As you read in my previous post – Acne Treatments That Didn’t Work – I had bad acne, and it wasn’t going away, no matter what I tried. After two years of acne, I was 30 and I’d had enough! The last Dermatologist I visited in LA gave me a prescription for Differin cream, which again, didn’t work. A few months after moving to Las Vegas, I went to yet another Dermatologist. I asked him for a prescription for Yasmin BCP. I had done my research, and this pill seemed really promising because it was supposed to be good for acne, and hair loss (remember I was also combating that), and it wasn’t supposed to make you gain any weight! Perfect! I started on that, and after about two months my acne started to go away (I think the acne got a little worse before it got better). I also noticed the pill improved my mood (but maybe that was just because my acne was going away). I knew the pill would help my acne, but I had initially hesitated taking it because of my issues with hair loss. But remember, when I was on the Ortho Tri-Cyclen, I still had acne, so I needed to take further measures.
The new Dermatologist switched me from Differin cream to Differin gel, and I don’t know if that made any difference or not. Random note: I use the .1% Differin, but notice they now have a stronger .3% version. Interesting. Well the good thing about Differin is that is has NO side effects on me at all. It doesn’t dry out my face or make it oily. It’s expensive, though. Oh, yeah, and so is the Yasmin, since there’s no generic for it, but it’s worth it!!!! At the same time, I had just finished reading Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me – Paula Begoun which talks about all of the major skin care products on the market. The book helped me narrow down which products were worth using (for acne and for wrinkles), and it taught me even more about what actually works for your skin, and what is crap (a lot of products!) You should check out Paula’s website: Cosmetics Cop. Also at the same time, I found the fabulous MakeupAlley which lists products and has viewer reviews. It’s extremely helpful to see what “real” people have to say about products, and whether or not they work or cause their skin to breakout, etc. Finally, the last key to my product research came when I discovered several websites that listed product ingredients that can cause your pores to clog and your skin to breakout. I will make a separate post about these sites and the ingredients because it’s a long list! So guess what, almost EVERY single moisturizer or acne product I owned contained ingredients that were alleged huge pore cloggers! WTF? It turns out (from my estimate) 75% of the products on the market will possibly clog your pores, if you are acne-prone. Even acne products, and non-comodogenic, oil-free products contain these ingredients! Why? So that you will mess up your skin even more and buy more products?? I don’t know. Also, a lot of the acne products I used dried out my skin even more, making me need even more moisturizer, and making the acne worse.
Here is the “acne safe” morning regimen I follow:
– Wash my face with Philosophy Purity Made Simple cleanser. This is a great cleanser because it hydrates as it cleanses, so my skin doesn’t feel parched. If I travel to somewhere humid, I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish, which is a little more drying.
– Apply Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate or Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream. Sometimes I mix in a pinch of Philosophy Hope And A Prayer topical Vitamin C powder. I need antioxidants, and peptides to fight against wrinkles!
– Apply Clinique Moisture On-line. Remember I live in Vegas and have super dry skin. When I go to Hawaii, or somewhere else humid, I don’t need as much moisture!
– Mix Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream For Face – SPF 55 with Maybelline Pure Makeup Nude (nude). I know I am diluting the sunscreen, and I need to research how much this effects its SPF.
– Put on Maybelline Instand Age Rewind Under Eye Concealer (medium) on any spots (I’m not crazy about this concealer, but it’s fine), and then put on Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder (medium) with a powder brush. It’s a very light, non-cakey powder.
Here’s my night regimen:
– Use the same cleansers as the morning.
– Apply Differin .1% gel. I used to rotate this with TxSystems Afirm 3x, a strong retinol, but it’s drying, so it sometimes makes my face flaky. I am pretty sure the Differin also works similarly to Retin-A as a wrinkle-reducer/preventor, but I haven’t found any studies comparing the effectiveness of Differin to Retin-A.
– Apply Dove Energy Glow Night Cream. Sometimes I use Burt’s Bees Marshmallow Vanishing Creme, but I think it clogs my pores, so I just use it around my eyes. I don’t love these creams, but haven’t found anything better.
– If I feel a breakout is coming, I’ll use Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel in the morning, instead of the antioxidant serum. Paula says that Salicyclic Acid needs to be at the proper ph level to work, and supposedly a lot of products are not effective because of the wrong ph.– If I do get the rare pimple, I’ll dab it with Paula’s Choice Blemish Fighting Solution and TxSystems Afirm 3x.
– Once a week I use the fabulous Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel. Even though the Differin keeps my skin exfoliated, this is gentle enough that it makes my skin look great, and it’s not irritating at all
– When my face feels especially dry, I’ll use Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Treatment Mask.
Other things I do to help my skin include washing my face with lukewarm water (no hot water or ice on pimples – FU The Acne Cure book). Then I bought a big pack of washcloths at Target and use a new washcloth every day to very gently pat my skin dry after washing. And from Wal-Mart of all places, I found some fabulous satin (well 100% poly) pillowcases that I make sure to change often. These leave you with no wrinkles on your face in the morning, and they are good for your hair!
After three months of this regimen, I was acne-free (and my skin wasn’t super flaky anymore), and I still am two years later! That’s my “after” picture in this post. I do not believe my acne would be gone if I didn’t do all of the things I do – the pill, the non-pore clogging products, and probably the Differin (I don’t know if it “really” works, but I’m afraid to not use it at the same time). For women that have hormonal acne who don’t want to take the pill (or Accutane) I honestly don’t know what to do to be acne-free. Maybe acne laser treatments (oh yet another post). Also, aside from the Differin, I don’t think the products I use help my acne as much as they don’t make it worse. Once my acne went away, I was left with about 50 red spots where the acne used to be. Luckily I only got one actual scar during the whole process. The saga of the red spots will be left for another post as well. And the saga of the blackheads on my nose will also be left for later.