I Tried the Cleanser Serena Williams Swears By to Prevent Breakouts—and It Worked Like Magic

When I was offered the opportunity to test the exact facial cleanser used by Olympians Serena Williams and Adam Rippon, I knew right away I had stumbled onto something very good.

I’m not an athlete. In fact, I barely break a sweat when I work out at most twice a week. But I’m not blind either—anyone who’s seen Serena and Adam’s faces can tell they know a thing or two about maintaining healthy skin.

The cleanser in question is MZ Skin’s Cleanse & Clarify Dual Action AHA Cleanser & Mask ($92; neimanmarcus.com), a gel product that can be either applied and rinsed off immediately, or worn as a mask and rinsed off in 10 to 15 minutes.

I first tried the product—about which Williams said, “It’s my secret, and it’s amazing”—as a straight-up cleanser after a light strength-training workout. I hadn’t been sweating, but my skin was warm from the activity.

The tacky texture of the gel reminded me of Vaseline upon application, but not in an unpleasant way. It squeezed easily from the bottle onto my fingers and didn’t tug at my face at all as I rubbed it in circular motions across my water-splashed cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead.

The cleanser contains lactic acid and papaya enzyme, which break up the bonds holding dead skin to living skin. In a cleanser, these ingredients help clear away built-up cells that trap bacteria underneath.

After rinsing, my skin didn’t feel overly tight or dried out. I wasn’t rushing to apply moisturizer right away since my face felt nicely plumped up and hydrated already. With some face washes, I try to avoid cleansing both morning and night to lessen the stress on my skin, but this product was gentle enough to use in both my AM and PM routines.

When used as a mask—a step that likely fits in Rippon’s routine somewhere between a hydrating serum and “check[ing] to make sure Stormy Daniels is raising enough money for her legal fees”—the active ingredients in this product can polish and brighten your complexion.

On a separate evening, I tested the leave-on effects of this product. I used the cleanser to wash and rinse my face and, on clean skin, I applied a quarter-sized amount of the gel all over, avoiding contact with my eyes.

After leaving the product on for ten minutes, I rinsed again and finished my routine, applying moisturizer and sealing with petroleum jelly. The next morning, my skin felt bouncy and smooth to the touch—no micro-bumps along the bridge of my nose or in the pit of my chin—and my coloring looked glowier and more even.

Not all cleansers should be used as leave-on treatments, as it’s possible they contain drying sulfates or alcohols. But MZ Skin Dual Action AHA Cleanser Mask opts for gentle ingredients that won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin with prolonged contact, and is supported by plenty of moisturizing ingredients.

Shop the Olympian-worthy cleanser/mask duo at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Net-a-Porter.

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