Olivia Culpo Shares the Skincare Routine That Cleared Her Acne

Hi, Byrdie beauties! You probably already know I’m a bit brow obsessed, but recently I’ve also really gotten into skincare. It all started because a few months ago I began experiencing way more breakouts than I have before, and I began to develop cystic acne for the first time. So I decided to focus on getting my skin into shape. I made a bunch of changes to my diet, lifestyle, and skincare routine, and it’s worked for me. Today I’m sharing all the details of how I completely turned my skin around.

Scroll through my skin transformation story!

Olivia Culpo wearing workout clothing

My Main Skin Concerns

I grew up with pretty clear skin, and in my early 20s, I began experiencing breakouts from stress, poor diet, traveling, and not getting enough sleep—the most difficult being in the last few months. For me, I think I can attribute the breakouts to stress. Stress affects every area of life including sleep, hormones, and diet (go figure, I go for the Ben & Jerry's during high-stress moments). Another cause of my breakouts was travel. Travel can be taxing on the body overall, and, for me, I found it was drying out my skin. I think it was the combination of all these things that made my skin have a freak-out moment. I began to develop cystic acne, which is not even visible on the skin surface but occurs under the skin and feels like a sore bump. This can be hard to tackle. For the first time, I had no idea what to do with my skin!

This was awful considering I still had photoshoots, and other work that involved being camera ready. The stress of that alone probably made my skin even worse! This is when my esthetician Leslie and some amazing products came to the rescue! After making a few lifestyle changes and switching up my skincare routine, my skin has been crystal clear.

Olivia Culpo doing yoga

The Changes That Worked for Me

After working with my esthetician, I began to understand that skin health goes far beyond how well you clean your skin every day or what you put on it topically. I realized the importance of a holistic skincare approach. To help with my breakouts, I started by changing my diet. I tried to incorporate more greens and cut out dairy. This made such a difference. To be honest, I have a major sweet tooth and, as mentioned above, I love ice cream. Ice cream has both sugar and dairy, which can be hard for your body to digest. Once I cut this out of my diet for a while and added more greens, my skin began to clear up.

I also tried getting more sleep and managing stress levels through meditation and yoga. Yoga has been a lifesaver! It has helped with relaxation, sleep, and balance between work and social life. And now I can stand on my head. What’s not to love?

Olivia Culpo and her esthetician Leslie Kritzer

Peel Time!

Now for the products, I defer to my expert esthetician Leslie Kritzer of Mad Beauty LA. First up, what Leslie calls “the reset peel.” “Since Olivia is traveling so much and doesn’t have a lot of downtime, I decided to do a gentle- to medium-depth retinol infusion peel on her,” Kritzer says. “It jumpstarts the skin to regenerate new cells. It’s unique because it avoids damaging the outer surface by penetrating several high-dose active ingredients into the dermis through liposomal delivery. Facial infusion offers results for acne, aging, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation. The one drawback of this non-acid peel is that you have to leave with an orange face and it should stay on the skin for at least six to eight hours. The day after, the skin feels a little tight and windburned, and by day two or three the skin begins flaking. It really isn’t bad though, and the skin is rejuvenated and glowing in a week’s time! The only post-peel protocol I gave Olivia was that she needed to keep her skin hydrated and protected from the sun, especially when taking her afternoon hike.”

Keep scrolling for the complete breakdown of my skincare regimen!

302 Professional Skincare Sensitive Skin Cleanser $20

“I chose to give Olivia a sensitive skin formula because her skin is very sensitive. This cleanser will not strip away the skin’s naturally occurring acid mantle, which is our built-in defense against pathogens and bacteria. It also won’t leave the skin dehydrated and dry like most acne and foaming cleansers. I asked her to get some baking soda ($10) to keep in her bathroom and use a pinch together with a pump of cleanser as a gentle scrub 2-3 times per week. This keeps the skin from getting clogged, tricks the bacteria by altering the pH of the skin, and the added bonus is, it’s a skin brightener as well.

I also taught her the proper way to cleanse. You must put the cleanser directly onto dry skin and let it emulsify and break down the makeup, sunscreen, and dirt off the face. After 30 seconds of massaging it into skin, then add water, and rinse.”

Knutek MD 100% Pure Oxygen Plasma Serum $199

“This serum helps to stimulate healing and regeneration of new cells and is highly anti-inflammatory. Remember inflammation is the core issue of all skin problems, including acne and rosacea.”

“This blemish serum ($60) clears blemishes, normalizes oil production, shrinks pores, increases skin's immune support, hydrates, calms inflammation, protects skin from UV rays, restores the epidermal barrier, and restores dermal thickness.”

Knutek MD Whipped Oxygen Cream $45

“This moisturizer contains MSM, which is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial healing agent. It forms the flexible link between cells, helping to restore soluble collagen. It also contains oxygen plasma, a powerful anti-irritant that kills acne-causing bacteria.”

Tinted Moisturizer With SPF
Revision Skincare Intellishade Tinted Moisturizer Original SPF 45 $75

“This product is liquid gold and offers great coverage from the harmful effects of the sun while providing a sheer tinted glow to the skin. This product is a game-changer—no pore-clogging over here!”

Osmosis Harmonized Water Skin Perfection $40

“This is an oral supplement. It’s used for all skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Olivia drinks five pumps mixed in 2-4 ounces of water a.m. and p.m. I also make her a special healing mask. The hero ingredients of which are beta-glucan and probiotics. Beta-glucan is a natural compound extracted from oats or plants that helps maintain a youthful appearance for the skin. When applied topically, beta-glucan is quickly absorbed into the skin and is accepted by the immune system, starting a process that attacks invading bacteria and viruses. Probiotics are helpful bacteria that protect the body from harmful bacteria that can make its way out through the skin.”

When I Feel a Breakout Coming On
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion $17

When I do start to notice a blemish forming, I immediately clean the area. I'll use my daily face wash, but also use witch hazel ($4) after to make sure I remove all dirt and oil. Once I clean the area, I try not to pick or touch it at all. I've noticed how terribly my skin reacts when I touch it with my hands, which carry natural oils. (I know it can be tempting, but don't do it!) I also have a spot treatment that I'll use after witch hazel: Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion ($17). I even sleep with this on a breakout to dry it out.

Another trick I have is the Sirius Pulsar Blue Light Blemish Clearing Device ($25). Since my breakouts were more cystic and under the skin, this was helpful for me. The blue light helped kill bacteria that was much deeper than on the surface of the skin.

And I love to use Murad’s Acne Treatment Concealer ($30) to cover up blemishes. It’s a medicated concealer that contains a tiny bit of salicylic acid, so it treats the area and covers the blemish at the same time. It's one of my staples!

Olivia Culpo on an airplane

My In-Flight Essentials

Since traveling can cause my skin to act up, I take extra precautions when flying. While traveling I always carry Dickinson's Witch Hazel Formula Towelettes with Aloe ($4). I use these if my skin is feeling dirty and I don't have any way of washing my face. I also travel with a facial mist for hydration. My current favorite is La Mer’s The Mist ($70). For really long flights, I'll also bring an eye cream. I love La Mer’s Illuminating Gel ($145).

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