Beauty Skin

Skincare: Back to basics

June 16, 2020

Perfect skin is something that has always eluded me. It was never something I thought about, but the second I hit puberty it was all I was concerned about – my skin. I used to get pimples ONTOP of pimples and my face could not help but attract unsolicited advice. From the cashiers at Checkers to the grannies that passed me, they all had to (just itching to) give me their 2c worth on what I should do to clear my skin up.

Fast-forward some yesses years later and boom! I now find myself struggling with adult acne. To say my combination, crater-pore filled, pimple and blackhead facial skin is not perfect – would be the understatement of my life’s everything.

Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash

30 years now and I sometimes still get lost in it all. One thing I can tell you for a fact – don’t pick at your face. This is a no-brainer seeing how we are covered in a variety of bacteria. From the good, the bad and the ugly – the last thing you want to do is pop that thing on your face and introduce the bad and the ugly into your epidermis. When that swelling of the skin heals, which it will, it’ll leave a gorgeous scar as a reminder for you. Kinda like how people would write “I was here” in a questioned toilet at some club on Long Street.

Having tried it all, right off the bat the 1st thing that ever helped me (back in high school) was going to an actual specialist instead of listening to everyone who thought they were experts – I’m looking at you cashier lady. A dermatologist that was on Harrison Street, JHB – if memory serves me right – did the things. Now, I cannot go into detail as to what or why he did it, but he injected my face with something, wrote me a script for what I would later discover were contraceptives and a sunscreen with an SPF I cannot remember. I want to say it was an SPF 50 but I might be lying. He did all of that and sent me packing. Side effects were unpleasant, but the results were undeniable. I then did that thing when we get better, stopped going to the sessions and taking the meds. Fast-forward some yesses-years later and I cannot help but feel like I am currently paying for that (just by the way).

Lerato Angela Mareletse pimples on face
That was me last year on a family/birthday getaway. My skin definitely didn’t do anything for my esteem as I had just turned 30 on that day.

My skin started acting up again after a free facial from a franchise salon using a prestigious skincare line. “How could this be?” I had asked myself and the beauticians. This is supposed to be some A-grade stuff! Surely it should literally clear all my problems away? No. instead it aggravated them more. My skin was a hot-ass-mess. I asked the beauticians at the said salon and they just told me to be patient as results will show in about six months from when I started using the product. I asked them is it not best to just ditch this product and start something else? “No,” they said. Ok cool – I have these expensive-ass products anyway. Let me just suck it up and see it through right? Wrong. My mess of a face stayed so and would even outdo itself going further on.

I eventually changed products and don’t go to the franchise salon for facials anymore. Decided to take it back to basics to see what works, what doesn’t and take it from there.

Best decision ever!

Accelerate to now and is my skin perfect? No – such eludes me remember? But it has cleared immensely! With just a spot here and there now and then, I am now working more towards clearing previous pimple scars (they sometimes scar even if you just leave them alone) and keeping the acne at bay.

Lerato Angela Mareletse clearer skin
Me sometime during the lockdown. Threw on some hoops and matte lipstick for what I would later find out is a telephone interview 😑

What do I do?

The first thing I did was stick to a routine. A standard procedure people. This pattern included mornings and evenings regardless of if I was tired or just walked in the house half-drunk at 3:30 in the morning.

  • Mornings
    • Wash and tone my face
    • Apply my pimple cream to only the pimples (if any)
    • Apply my SPF 30+ (I personally don’t believe in 50)
    • Apply my moisturising cream
  • Night
    • Wash my face. Sometimes with the aid of a facial brush. 
    • Tone 
    • Apply my pimple cream to only the pimples (if any)
    • Apply my moisturising cream
    • Sometimes apply a brightening cream, night mask or anti-ageing cream
  • If I have makeup on – it has to go before my head hits the pillow. 
    • Lazy days (them 3:30 am ones normally) usually mean a good wipe-down with a make-up remover or toner
    • On a good day, I will use the above and continue on with the rest of my normal night-time routine.
  • In-between the days (or sometimes even between the weeks), I’d apply a face mask or do a face scrub.



Feeling overwhelmed with all your products that are now, all of a sudden, not working?

No stress. Let us take it back to the basics.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Oil-infused Cleansing Water
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Oil-infused Cleansing Water

Kick it off with a soap-free cleanser. These are generally gentler on your skin because of their pH balance. Soap based cleansers tend to be harsher on your skin leaving you feeling dry and irritated. This is due to the soap stripping too much of your natural oil from the skin. The point here is to only clean impurities off of your face. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Some good soap-free cleansers include:

  • Sebamed
  • Demalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash
  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser


Garnier SkinActive Micellar Oil-infused Cleansing Water or the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water is a go-to-for me. I have the 400ml Garnier SkinActive Micellar Oil-infused cleansing water and the small 100ml travel size Garnier SkinActive Micellar cleansing water. It can also be used as a regular toner or a makeup remover. I like the oil-infused one particularly because it leaves my skin feeling moisturised, fresh and fabulous.

Whichever toner you use, be sure it does not strip your skin of its natural oils leaving your skin dry and crusty. 


Benzac AC 5 Gel
Benzac AC 5 Gel is the gospel. if you take anything away from this article – this is it. Nothing works better for zits!

This one has always been a trial and error for me. A snake oil of sorts. I have tried individual products and whole sets that promise to zap pimples away – but always disappointed.

I have comfortably settled on Benzac AC 5 Gel. It works. Period. I had actually sort out Benzoyl Peroxide after reading raving reviews on the drug. I searched for it in South Africa and stumbled on the only product I could find it in – Benzac. Benzoyl Peroxide is a medication that is used to treat mild to moderate acne by killing the bacteria that causes pimples and drying the skin out. This is applied to the affected area only.

A little of this stuff goes a long way and it works shem.


The two most important creams in my life: my sunscreen and my moisturiser.

Sunscreen needs to be a must in everyone’s life. The one I have taken to is the broad spectrum UVA/UVB blocker Dermopal Sunscreen SPF30. Not only does it protect me from the dangers of the sun, but it also deeply moisturises my skin.

The 2nd cream I hold dear to my heart is my moisturiser. Not all moisturisers are built the same and some do more damage than good. The Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion, Dermalogica’s Clear Start Soothing Hydrating Lotion, or any fast-absorbing lightweight lotion will feel delightful on your face.

Ultimately, the more moisture the better without the product weighing heavy on you as your skin still needs to breathe. I definitely don’t aim to moisturise my skin more than once due to drying out. As soon as that happens, the source needs to be found and either replaced or cancelled.

Feel free to try this out should you feel stumped in your routine. Definitely no guarantees but going back to the basics is usually a good place to start.

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