This post is sponsored by Banish Acne Scars.
*Warning: Some of the following images contain graphic content that some readers may find disturbing. Please discontinue reading if you are easily disturbed by images of acne or any other skin conditions.
A lot of people assume that because I am an esthetician, I’ve always had and always will have perfect skin. This blog post will prove to you that I’m no different from you – I’ve had terrible breakouts before, which have really shattered my self-esteem in the past.
Ironically, although I am a licensed skincare professional, both my genetics and skin type make me predisposed to acne, which previously made it really hard on my credibility when I still worked in a spa. Could you believe how embarrassing it was to give my clients skincare advice and recommend them products when I was always breaking out? I felt like a fraud.
My first major acne episode
For a while, I began using the products that my spa sold in an attempt to become the picture-perfect poster child of our brand. Unfortunately, it backfired. My already acne-prone and sensitive skin was inflicted with the worst breakout I’d ever had in my life, even worse than when I was 16. At first, it didn’t seem too alarming, as I thought maybe I was hitting my cycle and was having a pretty bad hormonal imbalance.
July 1st, 2014: A week before I’d bought several items from my spa and then experienced a full-on breakout. WHAT.
After getting through my cycle, my skin didn’t seem to improve – it actually got worse. I had assumed that maybe because I was growing into my twenties that perhaps my hormones were finally settling down. But then, it started to get alarmingly unconcealable very quickly, no matter how thick I layered on the makeup. My self-esteem plummeted to its lowest point, and I even went to the extent of combing my hair a certain way to cover my face and keep my breakouts hidden.
July 10th, 2014: Had my fellow esthetician treat my skin (with the spa products I didn’t know were causing my allergic reaction). Trust me, before this picture, it was even worse. After the treatment, it seemed better temporarily.
My skin got worse and worse. I had the other esthetician at my spa perform several treatments on my skin, which all proved ineffective. No matter how many painful extractions I endured, they kept coming back.
I spoke to my spa manager about my breakouts, to which she contacted our company headquarters along with several pictures of my skin. They popped into the spa that week for a workshop, and it was confirmed that I was having a contact allergy caused by their products. Out of respect to their brand, I will not disclose their name as I wish no harm to their company, and I also believe that this was a 1-in-a-million kind of situation.
July 12, 2014: Just TWO days later post-treatment, I broke out again.
After the allergy was confirmed, I ceased all use of these products and set out on a quest to find a new regimen to heal my scars. I felt like my career was on the line, so suddenly skincare became my top priority. I did a TON of research on acne since visiting a dermatologist was out of my budget.
After one month of discontinuing the allergy-inducing products the inflammation died down, but I was left with a ton of scars. It took some trial-and-error, but I discovered a few things that became key factors in healing my skin: 1- Korean skincare products, 2- charcoal masks to purge my skin of toxins, 3- pumpkin enzyme peels for exfoliation, 4- aloe vera gel to reduce inflammation, and most importantly, 5- derma rolling (or micro-needling) followed up with Vitamin C.
RELATED POST: Forever Young: The 10-Step Korean Skincare Guide
August 15th, 2014: One month later – The result of stopping all usage of products causing my allergic reaction. These photos were taken right before I started derma rolling (micro needling).
I’ve been one of the lucky few to completely clear up a severe acne breakout within the course of a few months, but sticking to this regimen was the key that reduced all of my scars. Unfortunately, I wish I didn’t spend so much money trying to discover this magical acne-fighting formula (keep reading though, because there’s an entire kit that contains all of these amazing products that I have to tell you about).
August 28th, 2014: After just two weekly sessions of derma rolling and using Vitamin C.
After I put this chapter behind me, my skin was absolutely radiant in 2015-2016. I made sure to stick to my derma rolling regimen once a month, reduced my dairy intake to prevent future breakouts (I’m actually allergic, so I break out very easily from dairy), and followed a strict 10-step Korean skincare regimen. My skin became the most amazing it had ever been! However, I started putting on some weight and decided I needed to start a diet. And then…
My weight loss journey: less pounds, more pimples
By the end of 2016, I was 148 pounds, an unfit weight for my 5’1″ frame. I decided enough was enough and began the keto diet to drop the weight. After a few months, I was down a solid 12 pounds, but because the diet requires a heavy intake of dairy, I started breaking out like mad crazy. So once again, I wanted to amp up my derma rolling regimen to a weekly basis.
I was extremely happy to have discovered a brand that’s hit me quite close to home because they actually have a kit with all of my acne-fighting favorites (except the Korean products, but that’s a different story). Banish Acne Scars has compiled all of my tried-and-true acne-fighting methods without any of the standard market cliches like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinol, and other popular short-term solutions.
Banish Acne Scars was founded by Daisy, whose powerful story of a life full of acne has been courageously shared on the brand’s website. Her acne-riddled past filled with dermatologist appointments, creams, medications, and self-esteem issues is just all too relatable.
One month of using the Banish Acne Scars Starter Kit. Can you believe it!?!?!?
Banish was kind enough to send me the Starter Kit last month to share with you all, and I’ve been super excited to finally show my results! This kit consists of the very products that healed my skin from my allergic reaction back in 2014. And for further proof, above are my before and after pictures with the Banish Acne Scars kit. Pretty impressive for a month, huh?
Within a few weeks of reducing my dairy intake and using the Banish system religiously, my skin has:
- reduced inflammation
- fewer acne scars
- increased brightness and clarity
- even texture and tone
- reduced oiliness and congested pores
- virtually no more breakouts
Since I’ve had really great results using these items, I wanted to review all the products included in the Banish Starter Kit. Keep reading below for the product breakdowns!
Back at the spa, we used to use “glass globes” that were kept frozen and then rolled around the face with an aloe vera-based gel to reduce inflammation and redness. The Pore Smasher works in the exactly the same way, but much less messy or complicated. This is also great to use right after using the Pumpkin Enzyme Masque, as some people may get a little red after this exfoliating treatment.
This is a really efficient way to cool down hot, red and inflamed acne, even if you aren’t derma rolling. I personally keep this in my freezer so it’s ready to go when I need it.
*The Pore Smasher is included only in the Banish Starter Kit.
To use: Simply leave in the freezer for about 30 minutes and then roll around the face after cleansing and before using the Banisher.
This is Banish’s most effective product in my opinion, and I feel so strongly about it because this derma roller is similar to the one I used back in 2014 when my allergic reaction happened, but much less flimsy. Although the other brand derma roller I used back then had significantly longer needles, I like that Banish made the decision to go with shorter ones. Many people press down on their skin while derma rolling and can cause some pretty bad injuries to themselves. Your skin needs to adjust to longer needles, so shorter needles are a better option for first-timers. And if you intend to use the entire Banish kit, it’s actually probably better to use a less aggressive needle size anyway.
To use: Using a sterile cup (the starter kit has a container included), fill with rubbing alcohol and completely immerse the head of the Banisher for 5 minutes to disinfect. Let dry, and thoroughly cleanse the face before using. Gently roll across the face in short strokes, lifting off the skin after every stroke. Avoid going back-and-forth in the same spot several times. Also avoid any active acne.
A unique addition to the micro needling family, the Pen Banisher utilizes the same needle concept, minus the roller. This is great for when you need to treat a small area. I’ve used several derma rollers in the past, but I haven’t encountered such a handy version of it like the Pen Banisher.
To use: Using a sterile cup (the starter kit has a container included), fill with rubbing alcohol and completely immerse the head of the Banisher for 5 minutes to disinfect. Let dry, and thoroughly cleanse the face before using. Gently press on the face in stamping motions. Avoid any active acne.
Vitamin C is the best addition to derma rolling, as it encourages collagen production in the skin. It also helps to break apart cells that are “plastered” together which are responsible for hyperpigmentation. A word of caution: when using Vitamin C in your daily regimen, be sure to avoid sun exposure, or at the very least apply sunscreen and wear a hat. Vitamin C makes the skin much more sensitive to the sun, resulting in quicker sun burns.
To use: After using the Banisher, pat a few drops of the serum with clean hands onto skin and leave on. Tingling is normal and will go away.
Pumpkin enzymes are my favorite skincare secret weapon. Pumpkin is loaded with fruit-based enzymes that eat away at the dead keratin cells on the surface, leaving you with smooth skin. Alpha hydroxy acids are also found in pumpkin, which also has exfoliating properties that help brighten the skin and boost collagen production. The result? An anti-aging, brightening, and exfoliating treatment, all in one.
To use: It is recommended to use Banish’s Pumpkin Enzyme Masque 1-2 days after using the Banisher to exfoliate dead skin cells and encourage the production of collagen. Apply a thin layer of the pumpkin masque and leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse off.
I’m absolutely in love with Banish’s Activated Charcoal Clay Masque! This mask is a blend of my favorite ingredients. Its base consists of European green clay, which is a type of clay suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin due to its ability to pick up positively-charged toxin ions like a magnet. Tea tree helps to naturally combat bacteria, Vitamin C brightens, and sea algae contains several key nutrients to keep the skin supple and youthful. However, the star of the show is activated charcoal, which, when mixed with water, sticks to dirt and oil like a magnet – this helps reduce your clogged pores over time.
To use: Mix a small amount with equal parts water to form a paste and apply a thin layer onto the face and let dry. Use once a week.
This Beauty Elixir is supercharged with several nutrients to brighten and heal while toning the skin. Its aloe vera base reduces any redness and inflammation caused by using the Banisher, while tea tree helps control oil and reduce acne-causing bacteria. Of course, let’s not forget the Vitamin C that’s in this formula too.
I personally love how convenient the spray bottle is – after needling, I’m quite paranoid about what comes into contact with my skin, so I try to avoid touching my face at all costs.
To use: Spray onto the face after applying the Banish Oil and leave on. Can be used on a clean face in the morning or evening to tone the skin.
The Verdict: Worth it?
I’m sure you know by now how big I am on saving money and finding cost-effective beauty alternatives. I feel that acne can be such an enemy to your self-esteem, and the beauty industry exploits this insecurity by marking up prices on acne-fighting products.
Despite the fact that the Banish Acne Scar Starter Kit is $195, you might be surprised when I say yes, definitely get it. I feel that this kit is worth every penny, and for several reasons:
- Other acne systems don’t provide long-term results. We are all taught to strip, strip, strip the skin in order to get rid of acne, but what is left after you eradicate it? It’s uncommon to hear that after using such systems, people’s skin actually become worse. Not with Banish. Banish rids your skin of acne, but also leaves healthy and supple skin afterward.
- You’re buying freshly made, natural and organic products. These ingredients aren’t necessarily cheap to source and are also free of synthetic preservatives, which assures that you’re getting the freshest and most effective stuff. Honestly, for the quality and results that you get with Banish, you are getting much more value than other acne kits in the same price point.
- Facials cost much more. Every treatment comes with a licensed professional that treats your face, sure, but this doesn’t include any take-home products, and we also don’t know how effective a single treatment will be. Oftentimes, with acne, you will need several treatments and also have to purchase several products in order to start seeing results. When adding up several treatments, tips, and also products, these expenses can really be draining to the budget.
- Dermatologists usually prescribe medications that are too harsh for the skin. Sure, your insurance may cover the visit and you might just have to pay for your co-pay, but prescription drugs always come with side effects that are usually harmful to the skin in the long run. Retin-A, Accutane, Breyvoxyl, Triaz, the list goes on and on – these topical creams dry out the skin, create pH imbalances, increase sun sensitivity, and ultimately, prevent your skin from healing itself over time. Oral medications can also serve as a crutch for you to use for the rest of your life. That isn’t a way to live.
- Sometimes, drugstore products aren’t enough. Although many Target favorites may be cheap, most of them contain preservatives or ingredients that can, in some ways, be just as bad as prescription medications – drying, stripping, and hindering.
- Sephora employees don’t have a professional background in skincare. Yes, it’s true that many higher-priced skincare products can be more effective than drugstore products, but you’re purchasing products from a store that does not specialize solely on skincare, let alone acne. Their employees aren’t acne specialists either! Banish products are formulated specifically for you and your acne.
Coming from my own personal struggles with acne and also my professional background as an esthetician, I understand the feeling of panic and distress when acne comes along and obliterates your self-esteem, and I also know the fear of investing in products that don’t guarantee results. However, the Banish Acne Scars system has definitely proven itself to me as a worthy acne solution, so if you’re looking for real results, I highly suggest giving it a try.
Will you be trying out Banish soon? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for more skincare tips, tricks, and product reviews.
I received free products in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.