Intern Jee’s Adventures in Breakout-Prone Skin

By Jee Suh

My skin is finicky. I thought I’d mastered catering to its every whim, but I recently experienced some horrible reactions to new products I was using.  I love Bare Minerals, so naturally I was excited to use Rare Minerals Purely Nourishing Facial Moisturizer, but apparently, my skin decided it’s too much moisture and decided to spout oil like a geyser all day long.  When I switched to an organic oil-free moisturizer, my skin broke out in the worst form–there were mountainous pink things all over my face.  It was not pretty.

If you have finicky skin that ranges from normal to combination to oily depending on what you’re eating and using, and if it also tends to be sensitive, you need to prepare yourself to switching and mixing up your skincare routine. This is what usually does it for me.


– Through much trial and error, I’ve discovered that my skin loves salicylic acid. The week that my skin freaked out, I had just run out of my favored Benefit Whoosh wash and, since they are discontinuing it, was not able to get it at my beloved Sephora. Thankfully, I found another that has been working great: DDF Salicylic Wash. It’s definitely been doing the job.

– I have a different wash for night time and morning time. I use my salicylic wash at night for extra deep cleansing and then I use a milder cleanser in the morning. This keeps your skin from being stripped of necessary moisture–yes, even for oily-skinned gals!

– Exfoliate, exfoliate, and exfoliate. I use the Clarisonic Skincare Brush once a day for gentle exfoliation.  I also use an exfoliating mask 3 – 5 times a week.


– Per my dermatologist’s recommendation, I use a mask with sulfur when particularly mountainous pimples erupt. It really is great for sucking the life out of those oil mounds!

– Side note: the breakouts happen more when I’m not getting enough sleep or if I’m eating an excessive amount of junk food. So, at least for this girl (and I suspect for many more out there like me) rest and a healthy diet are just as important as having a great skincare routine!

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  1. I too suffer from oily skin and using a sulfur mask a couple of times a week certainly does the trick. I want to try the Clarisonic skin care brush. It sounds like it’s working for your skin so maybe it will help with mine.

  2. The question is how the skin will react after a year or two of using this. I’m not sure it’s gonna do the job for a longer period of time.

  3. Erin

    Good article. I also find that the alpha beta face peel by MD skin care helps control acne, but it’s expensive (I use every other or every third day to make it last longer). A cheaper alternative, is the pumpkin enzyme peel from Stick that sucker on clean skin and you remove it with a facial scrub for extremely clean skin.

    Hot beauty health- the Clarisonic brush does help keep pores clean. I’ve been using it for 6 mo and have been quite happy with it.

  4. Kelly

    the ONLY thing that has ever helped my skin is getting facials every four weeks and using Jan Marini products. Expensive, but so worth it!

  5. My skin is crazy somedays its too oily others too dry or just in the middle. I would like to keep my skin consistent as in not change so dramatically as it does. This sounds good and the brush is interesting i never “brush” my face but im so willing to try it sounds great

  6. Regular reader

    Jolie, I feel like this article is a step down for anything you would ever post. I understand the need for your intern to expand her wings, but this is the exact same information I’ve read in every beauty magazine for the past 10 years. You always offer new and exciting methods/products… Different washes at day and night? Salicylic acid? Sleep and nutrition? My mom practiced that in the 1970’s… come on now….

  7. Joanna

    What I think a lot of women fail to realize is that hormones can cause raging breakouts too, and not just around the time you PMS (although that is a great symptom!)

    Getting on birth control cleared up my acne within the first month! Granted, I talked extensively to both my OBGYN and my dermatologist about it. For me, it has multiple uses aside from just my skin (ha) but the difference in my skin- back, face, everything, was just amazing.