Three pictures of Emily (@sunshineskin) and her journey with acne.

Perfectly Imperfect Skin: A Journey of Acne and Self Love By @sunshineeskin

Having acne can feel like a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Especially when everyone (including the check-out chick at Coles who scarred Vi for life) is dishing out unsolicited advice and every brand is claiming to have found a miracle cure.

Well Emily's been there, done that, and is politely unsubscribing from those mainstream beauty standards that tell us we're not enough.

So suss her gentle, skin nourishing routine and kind words in Vi's latest blog. Our big take home? Don't let anyone make you feel less than fabulous because of a few clogged pores and overactive sebaceous glands.


My name is Emily and my relationship with acne has had many ups and downs for yeaaaaars (and by years I’m talking I started experiencing it when I was 12, and I’m currently 26).

I have always experienced hormonal acne, which has now evolved into adult acne. I’ve also worked in the retail-beauty industry since I was 16, so I can honestly say I’ve tried almost every product and ingredient out there. The only real treatment that gave me super “clear-skin” results was Accutane (which I have documented my entire journey on my instagram: @sunshineeskin). And although my skin has improved substantially, I still very-much continue to live with acne.

The idea of achieving ‘perfect skin’ has brought me so much mental and emotional torment, especially as I’ve come to realise this is unattainable. ‘Perfect skin’ does not exist. What does exist though is texture, spots and beautiful bumps and grooves. There is so much character to my skin and this is perfectly normal. My skin is perfectly imperfect.


What's your current Skincare routine?

My skincare routine changes each day to suit what my skin needs at the time and what my current skin-goals are. I like to focus more on giving my skin the ingredients it needs.

For the most part, my skincare routine would look something like this:

Morning Routine

  1. Cleanse with a gentle, hydrating cleanser (currently the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser).
  2. Layer on the hydration. This step is usually the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Premium Lotion serum.
  3. A nourishing and calming moisturiser. I’m a big fan of the Avene Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream if I need something extremely calming or the  Jart Cicapair Calming Gel Cream if I need something more lightweight.
  4. The most important step - finish with an SPF!!! 75% of the time I like to use Ultra Violette’s Supreme Screen. It ticks alllllll of my boxes of what I’m looking for in an SPF, and is a wonderful makeup primer, so I use this sunscreen almost every time. If it’s a day where my skin is feeling especially sensitive or congested, I will reach for Clean Screen.
  5. Follow up with Ultra Violette’s Daydream Screen. Daydream Screen truly does it all for me – it’s lightweight, super-natural coverage that makes my skin look SO healthy and glowy, and works wonderfully with makeup on top. The added bonus of extra SPF is the cherry on top.

Night Routine

  1. Remove all makeup and SPF. I have not found an oil-based cleanser that I love more than Tatcha’s Camellia Cleansing Oil.
  2. Secondary cleanse with a gentle, hydrating cleanser. Again I’ll usually use CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser or their Foaming Cleanser if I need a deeper cleanse.
  3. Approximately 2-3 times a week, I’ll use an exfoliating toner. This may be Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant or Ren’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic. If I’m exfoliating in this routine, I will not use my retinol.
  4. A light layer of hydration. Again, I’ll often go in with the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Premium Lotion serum, or the Apotcare Vitamin B3 Niacinamide Booster Serum (or sometimes both).
  5. Apply a retinol 2-3 times a week. This is a crucial step in managing my acne and congestion. I am obsessed with Dr Dennis Gross’ Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum and Apotcare’s Vitamin A Booster Serum so I’ll usually use one of these two on my retinol nights.
  6. A barrier-supporting, highly-nourishing, thick moisturizer. 90% of evenings I will finish off with La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast Baume B5.

How do you help manage breakouts?

First and foremost, spend time figuring out what triggers your skin (diet, food, hormones, stress, anything and everything!!). Learning what triggers your skin (whether this is acne or even general skin sensitivity) can be so helpful in helping to manage your skin. For example, some of my skin triggers are:

  • Not nourishing my body well enough 🥦
  • Not drinking enough water🥛
  • Mood, stress and anxiety levels 😰

Following this, your main priority should be to keep your skin barrier healthy, hydrated and strong. Keep in mind, sometimes acne-fighting ingredients make your skin sensitive as they are doing the tough work on your barrier, so please keep these ingredients to a few times a week and spend most of your week using hydrating, barrier-supporting products (without actives!). Most of all, and I cannot stress this enough, SPF DAILY!!!!


Any advice you’d give to others?

In terms of starting your skin and self-love journey, please, PLEASE pay strong attention to your internal dialogue and try your best to be kind to yourself. Shift your thoughts from negative to positive such as “why is my skin so bad?”, to, “what is my body trying to tell me?”

And finally, one of my biggest regrets is letting my skin consume so much of my life and take away my inner self confidence. Remember, you are SO much more than your skin. You bring SO much light and value into this world and your skin is only a small part of you. Your skin does not determine your worth. And in case you have forgotten, I am here to remind you that you ARE worthy of self-love, happiness and achieving everything you’ve ever wanted. If you ever need a personal hype gal to cheer you on, you know where to find me. Other than that, the next time you look in a mirror, remind yourself of all of this and promise me that you’ll be kind to yourself, because that’s the least you deserve.

With all my love,
Emily (aka @sunshineeskin).


Have you got highly reactive, acne prone skin? Vi knows how uncomfortable it can be to mess with your skincare regime and introduce a new product to the mix. But she wants you to rest assured that she’s got the best sunscreen for acne prone skin that will keep you protected from UV rays and sunburn but won’t make you breakout!

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Avoid prolonged high-risk sun exposure. Wear a hat, protective clothing and sunglasses when exposed to the sun. Re-apply frequently.

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