I’m in this weird phase of my life where I’m still going out on the weekends, swiping left and right to find a date, eating cereal for dinner, and dealing with constant breakouts—but at the same time, I’m preferring to go to bed before 11 p.m., making soup some nights, ordering a water with my cocktail, and staring at my neck creases in the mirror with shame and worry daily. What can I say? I’m officially 25. But one skincare brand understood this conundrum: CLEARSTEM.
Your skincare routine when you have acne will look eons different from one for anti-aging, but what happens when you want to do both? Acne products don’t typically contain the protective, hydrating ingredients that keep you tight and taut, and your run-of-the-mill anti-aging serum probably won’t prevent breakouts (heck, it might even cause them). On this principle, CLEARSTEM was born.
As soon as I heard about the brand, my interest was piqued. I took an online quiz to learn more about my skin type and the products I was using that could be breaking me out (coconut oil, never call me again). I got a customized regimen of products from the brand, so I swapped out some of my skincare faves in order to try them for a full month. Here’s what happened:
My Skin Before CLEARSTEM:
My skin and I have had a tumultuous year. Last summer, my skin was in tip-top shape. I took a trip to California and didn’t even feel like I needed makeup—a first for me. Then, something shifted, and my skin hasn’t calmed down since. I’m in a constant state of hormonal breakouts on my chin and jawline.
Contrarily, I’ve just turned 25, so anti-aging and the changes that come with entering the other half of my 20s loom ahead. I can’t keep covering my face in benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid every night if I expect to simultaneously keep my skin taut for years to come. Thanks to genetics, I don’t have tons of wrinkles popping up yet, but my neck could use some help. Constantly looking down to text or type has taken a toll, giving me neck creases galore.
And thanks to my breakouts, I’m dealing with loads of hyperpigmentation and acne scarring right now that I don’t even know where to begin to get rid of.
I’ve tried everything to help my skin: prescription medications, acid peels, monthly facials, LED light therapy, prescription topicals, high-frequency acne devices—and nothing worked. Acne products dry out my skin and make it sensitive, making my skin look way older than it is. Anti-aging products are too moisturizing and clog my pores. So CLEARSTEM sounded like my solution.
Review of Each Product
This serum is unlike anything I own (which is a lot). It’s a mix of mandelic acid, turmeric, and vitamin C that brightens, smoothes, and clears skin. CLEARSTEM nicknamed it the “Blackhead Dissolver” because it’s so good at exfoliating and clearing out clogged pores. This is gentle without feeling like you’re applying nothing.
My nose is full of clogged pores (so much that my facialist is perplexed every single time), so I was excited to give this a go. Serums with vitamin C usually have a horrendous smell (something reminiscent of hot dogs) and feel sticky and irritating on my skin, but this is a joy to apply. It’s scented, but it’s not overpowering and doesn’t linger in my nose after I’ve applied the product. And I love the texture: a lightweight, milky serum that leaves a healthy glow.
I’ve noticed my pores are less clogged and my skin looks a lot more even from using this. When I touch my face, I’m excited by how soft and smooth it feels. Even with my hormonal acne, my face isn’t covered with texture—and I think I have this product to thank.
This serum contains a powerful blend of vitamin C, mandelic acid, and turmeric that brightens dark spots (including melasma), unclogs pores, and smoothes texture.
When this product arrived, it was the one I was most excited about, and to no surprise, it ended up being my favorite of the bunch. Containing collagen, a peptide blend, and argan oil, this serum targets scars and wrinkles by flattening, smoothing, and reducing pigmentation.
I’m in the business of preventing wrinkles rather than treating them for now, but Lord knows I have a handful of scars I’m trying to get rid of at any given time. I followed the directions by massaging the serum into my scars (which are all on my chin and jawline—frickin’ hormones), which was not only relaxing as hell but really moisturized my skin in those areas. I also made sure to massage it in the areas that I want to prevent wrinkles, like between my eyebrows, my forehead, and my nasolabial folds.
I’m excited to see how my skin will improve while using this for even longer. My scars are slowly fading away every time I put this on, and my skin feels so hydrated and calm.
BOUNCEBACK Scar Serum
Formulated with three peptides, collagen, stem cells, and moisturizing argan oil, this serum is geared toward flattening and smoothing wrinkles and scars.
Those with dry skin probably can’t even imagine a night that doesn’t end with a thick layer of moisturizer, but for anyone with acne-prone skin, you know the utter stress of putting on a moisturizer and not knowing if you’ll wake up with a face full of pimples or not. Moisturizer is the reason I have trust issues because it’s a gamble whether my pores will get clogged or if I’ll have the dewy skin I aspire to achieve. So this moisturizer intrigued me.
This lightweight cream contains bakuchiol (a gentler retinol alternative I swear by on my off-days from prescription tretinoin), stem cells, and moisturizing squalane. It is naturally scented, which some might find lovely and others might find irritating. It goes away once I apply it to my face, and I haven’t noticed any of the typical irritation I’d get with a scented product, so I can easily look past it.
My skin looks so plump and hydrated when I use this that it now has a permanent spot on my makeup vanity to be applied every morning. It’s so lightweight (perfect for acne-prone skin) and I never worry my skin will break out the next day. It soaks right in too—seriously, it’s a dream for before makeup.
HYDRAGLOW Stem Cell Moisturizer
Not your typical moisturizer, this includes bakuchiol and stem cells to plump and smooth your skin.
With CLEARSTEM, I noticed immediate results when I applied the products. My skin was dewy but not uncomfortable or sticky. I applied my makeup over them in the morning and looked like my glowiest self. But skincare has to do more than just make my skin look good—I need some tangible results. And based on my before and after, I can tell CLEARSTEM checks that box.
After two weeks, my once-inflamed breakouts looked less red and were healing. Because my breakouts are hormonal, it takes a bit more than over-the-counter topicals to make them completely disappear. However, I desperately crave products that make breakouts heal quicker, calm the irritation and redness, and start diminishing the dark spots left over.
I can see myself adding more CLEARSTEM products to my routine because I love knowing that I don’t have to worry that my skin will react or break out from the products. Anti-aging skincare that doesn’t clog pores is hard to come by, but I’ve found myself a gem.
This post is sponsored by CLEARSTEM, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.