If, like us, you often find yourself scrolling through skincare TikTok, you will have no doubt come across Cassandra Bankson before. With more than 230,000 followers on the app (not forgetting her casual million-plus subscribers on YouTube), she’s become our go-to for expert acne advice.
This isn’t just because Cassandra has over 10 years’ experience as a medical aesthetician—it’s also because she struggles with acne herself and knows exactly what it’s like to grow up being called “pizza face.”
“Like so many teens, I lived the majority of my adolescent life judging myself in the mirror. I struggled so much with my appearance, self-love and self-worth,” says Cassandra.
“Since becoming a medical aesthetician, I like to think of myself as a big sister to the online community. I’ve come to understand and embrace my skin and hope to educate others in the same way. I consider myself an ‘acne warrior’ because I’ve been there.”
Which is exactly why we asked her to share her top tips with us.
“Sometimes skincare can’t treat acne,” Cassandra warns. “It’s a medical condition and there are different stages and grades to it. If your acne is severe, I would recommend seeing a dermatologist. If your acne is mild to moderate, getting a skincare routine together that protects and fights against breakouts is a great place to start.”
Rather than just looking for overpriced “miracle” products that don’t actually deliver on their promises, Cassandra recommends looking for key ingredients that have been scientifically proven to reduce acne—with her top recommendation being salicylic acid.
“The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser is one of my absolute favorites. It really helps to dissolve oil, while gently exfoliating the skin,” she says.
If it’s good enough for Cassandra, it’s going straight in our basket.
Another of her must-haves is The INKEY List’s Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment. “It’s one the best spot treatments I’ve ever used,” she tells us. “It’s non-drying and non-irritating. It contains succinic acid, salicylic acid and sulfur, so it’s excellent at fighting breakouts.”
Succinic acid, if you’re not already familiar, acts as a gentle exfoliator, helping to peel away any dead skin cells from pores. Teamed with bacteria-inhibiting properties, it’s great at helping to control sebum and reduce any excess shine and oil.
The holy trinity of spot-busting ingredients there—and if you’re struggling with fungal acne, make like Cassandra and add sulfur into your routine. “Sulfur is really great for drying up acne spots as well as decreasing fungus in the skin,” she says.
In order to avoid and fade hyperpigmentation scarring, Cassandra also recommends using a niacinamide treatment.
“Niacinamide can help to stop pigmentation spots from spreading, as it controls melanin by stimulating the production of keratin,” Cassandra explains. “It also helps to control oil production. I use the INKEY List’s Niacinamide Serum to help with those red and dark marks post-breakout.”
“Stress is directly related to hormonal changes, which cause an increase of oil in the skin,” says Cassandra. While we can’t eliminate stress from your life (sorry about that), identifying it as a trigger can help you find coping mechanisms that minimize the impact on your skin.
Cassandra notes it also might be worth keeping an eye on your diet. “Some people can have acne that is exacerbated by dairy, high-glycemic or sugary foods,” she says. Try keeping a food diary if you believe your breakouts are being triggered by certain foods.
We get it—when you’re acne-prone, salon treatments are often viewed with caution, as skin can react easily. But Cassandra is here to reassure you.
“Chemical peels are absolutely fantastic. These use high levels of BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), which are gentler on the skin,” she says. “They help renew skin cells, reduce breakouts and even stimulate collagen in deeper layers.”
Microneedling is another of Cassandra’s favorites, as long as you’re not prone to keloids or hyperpigmentation. “It helps stimulate collagen and reduce acne scarring, but it should always be done by a professional in a clinic and never at home or from devices purchased online,” she warns.
Unlike bleaching your roots or giving yourself an at-home mani-pedi, do-it-yourself microneedling (puncturing the skin with hundreds of tiny needles) is very risky and could leave you with permanent damage—including scars, pigmentation, heightened skin sensitivity, allergic reactions and rashes. So it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
With your newfound knowledge, Cassandra wants you to remember one more very important point: “You are focusing on progress, and not perfection.” Amen to that.
If you want to learn more about how to best treat your skin concerns or discover the right ingredients for your skin, head to theinkeylist.com
From: Cosmopolitan UK