My Stubborn Acne Refused to Clear Up — Until I Tried This $4 Spray From Trader Joe's

POPSUGAR Photography | Brinton Parker
POPSUGAR Photography | Brinton Parker

I'm about to say something that's earned me a lot of half-kidding "f*ck yoooou"s from friends since I was a teenager: I don't typically struggle with acne. That's not to say I don't have my own special set of skin issues; I fight a near-constant battle against stubborn dark circles, flaky dry patches, and easy facial scarring, not to mention that my skin is ultrasensitive and thus prone to allergic reactions. But for as long as I can remember, I've never dealt with consistent pimples — so on the rare occasion when I do get a breakout, it's major enough that everybody in my life notices.

I can tell that a breakout isn't just my imagination when my sweetheart of a fiancé asks me if I'm stressed. The most recent example of this happened only two weeks ago, and while my stress level has been a bit higher than normal — I'm planning a rapidly approaching wedding — I couldn't pinpoint the cause. All I knew was, despite concentrated tried-and-true efforts on my part, the stubborn patches of zits on my cheeks would not clear up.

I thought "why not?" when I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and saw its new rose water facial toner for only $4. It wasn't going to make my skin any worse . . . right?

I had tried it all: acne spot dots, detoxifying clay masks, drinking massive amounts of water, going makeup-free even on workdays, changing my pillowcase every night. None of my usual methods did a damn thing. So since my skin was already painful (my acne occurs mostly beneath the skin's surface) and uncharacteristically spotted, I thought "why not?" when I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and saw its new rose water facial toner for only $4. It wasn't going to make my skin any worse . . . right?

I subbed the rose toner mist in for my usual choice, after my favorite GLAMGLOW cleanser ($32) and before my Farmacy Beauty moisturizer ($45) and go-to Benefit eye cream ($34). I sprayed the mist onto cotton rounds, then applied to my face and neck.

The next morning, I noticed that the stubborn patches of blemishes on my cheeks had begun to fade, and were less painful than they'd been the night before. Not one to question a miracle, I again added the Trader Joe's toner to my morning routine and tossed it into my work bag afterward, using the spritz on my face throughout the day when I needed refreshing. By the evening, the redness of my acne spots had substantially subsided, leaving only a few bumps on my cheek. Within two days, my breakout was gone completely. I'm happily writing this with acne-free cheeks, and I've finally been able to get back to playing with makeup.

Though I know that the Trader Joe's toner isn't solely responsible for my skin improving — I have a full skincare routine, after all — the timing was pretty impeccable, and it certainly played a part. I've already gone back to Trader Joe's to stock up on a few more bottles of the toner, because nothing's worse than falling in love with a product and then having it inexplicably disappear from shelves.

Keep reading for photos of my results and more info on the toner's ingredients. If you're looking for a new, affordable way to mix up your skincare routine, or maybe you're just desperate for a miracle like I was, I suggest giving it a shot! At four bucks, there's not much to lose.

Mid-breakout
POPSUGAR Photography | Brinton Parker

Mid-breakout

I don't have many photos in the midst of the breakout — I'm not exactly snapping selfies when I'm unhappy with my skin — but here's a photo that shows one of my patches of pimples. There were also several painful spots on my other cheek, and some down near my jawline. (This pic, snapped for an Instagram story, strategically showed my clearer side.)

Two days after starting the toner — mostly clear!
POPSUGAR Photography | Brinton Parker

Two days after starting the toner — mostly clear!

After two days using the toner, I giddily snapped this selfie of my near-invisible pimples. The redness of my acne patches had subsided, but even more happily, the pain and soreness beneath my skin had disappeared entirely.

Back to normal!
POPSUGAR Photography | Brinton Parker

Back to normal!

Now, I'm back to wearing makeup and dealing with my usual set of skin issues. I've adopted the Trader Joe's toner as a permanent addition to my daily routine, using it in the morning, evening, and throughout the day as needed.

More information about the toner
POPSUGAR Photography | Brinton Parker

More information about the toner

I've used a handful of more expensive rose water facial sprays that you'd surely recognize, but this find is my favorite. It contains ingredients like rose flower water, rose oil, witch hazel, and glycerin, and works for sensitive skin. My one complaint is that the spray contains artificial fragrance to enhance its scent, which seems unnecessary considering the abundant floral ingredients.

You can find it on Trader Joe's shelves for just under $4.