My Skin Story by @scientistbeautydiary

Ashley @scientistbeautydiary

I have a terrible memory and a hard time recalling events or conversations. However, one of the few moments I can recall from the past few years took place one summer break. I remember sitting on the dining table on my laptop and watching YouTube videos. I watched a skincare routine by Michelle Phan, where I learned I should be using retinol sooner than I thought. I watched a get un-ready video by Nicole Guerriero and watched her apply bottles of potions and creams on her face. I remember watching these videos with my eyes wide in desire for the beautiful, clear skin these girls showcased, and thinking to myself ‘I would do anything for skin like that.’ I remember turning off my laptop and, in the black reflection of my screen, staring at myself. My skin was covered in pimples, bumps, and scars. The parts where actual skin peeked through looked sickly and discolored. I remember closing my laptop so I didn’t have to stare at myself anymore and thought ‘I wish there was someone out there who could help me.’

For as long as I can remember I fought daily battles with acne. Well into my college years, I struggled to keep my skin clear and I relied heavily on makeup to help me. The only selfies I have were taken on good skin days because I refused to document the days when my skin looked so bad. I often would cried while applying my foundation. In 2014 I was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer. I had my entire thyroid, a parathyroid, and some lymph nodes removed. I began my lifelong hormone treatment and the imbalance of hormones lead to more issues with my body. I was unable to control my weight, my hair fell out of my scalp constantly, and my skin became my biggest rival. Nothing I did made it happy. This combined with the death of my father after his 2 year battle with pancreatic cancer lead to me hitting one of the lowest peaks of my life.

I became a regular at the CVS by my house. I was looking up and down the aisles for magic in a bottle. I tried multiple products and would occasionally find something that would help my skin look a little better, but not good enough. I felt so alone and ugly in my own body, and I was unable to find any beauty in the person I was. I struggled with self-confidence and loving the person I was on the inside, because I loathed the skin, hair, and body I saw in the mirror every day. That person was horrific, and I hated knowing that person was me.

It took me a very long time to finally examine my skin thoroughly. I grabbed my textbooks, school resources, and researched more about ingredients, skin conditions, and signs to look out for. I learned how to trust my skin to tell me what it needs, how to find out what products to use, and the importance of investing in a few products versus buying a ton of items and praying they all work. I learned to stop watching YouTube videos and start applying my Bachelors in Biology in my everyday routine. I took the biggest plunge by cutting out makeup completely and relying solely on skincare. I stopped hiding my imperfections and for once just let them breathe and heal. I stopped trying to fight my skin, and instead I began to work with it.

I took an old fruit basket and turned it into a vanity shelf to hold my collection. I learned about Blue Tansy, which has become a staple in my skincare routine. I learned that I did not ease myself into retinol and that was why I had adverse reactions to it for years, causing redness on my cheeks and dry patches on my lips. I also learned about the importance of a toner to re-balance my skin after washing it (I also learned about the importance of exfoliation in my cleansing routine and threw out every single St. Ives Apricot Scrub I owned). My little sister watched me begin my skincare journey and gifted me a Clarisonic, and my exfoliation game changed dramatically since. I also learned about the importance of masking, and how a mask can deliver so many amazing ingredients while making you feel like a pampered princess. I began incorporating more exfoliating products, as my hormone imbalance was causing my skin to turnover slower, which allowed the dead cells to clog my pores faster and more often. I learned to exfoliate, but not too much. I also began using vitamin C and other hyperpigemtation-tackling ingredients, and I became a stickler for SPF products. I refused to leave the house with sunscreen on, and I made it a staple in my routine every morning. My biggest take-away is the use of vitamins as part of my skincare routine. I take Hair, Skin, and Nails vitamins to help my skin turn over faster, my hair to stop fall, and my nails to stop bleeding. It was the smallest addition in my life, but the one that led to my obsession with my skin. Is my skin smooth and flawless? Hell no… But am I happier than where I was before? You bet I am.

It’s been a year and a half since I took that plunge, and the biggest thing I wish I had when I took that dive was someone like me on my laptop screen. Most Indian girls rely on their mothers or grandmothers for skincare advice, but little do others know that our own elders are turning to us for help. Typical Indian women in this generation are first-generation college students, and our elders ask us to apply our education in everyday necessities, including beauty routines. My family migrated to the United States from the Fiji Islands, and in Fiji, sunscreen was unheard of and Fair N Lovely (a skin lightening cream) was used as a daily moisturizer. My grandmother migrated with a plethora of knowledge in homeworking, gardening, sewing, and many folktales that I heard every night as a child. Yet, she asks me about her skincare routine, what makeup to buy, and what outfits to wear. The very things I relied on her for, she was asking me to help her with, leaving both of us confused and unsure of our routines.

After much thinking and debating, I finally created a skincare Instagram page to share what I have learned and experienced, and give other Indian girls another source of credible advice. I still freak out over break outs along my cheeks and the darkness around my eyes, and I use my page to bring these quiet fears to light. I don’t hide my flaws, and instead try to draw attention to how I am addressing them within my routines. I review products and talk about what works for my skin, including skincare routines that I found work well with any skin issues that are bugging me the most on a day-to-day basis. I try to make my reviews thorough and encourage my followers to ask questions, in hopes that anyone who has been in my shoes will see my page and find peace in my words.

My skincare routine is constantly changing, and I learn more about products, ingredients, and my skin’s reactions all the time. I make sure that I know how to read my skin’s needs, nourish it, and find a balance between my hormone treatment and my body’s wellness. I am my own representation in my everyday commitments, the skincare community, and the woman I see in the mirror. I take care of my skin for my self-care, my well-being, and my happiness. I do this for me.

Be sure to follow Ashley on Instagram HERE!

Side note from Ashley: my grandmother now scrolls through my Instagram feed and admires the products I post. I am happy to become a source of knowledge for her, as a way to thanking her for always being a source of traditional knowledge, cultural folklore, and motherly love. My mother experiments with old Indian skincare recipes with me, and we have perfected a few of them to fit our skin’s needs much better.

Note from Matt Woodcox @Dirtyboysgetclean: It was very important to me to publish this story by Ashley. I find it so inspiring to hear stories from my fellow bloggers. There are so many beautiful and important stories out there and if I can share using my platform then I am glad to do so.

Retinol Based Products; My Favorites + Retinol Q&A With THE Dr. Loretta.


Like many others I too have a sensitivity to most retinol based products I have tried. I get that dreaded flaky redness that sadly comes with most retinol based products on the market. I have tried MANY and each time I try one I am super cautious. My expectations are usually very low with trying out new retinol based products. However, in my many years of trying so many products out I have actually found a few that I really like. Interestingly enough most of them are newer products (two of which being VERY new).

When it comes to retinol based products I usually know immediately if it will work well for me or not. My skin is very good at being quickly-reactive (blessing and curse). These products I will mention give me absolutely zero negative reactions and that is why I adore them and want to recommend them to anyone who is wanting to try to incorporate some retinol into their routines.

Etoile With Retinol Treatment Oil by Jordan Samuel Skin ($43)“étOILe with retinol combines pure retinol with cranberry seed, argan and marula oils to make this an all-around star in your skincare ritual! Use this after Hydrate Serum, mixed in with a cream or layered to get the right amount of treatment for your skin. Glow in the radiance of you!” JordanSamuelSkin.Com

So I really love this product. I adore that it is an oil based product because my dry skin loves oils. I feel like this is probably the best intro to retinol for newbies. It is so nourishing but gives you just enough retintol for your skin. This product is brilliant, like most of Jordan’s products.

A-Passioni Retinol Cream by Drunk Elephant ($74)  A clean, cutting edge formula with one percent vegan retinol and superfood-rich ingredients to diminish the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.”

I was so excited about this product when I first heard about it. Drunk Elephant kindly sent me the product to try out ahead of its release. I am never shocked when I fall in love with a Drunk Elephant product but I was skeptical about this one because it is retinol based. I adore the gentle but effective formula. I think Drunk Elephant has done a great job at making a solid retinol based product for every skin type.

MARA Algae Retinol Face Oil by MARA ($120) “Get radiantly clear skin with our luxurious nighttime Algae Retinol Face Oil that soaks your skin with powerful algae extracts, 1.2% retinol and natural sources of vitamin A to supercharge cellular turnover to reveal healthy-looking new cells and soften the signs of aging.”

Also a brand new product that I have been loving. Again, oil based so my heart is happy! This is such a gorgeous oil that is truly so nourishing to the skin. It has green tea and hemp-derived cannabis so its great for those with sensitive skin. This product is definitely a treat for the skin and I am excited to continue to use it since my skin seems to adore it.

Concentrated Firming Moisturizer by Dr. Loretta ($70) “This antioxidant-rich firming cream reduces the appearance of wrinkles, pores and rough texture. Non-irritating retinoic ester and CoQ10 support collagen and restore youthful texture and luminosity. Antioxidant Lipochroman® protects against free radical damage caused by pollution and UV radiation – the leading causes of fine lines and age spots.”

I am a massive fan of Dr. Loretta’s skincare; truly some of the best products on the market today in my opinion. This moisturizer is so stunning. It is so lightweight and my skin totally drinks it up. I love that it’s got antioxidants, coQ10, AND retinoic ester. My dry skin also appreciates that it has nourishing ingredients like shea butter.

So those are my personal recommendations for retinol based products that my skin doesn’t hate. Now, I was beyond excited to be able to ask some questions to the one and only Dr. Loretta, who is a renowned dermatologist with over 40 years of experience (and co-founder of one of my favorite skincare lines; Dr. Loretta). She is such an inspiration and full of knowledge so I wanted to get her expertise opinion on some retinol based questions:

Q: What is retinol and who is it for?

A: Retinol is a form of topical Vitamin A that’s very beneficial for acne, oily skin and for skin rejuvenation also. 

Q: Why do you think so many people afraid of using retinol based products?

A: Retinol can be irritating, causing redness and dryness since retinol naturally depletes skin’s moisture barrier (lipids). Our Dr. Loretta Concentrated Firming Serum, with .5% Retinol, is formulated with a high level of bioidentical lipids to replenish your moisture barrier and minimize any redness, dryness or irritation from the retinol, making it highly effective for acneic and photo damaged skin.

Q: How often should we be using retinol based products per week on average?

A: Always start a retinol product at night only as it can be sun-sensitizing. If you’re sensitive skinned use it Monday, Wednesday and Friday for first one to two weeks. If no redness or dryness develops you can increase it to 5 to 7 nights a week. 

Q: What are some things we should avoid when looking for a retinol based product?

A: I recommend avoiding known potentially irritating ingredients like artificial color (some retinol contain yellow dye), fragrance, ethyl alcohol, hydroquinone and parabens. 

Q: Is it common to get red and irritated skin when using retinol based products?

A: Possible redness and irritation is more common with medical grade/doctor lines as these are generally more concentrated. Drugstore mass marketed retinols tend to have low concentrations of retinol so you don’t get irritation but typically you will not experience as many benefits as the more concentrated retinol products (0.25-0.5% is ideal for visible improvement). 

Q: How would you recommend someone use a retinol based product in their own skincare routine?

A: Always apply skincare in front of a well lit mirror. After cleansing apply the retinol product sparingly. Never apply retinol to skin that is red, peeling, or feels irritated. Avoid application in nose to mouth creases or on lips or eyelids. 

About Dr. Loretta Ciraldo:

Dr. Loretta Ciraldo is a nationally renowned dermatologist with over 40 years of experience. She is an avid clinical researcher, published author, on-camera expert and successful entrepreneur who has formulated and developed medical-grade skincare products for over 20 years for private practice to help people age confidently and gracefully.

Currently residing in Miami Beach she maintains a private practice in Cosmetic and General Dermatology, and she has served as the Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, President of Miami Society for Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, and President of the Dade County Medical Association. Her practice is set apart by the humanity she brings to her clinical approach and the passion she has for helping women to look and feel their best.

Dr. Loretta’s research experience started in 1975 in the Dermatology Department of Harvard Medical School, where she performed early testing on the effects of UVA on human skin and contributed to the development of the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Classification. She received her MD from Downstate Medical College of State University of NY and completed her dermatology residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY, where she was selected as Chief Resident.

Together with Myriam Zaoui, Dr. Loretta co-founded the Dr. Loretta® line of anti-aging skincare products, formulated with high concentrations of medical-grade actives, botanicals and aromatherapy, ensuring skin remains unexposed to harmful external influences.

Dose Skin Anti Dose Anti-Pollution Booster Review.

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One of the most exciting things about being a beauty blogger is getting to try new and innovative products. Getting to test out products from brands I have not tried before is such a thrill for me. I have been testing out the ANTI DOSE Anti-Pollution Booster from Dose Skin for a few weeks now and wanted to share my experience, thoughts, and also a little info on the product itself.

A bit of info on the product itself before I get started in talking about my experience with using the product daily for a little over two weeks;

Anti Dose Anti-Pollution Booster by Dose Skin ($60 0.50 oz) “Anti Dose creates an invisible, ultra-light “second skin” that stops Air Aging in its tracks. Its gel like texture is specifically formulated to protect sensitive skin from both the irritating and aging effects of air pollution. “



Plants & microorganisms with the ability to survive and thrive in extreme environments (temperature, pressure, humidity). Unique source of substances such as Ectoin help preserve and strengthen skin.


Botanical substances & compounds with rare protective effects. Adaptogenic extracts help delay the aging effects of oxidative stress.


We’ve packed our formula with potent antioxidants specifically chosen for their ability to help diminish visible signs of aging caused by pollution and other environmental stressors.


Our core anti-pollution ingredients are skincare innovations that stop nasty particles in their tracks. Chia seed extract and Biosaccharide Gum-4 form a protective barrier that is both light and strong to let you stay clear of air aging pollutants.


Full Ingredients List: Aqua, Glycerin, Centella Asiatica Extract, Betula Alba Bark Extract, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Ectoin, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Maltodextrin, Coenochloris Signiensis Extract, Rhodiola Rosea (Arctic Root) Extract, Eleutherococcus Senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) Root Extract, Rhaponticum Carthamoides (Maral Root) Extract, Inonotus Obliquus (Mushroom) Extract, Selaginella Lepidophylla Extract, Salvia Hispanica Seed Extract, Superoxide Dismutase, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Biosaccharide gum-4, 1,2-hexanediol, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Pentylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol

Directions:  Pump 2-3 drops of Anti Dose booster gel and apply to all areas of face and neck. It can also be layered with other products, or mixed into your favourite day cream or serum. Finish off with a sunscreen.


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My Experience: I was so excited to start incorporating ANTI DOSE into my routine as I think that products that combat pollution are essential to a morning routine. Especially if you live in larger cities you want to be sure that you are using a product during the daytime that incorporates antioxidants and some sort of barrier from environmental threats that we encounter daily.

The first thing I noticed upon my first use was the texture. It is such a delicate fuss-free gel-like texture that sinks into the skin beautifully.  I love that the product is ultra-light because you can literally apply it to clean skin and then continue on with your routine as you normally would. It has never interfered or competed with any product I have chosen to use in the same routine as ANTI DOSE. Upon initial use I also appreciated that it was fragrance-free and seemed to have a calming effect on my skin. I do tend to be easily prone to redness and sensitivity and never experienced either while using ANTI DOSE.

I chose to use ANTI DOSE as my first step after cleansing and toning. I applied it directly to my skin once my toner/mist had time to absorb. I would take 2-3 pumps of ANTI DOSE and gently massage it into my skin in an upwards motion. I applied excess product to my neck and ears. I would then go in with a hyaulronic acid based serum, moisturizer, and then my SPF. You can mix ANTI DOSE with another serum or moisturizer if you like. I preferred it directly on my clean skin as the first step because I just personally feel like it is best to apply serums directly to the skin rather than mixing. I like to think they are more potent that way– but that’s just a personal preference if you want so save some time.

One thing that I noticed almost immediately is that my skin seemed to be more calm and had less redness during the day. I am sure that it has something to do with the fact that ANTI DOSE acts as a “second skin” and protects from irritating air pollutants. One of the “perks” of having reactive/sensitive skin is that your skin usually lets you know very quickly if a product is not for you.

Overall I have to say that using ANTI DOSE for a couple of weeks has been a truly positive experience for my skin. I am fortunate enough to be able to try many brands and products as a beauty blogger/writer and I think that Dose Skin has formulated a truly great product that I personally feel would work with pretty much every skin type/concern.

I also really appreciate the packaging because it is super sleek and the aluminium canister that the product is housed in. It is extremely durable and safe for traveling. Also, once you empty your serum all you have to do is purchase the refill (which is $48). The cartridge fits right into the aluminum canister you get with your initial purchase. You can also sign up for the brands newsletter on the site and get $25 off your first purchase. I truly adore brands who are thoughtful and help us save money.

One of the most important things to understand about an anti-pollution product is that it is absolutely doing something even if you cannot see any effects immediately. Think of this serum as a guardian angel for your skin during the daytime. It is going to be working hard for you whether you can tell or not. With all the pollution in the air, especially in larger cities– it is very important to find a product that will combat those nasties.

You can shop ANTI DOSE here and be sure to follow Dose Skincare on Instagram HERE! 

Note: This is a sponsored post. Dose Skincare asked me to post my 100% honest review of their product.

I Did My Mom’s Skincare & “Makeup” (No Foundation, No Concealer with Before & After Photos).

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So let me just start by saying I am not a professional MUA or anything. I myself don’t wear foundation but I adore skin enhancers. I love when people wear a fresh-faced looked. I have nothing against foundations at all, I just prefer a more natural look. I think that just enhancing the skin is such a gorgeous and liberated thing to do. Now, I understand that there are times when you just need a full-coverage foundation. But, I really just love seeing peoples skin vs looking at a thick layer of foundation.

Now, my mom is one of my best friends and anytime I get the chance to use skincare and makeup products on her, we both enjoy it! She was feeling very down about her skin lately so I offered to help her out before we went to go to lunch recently. I wanted to give her a youthful and dewy look. She typically wears foundation when she does her makeup so I think she was definitely a little apprehensive when I told her I wasn’t using foundation or concealer on her.

So, before we get into what I used on her skin… Let’s take a look at the ‘Before’ shot (FYI my mom gave full consent to post these photos of her… she actually encouraged me to do this post).


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As you can see my mom has issues with discoloration, pores, and fine lines (She will be 53 soon). So I really wanted to focus on evening out the skin tone, bringing a glow, and making her skin look more youthful. I personally think that heavy makeup can age anyone no matter their age or sex.

Let’s take a look at some of the products I used to achieve the youthful glow look I gave her:

Brands used: Charlotte Tilbury, Lancome, Tatcha, Glossier, and Fresh.

So first off we used the Rose Sugar Scrub by Lancome ($25) to prep the skin. What I love about this product is that it is gentle but effective at quickly getting rid of the top layer of dry skin on your face. My mom really liked using this.

Next up I used Charlotte’s Magic Cream ($100) & Magic Eye Rescue Cream ($60) by Charlotte Tilbury on my moms skin. These are two of my absolute favorite products. They really give life to the complexion and prep the skin so well for enhancers/makeup.

I applied a bit of Wonderglow Face Primer ($55) by Charlotte Tilbury to the skin. This product just gives the skin a bit of a glow– it is really pretty!

I did use a tiny bit of Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint ($26) in the lightest shade to combat discoloration. I know there is dispute on whether or not this product has any coverage or not. But, immediately after applying this the discoloration on my moms skin was balanced.

For the next step I used Argan Daily Moisturizer Tinted SPF 47 Protect+ Perfect ($36) by Josie Maran. This is obviously one of my favorite products and I actually bought a bottle of this for my mom recently when Josie had a BOGO sale. What I love about it is that it really does even out the skin tone while providing you with SPF coverage. There is a tint that just really gets rid of redness and discoloration while still looking like your skin. This is great for normal/dry skin. I don’t recommend it for oily skin.

Once the SPF was applied and had time to skin in I applied Hollywood Flawless Filter in Shade 02 ($44) by Charlotte Tilbury. This is clearly one of my favorite products and my mom really liked it as well. It literally gives such a gorgeous glow to the skin. We applied this all over but really focused on the eye area. This is where I like to use it most. I also used it on her eyelids.

I applied a bit of The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment in the lightest shade ($48) by Tatcha to give a little extra brightness to my moms eye area. This is such a beautiful product, I love how it instantly brightens your under eye area up.

For eye makeup I used Lash Slick ($16) and Lidstar in ‘Slip’ ($18) . My mom loves Lash Slick , she is faithful to her old school Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes Mascara, though.

The last step I did was a little color to the lips and cheeks using Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15 in shade ‘Candy’ ($24) by Fresh. This si such a pretty pink color to bring some color to the skin. I applied it to the lips and cheeks because to give her a little bit of a pink flush.

My mom LOVED her look and said how she loved how it looked like healthy skin and not makeup. I told her that a dewy, fresh-faced look really gives a much more youthful look vs heavy makeup. I think she will let me do her skincare/makeup more often in the future. Like I said, I am not a professional at all. I just used my knowledge of what I’ve learned and what I know works for my skin to achieve a natural looking glow.


SkInsecurities VOL. 8 @samantha.parsons


I do not pretend to have perfect skin and often feel uncomfortable when I look at myself bare faced in the mirror. I have always had very dry and sensitive skin. If I do not moisturize at night I will wake up with flakes and if I pop a blemish (I know it is a skincare don’t, but I have a problem) I will scar. The skin on my face has always been so pale and thin that you can see my veins and just touching my face makes me bright red.

Acne did not become a thing for me until about three years ago when I noticed these clusters around my mouth, chin, and forehead. They had no color and if I was able to extract anything it would come right back. I found out it was Perioral Dermatitis around this time last year and felt so much relief in finally knowing why my skin was the way it was. Hormonal Acne has recently occurred and I am trying my hardest to treat it.

I have found that a double cleanse with nonabrasive products really keeps the PD and Hormonal acne at bay. The Marie Veronique Replenishing is my first cleanse that really removes impurities from the skin while hydrating it. My second cleanse varies and I have not really found one yet that does everything I want it to do, but tht means I get to try amazing products!

I love a good serum and the Odacite ones are always on rotation. They have so many to choose from to help with different skin concerns like acne, elasticity loss etc. I really want to try the May Lindstrom or Renee Rouleau! Facemasks are one of those things I reserve for special occasions, I think if you find one you like then you should use it when you really need to relax. Overall though, it is about consistency and learning to be comfortable in your skin. I have my bad days just like everyone else but am trying to be more kind to myself.

Be sure to follow Samantha on Instagram HERE! 

Note from Matt: My idea behind this series was to show readers that bloggers have (or had) real issues with their skin just like everyone else. If just one reader out there can find someone to relate to and get some helpful advice from then I feel like the mission has been accomplished. Remember that nobody is perfect and we all have struggles with our skin. The illusion of perfect skin on social media and in magazines is not always a reality. Remember that. And remember: YOU are beautiful and your personal skin struggle is important, but it does not define you.

SkInsecurities VOL. 7 @devsday

Devan 100% makeup-free.

I grew up with cystic acne, so I have had a lot of (sk)insecurities, which started around middle school. I have combo, acne-prone skin with large pores— I am also prone to congestion. But more recently, I’ve been getting prominent lines on my forehead (here’s to turning 30!). That’s right, I’m in my early 30’s. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s, when I discovered the beauty community on Instagram and YouTube, and met my now husband, that I became dedicated to really figuring out my skin. I wasn’t having a lot of success with my dermatologist and realized that I could (somewhat) take my skin into my own hands.

All through college, and even a few years after, my derm put me on countless topical medications, that dried the crap out of my skin, and countless oral antibiotics, where my acne would return as soon as I stopped taking them. No one had told me how important cleansing was, how important moisturizing was. I was doing one gentle cleanser, not removing all of my heavy makeup, and not using any type of moisturizer. A light went off when I went to Sephora and asked why my foundation was disappearing midday— the Sephora employee told me that my skin was so dehydrated it was sucking all the water out of my foundation. A light-bulb clicked for me— all of the makeup I was using to cover my skin, would look a hell of a lot better if I actually had a skincare routine that fixed the origin of my issue: wearing makeup to cover up my problem skin.

I went into a YouTube/Instagram rabbit hole and learned everything I could about skin. K-beauty was what really caught my eye, and it was all about hydration (which I knew I needed). I then read up about Biologique Recherche P50, an acid toner, that was all the rage with celebs. So, I ordered a few things. Through hydrating layers, retinol, and an acid toner, I really got things under control. This was all in combo with finding a new dermatologist, who put me on Spironolactone— a life changing drug that has changed my skin and my life by preventing those hormonal cysts. I was at the point where things were finally calm, and I wanted to get rid of the pesky pigmentation left behind by acne. I learned that in combo with acids, and retinol, I could add vitamin c to help fade these marks. I picked up Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma and six months later, my skin was in the best shape it’s ever been. For the first time I felt like I could go outside my apartment without makeup and feel confident. My goal was to feel fantastic at my wedding, and I did. My recommendation is to learn your skin and trust your gut— knowledge is power. I was able to learn a lot about my own skin through trial and error, but also knew my current dermatologist wasn’t helping me and found someone who clicked and understood my struggle. There is no shame in asking for help. In addition, this whole process took almost two years of consistent work. Be patient, and consistent and the results will follow, and ask for help! Reading blogger’s struggles helped me through some of the dark and frustrating times. We are here for you and to help you.

Be sure to follow Devan on Instagram HERE! 

Note from Matt: My idea behind this series was to show readers that bloggers have (or had) real issues with their skin just like everyone else. If just one reader out there can find someone to relate to and get some helpful advice from then I feel like the mission has been accomplished. Remember that nobody is perfect and we all have struggles with our skin. The illusion of perfect skin on social media and in magazines is not always a reality. Remember that. And remember: YOU are beautiful and your personal skin struggle is important, but it does not define you.

SkInsecurities Vol. 6 @hellojewlie


For me, my biggest skin insecurity is simply that I’m getting older! I’m really lucky in that my skin isn’t prone to breakouts or blackheads and the texture stays pretty smooth, but ever since I turned 27 (I’m currently 29) I started noticing fine lines and a few things were more…droopy. Haha! That was around the time I really kicked my skincare routine into high gear.

I would say I’m most insecure about my under eye area in general: dark circles, fine lines, puffiness…they’re just not what they used to be, and without any makeup, I look pretty tired. I feel like it’s the one part of my face that shows my true age. I wear eye cream day and night- I’m still trying to find my “dream” eye cream, but I like the Youth to the People Age Prevention Superfood Eye Cream and the Drunk Elephant C-Tango. If anyone has any miracle eye creams, slide in my DMs. If I want to look more awake and cover up some of my fine lines, I always reach for the Maybelline Age Instant Age Rewind concealer- I get it in the lightest shade so it brightens the area as well.

I also try to do Drunk Elephant Baby Facial once every week or so, and have been for about a year and a half. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the visibility of my fine lines, especially my 11s (another huge insecurity of mine) when I use Baby Facial regularly. I’m not trying to prevent the signs of aging, I’m just trying to age gracefully!

Be sure to follow Jewlie on Instagram HERE! 

Note from Matt: My idea behind this series was to show readers that bloggers have (or had) real issues with their skin just like everyone else. If just one reader out there can find someone to relate to and get some helpful advice from then I feel like the mission has been accomplished. Remember that nobody is perfect and we all have struggles with our skin. The illusion of perfect skin on social media and in magazines is not always a reality. Remember that. And remember: YOU are beautiful and your personal skin struggle is important, but it does not define you.

SkInsecurities Vol. 5 @Skinjolie

DBGC Blog Photo

Skin insecurities; oh gosh, where do I even begin? After years of never washing my face in my youth (I used to think swiping my face with one of those super drying makeup removing cleansing wipes was all I needed to do), my skin has A LOT of issues that I’m currently working to correct.

I have enlarged pores, oiliness, and hormonal acne that all plague my face every single day, which can make it really difficult to feel comfortable going out with a bare face. One thing I constantly have to remind myself is that I am my own harshest critic and that these tiny imperfections do not make me lesser than anyone else. While these concerns may only appear skin deep, they sure do wreak havoc on your self-esteem. It’s taken me a long time to accept that I will never have that glassy, doll like skin that others are blessed with due to my acne being hormonal.

However, I feel like I’ve come a long way since high school by implementing a structured skincare routine that I actually stick to. Not only has my skincare journey taught me so much about products and what works with my own skin type, its also made me feel beautiful in my own skin.

Now, I am so much more comfortable leaving my house without feeling like I need to add several coats of full coverage foundation to my face, and I also have to give the Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Cream an extra shout out for that. Not only does it have SPF, but it also smooths my pores and color corrects all of my redness from breakouts and acne scars, giving me a radiant and even complexion without any cakiness. It definitely gives me that “my skin but better” look.

Be sure to follow Kristen on Instagram HERE! 

Note from Matt: My idea behind this series was to show readers that bloggers have (or had) real issues with their skin just like everyone else. If just one reader out there can find someone to relate to and get some helpful advice from then I feel like the mission has been accomplished. Remember that nobody is perfect and we all have struggles with our skin. The illusion of perfect skin on social media and in magazines is not always a reality. Remember that. And remember: YOU are beautiful and your personal skin struggle is important, but it does not define you.

SkInsecurities Vol. 4 feat. @seangarrette


Growing up, I never had any real issues or insecurities with my skin. I was always complimented on how clear and smooth my skin was. It wasn’t until I turned 21 that my skin started to have issues. At that time I went through a huge lifestyle change. I lost about 150 pounds, my diet changed significantly and I was exercising a lot more. Along with those lifestyle changes my skin changed as well — for the worst.

My skin went through some sort of purging, and I was having breakouts like crazy. Mostly on my forehead and really painful papules on my cheeks. This experience led to my obsession with skincare. I was incessant on finding a solution to curing my acne. After many fails, I discovered La Roche-Posay’s 3-step acne kit. The star product was the Effaclar Duo. It contains micronized benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. After about three/four months my acne had cleared up significantly. The acne had cleared but what the acne left behind was hyper-pigmentation and acne scarring. I then discovered chemical exfoliation and acid toners. These dramatically changed the look and feel of my skin. There are a few that I love including: Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid, First Aid Beauty & Nip + Fab exfoliating pads, The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid solution and, plenty more (I’ve tried a lot lol).

My journey of treating my own skin has led me to become a Licensed Esthetician. Now, I can help others with their skin issues and insecurities. I still deal with some hyper-pigmentation but, the key to maintaining my skin is having a consistent skincare routine. Cleansing is one of the most important steps. I love the Youth To The People’s Age Prevention cleanser. It breaks down the dirt and oil that collected throughout the day. Thayers Rose & Witch Hazel toner is one of my favorite non acid toners. Serums are another important part of my skincare. I can’t live without some type of hyaluronic acid in my life. And lastly, sunscreen and vitamin C. sun protection and antioxidants help protects your skin from harmful and cancer causing sun rays and, prevents pre maturing aging, hyper pigmentation and the loss of elasticity and collagen.


Be sure to follow Sean on Instagram HERE & you can email him at for a skin consult. 

Note from Matt: My idea behind this series was to show readers that bloggers have (or had) real issues with their skin just like everyone else. If just one reader out there can find someone to relate to and get some helpful advice from then I feel like the mission has been accomplished. Remember that nobody is perfect and we all have struggles with our skin. The illusion of perfect skin on social media and in magazines is not always a reality. Remember that. And remember: YOU are beautiful and your personal skin struggle is important, but it does not define you.

SkInsecurities Vol. 3

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My biggest (sk)insecurity has to be the acne scars on my nose. It’s there, it’s flesh toned now since I had cystic acne there from middle school till college. I was so ashamed of myself that I begged my parents to not let me to go school (Asian parents are really tough about education). While I had them, it was red, pulsing, and usually had several whiteheads on top of them. Not only was it smack in the middle of my face, I also didn’t grow into my nose yet (my first was in middle school) so I was insecure about my big nose and I have a giant pimple to emphasize it. Just the cherry on top, right? 

Fast forward a couple of years, I’ve accumulated quite a couple of these cysts but always on my nose. Back then, (this was about 8-10 years back), no one talked about skincare and YouTube was still in its early ages. I thought my only resort was to go to the dermatologist to get painful cortisone shots in my nose. It still left a scar but at least it was gone, right? My nose was a bumpy terrain and my self-esteem was non-existent. It was hard, especially since I was in such a vulnerable time of my life. Around my junior or senior year in college, I watched a lot of YouTube videos and came across Claire Marshall’s channel (Hey Claire). She struggled with acne as well and mentioned the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. By then, I’ve tried about every acne product in the drugstore so I thought, why not? 

It changed my life. My cysts were quickly coming to a head and coming down. I was still getting these fleshy scars but smaller ones because I was catching them before they grew. It’s been a couple years now and I still get them occasionally. I still have the scars from middle school, now small hills rather than dunes. What really helped me with this was changing my diet. The core of it all was dairy. I’ve noticed when I consumed more, I was getting more spots. More insecure. While I was consuming less (mainly ice cream during the summer), I was getting smaller and less cysts, and minor whiteheads. Now as I’ve learned more about skincare, I’ve discovered what my skin needs rather than what television and advertising is telling me it needs. 

My main points if you’re suffering from cystic acne are:
– Find out the cause of it. Is it diet? Hormones? Can you help it, if not, what steps can you take?
– Acne is temporary. It’s hard to step back when we’re so focused on that one spot on our face.
– Hydrate your skin! No matter what skin type you have, make sure it’s hydrated and strong to prevent infection.
– Lastly, if you ever need any advice, chat with a skincare blogger/influencer. Chances are, we suffered from skin problems too and we’re more than happy to help you be your best self.

Be sure to follow Sally on Instagram HERE! 

Note from Matt: My idea behind this series was to show readers that bloggers have (or had) real issues with their skin just like everyone else. If just one reader out there can find someone to relate to and get some helpful advice from then I feel like the mission has been accomplished. Remember that nobody is perfect and we all have struggles with our skin. The illusion of perfect skin on social media and in magazines is not always a reality. Remember that. And remember: YOU are beautiful and your personal skin struggle is important, but it does not define you.