There's an infinity of duos more iconic than acne and sensitive skin. The combination of a temperamental complexion and chronic breakouts (whether you're dealing with whiteheads, cysts, or blackheads) makes finding a product that treats blemishes without irritating your skin feel hopeless. You quickly keep tabs on what active ingredients you need to avoid, along with what products to completely keep out of your medicine cabinet.
Until my late 20s, I was one of those annoying people with clear skin whose skincare routine consisted only of cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. That changed when I started suffering from hormonal breakouts on my jawline that were immune to every acne-fighting product I tried.
On top of my acne struggles, my skin is also sensitive, which led to me irritating the hell out of it from testing any and every form of topical treatment before being prescribed spironolactone (a blood pressure medication that's used off-label to for hormonal acne) by my dermatologist.
One product I've never messed with is exfoliator. Sure, clearing your skin of dead cells can help tone down breakouts, but my sensitive complexions starts to sting just thinking about a rough, physical exfoliator rubbing against my face like a cheese grater.
Today, Glossier has just changed the game for exfoliating-phobics everywhere. The cult-favorite Internet beauty brand millennials are obsessed with for its minimalist, everyday skincare, and makeup products wrapped up in highly 'grammable packaging has launched Solution ($24 USD; glossier.com), an exfoliating skin perfector that targets acne and redness.
Solution is a liquid formula that's powered by chemical exfoliators, rather than rough physical ones. Lactic and glycolic acids are two AHAs that reduce acne, dark spots, and brighten skin to improve tone and texture. Salicylic acid is a BHA that minimizes and prevents blemishes by unclogging pores by breaking oil bonds that make dead cells latch onto skin. A fourth PHA acid, gluconolactone, exfoliates while conditioning and moisturizing. A soothing blend of aloe, glycerin, and niacinamide round out the ingredients to keep skin calm.
My hormonal acne has cleared up thanks to spironolactone but the dark spots that are left behind serve as a reminder. I also still get the odd whitehead after weeks of extreme stress or from my greasy bangs constantly grazing my forehead. Although I've always had a strict no-exfoliating policy in my skincare routine, when Glossier reached out to me in December to see if I would be interested in testing Solution, its unique formula convinced me to give the product another shot.
Since my skin is sensitive, I've integrated Solution into my nighttime skincare routine every other day. After cleansing and before applying my anti-aging serum and moisturizer, I press a cotton pad (packs of which Glossier has also conveniently launched today) on top of the bottle's dispenser and run the soaked pad across my entire face.
After using Solution for the first time, my T-zone almost immediately felt—and looked—less oily. With continued use, the mid-day shine that usually causes my concealer to oxidize has been almost non-existent. There's also been a drop in the number of random whiteheads I get on my forehead and around my mouth. But, personally, I've seen the greatest improvement in the dark spots on the lower part of my face from my past hormonal breakouts. After about a month of using Solution, they're lighter and I don't need full-coverage concealer to cover them up anymore. In fact, I don't feel the need to dab some concealer over them before quick runs to the bodega anymore.
What's also missing? Any tightness or irritation like I've experienced when I've tried other exfoliators. My skin surprisingly hasn't gotten dry, flaky, or red since introducing Solution to my skincare routine.
Exfoliating is now checked off on my list of fears to conquer.
This article previously appeared on InStyle US.