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Skincare: 21 Day Morning Routine Challenge

Hello, lovely readers!

Have you ever been stuck in a rut with your skin? It’s not getting better but it’s not getting worse? As a girl with acne-prone, sensitive skin, I know that pain very well. My hormonal acne never seems to give me a break, especially when it’s the day of an important event where pictures are to be expected (sigh). One thing that may be causing these annoying skin problems is my lack of a consistent morning routine. I get caught up in new skincare releases, ok? That’s why I’m challenging myself to stick with a morning routine for 21 days, which just happens to be the amount of time it takes to break a habit!

Copy of Copy of How to DIY Your Own Color Conditioner 24 Skincare: 21 Day Morning Routine Challenge

Ian Dooley / Unsplash

I start my journey today, September 18th, through October 8th, updating this post daily with my progress (or lack thereof) and one picture per week. Here are the steps in my new and improved morning routine (some links may be affiliates).


  1. Cleanse my face with Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser to give me a clean canvas (using a gentle scrubbing tool).
  2. Slap on some Vitamin C Serum by TruSkin (including under my eyes to brighten my dark circles) to get that glow.
  3. Smooth in a small amount of Cetaphil DailyAdvance Moisturizing Lotion all over my face to prepare for the harsh acne treatment. Click here to read my review.
  4. Take a pea-sized amount of the Acanya generic gel and smooth it into my face (a combination of 1.2% clindamycin and 5% benzoyl peroxide), alternating with Aczone every other day. Both are prescription acne treatments from a dermatologist.
  5. Smooth in one pump of Cetaphil DailyAdvanced Moisturizing Lotion all over my face and eyes to relieve the dryness.
  6. Gently smooth in two pumps of Elta MD UV Clear Sunscreen to get some much-needed sun protection.

Just a simple, 6-step skincare routine. Can’t be too hard, can it? We’ll see! Make sure to check back every day to see how my journey is going!

Day 1:

Ok, guys. Let’s get real. Since it’s the first day, my acne is pretty bad. Here’s hoping that there will be some progress in the next few days!

Day one of morning routine challenge photo with no makeup.

Day 2:

I woke up today to find multiple big, super-painful bumps on and below my jawline, which is disappointing. Let’s hope tomorrow will be a better day!

Day 3:

Most of the new blemishes are not as painful, but they are still very red. At least I can turn my head without internally screaming now (drama queen). Also, my skin is more even overall, so that’s encouraging!

Day 4:

The blemishes are definitely less painful and red today, but I found a few new ones around my chin. I wonder if one of the new products that I’m using is breaking me out? The prescription products I use work by bringing everything to the surface to clear pores, so maybe that’s what’s happening.

Day 5:

I’ll keep it simple: there’s been no visible progress since yesterday. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Day 6:

I can feel some new blemishes under my skin, but I’m hoping the new products I’m using will help clear them out before they get too big. Tomorrow’s the next picture, so here’s hoping it’ll be better!

Day 7:

Here’s a photo of my skin today:

Day seven of morning routine challenge photo with no makeup.

As you can see, there are a few new additions to my face (and yes, I dyed my hair pink!). Also, I’m wearing mascara and brow gel since I was out and about, but other than that, I’m completely makeup-free!

Day 8:

I see a few new cysts forming under my skin on both sides of my cheeks that are super painful. I’m starting to lose confidence in this routine.

Day 9:

Thankfully, today I see a bit of a difference in my skin, especially around my chin. Although there are definitely still some major players, some of the blemishes in that area are starting to come to ahead. They still don’t look great, but it’s definitely a start!

Day 10:

No new blemishes today, but the ones that I felt under my skin are starting to come out and are a bit less painful. Let’s hope tomorrow they will be reduced a bit!

Day 11:

I can definitely see a difference in the size of my blemishes. They’re finally shrinking! I have a few new ones on my jawline, but they’re near my neck, so they’re not very noticeable with my hair down.

Day 12:

No new spots today, and most of the blemishes are becoming less inflamed and painful. Happy to see some progress!

Day 13:

No new progress today, but also no new blemishes. Looking forward to seeing tomorrow’s results!

Day 14:

Here’s a photo of my skin today (please ignore the brows):

IMG 8146 e1569963647947 Skincare: 21 Day Morning Routine Challenge

As you can see, there are a few new spots, but not too many. Also, the one next to my chin has gone down significantly! I hope that this will be the start of some real progress.

Day 15:

The new spots are starting to get smaller, which is awesome! Let’s hope that this continues!

Day 16:

My skin is looking clearer and clearer! I’m so happy with the results so far!

Day 17:

My skin is looking better and better! Loving this new routine.

Day 18:

I’m putting on some major face makeup for an event tonight, so fingers crossed I won’t get any new blemishes!

Day 19:

I woke up today with several new, painful spots that are very inflamed. I’m not happy about how my skin reacted, but hopefully, the products I’m using will help clear them up quickly.

Day 20:

The spots are still very inflamed and painful, but some of them are starting to get a little better. Tomorrow’s the last day!

Day 21:

Picture of my skin on the last day of the morning routine challenge.

I can’t believe it’s the last day! It’s been difficult to stick with one routine, but I’m better for it. It’s a shame that my acne got worse right before the challenge ended, but I know that it was just the makeup from Saturday night. Overall, I think my skin looks better after finishing this challenge. It definitely looks even and brighter.

All in all, I think that I will continue to use this routine for a few months and see how my skin changes over time. I highly recommend trying this challenge because it improved my skin and taught me a lot about choosing the right products.

Click here to join the challenge. As always, I love my lovely readers!


Lauren Hochman

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Hand covered in moisturizer.

Ian Dooley / Unsplash

Lauren Hochman
Lauren Hochman

Lauren Hochman is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lifestyle on a Budget and THE TEEN RUNWAY. She has over a decade of experience giving women advice through her writing. When she isn’t at her laptop, you can find her exploring Texas with her fiancĂ©, Alex, and dog, Mr. Cantaloupe.

Find me on: Web | Instagram

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