8. Triclosan : An antibacterial agent that can contribute to antibiotic resistance and is an endocrine disruptor.
  9. Polyethylene Glycol (PEGs) : Used as thickeners, solvents, and softeners, they can be contaminated with carcinogenic substances.
  10. Artificial Dyes : Can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.
  11. Chemical Sunscreens (Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, etc.) : Can disrupt hormones and cause skin irritation.

Wishing you a gorgeous glowing year.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do chemical peels help with acne?

Yes, I have tried chemical peels, and they have helped my acne and acne scarring. However, they are pretty harsh so I would not do them before an event or during a period of time where skin is inflamed. They are good for post acne care. 

Did Accutane work for you?

Unfortunately Accutane did not totally work for me. It helped stop a lot of my cystic acne but did not eliminate my acne completely. I did not see a big change in my skin until years later when, with the help of a holistic doctor, I healed my gut through diet change. 

Do you get botox or injections?

No, I do not get Botox or injections, nor do I plan to. Aging is a gift, and I plan to take good care of myself from inside to outside. I don't recommend getting Botox or any type of injections if you are dealing with acne. I would invest time and money on personalized facials and clean skincare. 

What if a product is stinging me?

A little bite here and there, especially from an enzyme peel, is nothing to worry about. However, if a skincare product is making you really itchy, red, inflamed, etc, than discontinue use immediately. Skincare should feel calming and luxurious, that's why the word CARE is in skincare.