Zero Waste Skincare for Acne Prone Skin

Oh, acne acne acne. For oh so many of us, this is a challenge we encounter at some point in our life. Whether it's the occasional breakout or more severe cystic acne, our first instinct is - what are we gonna do about it? 

Personally, I have struggled with acne since middle school and now into my twenties— so fun! And though I still struggle with acne to this day, I have spent my fair share of time curating a skincare routine that keeps my acne most at bay. When it comes to building a routine, the best place to start is with a dermatologist or other skincare professional, who can give you professional recommendations and tailored care for your skin. But, if you’re looking for some simple zero-waste acne skincare aids, this blog is the place to be!


I always start my routine with a cleanse. Especially since the beginning of Covid and mask-wearing, this step has become more pivotal than ever. Working for hours a day with a mask on can be a huuuge breeder of bacteria on your skin, not to mention the moisture and sweat that can build up under that mask! Cleaning this away ASAP is a must. If I get the chance, I'll wash my face once while I'm at work, rinsing with cold water so my pores are closed when I put my mask back on. I also just always feel way better after doing this - a small moment of self care at work. 

Even if I didn't get to rinse my face during the workday, I always wash my face as soon as I get home so I'm not sitting with those germs on my skin any longer than I have to. My favorite face wash for acne is the Fresh Face clarifying clay cleansing bar. This wonder bar is made with french green clay and tea tree oil, which gently cleans pores while also thoroughly removing dirt, oil, and bacteria. I really enjoy this product as it doesn't leave my skin starkly dry after washing, as many drugstore acne washes tend to do. Occasionally, I'll additionally clean my skin with a spin brush, but I try to limit this as it can be pretty harsh to the skin. 

Tone and Moisturize

Once my cleansing is complete, my next steps will change depending on if it's the morning or evening. 


After my morning cleanse, I like to spritz on some Rosewater Facial Toner to help minimize the feeling of oiliness on my skin throughout the day, while at the same time helping to balance my skin's pH and minimize pores. Toners are a great tool to prepare your skin for moisturizers and serums, which leads me to my next step— moisture!

To keep my skin hydrated throughout the day, I love love love to use Argan oil, using 4-6 drops all over my face. Argan oil is noncomedogenic (aka it will NOT clog pores) and is a great regulator of sebum production (helping prevent breakouts). It also contains Vitamin E, which aids in the smoothing of skin texture and healing of acne scars. If you decide to pick up any product from this blog, know that this is the one: my holy grail product and a crowd favorite among all the Eco Collective girls. 

If my skin is still feeling dry after applying the Argan oil, I will typically go in under my nose and around my eyes with some Shea Butter Lotion just to allow my driest areas a little extra moisture TLC. 

My last, and arguably most important product - not only for the morning but for YOUR ENTIRE LIFE - is to put on that sunscreen!! I love the Raw Elements tinted moisturizer sunscreen that I’ll lightly apply and mix in with my face oils. This product has SPF 30, is reef safe, and contains active antioxidants that aid the skin even after it has worn off. It’s also water-resistant so great for workouts and beach days. 


In the evenings, I will typically skip the toner and go straight in with my evening oils. I begin with putting rosehip seed oil on areas of my face with acne scars, which for me is my cheeks. Rosehip seed oil contains vitamin A (a natural retinol) as well as Vitamin C, which increases cell turnover and helps reverse hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and scars. It's a wonder ingredient that you can use either undiluted or in an oil blend. When using this oil, you'll want to be especially careful to apply sunscreen, as it can make your skin more sun-sensitive. After the rosehip oil, I'll go back in with a light layer of Argan Oil all over my face. 

From there, I can’t forget my eye cream: I love the Rooibos Eye Cream we have here at Eco. The Rooibos cream helps to balance and soothe under eye skin while retaining moisture. I like to pretend it helps my dark circles go away too ;)

Finally, I let my oils and creams soak into my skin for about 30 minutes to an hour before I apply adapalene gel to my skin. This is my dermatologist-recommended acne care product that I have been using for years with decent results. I've never been able to find a zero waste alternative for this product, but I opt for terracycling my empty tubes and am always on the lookout for alternatives. 

My other miscellaneous tips for skin aids:

  • Change your pillowcase at least every 3 days, especially if you spend time in your bed outside of sleeping and are bringing in germs to the area.
  • Change washcloths every few days, for the same reason as above.
  • I love taking Pure Beauty Vitamins that are a great source of biotin, folic acid, zinc, fo-ti extract, and vitamin b12, that help aid in naturally glowing skin and overall health.
  • I switch out my masks 1-3 times per day, depending on how long I wear them for.
  • Drink copious amounts of water— trust me you will see a difference on the days you really try to be hydrated.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep! I cannot tell you how much I have seen sleep and anxiety affect my skin throughout my life. The less sleep and more stress you endure could very likely be reflected in your acne.
  • Hormones - be kind to yourself about this. Period acne and hormonal acne are oh so real; I know my chin acne is out for blood every time that my cycle comes around. This is again where seeking out a dermatologist is important, as they can give advice and solutions that will give you a more personalized viewpoint for your own skin needs. 

I hope this helps! Wherever you're at in your skincare journey, I hope you take care of your skin and mental health, because they're all so closely tied together. Breakouts and acne can make that hard sometimes, but remember that you are more than your skin, today and always.