I don’t have good skin. Unlike many of my friends who complain of breakouts and point to smooth cheeks, I get straight-up impossible-to-cover 14-year-old-style zits. Though I am fast approaching my third decade, my pimples have become far worse than they were during the throes of adolescence. Being an adult with pimples is far from cute; you are no longer sitting around a friend’s living room watching TV and sneaking beers, but attending weddings and posing in photos that will be immortalized online.
As one after another basic drugstore remedy failed me, I encountered the Vermont-based skin-care line Ursa Major at, unsurprisingly, a natural beauty store. After being encouraged to try a number of $100-plus products, I was refreshed not only by Fantastic Face Wash’s mix of lime, lemon, and spearmint, but also by the price — a totally doable $28 for 8 fluid ounces. Free of sulfates, silicones, and parabens, it leaves my face feeling very clean but not tight, making the cleanser gentle enough to use in the morning and at night. While the aloe and rice seed soothe my skin, it’s the sugarcane that’s the real clincher. Sugarcane naturally contains alpha hydroxy acids, which not only fight blemishes but lighten dark spots and lessen scarring. In combination with my nightly use of retinol — a godsend — my skin is now finally under control. (It’s not just the retinol either, as other face washes I tried in combination with the Vitamin A cream didn’t clear my acne.) I no longer strategically turn my face in pictures or dread those pimples that would arise like clockwork before every formal event.
Even people who don’t have acne love the stuff. Every houseguest I have asks about the face wash after trying it; I then turn them on to Ursa Major’s Face Wipes, which I keep in my bag to use immediately following workouts. If you’re in a pinch and need to get clean, they’re the closest thing to washing your face with Ursa Major on the go.
More Strat-approved acne fighters
Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patches
Rio Viera-Newton calls these pimple patches her skin savers: “Cosrx Pimple Patches are the Holy Grail. Drop everything and buy them. Not even going to explain, will just say if you pop or pick a zit, put this on immediately afterward, go to bed, and in the morning you’ll see what I’m talking about and thank me.”
Writer Or Gotham found that the Murad serum cleared his acne spots in three days: “In the serum I tried, glycolic acid and hydroquinone supposedly work together to loosen dead skin cells and lighten discoloration. (Note that hydroquinone is currently being studied by the FDA for its potentially harmful side-effects.) The formula is concentrated. One pump of the potent jelly is typically adequate for each hemisphere of my face.”
Queen Helene Mint Facial Masque
Writer Gaby Dunn loves this clay mask she discovered as a pimply teenager: “By now, I’ve used this product on and off for about 15 years. Sure, it clears up a zit, but no expensive face mask has ever worked as well at refreshing my skin either. There’s a tightening sensation you feel as the clay mask dries that I swear tightens my face even after I’ve rinsed it off. I hesitate to even tell you about it, because Queen Helene could triple its price and I’d still buy it.”
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