Updated Skincare Routine

Hello, everyone! It’s been a LONG time since I shared my current skincare routine. Let me start off by sharing my skin type: I have combination AND acne prone skin. These are the regimens and products that work well for me and my skin! Just keep in mind that what works for me may not work as well for you if you don’t have the same skin type.

The last time I posted about my skincare routine, I was using a full regimen of Drunk Elephant skincare. After investing a lot of time learning about my skin (and my adult acne), specific skincare products, and product lines, I decided to stop using DE. Are the products bad? No, not necessarily. I think there are some good DE products. There are, however, many brands and products that have higher efficacy and targeted action with clinical evidence to back them up. I also have since learned that the “skincare cocktail” that they encourage can actually decrease the product’s ability to get into your skin and work to its fullest extent. I also think that DE is a great brand for people who are newer to skincare. They sell a full range of skincare products – cleansers, antioxidant serums, exfoliating serums, moisturizers, etc. It’s easy to get everything you are looking for in one location.

Another thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that the terms “clean”, “organic”, “chemical free” or “nontoxic” don’t really mean anything for quality or efficacy of any product. There are no defining standards to designate a product as any of those terms. And beyond that, there is no significant evidence that these products are more effective, safer, or have a better user experience. I’ve also learned that the EWG may not actually be the best or most reputable place to get safety information.

Do I think it is important to make decisions that support our health and wellbeing? Of course I do. I don’t want to do anything that could cause potential harm to my body if I don’t have to. However, I do think this “clean” culture has created unnecessary fear. Skincare products in our country are inherently safe. They go through rigorous testing and, for some brands/products, extensive clinical trials. They are created in ways that prevent contamination (like mold and bacteria) and increase longevity without losing efficacy. Many people actually find “clean” skincare more irritating; they are formulated with comedogenic ingredients and sometimes contain essential oils. If you find a “clean” product that works well for you, great! But don’t feel ashamed if you find conventional or medical grade products that work just as well (if not better!).

Especially after dealing with adult hormonal acne for the last few years, I personally understand the drive and desire to find products and/or treatments that truly work. Formulation matters. Ingredients matter, but not in the way that some ingredients are “bad” and some ingredients are “good”. I have learned that it is important to establish a trusting relationship with a really good esthetician and/or dermatologist who can guide you towards products, adjust your routine, and do treatments that align with your skin goals. They are well educated on how skin functions and which products work best in alignment with your personal skin. Don’t be afraid of conventional medicine! It works.

Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned when it comes to skincare: TIME is your best friend. Skincare products can’t give you overnight results. It takes weeks, if not months, of consistent use to see results. Be patient and be persistent!

Ok, let’s get into the goods!

The first step in both of my skincare routines is to wash my hands! Sounds intuitive enough, but this is such an important step. Starting with clean hands will prevent unwanted bacteria from spreading over your face.

The next step is cleanser. In the mornings I love using this Warming Honey Cleanser from iS clinical. Honey is a naturally antibacterial and antifungal. This cleanser also includes gentle exfoliation with papaya enzymes, helping to gently buff away buildup and dead skin cells. Since I use exfoliation serums nearly every night, this helps to lift the cells that have been exfoliated. In the evening, I start with an oil based cleanser to remove makeup, SPF, and buildup from the day. This step is ESSENTIAL. If you don’t do a primary cleanse to remove all of the above, you won’t actually be cleansing your skin. I use this Pore Cleansing Oil from Roccoco Botanicals. I either use the Gentle Cleanser from ZO Skin Health or the Oxygen Infusion Wash from Skinbetter Science. I tend to gravitate towards the Oxygen Infusion Wash when I feel like my acne is trying to make a resurgence.

**You do need to purchase Skinbetter Science through a referral from a dermatology office or Med Spa**

After cleansing comes treatment, or serums. Generally speaking, you want your products to be applied from thinnest to thickets and from interventional to protective. You want the serums next to your skin that do the most work for you!

In the morning, my serums focus on restoration and protecting my skin barrier. Without a healthy and functional skin barrier, all your other treatments will fall flat or cause your skin to freak out. I love the Dieux Skin Deliverance Serum. This bad boy is packed with peptides (to address and prevent fine lines), niacinamide to enhance skin barrier and prevent excess oil, and cannabinoids. Yes, you heard that right – cannabinoids – to help calm and soothe the skin. Following that, I use the Ceramide Booster serum from Roccoco Botanicals to promote that healthy skin barrier.

In the evening, my serums are targeted towards exfoliation and cell turnover to prevent unwanted buildup in my pores that eventually causes acne. I rotate between a few different products. I use my Apostrophe retinoid serum 2-3x/week. This personalized “virtual” prescription is provided via an online consult with a dermatologist. You upload your health history, skin goals, and pictures of your skin. The dermatologist will then prescribe the appropriate treatment for you! I didn’t want to take oral pills, so my dermatologist prescribed me a topical treatment that includes Tretinoin (a retinoid), Clindamycin, and Spironolactone- all ingredients to target, treat, and prevent acne. I use my Alpharet Clearing Serum from Skinbetter Science 2x/week. This retinol serum is combined with salicylic acid, which helps to clarify my skin and maintain cell turnover to prevent buildup. I use my Alpharet Peel Pads 1-2x/week. This light at home peel offers a little extra exfoliation “oomph”, speeding up that skin cell turnover even more. Finally (whew!), I use the ZO Skin Health Acne Control 1-2x/week. This 10% benzoyl peroxide product treats and prevents acne. Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) can be sensitizing to some people and can cause dry, flaky skin. But it is SO effective against acne, especially the stubborn, closed comedones that I tend to get along my chin. So, I only use it a couple times per week. Make sure you use a white pillow case and don’t wear colors if you use this product-it can bleach! A lot of people will use BPO as a spot treatment, but this works best if you apply a light layer to the entire area you get acne.

The next step in the routine is moisturize. In the morning I like a moisturizer that sits well under my sunscreen. I have been using iS Clinical Reparative Moisture and it is really nice. It’s light, absorbs quickly, and keeps my skin moisturized throughout the day. In the evening, I use Dieux Instant Angel. This moisturizer is IT. It’s creamy and incredibly moisturizing without feeling thick or goopy.

The final step in my routine only occurs in the morning (and throughout the day for reapplication!) – Sunscreen! This is arguably the MOST important step in my routine. It is not only integral to prevent skin cancer, but it also prevents premature aging. I have been using Elta MD UV Clear Tinted. It makes my skin super glowy and gives ample protection no matter the weather or season.

The best investment you can make in your skin is wearing sunscreen every single day, without fail!

On occasion, I will use a face mask to unwind and relax. But of course, I want my mask to be doing something great for my skin too! I love using either this Sulfur Mask from Roccoco Botanicals or the Pore Purifying Clay Mask from Revision Skincare.

WHEW! We made it! I’ve linked all the products I use below. It might seem overwhelming to build a skincare routine. I can’t reiterate enough that seeing a professional (esthetician or dermatologist) can make a huge difference. They can help give you the backbone for a great regimen.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Until next time,


AM Routine

Step 1: iS Clinical Warming Honey Cleanser

Step 2: Dieux Deliverance Serum

Step 3: Roccoco Botanicals Ceramide Booster

Step 4: iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion

Step 5: EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Broad Spectrum SPF 46

PM Routine

Step 1: Roccoco Botanicals Pore Cleansing Oil

Step 2: ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser OR Skinbetter Science Oxygen Infusion Wash

Step 3: Apostrophe serum OR Skinbetter Science Alpharet Clearing Serum OR AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads

Step 4: Dieux Instant Angel Moisturizer

Miscellaneous Treatments and Masks

Roccoco Botanicals Sulfur Mask

Revision Pore Purifying Clay Mask

ZO Skin Health Acne Control

The Qyksonic ZOE Review

Hello, friends! 

I hope you are having a fantastic week! I wanted to follow up my last post with a product review that is essential to my skincare routine. When I started to invest in better skincare habits and products, I started to follow esthetician bloggers and instagrammers. Esthetics is a quickly growing beauty industry in our country. With thousands of estheticians out there, how do you know who’s credible and who’s not? Lots of research, my friends! I stumbled upon The Beauty Nurse, Melissa Berg, a little over a year ago. And I am so thankful I did! Not only is she incredibly knowledgeable in all things skincare, but she has the best product recommendations! Follow her on Instagram: @thebeautynurse

After I upgraded my skincare and makeup, I wanted to expand my routine even more. Melissa did an Instagram video showcasing a product called The Zoe, developed by the company, Qyksonic. The Zoe is a silicone cleansing, exfoliating, and facial massage tool. Not only that, but it can be used to apply products as well! She detailed how she uses it in her skincare routine, the benefits, and why this skincare brush is superior to the rest. As an avid Clarisonic user, I was hesitant. However, after using my Zoe for a year, I have to say I completely agree that it is the best in the skincare world. 

Qyksonic Zoe
Qyksonic Zoe $149


For starters, the Zoe is comprised fully of medical grade silicone.  Medical grade silicone is notoriously antimicrobial. This is extremely important when using skincare tools. The more bacteria a tool retains, the more it spreads across your face. Gross! Additionally, silicone is much easier to clean than a bristled brush head. A simple, gentle cleanser is all you need to keep this tool clean. If you are a patron of other skincare tools (primarily Clarisonic), you might notice that when you change the brush head, there are layers of gunk underneath. This is due to water, soap, makeup, face products, and dead skin cells accumulating below the head. And especially, if you are anything like I was, I wouldn’t change my Clarisonic head nearly enough. The buildup was disgusting. And to think, that’s what you’re spreading all over your face!

Speaking of changing brush heads, this is something that is not required of the Zoe. In fact, there are no attachments, no extras, no add ons, etc. The Zoe is its own compact unit that does not require anything to be changed every couple of months. Not only does this save you time (and trying to remember to actually do it), but it also saves you money! Hollaaah!! 

And, while we are directly comparing the makeup of these products, it’s important to note the actual components of the tools and their direct effect on the skin. The bristles on the Clarisonic can be harsh, especially on sensitive skin. The abrasive nature of the Clarisonic, no matter the type of brush head you use, can create small abrasions on the skin, leading to more complex issues.  The Zoe is softer, allowing the user to determine the level of exfoliation.

Another great aspect of this cleansing tool is the ability to change the intensity at which it vibrates to cleanse. The more sensitive your skin is, the less vibration you will want to use to minimize irritation. If you want a deeper cleanse, opt for a higher level. Depending on what you choose to use the Zoe for, you may change the speed throughout your skincare routine, whether cleansing or applying product to your skin. With fifteen different levels, there’s an option for every skin type. 

Since we’re talking about cleansing and applying product, the Zoe is a dual purpose product. On one side, the silicone bristles are soft and malleable, perfect for lightly cleansing the skin and removing all remnants of makeup. The other side is covered in silicone bristles that are thicker and more sturdy. This side of the Zoe is used for massaging products into your skin. I find it most effective when applying my serums, both morning and night. Not to mention, it feels good and gives my skin the ultimate glow!

Qyksonic Zoe Colors

The shape of the Zoe is very purposeful. Wide in the middle and towards the bottom, the majority of the device is perfect for sweeping across your face to broadly cleanse. The top of the device, you might notice, is pointed. This pointed tip is perfect for getting into every crevice of your face, particularly around the corners of your nose! You can truly get a meticulous clean while using it. The petal shape ensures a full cleanse!

So at this point you might be thinking, “Ok, I’m sold. What more could there be that could make this product better?!” What if I told you this cleansing tool stays charged for up to six months! Chicka whaattt!? That’s right, you heard me. No charging for months. Could there be an easier cleansing tool to use? I think not. I love this aspect of the tool, especially for traveling. I don’t have to worry about packing a charger, or remembering to pack one for that matter! Zoe also comes with a simple carrying pouch, making it easy to pack in a suitcase or toiletry bag. 

Ok, so how do I use this awesome gadget in my skincare routine? It’s really easy. Obviously you guys know I love my DE stuff. See below!

  1. Cleanse skin with Mahalo Unveil balm cleanser 
  2. Double cleanse with Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar
  3. After the cleanser is applied to face, use the soft side (with flowers) of the  Zoe for 2 minutes to cleanse. I typically spend about 30 seconds in each area of my face at a medium speed. 
  4. Rinse face and pat dry
  5. Apply Drunk Elephant B-Hydra serum and Vitamin C serum (morning) or B-Hydra and TLC serum (evening).
  6. Spread serums across face. Use the other side (no flowers) of the Zoe to massage products into face. I use a higher intensity for this part. 
  7. Finish with Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil, Polypeptide Cream, or Lala Retro Whipped Cream.

If you are interested in buy a Zoe for yourself, click HERE. There are a few different styles out now, each at a different price point. 

Compared to other silicone cleansing tools, the Zoe takes the cake. With the ability to personalize your skincare, longevity, and overall design of the device, it outshines its competitors by a mile.

Honestly, if you’re looking to upgrade your skincare routine, the Zoe is your best bet. Not only will it deeply cleanse and gently exfoliate your skin, but it will massage your products into your skin, increasing the ability to work their magic. This anti-aging, antimicrobial, and super convenient tool is incredibly easy to use and I guarantee you’ll see results!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! We will be traveling back home to Wisconsin for a wedding. We are so excited to visit our home state (and drink some Spotted Cow-people who have left WI, you know the struggle!). You better believe my Zoe is coming with me!

XOXO, Sarah

Clean Beauty Roundup

Hello, everyone! While I’m working on my Rome blog, I thought I would share one of my favorite topics with you: clean makeup! 

As the health and wellness industry continues to boom in our country, we are bombarded with suggestions from companies and social media “experts” that insist their products are the best. Now, by no means am I an “expert” in this industry, but I’d like to think that after significant research and lots of trial and error (heavy on the error), I can provide some pretty solid suggestions.

Now, we know that what we put in our bodies is paramount to our health. Our food fuels our bodies, minds, and spirits. What we eat can directly affect how we perform at work, how we sleep, how we interact with our families, the clarity of our skin, our energy levels, and so much more. Food is half the battle, if not more! As the science behind health and wellness continues to evolve, we are realizing that what we put on our bodies is as important as what we put in our bodies. 





Have you taken the time to really look at what is in your products? Can you pronounce the ingredients?! Do you know what they are and what effect they have in our bodies? Our skin is the largest organ we have. What we put on our skin not only affects our skin directly, but the absorptive properties of our skin allows those ingredients to be readily absorbed into our bodies’ circulatory system, affecting all internal organs. You could be eating all the fruits and veggies you can possibly eat, but still putting horrific chemicals on your face. Yes, life is totally about balance and I will be the first to admit that. But when it comes to makeup and skincare, what I put on my face every single day is important to me. Read below for my current clean, non-toxic, natural makeup routine. 


While this is technically the final step in my skincare morning routine, it is also the first step in my makeup routine. Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF not only serves as my sun protection, but it’s also my primer! This tinted cream is silky and smooth; it sets right into my skin. It creates the perfect canvas for me to apply my makeup. I mix it with a couple drops of Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil to thin it out, making it easier to apply and spread across my skin. Benefits to Drunk Elephant? They eliminate the “Suspicious 6”: essential oils, alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrances/dyes, and sodium lauryl sulfates. Their philosophy is simple and powerful. Read about it here

Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense


When I began developing pretty severe acne about a year and a half ago, I was encouraged by my esthetician to change up my foundation. I had been using Bare Minerals since highschool. I knew my shade in every single season. I didn’t even consider the ingredient list! My esthetician pointed me in the direction of Priia, a makeup company that specializes in mineral makeup for acneic skin. Priia makeup doesn’t contain bismuth oxychloride, talc, dyes, parabens, sulfates, or comedogenic (pore clogging) ingredients. Read more about it here!I love the Creme Mineral Foundation Stick in the shade Sandy Beige during the winter and Neutral Tan during the summer. This foundation glides over my skin, giving me coverage that ranges from light to heavy, depending on the application. Priia foundation covers my redness, hides my acne (yes, I still get acne!), and creates a perfect canvas for the rest of my makeup. Not to mention, when I started using this foundation, I didn’t break out! Specifically, the foundation didn’t cause my breakouts, which was a huge deciding factor for me. 

Creme Mineral Foundation Stick

Makeup sponge

I used to be a Beauty Blender devotee! But that price tag, yikes! With the money I spend on cleaner and more natural makeup options, I needed to find a way to cut costs elsewhere. I LOVE these inexpensive makeup sponges that are the perfect dupe for Beauty Blenders. Check them out here! I get it wet and squeeze out the excess water before lightly dabbing in my foundation. For half the price of one Beauty Blender, you get five blender sponges that work like a charm! 

Beakey Makeup Sponges


I use concealer pretty rarely! I credit my awesome under eye serum for keeping the darkness and wrinkles at bay. However, when I have a really pesky pimple that can’t be covered with just foundation, I turn to Priia’s Acne Safe Concealer in the shade Light. This stuff is my holy grail! It provides enough moisture to prevent the blemish from getting flaky and provides enough coverage to hide it. 

Priia Acne Safe Concealer

Setting Powder

Ok, it’s taken me quite some time to find a setting powder that doesn’t dry my skin out, create creases, make me look overly pale, or make my skin feel like it could peel off. Ilia’s Soft Focus Finishing Powder is my gold medal winner! This stuff is light, easy to apply, and creates a soft finish when applied on top of foundation. I use a large powder brush to lightly apply the powder to my forehead, cheeks, and chin, the areas that get the most oily throughout the day. The best part about this stuff? It doesn’t leave a white film all over my face. Ten stars! 

Ilia Finishing Powder


I’ve already explained to you guys why I love Priia makeup. I use the Vacation in a Jar Mineral Bronzer. This beautiful bronzer is anything other than orange and fake looking. A little goes a long way but this stuff is fantastic. It suits all skin tones well. The application creates a flawless glow, worthy of a Caribbean vacation. And, because you only need a small amount, this container lasts a long time! 

Priia Vacation in a Jar Bronzer


YOU GUYS. This blush is my hands down, all time favorite, beautiful, glowing blush. So I used to love sparkly blush when I was 16. I thought it was the bomb diggity. As I got older I started gravitating towards more matte options. THEN I found Crunchi Makeup’s Make Me Blush compact blush. I love the shade Crave, which is a clean dupe for Nars’ Orgasm blush, which I used before switching to cleaner options. This blush brought me back to a little sparkle. And when I say sparkle, I mean shimmer. This blush gives you a total glow-up. Although I can appreciate a good cream blush, this compact gives a cream a run for its money. If you’re in the market for a solid blush, check this stuff out! 

Crunchi Make Me Blush


I don’t always reach for a highlighter. I find that I tend to want it for special occasions: weddings, date night, parties, etc. It gives you that extra level of glow that makes you feel a little more glamorous. My favorite highlight right now, The Illuminator, comes from Ilia. It is a cream twist top, making application super easy! I love the shade Polka Dots and Moonbeams. It gives just enough reflective shimmer to give you a glow, but doesn’t leave you looking oily or feeling sparkly. Besides applying it to the bridge of the nose and cheekbones, I like to dab just a little in the corners of my eyes and on my brow bone to give my eyes just a little lift. While some green beauty can be difficult to find, Ilia is now available at Sephora, in stores and online! 

Ilia The Illuminator

Eye Shadow

I jumped on the Beauty Counter bandwagon a couple years ago to try out their skincare and makeup products. While I’m not a huge fan of everything they market, I have fallen in love with their Velvet Eyeshadow Palette in Romantic. Candlelight has become my go-to everyday color. It is simple and classy. I’ve never been a huge eye shadow person. I don’t know the first thing about layering colors or contouring. Even though I consider myself to be an absolute beginner when it comes to applying eyeshadow, I love having well matched colors at my fingertips to experiment with when I’m feeling adventurous. 

BeautyCounter Romantic Palette

Brow Gel

Another major Beauty Counter find that I have been loving is the brow gel. For years I used the Anastasia brow pencil. I struggled to find a cleaner option that was easy to apply, well colored, and didn’t leave my eyebrows stiff and flakey. Because I like to fill my eyebrows in slightly, I use the Brilliant Brow Gel in Light-Neutral Beige. I find that this color compliments the undertones in my skin well and doesn’t give me incredibly dark brows, which can look a little goofy on a blonde. This stuff is SO easy! Instead of spending 5-10 minutes trying to fill my eyebrows in perfectly, I swipe this through my brows a few times and I’m good to go. While this product doesn’t offer the same level of precious as a pencil or pomade, I love the end result just as much. My brows are filled in and stay in place throughout the day! 

Brilliant Brow Gel 


I continue to struggle to find a really good clean liquid eyeliner. For the meantime, I will continue to use Tarte’s Sex Kitten Liquid Liner. I don’t know the first thing about creating the perfect cat eye, but I am able to apply this liquid liner with ease. It glides on smoothly, disperses the product evenly, and stays put throughout the day/night. The color is very pigmented and a little goes a long way. This eyeliner lasts for a pretty long time! I don’t wear it every day, but it adds a little oomph for when I want to make my look a little more dramatic. 


Tarte Liquid Eyeliner


I have ranted and raved about this mascara before, so it should be no surprise to you that my all time favorite clean beauty mascara is Honest Beauty’s Extreme Length Mascara + Primer. It has been a long road to find the perfect clean mascara and if it wasn’t for Suzi from Gurl Gone Green, I would have never found this sensational stuff. This mascara is everything a mascara should be without the harsh additives and chemicals. Unlike other clean/green mascaras, this one glides on smoothly without clumps, stays all day without streaking down my face or giving me racoon eyes, holds up well in humidity and heat, and is easily removed with a balm cleanser without stinging my eyes. If there is one item in this whole list that is my holy grail, it’s this! What makes this product even better is it’s availability. Not only can it be found at Target, but also online with Amazon! Woot woot! I recommend ordering 2 or 3 at a time since it sells out rather quickly on Amazon. 

Honest Beauty Mascara

Lip Balm

How often do you reach for your chapstick throughout the day? For me, I put chapstick on after brushing my teeth, throughout the day, before I go to bed, etc. The list goes on! For something that you use so frequently throughout the day, have you checked the ingredient list for what is actually in your Chapstick? Your Blistex? Your Carmex? Newsflash: it’s not great. Actually, it’s pretty horrible. Those alcohols in your chapstick of choice are drying your lips out! For a cleaner, moisturizing, and healthier option look no further than these two great lip balms: Dr. Bronner’s Natural Organic Lip Balm and Drunk Elephant’s Lippe Balm. Both are equally great options when it comes to cleaner chapstick options. Filled with nourishing natural oils that actually hydrate your lips, these chapsticks pack a punch. I find that I no longer need to apply chapstick constantly throughout the day! I gravitate towards the unscented choices, just to reduce the ingredient list even more. While Dr. Bronner’s is a more affordable option, it’s hard to pass up Drunk Elephant once you’ve tried it


Dr. Bronner’s Lip Balm


Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm


My Favorite Clean Beauty Websites

Looking for good places to purchase clean beauty? These sites are my most frequented! Sign up for e-mails so you never miss a deal. Another great way to save some dollar bills: sign up for Sephora’s reward program. Not only can you get travel sized samples for points, but you can also get free shipping. Heck yes!

  1. The Detox Market
  2. Credo Beauty 
  3. Sephora (Look for the Green Leaf icon for cleaner product choices!)


My Favorite Clean Beauty Bloggers + Instagrammers 

Above all, clean and green beauty influencers have been imperative to my research and continued education in this field. Here are a few super bomb ladies who dominate the clean beauty field. They have endless suggestions from anything regarding makeup to hair care. I highly recommend you check them out!

  1. Gurl Gone Green: Website + Instagram 
  2. This Organic Girl: Website + Instagram
  3. Dirt Naturals: Website + Instagram
  4. Root + Revel: Website + Instagram 

Do you have clean beauty items that you’re loving? I always enjoy hearing more clean beauty suggestions! Are you following green beauty experts that I should know about? Send your recommendations my way!


Have a wonderful Thursday!



XOXO, Sarah


** Of note, I am not looking to become a consultant for Beauty Counter, Arbonne, etc , so please don’t try to sell me on any programs, regimens, or joining a sales team. Thank you!**


My Drunk Elephant Review

Hello, friends! This has been a widely requested topic for some time now and I am so excited to finally share my Drunk Elephant skincare review with you! Before I dig into this post I do have to clear the air regarding one thing: price. Drunk Elephant is not necessarily a cheap skincare brand. Their products range from $18 to $134. With that being said, these products last for quite some time. I purchased my products at the end of June and most of them lasted me until December! I also firmly believe that with many things, you get what you pay for in the quality of these products. Drunk Elephant is a reputable company and only uses the highest quality in their products. They are pure, reliable, and effective! //

For most of my life I had clear skin. I never had to worry about breaking out. I used streamline products (think Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, L’Oreal, etc) and never took time to read labels or investigate ingredients and additives in my skincare. I based my skincare decisions on TV ads, price, and convenience. I was SO bad at washing my face. I would rarely go to bed without some remnants of eye makeup or foundation still present (cringe). If I got a breakout, I picked at it until it went away. Somehow, I maintained pretty clear skin. //

Fast forward to my mid-twenties. My husband, Zach, and I just moved from Milwaukee to Kansas City for his job with Amazon. Following our move, my skin started changing drastically. I started seeing breakouts on my forehead which gradually progressed to the rest of my face. The breakouts were big, red, and painful. I lathered on makeup anytime I left the house. Working as a nurse in a procedural environment didn’t help; we have to wear surgical masks for the majority of the day. Putting it simply- I was FREAKING out. I began jumping between multiple skincare brands, hoping that one might have a magical effect. I started seeing estheticians, who insisted on chemical peels and harsh products containing benzoyl peroxide. I tried eliminating dairy, alcohol, carbs, and finally a Whole 30, with no success. Throughout all of this, we were planning our wedding from two states away. I thought it could be stress related so I started incorporating more stress relief: epsom salt baths, diffusing essential oils, meditation, and yoga. //

I started seeing an esthetician who put me on the Skin Reality system, ensuring success within 90 days. I was sold. I had exactly 90 days before our wedding when I started the products from Skin Reality. While I know many people have seen dramatic results from this brand, I only saw my skin deteriorate more. My skin was flaky, dry, and felt so tight that I couldn’t even smile. To top it off, my acne wasn’t getting any better. I knew something had to change when we were on our honeymoon. I felt incredibly self conscious leaving our condo without makeup for a day at the beach. When I ran out of makeup before our flight home, I was nearly in tears. //

I had tried a couple Drunk Elephant (DE) products a couple years ago while going through an experimental skincare phase. I revisited their site and was immediately drawn to their philosophy: all of their products do not contain what they refer to as the “Suspicious 6”. These ingredients include silicones, essential oils, chemical sunscreens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), drying alcohols, and fragrance/dyes. Why are these additives detrimental to skin, and ultimately, internal health? And why, specifically, does Drunk Elephant choose to eliminate them from their products?

Silicones: They give moisturizers and serums a silky smooth finish. And although they are advertised as essential for locking in moisture on/in the skin, they can also trap dirt, bacteria, and dead skin. This can lead to breakouts, irritation, and congestion. Silicones are not only good at trapping stuff in. They’re also good at keeping things out! Anything applied to the skin following a product with silicone is not absorbed as readily, decreasing potency. *Also known as dimethicone, cyclomethicone, or dimethiconol*

Essential Oils: Don’t get me wrong, I love essential oils! But not on my skin! I tried using essential oils (tea tree oil, frankincense, lavender) in the fall of 2017. Instead of clearing my skin, my sensitivities increased. Essential oils are derived from florals and other plants. Although they can be anti-fungal and anti-microbial, they can also be harsh on facial skin.

Chemical Sunscreens: Chemical sunscreens can also increase skin sensitivity, contributing to acne and other skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, etc). Instead of sitting on top of the skin and acting as a barrier to UVA and UVB rays, chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin. These toxic additives can then circulate throughout your body. Examples of chemical sunscreens include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate (check out Environmental Working Group for more information).

SLS: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant. It creates those foamy bubbles when washing your face, hair, hands, and body. It is in EVERYTHING; nearly all personal care products! While we all love a good suds, SLS has been marked toxic for human use by many countries. Sadly, the United States is not one of them. SLS can cause irritation by stripping the skin of its natural oils. Absorbed through the skin, SLS can be toxic to the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Alcohol: Plain and simple, alcohols in skincare dehydrate the skin. Drying the skin too much can can cause a reverse reaction; oil production increases because the skin thinks it needs to hydrate itself!

Fragrance/Dyes: Fragrances, often referred to as perfume or parfum in skincare, are used to mask the naturally occuring scents of certain ingredients. Dyes are used to create a “pretty” appearance for consumers. Neither are necessary in skincare and can cause irritation.

DE also stresses the idea that less is more. Our skin is constantly bombarded with perpetual product rotation, overuse of product, too many products, makeup, harsh chemicals, and over stimulation. Simplifying a skincare regimen to a few effective products can maximize your results and ultimately heal your skin. DE recognizes that skin, as the largest organ in the body, requires particular and consistent care. //

Before we even returned from our honeymoon I placed a DE order. I overhauled every single one of my products. Immediately after our return to KC, I started using a consistent DE regimen. I told myself I would give these products 100 days to prove their efficacy. After just over two months of using strictly DE products, I experienced a change in my skin I had been hoping to see for over a year! See below for my before and after photos:



YOU GUYS! The aftermath of using DE still blows my mind. Not only did my skin see dramatic improvement, my confidence increased substantially! I leave the house without makeup. Let me say that again… I leave the house without makeup! I no longer feel like I’m hiding under layers of makeup, self doubt, and lack of confidence. My skin is smooth, hydrated, nourished, and predictable. //

I didn’t get here without some serious effort. I look forward to my skincare routines (listed below!). Even if I’m exhausted from a long day or coming home late at night, I still follow through with my skincare regimen. Consistency is key! And, let’s not forget, a skincare regimen is just a piece of the puzzle for skin health. There are other equally important components; diet, exercise, sleep, and managing stress. More to come in future posts on all of those necessities! //

DE Product Review

My DE Regimen consists of 9 products; some are used both morning and night and others are used either morning or night. What I find so wonderful about these products is that they can be mixed together to create the desired outcome you wish to see, individualizing your skincare! Genius! //

My first step always involves cleansing my face. Whether that is with just water in the morning or with a cleanser in the evening, it is so important to start with a fresh face. I use DE’s Pekee Bar in the evenings to wash away all remnants of makeup, dirt, and bacteria. It is sooo creamy and doesn’t strip the skin of its naturally produced oils. After I cleanse with the Pekee Bar I don’t feel the immediate need to moisturize, which means my natural facial oils remain intact through the cleansing process. //

Following that, I mix together two of three serums each morning and evening. In the morning I use the B-Hydra Intensive Hydrating Serum with the C-Firma Day Serum. The B-Hydra serum gives my skin a little extra boost of moisture. Especially during the dry months of winter and while working in a hospital, my skin tends to take a beating in the moisture department. This serum helps to retain every last ounce of moisture in my skin. Its texture is incredibly silky! The C-Frima Serum is a Vitamin C serum that works to brighten and reduce the appearance of acne scars. Since DE doesn’t add any perfumes to its products, the C-Firma Serum retains a slight musty smell that is characteristic of true Vitamin C. By mixing these two serums together, I create a personalized serum that targets dehydrated skin and old acne scars. At night, I make my serum concoction using the B-Hydra Serum and the T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. The T.L.C Serum is an acid exfoliant that clears dead skin cells and renews the skin’s texture, bringing forward clear and soft skin. By reducing the buildup of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, this product directly reduces the chance of developing a breakout. It tingles slightly as it goes on. Acid exfoliants tend to be safer for skin. Physical exfoliants (think cleansers or masks with micro-beads) can cause extremely small abrasions and tears on the skin, creating more problems than solutions. The acid exfoliants can be more potent and more effective, especially if clear skin is on your bucket list. Since this glycolic serum is pretty potent, I like to mix it with the B-Hydra to slightly dilute it. //

After I apply my serums, I moisturize. During the day I like to use a lighter moisturizer so that my makeup goes on smoothly and seamlessly. I really like the Protini Polypeptide Cream as a daily moisturizer. It is incredibly light yet still very moisturizing. If my skin feels especially dry, I add a couple drops of the Virgin Marula Oil. I have found that a little of this oil goes a long way! With just a couple drops, my face is glowing! During the summer months, I only use 2-3 drops of the Marula Oil under my makeup. Since we live in a very humid city (hello Kansas City summers) I don’t always feel the need to add more hydration to my skin. The Marula Oil also works great to sooth cracking cuticles, calm frizzy hair, and moisturize dry elbows and knees. In the evenings I use the Lala Whipped Cream. This stuff is a skincare goldmine. It is thick, creamy, and extremely luxurious. I massage just one pump into my skin at night and it transforms my tired, dry skin. When I wake up in the morning, my skin is just as moisturized as when I went to bed! //

I top off all of my skincare with a small pump of DE’s under eye serum, Shaba Complex. I don’t necessarily feel like I need an eye cream at this point in my life, but I’m all about preventing dark circles and wrinkles. The Shaba serum is very light and easy to apply so it’s no extra hassle. //

Finally, in the morning I apply my SPF, the Umbra Tinte. This product is tinted but there is another version available that is not. This sunscreen is a physically blocking product. It does not contain the chemical sunscreen (listed above) that are not safe! Think of it this way: costal states and countries are taking action to ban sunscreens that contain these chemical components because they are KILLING coral. If these products are so harmful to other living organisms, imagine what they are doing to you! The Umbra Tinte glides smoothly onto the skin. It is slightly thicker than your average SPF. Occasionally, I will add a couple drops of the Marula Oil to thin it out. It goes on so well under makeup and acts as a primer for foundation. If you take one thing away from this post, I beg you to start using sunscreen every day! Even if you work indoors and barely see the sun (I see all you Midwesterners in the winter), wearing SPF every day is vital to maintaining healthy skin. VITAL. Your skin is your largest organ; protect it! //

Here is my skin as of yesterday!


Consistency is key when maintaining clear, healthy skin. Developing a regimen that works best for you can be frustrating. Stick with it and continue to have a positive outlook. Drastic change like this takes time. You won’t suddenly have clear skin overnight! With any new product or regimen, give yourself at least 90 days before you start readjusting or changing your products. Although I hate to admit it, I still get acne. My skin isn’t perfect yet; it’s still recovering, and that’s ok. //

At this point, I’m still not sure why I suddenly developed adult acne. I suspect the usual culprits: bad diet choices, new environment, and continual stress. Since then, I’ve cleaned up my diet, removed what toxins and chemicals I could from my surroundings, and learned to manage my stress. More on these topics later! //

Skincare can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t know where to start? Below is a simplified explanation of my current skincare routine:

My Current DE Regimen


After I get up in the morning, I simply splash my face with lukewarm water. I don’t typically use a cleanser as I find my skin dries out more quickly if I do. That is followed with:



I currently use a product that is not from DE to remove my makeup. I’ve been using One Love Organics Vitamin B cleansing oil + makeup remover. I am liking this product but if you have recommendations for a clean makeup remover, let me know! After removing my makeup:

Drunk Elephant has completely changed my skin. I’m so happy I decided to take the DE plunge last summer. Questions? Let me know! //

Until next time!

XOXO, Sarah