01/15/2013 02:51 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2013

Breaking Up With My Beauty Routine

From eye cream to bleaching cream, I've tried just about everything that my friends and -- ahem -- the good ol' Internet have vouched for. (I currently harbor loads of unopened vials and tools under my sink... hello, endlessly scary derma roller).

A year ago, to give my tired skin a break, I started seeing an esthetician whose own frustratingly sensitive skin forced a homemade line: products include oatmeal cleansers, apple juice toners and jojoba oil lotions (all of which hover around $10.00). She chastised me for my dedication to the Clarisonic Mia -- "You buff the floor, not your face" -- and ranted that chemical-laden products thin out skin, making it susceptible to environmental bacteria. It all makes sense, right?

But, when a crop of adult acne sprang up last month, I rebelled against Mariana's advice and booked a crazy, expensive facial with a celeb-touted miracle worker. She went to town on my skin using ice and steam contraptions, needles filled with electric currents and even an infrared-laser-type deal that promised to kill all the dirty little critters living in my pores. According to her, I was over-exfoliating with oatmeal (hence the breakouts), and corrected me when I told her I had combination skin (which is apparently not the case -- it's dry). And so began my foray back into the world of products riddled with the can't-pronounce-ingredients I had avoided on Mariana's regiment. I even bought a very pricey serum that's a mini-chemical peel in a bottle: A stinging potion I slather on nightly that feels like it's working and, I'll reluctantly admit, has been majorly helpful -- I no longer feel that awful heat under my skin and those red bumps disappeared in a matter of days.

This is where I'm stuck: My brain tells me the more holistic (and affordable) stuff is better for me long-term, but the instant gratification of blasting my skin with acid shuts that voice up, quick. What school of thought do you belong to?