Skin Stories

How This K-Beauty Addict Conquered Her Breakouts

Meet Sara, a skincare enthusiast who couldn’t find a solution to her hormonal acne until Atolla.

Sara G.

Atolla Member

Sara G.



Skin Stories

Skin Stories is a feature series written by Atolla members about their relationship with their skin.

Korean skincare gave me perfect skin. In 2013, Asian beauty influencers on YouTube were promoting the miracles of multi-step routines with an arsenal of products. It was before you could buy brands like Innisfree and Laneige at Sephora, and before most people in the U.S. had even heard of snail cream. I bought a few of the most popular products, and it transformed my skin — at the time.

For the next five years, I received countless compliments. A bank teller would tell me I had flawless skin. A woman at the gym would comment on my smooth, no-makeup complexion. Friends would turn to me for product recommendations. It was a point of pride for me. Every morning and night, I would diligently tap at least five products into my glowy and plump face.

Everything changed in 2018. I switched birth controls and it wreaked havoc on my skin. I started waking up to multiple under-the-skin bumps all along my jawline and chin. At first, I did what I would normally do when I got a pimple around that time of the month: I attacked it with acids, tea tree oil, a pimple patch, and treated it with healing cream laced with Centella Asiatica. 

I ordered expensive treatments, promised by beauty editors and influencers to have the power to combat any breakout. I tried pricey oils, serums, masks, and spot treatments. Nothing worked.

But to no avail. The acne kept popping up. And they were angry — red and painful — and impossible to hide. That’s when the battle really began. I started researching obsessively. I ordered expensive treatments, promised by beauty editors and influencers to have the power to combat any breakout. I tried pricey oils, serums, masks, and spot treatments. Nothing worked. I started getting small, red, flat spots all over my cheeks that turned darker as time went on. 

For the first time in my life, at the age of 27, I felt embarrassed to go out with no makeup on. I went on a trip to Mexico with family, and I struggled to feel confident going to the beach or pool without makeup. I felt naked without concealer, but also felt silly wearing it in the water. It was exhausting!

My doctor diagnosed me with hormonal acne and prescribed a topical antibiotic called Clindamycin. It gave me terrible stomach aches, so I stopped using it immediately. I switched birth controls, but that only made my skin worse as my body adjusted, and I started breaking out on my chest.

This spring, I decided to give Atolla a try. I liked the idea of a serum made specifically for my skin, which was now itchy and irritated from all the treatments I was applying. I loved the process of testing your own skin for its oiliness, moisture level and pH. It feels like a fun science experiment! I chose to have the serum come in the form of an oil — a smooth, slippery texture that I like to gently rub into my skin.

It’s been three months since I started using Atolla every night. The active ingredients in my personally tailored formula includes 1% salicylic acid, radish seed extract, tea tree oil and rosehip oil. The serum — combined with a few gentle products that have become a part of my pared-down, daily skincare routine — has done the impossible: conquered my hormonal acne.

The before and after photos speak for themselves. While I still have some hyperpigmentation on my cheeks, I know they will go away with time and my dedication to SPF! Atolla has given me peace. I am no longer losing hours of my life online, going down wormholes of research to find some obscure product to treat my skin. I don’t fall for the beauty experts and their expensive products that promise smooth, even skin. I have a trusty serum made just for me, and my unique skin.

- Sara G. (Brooklyn, NY)

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