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By Ashley I.

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From Boulders to Beautiful

From Boulders to Beautiful

The only photos I have of myself during the cystic acne period of my life was when I was imitating a character from the Broadway show Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. This was taken as the medications started to take effect.

The only photos I have of myself during the cystic acne period of my life was when I was imitating Martin Van Buren from the Broadway show Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. (The former president apparently ate lots of Twinkies.) This photo was taken with foundation as the medications started to take effect 3 months after the start of the regimen.

Whenever someone compliments my skin, I get flashbacks to my cystic acne days…the days that I felt insecure leaving my house because I had hard-marble like cysts plaguing my face. My face was always sore and throbbing. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. I used to cry (shocking, right?!) not knowing if it would ever get better. Now, thanks to a strict regimen, I get just one or two superficial (the dermatologist term for “not deep/cystic”) pimples a month. Everyday I’m thankful for this.

When I started this blog my primary goal was to help other people struggling with severe acne. No one should have to suffer through this. People who haven’t experienced acne at this level may scoff at the word suffer. But you don’t understand how socially debilitating it can be unless you have it.

I detailed my process in my first blog entry Basic. Since that post over 16 months ago I’ve gotten so many more comments about my clear skin. I’ve also slightly altered my routine. Because of this, I wanted to revisit that topic. I’ve designed this particular routine for sensitive, severely acne prone skin through my own research and with the help of my dermatologist.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 8.14.10 PMMorning:

  1. Wash with a combination of CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser and 10% Benzoyl Peroxide PanOxyl Foaming Wash
  2. Nickel sized amount 1% Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Lotion (Prescription)
  3. Spray on Caudalie’s Grape Water
  4. Two pumps of Caudalie’s Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum
  5. A few drops of Tarte’s Maracuja Oil and Marula Oil 
  6. Dime sized amount of CeraVe’s AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion and Caudalie’s Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet

* Wait 5 to 10 minutes between steps to let the product absorb.


  1. Wash face with a combination of Caudalie’s Instant Foaming Cleanser and 10% Benzoyl Peroxide PanOxyl Foaming Wash.
  2. Pea sized amount of Tretinoin Gel 0.025% (Prescription)
  3. Oral Prescriptions: Doxycycline Hyclate 100 MG, Spironolactone 50 MG, & Ortho TriCyclen Lo birth control pills.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 8.15.33 PM

* Please don’t tell me what medications I should or should not be on. I’m monitored by two physicians.

This summer I started getting HydraFacials at my one and only favorite spa, the Rockledge Med Spa in Bethesda, Md. (The place I get my Botox/Dysport.) I get a HydraFacials once every 6-8 weeks and they keep my skin smooth, soft, and very clear. I attribute HydraFacials for getting rid of whatever acne my process alone didn’t. It’s like a vacuum for the junk in your pores. It also helps with redness, which is nice since I have a lot of post-acne marks. If you live in the DC/MD/VA area, ask for Susette or Carol. They’re wonderful!

Obviously the whole process isn’t for everyone…it’s actually not for most people, but the products I’ve listed are all fantastic. I’m a huge fan of CeraVe and an even huger fan of Caudalie products because they’re non-irritating and hydrating. These are relatively affordable items I recommend to all!

To those first starting Tretinoin Gel and PanOxyl, the first few weeks you may experience dryness or tightness. Stick with it! It doesn’t last long and the results are worth the short wait.

  • Jessica
    Posted at 17:50h, 15 October Reply

    I too used to suffer with cystic acne. I was embarressed to leave the house and would cry all the time. Not only are the cysts embarrassing, but also very painful. My derm also put me on Spirolactone (and birth control pills) and my face has cleared up remarkably. I still get occasional breakouts, but those deep, large cysts are a thing of the past.

    I loved watching you on Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise, but after stumbling upon your blog, I like you even more. I think you are beautiful both inside & out, and I love that you are not ashamed to show embarrassing pictures from your past and are willing to share with us girls your beauty tips & secrets. I love the makeup video tutorials and hearing about “behind the scene” things from Bachelor/Bachelor in Paradsie.

    Keep the blog posts/videos comin!!

  • Lacey
    Posted at 21:53h, 21 October Reply

    Thank you so much for this post!! I have been suffering with acne as well, so I have a question for you! Is this the regime that you used to help your acne go away or this is what you use to keep it away? I’m currently taking doxy and spiro, but it’s still not doing a whole lot. Have you ever taken accurate or again was this regime what you used to get your acne to go away? Thanks so much!

    • ashleyiaconetti
      Posted at 00:57h, 26 March Reply

      This is what cured it and I still use most of it currently to keep it away. Is your acne cystic or more surface?

  • Jody Cummings
    Posted at 02:09h, 30 December Reply

    Ashley, I can relate as I have had cystic acne since I was 15 and I am 37. I have tried everything including two rounds of Acutane. I have had a bad false up the last month that has left me in tears several times. I use Retin a religiously (tretinoin) question is- do you take the doxcycline all the time or only when you have a break out? Your skin is beautiful, you would never know that you used to have skin problems! Thank you for your blog post.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 23:09h, 22 February Reply

    Hi Ashley,

    I enjoyed watching you on Bachelor in Paradise/the Bachelor a while back! Appreciated your authenticity on the show, and you were a lot of fun to watch.

    I came across this blog, and happened to see this post. Thank you for this- your skin always looked so gorgeous on TV, and it’s so refreshing to see that you had the same problems as a lot of us, with photos to prove it! I’m also 26 and still dealing with occasional painful cysts :-(. I have a very similar regimen to yours (clindamycin AM, Retin-A at night, doxycycline for break-outs plus a moisturizer ), but I’ve never tried a few of the products you mentioned, and definitely not spironolactone. Did it make a difference? For me, the birth control pill brand also was a big game changer.

    I thought the oiliness for acne was supposed to protect you from wrinkles, too, but I’ve started getting a few faint ones on my forehead!

    • ashleyiaconetti
      Posted at 00:54h, 26 March Reply

      Have you incorporated Spiro yet?! It makes all the difference!!

  • Angela
    Posted at 18:28h, 09 March Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing your skincare routine and being so detailed about it! You have amazing skin now and your makeup always looks amazing. I hope you continue to share your tips on your blog and your youtube channel and how to battle/cover acne. It’s reassuring to know that there is clear skin at the end of the tunnel!

    I have acne and have found it difficult to cover in makeup or get rid of the scarring. I understand how acne plaques so many people and it’s nice to hear that other people share similar stories. It’s really uplifting that you have shared your story. I hope you continue to share. Thanks Ashley!

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  • Roxana
    Posted at 21:47h, 23 August Reply

    Hey Ashley I had a question what’s good for post-acne marks?

  • dermalmd review
    Posted at 07:41h, 02 August Reply

    I bought dermalmd acne serum at the recommendation of my dermatologist when panoxyl was a bit too harsh for my skin. It definitely helped clear up my cystic and hormonal pattern acne, but it takes daily use for several months to work and should definitely be paired with an oil-free moisturizer.

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