I'm going to be honest with you: I haven't always been good to my skin. I used to slather my zits with toothpaste (fact: It just makes them way worse) and rub my face with makeup wipes (a skin-destroying habit that causes ). What can I say, I'm lazy—and skeptical of products that promise pie-in-the-sky results.
So when the Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Facial landed on my desk one day, it wasn’t love at first sight. The overnight serum is tiny, expensive ($120), and full of big claims, like an ability to unclog pores (a thing that's not technically possible), fade acne scars, and brighten your complexion while you sleep. Sounds a little too good to be true, right?
Spoiler alert: It's not. Every night, after washing my face with CeraVe's Hydrating Facial Cleanser (my favorite), I spread a thin layer of the Allies of Skin serum all over my clean, dry face, making sure to cover to the slew of whiteheads on my chin and jaw (I tested it out during a week when my face was especially broken-out; basically, I tried to set this serum up for failure).
The formula's consistency is a little thicker than that of your average serum, and it left my skin feeling tacky for about 20 minutes, even after I applied a few drops of Drunk Elephant’s Virgin Marula Oil on top of it. (Pro tip: Wait at least 20 minutes before nuzzling your pillow, unless you're looking to wipe off half of the serum, like I did.) Then I went to bed, fully believing my skin would look exactly the same when I woke up, as any good skeptic would.
I’ll give it to you straight: When I woke up, my zits weren’t completely gone, but they were significantly smaller, and my skin looked noticeably brighter. I looked like I had gotten a solid night’s sleep, which definitely wasn’t the case. I was shocked.
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I gave it another go the following night and when I woke up, my zits were 100 percent gone—no puss-filled whiteheads, no red marks, no discoloration. What the hell? Was I officially holding the solution to all of my skincare issues in the palm of my hand? According to dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D. associate clinical professor at Yale University, yeah, I kind of was.
“Azelaic acid, the main ingredient in this formula, not only has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that treat acne, but it can also minimize red marks and acne scars,” she says. When it’s combined with the other two hero ingredients in the serum—caffeine (which constricts blood vessels to make pimples look less red) and lactic acid (a pore-clearing and bump-smoothing exfoliant)—it turns into a zit-fighting machine.
And thanks to the added glycerin, which Dr. Gohara says helps hydrate skin and mitigates irritation from the other ingredients, my face never felt dry or dehydrated. The only caveat: Since the formula is loaded with such powerful, active ingredients, it’s sadly not suited for every skin type. “People with sensitive skin should avoid this product, just in case,” she says.
With Dr. Gohara’s blessing, I continued to reach for my little magical tube every night. It's been two months since I first tested it out, and I've had few (if any) zits pop up on my jaw. I have never received more compliments on my skin. I've been told my face looks brighter, clearer, and dewier than ever—or, as one friend put it, "Your skin looks so damn good right now."
Needless to say, I don’t see my full-fledged love affair with this formula going away any time soon. And if you, too, are tired of zit creams, spot treatments, and acne-fighting serums that don’t live up to their claims, I suggest you scoop this one up immediately. That is, until the skincare community catches on and it sells out for good—at which time I will curse the day I ever opened my mouth.
In the meantime, you can always stock up on some really, really excellent concealer. Or, you know, let your acne and scars fly free—there's nothin' wrong with that.