How I Banish Blemishes

I didn't mean for this to be an all-natural ingredients post (though I am slowly trying to make a transition in that direction in regards to skincare and makeup), but when it comes to targeting blemishes, I have found nothing more efficient than two key ingredients: tea tree oil and witch hazel. That La-Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo + treatment everyone raves about? Yes, I've tried it, and it is now gathering dust on my shelves because this, ladies and gentlemen, is what I've found works magic on my acne-prone skin. 

Witch hazel water is a staple in my vanity. Composed of the bark and leaves of the witch hazel plant, witch hazel water works as an astringent, meaning it helps to reduce and tighten pores. I use it as a toner almost daily, right after removing my makeup and cleansing, or (and here I am letting you in on a little secret of mine) before and after getting my eyebrows threaded or waxed. Why? Because I routinely break out every time I do anything to my eyebrows. I have found, however, that dabbing a little cotton ball full of witch hazel all over them (and specifically the skin on top and below) reduces these breakouts by 90%. There are thousands of brands that sell witch hazel, but whatever you get make sure it does not contain alcohol as this can irritate and dry out your skin.

I use tea tree oil as a targeted treatment. Because tea tree has chemicals that kill bacteria, it's perfect for reducing inflammations due to blemishes and in preventing breakouts. In all of my 26 years of existence, I have never found anything to work as well as this on acne. Beware, however, tea tree oil is extremely potent and needs to be diluted with water. I like to take the cap of the bottle, add 2-3 drops of oil to it, and fill the rest with water. I then dab my q-tip in the mixture and apply to my spots. I find that doing this after applying witch hazel acts like a miracle worker, and I wake up with my skin looking a million times better than the night before.

When I sense a breakout coming, or when in the midst of a one, I will treat myself to Arcona's Tea Tree Mask, which actually lists witch hazel as a first ingredient. Speaking of ingredients, I love that I know exactly what each ingredient in this mask is and why it's included. This little gem is packed with skin-healing properties like grape seed extract (works like an AHA), bentonite (the best kind of healing clay you can find), sulfur (acts as a mild antiseptic), and of course tea tree leaf oil. Though a hefty $32, this mask leaves my skin feeling refreshed and, incredibly, extremely hydrated and soft. I was afraid the tea tree oil and clay would somewhat dry my skin out, but I found this could not be further from the truth. It's definitely a really nice treatment and I'd go so far to say that it actually makes a difference (remember my post where I questioned whether masks worked or not? I better revise it). Armed with these three products in my bathroom cupboard, I'm pretty confident I can take on the peskiest of breakouts. 

What products do you swear by? I'm always looking for other alternatives!