“I had acne as a teenager and still have it now.”
Many of us follow Kayla Itsines on Instagram for her butt-kicking SWEAT workouts and inspirational posts celebrating strength. But lately, the social media star has been opening up about her personal life, answering questions posed by followers via Instagram Stories.
While followers are interested in the fitness guru’s everyday diet, how often she exercises, and even scoop on her upcoming wedding with fiancé Tobi (they first met at the gym—aw!), fans were really curious about the secret behind her “perfect” skin. Well, Itsines got real with followers and used this as an opportunity to shed light on some of her own skin problems and struggles with acne.
To answer fan questions about her seemingly clear complexion, Itsines confessed in her IG story, “My skin is FAR from perfect. I had acne as a teenager and still have it now.”
The fitness influencer posted a series of before-and-after photos of her skin up close, sharing one photo of her face covered in breakouts. “It was so much worse than this and I refused to take any photos of it because it would really upset me,” she said.
Itsines then posted a follow-up image of her skin with no foundation and minimal makeup. “I only wear eyeliner and mascara and pencil in my brows sometimes,” she explains. Her freckly skin has a healthy glow and appears drastically clearer. “I had to change my skin care routine,” adds Itsines.
Although the influencer didn't reveal her current skincare routine, in a 2015 blog post on her website, she opened up about suffering at the hands of every teen’s nightmare: acne. From ages 15 to 18, she wrote, she tried covering up her uneven skin and breakouts with makeup, which only made them more noticeable. She was eating a lot of highly-processed, sugary foods at the time, so she decided to cut out junk food and switch to eating whole foods, which worked wonders to clear up her skin.
In that post, she said she sticks to a simple yet consistent skincare routine, and we are totally taking notes. She doesn’t generally wear foundation, but swipes on mascara and eyeliner on a daily basis, so having an eye makeup remover is crucial. Itsines likes using organic coconut oil: “It removes makeup so easily without tugging on your lashes." When she's on-the-go, she loves Johnson Baby Wipes ($7; amazon.com) because they are gentle and don’t irritate her skin. As for cleanser, Itsines said she uses Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser ($22; amazon.com) for years. She added that she indulges in a face mask once a week to deep-clean and unclog her pores, and loves Aussie brand Clear Me Skin’s 100% all natural and vegan masks ($25; clearmeskin.com), which contain salicylic acid, zinc oxide, and a soothing rose scent.
We asked New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, what to look for when shopping for acne-prone skin. When browsing for skincare products, she recommends honing in on certain ingredients or keywords, such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycol acid, aloe, oil-free, and non-comedogenic, which all indicate that the formula is a good fit for your skin type.
Investing in a gentle exfoliating scrub or cleanser with salicylic acid can help remove extra dirt and oil from the skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation; she likes Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash with Glycerin ($5; walmart.com), because it contains salicylic acid and prevents breakouts on even hard-to-reach areas like your back. Also good: the glycerin keeps it from overly drying out your skin. Some retinoids, such as Differin Adapalene Gel ($11; amazon.com), work to unclog pores and reduce oiliness. There is also some evidence that tea tree oil can help treat acne by killing extra bacteria, Dr. Jaliman adds. She suggests trying The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash ($13; amazon.com).
If your skin is easily irritated or tends to break out easily, Dr. Jaliman suggests avoiding Shea butter, makeup with silicone (it tends to promote acne), and anything with the word “oil,” like almond oil and wheat germ oil.