Nov26th

Guide to Cure Acne

Categories: Acne
Leave A Comment: Comments(34)


acne cureAs you may know, I suffered from adult acne for a few years, and tried so many different treatments, read a bunch of books about acne, and saw several Dermatologists. It took about three years of trial and error before I was able to “cure” my acne. I put the word “cure” in quotes because there is not actually a true cure for acne, but it is possible to get to the point of having clear skin indefinitely. I do worry my acne may come back one day, but I’ve been clear of it for several years now, and feel I now have the tools to control it. On a scale of 1-5, where 1 is minimal acne, and 5 is cystic acne, I was about a 3. I can only speak from personal experience, so since I did not have cystic, extremely severe acne, I do not know if my guide will help with cystic acne. If your acne is severe, I would definitely seek out a Dermatologist. I also had dry skin when I had my acne, and was in my late 20s when I developed it, just so that you have some background on my skin.

If you haven’t read them yet, here are my other acne posts that tie into this article:
Acne treatments that didn’t work
How I cured my adult hormonal acne
The pill to treat hormonal acne
How to prevent cosmetic acne

Acne is complicated, and for most people, several different things need to be done to get rid of it. This is why just using a Clearasil product, or even a system like Proactiv, is generally not effective.

Acne is caused by several factors:
1) Hormones
2) Overproduction of oil by the oil gland
3) Irregular or excessive shedding of dead skin cells – on the surface of the skin, and inside the pore
4) A buildup of bacteria in the pore
5) Some cosmetics, and ironically some skin care and acne products themselves, if they contain pore-clogging ingredients
6) Less common – certain medications, or a sensitivity to skin care products, or certain foods

To get rid of acne, you need to: control hormonal activity and oil production, exfoliate the skin and pores, kill the bacteria that causes the infection, and eliminate factors that make acne worse (like pore-clogging skin care products).

Systemic – treat your whole body
I believe in treating acne not only on the surface of your skin, but systemically (treating your whole body, from the inside out).

Food
You always hear that food doesn’t cause acne, and that’s true in a basic sense (you will not breakout just because you eat a chocolate bar), but eating a bad diet can absolutely make acne worse. A lot of foods are not good for you, and they cause inflammation in the body, and this inflammation makes acne worse. I will write more about this in future posts. In short, you should cut back a lot on processed or fried foods, sugar, and simple carbs like white bread, for example. As the saying goes – garbage in, garbage out. Eating foods high in antioxidants, and high in nutrients will help keep inflammation down. An excessive amount of iodine can make acne worse, so avoid foods high in iodine (sea kelp, shellfish are a few), and know that iodine pills can worsen acne. Smoking can also make acne worse.

Antibiotics
Oral antibiotics can reduce bacteria, thus helping to eliminate pimples, however it’s not safe to be on antibiotics for a long time. I was on antibiotics for acne, and it did help, however this is a short-term solution. It will only get rid of your acne while you are on it, and you can build up a resistance to antibiotics, or incur side effects like yeast infections.

Birth Control Pills
For women, I believe birth control pills can work wonders for acne. Low androgen pills, like Yasmin, or Ortho Tri-Cyclen, reduce oil production. I have had great success with Yasmin, and plan to remain on it for the long-term to control my acne. You need to research the side effects of birth control pills, though, because the side effects (such as hair loss) can be severe. I do worry that long-term use of the pill can be harmful, but at this point I personally find the benefits outweigh the negatives. Be careful about pills that are high in androgens, because they can make acne worse.

Accutane
Accutane is a prescription pill that is used for severe acne, and it can eliminate acne for most people. The results aren’t always permanent, though, so it may only work for a few years. The side effects can be extreme, so I personally wouldn’t go on Accutane until I’ve exhausted other options. Talk with your Dermatologist, and make sure you extensively research Accutane before you go on it. You will need monthly blood tests, and cannot get pregnant while taking it. It is most likely the best treatment for severe, cystic acne, though.

Topical skin care treatments for acne
The first rule of skin care is to be gentle and do not do harm to your skin. Use lukewarm water (not hot, or super cold, and no ice cubes). If you have acne, you may think you need something harsh to get rid of acne, but that is not true!

Avoid irritating products
Say NO to products that contain SD alcohol, Alcohol Denat, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Menthol. A lot of products can irritate your skin, causing inflammation, and worsening acne. Reference my list of irritating and pore-clogging product ingredients. Guess what – most toners contain these bad ingredients! I cannot begin to tell you how MAD I am at skin care companies that sell products that make acne worse! It really is upsetting, because not only do you waste your money and not help your acne, but you make it worse. These ingredients may feel good on your skin, or feel like they are working because your skin burns, but they are hurting your skin!

Prevent cosmetic acne
You may be shocked to discover most skin care products (including ones to treat acne), and a lot of cosmetics, can clog your pores!!! How can you get rid of acne when the very products you use make it worse?? Again, I get LIVID when I look at the ingredients of some acne skin care products at the store. I believe skin care products for acne should do no harm (like the “do no harm” oath doctors take). When I was researching product ingredients during my struggle to cure my acne, I discovered almost every product I owned had ingredients on my pore clogging list. Just eliminating bad products can make a huge difference in your skin. It may seem like a pain to take the list with you to the store, or read about product ingredients online before you shop, but it’s worth it!

I don’t care what a product label says – all natural, won’t clog pores, Dermatologist tested, oil-free, non-comedogenic, for acne – those words mean nothing! You must read the ingredients of a product, and make sure it doesn’t contain pore clogging ingredients! Also stay away from bar soaps because they can clog pores.

Exfoliation – on the surface of your skin, and from inside the pore
Exfoliation is a must if you have acne. You want to keep the outer layer of your skin as smooth as possible, so that there is nothing clogging your pores externally.

- Physical exfoliants
I use a soft washcloth, and GENTLY rub it to dry and exfoliate my face morning and night. I have a big stack of cheap washcloths, and use a different one each day to prevent bacteria from building on it. If you have acne, you don’t want to use products that have harsh physical exfoliants (like scrubs with seed kernels in it) because that will irritate your skin and acne, and can cause bacteria to spread. Even scrubs with little beads may be too harsh and can aggravate acne.

A physical exfoliating scrub I’ve had great success with is Philosophy Microdelivery Peel. You can use it twice a week to gently dissolve the top layer of your skin, and it has Vitamin C crystals that gently slough off dead skin. By keeping your skin exfoliated, products can also penetrate your pores better.

- Chemical exfoliants
2% Salicylic Acid is a gentle chemical exfoliant that penetrates your pores to clean them from the inside out. You want to make sure the product you use is pH balanced properly, or the Salicylic Acid won’t be effective. I recommend Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel. It also comes in a lotion and liquid form. Aside from buying pH strips (like you use in Science class), there’s no way to know if a product has the correct pH, which is why I use Paula’s Choice, since she says hers is between the correct pH of 3 to 4. You don’t want to use Salicylic Acid if you are allergic to aspirin. If that’s the case, you can use an 8% or 10% Glycolic Acid instead.

Improve cell turnover and production
Another crucial step toward curing your acne is to use a Retinoid-based product. Retinoids cause your skin to “shed” faster, and they promote healthy cell growth, which can unclog pores. I personally use the prescription Differin, but Retin-A Micro or Tazorac can be good options as well. Differin Gel has caused me no side effects at all, which is why I like it. I haven’t tried Tazorac, and Retin-A Micro can cause a lot of initial peeling, but that should taper off after regular use. I strongly urge you to talk to your Dermatologist about getting one of these prescriptions. You want to stay away from the regular Retin-A or Renova, because they contain pore clogging ingredients.

If you don’t want to see a Dermatologist, you can try a strong over-the-counter Retinol. I would recommend TxSystems Afirm. It comes in three strengths, and if you don’t have extremely sensitive skin, you can try the 3x strength, or work your way up from the lower strength versions. Your skin will probably initially peel a bit from this, but that should go away in a week or two of regular use. There are some other good Retinol-based products out there, but a lot of products with Retinol contain a very small amount of it, which isn’t going to do much.

Kill bacteria
Benzoyl Peroxide, which is what’s in Proactiv, Clearasil, and a host of other acne products, will help kill the bacteria on your skin, and it has the ability to penetrate into your pores. A 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide product is usually fine and causes minimal irritation. There are 5% and 10% options, but they can sometimes cause irritation, which isn’t good for acne. I use Paula’s Choice Blemish Fighting Solution. You only need to apply the product where you have acne, and there’s no need to apply it to your nose if you only have blackheads, since it doesn’t work on blackheads.

There are additional prescription antibiotic topical products that kill bacteria, which can be used by themselves, or with Benzoyl Peroxide. Long-term use isn’t recommended, though, because you can develop a resistance to antibiotics. Tetracycline, Clindamycin, and Erythromycin are popular prescription topicals. I didn’t need a prescription topical antibiotic once I followed my self-designed “acne cure.”

Hydrate skin if you have dry skin
If you have oily skin, your skin may not need additional moisturizers to keep it hydrated. The goal with treating acne is to not overly dry it out with bad products, and then need to artificially moisturize your skin. If you live in a dry climate, or have dry skin and acne, then it is crucial to keep your skin hydrated, so that you can keep the outer skin barrier healthy. None of the products and steps I’ve mentioned should dry your skin out very much (except your initial uses of Retin-A Micro or a strong Retinol), but if you have naturally dry skin, a moisturizer is essential. I like Clinique Moisture On-line because it keeps my skin hydrated and plump, and it lasts for most of the day. If your skin isn’t super dry like mine, then any moisturizer that doesn’t contain pore clogging ingredients should be fine. Also drinking enough water will help keep you properly hydrated, which is good for your body as a whole.

Tips for oily skin
As an adult I haven’t had oily skin, so I haven’t had first-hand experience with it. If you have oily skin that bothers you, you can use a clay mask twice a week to combat the oil. Just make sure it doesn’t have irritating ingredients in it. Paula Begoun also recommends doing a mask with Milk of Magnesia, which I haven’t tried, so I don’t know if it works. You buy plain Milk of Magnesia at the drugstore (it’s sold for upset stomachs), and apply it in a thin layer, wait for it to dry, and rinse it off. Also, there’s no need to use a moisturizer if you have oily skin. There are makeup primers you can use that can help absorb excess oil, and you can also blot throughout the day with a tissue or blotting paper.

Use sunscreen
I recommend always using sunscreen, no matter what, and it’s especially important when you use products like Retinoids that make your skin more sensitive to the sun. People may think the sun helps with acne, but while it may in the short-term, it makes your skin way worse in the end. The sun inflames your skin, and remember inflammation is bad for your skin, and it of course causes wrinkles. Acne eventually comes back after sun exposure, so just say no to the sun! My favorite sunscreen – Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream For Face dries with a matte finish, and it doesn’t clog pores, so it can be a good option for oily or dry skin. Its main ingredient Zinc Oxide also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can actually calm inflammation.

Other acne tips
Change your pillowcase twice a week or more so that you aren’t putting your face on oiliness all night. Also wipe down your phone and cell phone at least once a week with a cleansing wipe to get rid of bacteria. Get in the habit of not touching your face, which can put bacteria on your face, or spread it. Don’t pick at your pimples, especially if they are red! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked at red pimples, and either got a tiny scar, or a red dot – which lasted for two years. When my acne was really inflamed, I used to take Advil, which is an anti-inflammatory. I don’t know if this really calms acne, so I pretty much took it on a hunch. Talk with your doctor before taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.

How to put all the steps to curing acne together to create a day-to-day plan:
-If you are female and are on the pill, but are on one that is high in androgens, talk with your doctor about switching to a low androgen/high estrogen pill. Read up on the pill (and its side effects) if you aren’t on it, but would consider taking it. I cannot give medical advice, but will just tell you the pill has made a tremendous difference in my skin, and I have not incurred any side effects from it. I do have hair loss problems, but have no definitive proof that it was caused by long-term use of the pill. The pill doesn’t work overnight, and there is a chance your skin can get slightly worse before it gets better. After two months you should see definite results, and it will take at least three months to see maximum results.

-Start thinking about what you eat every day, and realize that eating healthy will not only improve your skin, but it will improve your body as a whole. Read up on healthy eating and do your best to cut back on sugar, simple carbs, and processed food. If you smoke, consider stopping.

Here’s a sample daily skin care regimen:
Morning:
-Wash with a gentle cleanser. For dry skin, I recommend Philosophy Purity Made Simple, and for oily or normal skin, I recommend Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish. These don’t contain pore clogging ingredients. The Neutrogena has Salicylic Acid in it, which is good, but because a cleanser only stays on your face for 30 seconds, I doubt the Salicylic Acid does much. Finding a cleanser that doesn’t clog pores, and that is gentle and cleanses well, but doesn’t strip your skin, is the most important factor. You can also use a soft washcloth to gently exfoliate and pat dry your skin.

-Apply Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel (or your pH balanced 2% Salicylic Acid product of choice). Remember that you must find a product that doesn’t contain pore clogging or irritating ingredients.

-Let the Salicylic Acid dry, and then apply a thin layer of 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide – Paula’s Choice Blemish Fighting Solution is my choice. If you choose another Benzoyl Peroxide, make sure it doesn’t contain pore clogging ingredients.

-If you have dry skin, apply a moisturizer (without pore clogging ingredients) like Clinique Moisture On-line, or Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream. Skip this step if you have oily skin.

-Apply a non-pore clogging sunscreen, such as Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream For Face.

-Apply your makeup as usual, and make sure you check all your makeup (even the powder) for pore clogging ingredients! I have great results with Maybelline Pure Makeup Shine-Free Foundation, and top that with Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder. As a concealer, I use Maybelline Age Rewind Under Eye Concealer.

Night:
-Cleanse with the same cleanser you used in the morning, and use a soft washcloth to gently exfoliate as needed.

-Wait until your skin is completely dry, and apply your Retinoid (Differin, Tazorac, or Retin-A Micro) or Retinol (TxSystems Afirm) product. Talk with your Dermatologist, but initially you will build up to using the Retinoid nightly, but you may start out by using it every other night.

-Wait a few minutes, and if your skin is dry, apply a moisturizer like the Olay Regenerist from your morning routine. You don’t want to apply a moisturizer that has any “active ingredients” in it, so check the label.

Twice a week, at night:
-Use a gentle exfoliating treatment like Philosophy Microdelivery Peel after your cleanse, and before you apply your Retinoid product. Remember you must apply the Retinoid to dry skin. The first few weeks of using your Retinoid product, your skin may be too sensitive to use this peel, so skip it if that’s the case. If you are using Differin as your Retinoid, you might not have any skin sensitivity at all, so you may be able to use the peel right away. Just be gentle and massage the peel very lightly into your skin.

-If you have super oily skin, once or twice a week on nights you aren’t using the gentle exfoliating scrub, you can apply your non-pore clogging/non-irritating clay mask or Milk of Magnesia after you cleanse. I just noticed Paula Begoun has a Skin Balancing Carbon Mask. I haven’t tried it, but Paula makes a lot of good products, so it might be a good option.

-If you have super dry skin, Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask is a nice way to hydrate your skin once or twice a week.

If you give this whole routine a month and are not seeing any results, then you could consider an oral or topical antibiotic from your doctor. But remember that the results aren’t long-lasting with antibiotics, which is why I would avoid them if they aren’t needed. If your acne is severe and is not responding to this series of treatments, then you could consider Accutane, but again, this is a last resort. I realize not everyone will respond as well as I did to my routine, and I do believe the birth control pill (which not everyone will, or can take) is a big factor in my success in curing my acne. But just by eliminating all the bad products you may be using, and using the better products and ingredients I’ve recommended, I think you should see real results. A note on blackheads: Unfortunately, I have not been able to get rid of them. Even though Salicylic Acid and Retinoids should help with them, I still have them on my nose. When I find a way to get rid of them, you will be the first to know! If you want, I can compile a bigger list of possible product choices. I recommend the ones I do because I have personally tried them and have had great success with them.

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Related posts:

  1. The Pill To Treat Hormonal Acne?
  2. Light Therapy Acne Treatment
  3. Proactiv Solution For Acne
  4. How I Cured My Adult Hormonal Acne

 

34 Responses to “Guide to Cure Acne”

  1. Marsha Says:

    My acne”cure” parallels yours with one exception. I use Mild Cream Wash by Glytone after I wash my face at night. It contains glycolic acid, my dermatologist described it as giving myself a mini peel every other night.

  2. SageRave Says:

    Great tips! I haven’t seen a blog entry this thorough!

    I feel your strife with blackheads. Last year I started using a home glycolic acid peel kit and it has done wonders for my face, black heads are gone.

    I know that most people might be afraid to use glycolic acid but I have stayed with a %30 percent solution and it has been great. Lactic acid and salicylic acid can be purchased in different concentrations as well!

    Drop me a line if you want find out my favorite kits.

  3. jenn Says:

    Hi, love your blog! Have been reading for a month now. I ended up purchasing some of Paula’s Choice skin care on your recommendation and reviews on makeupalley.com. I’m using her skin balancing cleanser and 2% AHA lotion. So far so good. Just wanted to say thanks for such a great blog! I’m also going to try the Shishido Sunscreen since I hate my DDF stuff…leaves white stuff all over my face and I think it contributes to the white heads!

  4. Jen Says:

    Thank you for all of the work you put into this site. I am so happy I stumbled upon it weeks ago. Regarding the pill, I wanted to share my own experience in the quest for finding the right one to help my acne. It was a long and frustrating road: the “good” pills for acne (OrthoTriCyclen regular and Lo, Yasmin) did not help my acne much and gave me awful side effects. Pills that did not have side effects (awful cramping, bleeding, soreness, weight gain, etc.) were all the ones that were bad for my skin (OrthoNovum, Loestrin). Recently saw a new gynecologist who also specialized in endocrinology. She persuaded me to try Estrostep Fe. It is similar to Loestrin (which I had no side effects from, other than my skin staying pretty bad), but the hormone levels are multiphasic — more so than others– and it really seems to be working. No side effects and my acne is going away. What makes me want to share this info with everyone is the wonderful discovery I made yesterday at the pharmacy — the first generic for Estrostep Fe was released less than a month ago. I was willing to pay the high price for the brand (insurance companies and coverage for OC is a whole other rant . . .), but now with the generic my insurance covers it (a savings for me of over 30 dollars!). The generic is named Tilia Fe, and according to the info on the drug’s uses, it states, “Tilia Fe is also used to treat acne that does not respond to topical acne medicine in women able to take birth control pills.”

    Sorry for the length of the post. Just had to share and let everyone know that there is another good alternative out there.

  5. Joanne Says:

    Hi,

    Just want to say I absolutely love your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write this thorough post on acne. I can’t tell you how many things i tried in the past and nothing seem to really clear my acne for good. I don’t have bad acne but enough to bother me. I have combination skin which I think is the worst. I am going to try the Paula’s choice 2% and choice blemish fighting solution.

    Btw – do you use any toner and can you recommend a good one? I am currently making my own toner with Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with green tea.

    Thanks.

  6. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Marsha,
    That sounds like a good cleanser. I wouldn’t use it at night, though, if you use a Retinoid or Retinol, because Glycolic Acid can make Retinoids and Retinols inactive.

  7. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Jen,
    Oh you’re lucky that your pill just went generic! I know it’s going to be several years before Yasmin gets a generic. I have always responded well to pills that are generally good for acne, so I know I am lucky. Since everyone’s hormones are different, that is probably why different pills work for different people, even though some are “good” for acne and some are “bad.”

  8. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Joanne,
    I don’t usually use a toner since I already use enough products on my face, and don’t want to add another one. However, the toner I really like is Nivea Moisturizing Toner. It doesn’t contain alcohol, and it smells good. It’s sort of hydrating. I know most toners are made for oily skin, but it probably wouldn’t make sense to use the Nivea unless you have dry skin. Since most toners have alcohol, most of them are bad for skin.

  9. Larry Gresham Says:

    OUTSTANDING information. All acne sufferers, male or female, can get a lot from this article. Keep up the good work!

  10. Karen Says:

    I’m loving your site so far, but wondered if someone could answer a question for me. May sound silly but i’m not sure if i have acne.. how do you know? I have very few spots that you can see. My problem is more to do with HUGE pores that seem to be so clumpted together that they look like scars or ARE scars. My skin looks rough & dry and pitted, when i catch myself in the light my complexion looks like orange peel. HORRIBLE. SO, does it sound like acne or am i in the wrong place looking for help? Thanks.

  11. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Karen,
    Have you ever been to a Dermatologist, and if so, what did they say about your skin? If you have acne, you will get different pimples in different parts of your face, and they will eventually go away, and new ones will pop up in different areas.

    Some people have larger pores than others due to genetics. It’s possible your pores are clogged and the large pores are blackheads (which can be extracted by an esthetician). If you do have blackheads, and have them extracted, you may still be able to see the enlarged pore, though.

    I would recommend seeing a Dermatologist and getting a prescription for a retinoid product like Tazorac, Differin, or Retin-A Micro. While your large pores won’t go away completely, the retinoid will smooth out the texture of your skin, and help keep your pores less clogged. The Dermatologist can also diagnose if something else is going on (like Rosacea ).

  12. Eva Says:

    Hi! I’m new to your site, but I’m very excited by it! I had mild acne in high school, but a dermotologist prescribed tazorac and benzol something or other and, together with birth control, that kept it under control. But then, about a year and a half ago (when I was 20), my skin just went out of control-it started breaking out a ton more and ’scarring’ (it’s the same red spots you describe, so I know they’re not real scars, but it never used to happen and it drives me insane). And when I graduated from college a few months ago, I had to go off my birth control since I didn’t have medical insurance anymore, and things got even worse. Fortunately, I should be able to get back on Yasmin in a couple of months, but I’m going to start grad school next year and don’t have much disposable income, which leads me to my question…how long do these products last? While I’m definitely willing to pay money to have great skin (your skin in that after picture is just gorgeous!!), I’m not going to go into credit card debt, lol. In the meantime, I’ll keep exploring your site. :D

  13. Dawn Says:

    Hi,

    I don’t remember how I found your site, but I’m glad I did. I applaud you for sharing your experiences with acne and your thoroughness. It has caused me to re-look at the issue of comedogenic ingredients, to delve much further in to learning about and avoiding them. I’m a 31 year old with hormonal acne that was almost non-existent when I was on the OCP–yasmin–for years. Alas, I have decided not to be on the pill because of the daily migraines among other issues I had with it. I have a medical background and I knew that chronic headaches and the pill are dangerous. Anyway, since the birth of my child, 2 1/2 years ago, my hormonal acne has returned and just doesn’t seem to be going away. I’ve tried lots of topicals and been on (oral) spironolactone, a testosterone inhibitor, which was ok. Like you, I don’t have oily skin, so I have to watch out for overdrying products. I’m currently using Azalex, which I’ve used for years, a topical niacinamide called Metazene which I get non-Rx, Paula’s Choice 2% beta-hydroxy liquid and I’ve just started Differin 0.1% a little over a week ago. I see that you use Differin .1% and I am wondering if when you first started using this you experienced an initial “purging” ie I am having whiteheads coming to the surface and my skin is a bit redder, especially in the mouth area. It’s not highly irritated or anything, just a bit of peeling and slightly redder but not necessarily inflamed areas. I’m wondering if this is what often happens with Differin–bringing up whiteheads that are already there to the surface and I wonder if there is going to be a set point that will be reached when it will stop bringing up stuff. If it is going to always do this I’d rather leave it alone. If you could share your experience and/or things you’ve heard from others, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!
    Dawn in Seattle

  14. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Dawn,
    I’m sorry you are dealing with acne. I honestly can’t remember if my face got worse when I first started using Differin, or if it brought acne to the surface. A lot of acne is formed weeks earlier under the skin, so if it comes up, it could have been there for weeks. They do say that use of some acne products can make your skin worse for a few weeks before it gets better. However, whiteheads are usually really superficial, and from my own experience, I get them mostly from cosmetics and skin care products that have pore-clogging ingredients. I don’t get them from hormonal acne.

    Differin could definitely make your face more red at first, and more irritated. I actually have had no side effects from it at all, but when I was on Retin-A Micro, I did have a lot of peeling and redness. It should go away in a few weeks. Also make sure not to put the Differin on over wet/damp skin. I usually put a moisturizer on over it.

    After a month, ideally your face should start looking better. Let me know how it goes. And make sure to check every product you use on your face to make sure it doesn’t contain pore-cloggers.

  15. Laura at Acne FYI Says:

    Wow, we have such similar stories and backgrounds! I too have struggled with adult acne and eventually discovered that my acne is mainly due to allergies to cinnamon and musk. You can read my full story on my website at http://www.acnefyi.com. I also sell Arbonne and other skin care products and skin care books. Hopefully our sites can help to make a difference in acne victims lives and self-esteem.

  16. Emma Says:

    could you possibly list some more good makeup options? ive tried the ones youve listed but dont really like them that much. i also read paulas entire book about makeup but have a hard time narrowing it down!

  17. Sundaeg1rl Says:

    My acne appeared just after I hit 30. It was definitely made worse by being at uni – all that stress! However, since I finished uni (and the stress has died off), my skin was a bit better but not brilliant, and I was still getting obscene flare-ups. What worked for me was giving up dairy products – anything made with cow’s milk seems to trigger the zits! Giving up stuff like cheese was hard, but I started drinking goat’s milk instead of cowjuice and things weren’t so hard. You can tell when I’ve succumbed to the cheese because I have a faceful of trouble!

    I recommend that folks try cutting out different foods for a while to see if that’s what’s causing the acne. Also, lots of water and lots of sleep will help to!

  18. kaixiang Says:

    hi there , i had acne since 14 now i am 16 yr . i use clearasil spot control – 3 in 1 exfoliating cleanser but sometime after bathing i use clearsail and mine face will turn red TT. hope is not the product causing that or maybe mine hair shampoo is causing it ? . need more help on that . mine face now is not that oily anymore then last time but there are still some ance on mine cheeks and nose and as well as black and white head on nose. Oh and also mine face also had some pimple which is not so big .hope u can recommand me a good clearsail and hair shampoo for me or e-mail me i will sincerenly thank you. and wish to buy the product from you if you can do delievery it ^^

    Sorry for poor english -_-

  19. Erica Says:

    So do you not use the Beta Hydroxy Acid and Blemish fighting solution at night? I just purchased all of your recommended products and hope to see some results!

  20. elly Says:

    Omg thank you very much for all these tips. I just recently got on Birth Control and I am looking forward to my results. I even researched the pill up to see if it was good for my acne and if it didn’t worsen it. I was on antibiotics, but I’m not so sure if i should be taking both at the same time, so for now I am only taking the pill. Any advice?

  21. Camille Says:

    Another tip:
    If your water is chlorinated, install a shower filter that removes chlorine. Chlorine can clear up acne in the short run, but over a period of time, it dries your skin, which causes it to produce more oil to compensate, which can clog your pores. Chlorine is also damaging to the skin.

    My pores look noticeably less clogged after just 2 weeks of using a shower filter. They’re still clogged, but they’re better. My skin is normal/combination/gets dry sometimes.

    I use the Sprite brand of shower filter, which uses KDF-55 and Chlorgon (the only one that uses Chlorgon–most filters use KDF-55 which doesn’t seem to remove even nearly all the chlorine). It’s NSF certified to remove most of the chlorine. It’s also one of the cheapest ones out there. (But check your city’s water report–they may use chloramine instead of chlorine. Vitamin C filters claim they remove chloramine as well as chlorine, but they’re not NSF certified. I would have tried one if my roommates weren’t skeptical.)

  22. Kristin Says:

    I really like using toner since it seems like it gets anything left behind after washing my face. I looked at mine, and the second ingredient is a major no! Are there any toners you recommend? Also, I’ve got a lot of white heads. I think you said they are mostly due to cosmetic acne. I use Ulta Mineral power and I thought it was fine. Do you have any white head remedies?

  23. fashionforward Says:

    Kat James recommended Frutels as an all natural remedy for acne. they’re basically vitamins in chocolate. Wondering if you tried these and what did you think?(www,frutels.com)

  24. Nicole Says:

    Hi Jeni,

    This is a fantastic blog! You’ve included so much information here and I look forward to trying the Philosophy products and the Shiseido sunscreen. I currently use the Retin A Micro and it did have a some redness and peeling at first but it works great! It really gets rid of all of the pesky black-heads. Now I use it only when my skin breaks out to smooth it again so its not so sensitive all of the time. The redness and peeling are barely there now too. I wanted to recommend a make-up line I just started using; Bella Pierre. It’s a little more expensive but it has no additives and feels great on my skin. Here’s the website in case anyone is interested: http://www.bellapierre.com/ca/ . I’ve only tried the loose mineral powder so far but look forward to buying more products. I was actually wondering if you had any advice for anti-aging products for acne-prone skin? I’ve done a little research but get overwhelmed with all of the products (haven’t tried any yet) I don’t mind spending a little extra especially if it’s a good product. I find a lot of the less-expensive products have so many additives that’s really what you are paying for. I almost bought Meaningful Beauty but found a lot of iffy blogs about it and I couldn’t find an ingredients list. I’m not looking for a miracle cream but something to add to the daily regimen to moisturize, nourish, reverse some damage (just turned 31) but act more like a preventive… Wouldn’t mind finding something that can take care of age spots and acne scars too, is this asking too much?? Some of the products that are rated #1 are Dermavexin, Avotone, Lifecell, Prototype 37C, Dermajuv and Epuri. The Epuri is a great price at $30 but has a couple of pore-clogging ingredients, parabens and other unessary ingredients. Avotone, Prototype 37C also have parabens while Lifecell, Dermavexin and Dermajuv don’t. Are you concerned about parabens in your products? Maybe you can write a blog about that :)

  25. Jessica Says:

    I recently went to a Dermatogist for acne treatment, I was prescribed Retin-A cream. I have been using it for a few months, and I believe it has made my acne alot worse. I went to another Doctor who was telling me that the Retin-A cream isnt very good for acne, and actually can make it worse.( He said it was great for wrinkles) The problem is I am now left with a brand new tube of the cream. Is it safe to use on the back of my hands? I always put sunscreen on, I even carry it in my purse. I do alot of driving for my job so Im sure even with re-applying that my hands do have their fare share of sun damage. I would love to put this tube to use, so I dont have to waste it all…

  26. amy Says:

    Can some one help me. I am currently looking at the ingred in Dermalogica Tinted moisturiser. It has Cetearyl Alchohol, Glyceryl Stearate,Sodium Chloride, and Steric Acid. The Glyceryl Stearate, is listed as No 7, and Cetearly Alchohol is listed as the 8th ingred, and steric acid as the 9th. Sodium Chloride is near the bottom.

    Is this safe or one to avoid?

  27. amy Says:

    Can someone help me decide whether Cliques Pore refining Serum is safe?

    It has Alcohol Denat but this has a (0..5) This ingred is listed as no 8 in the list of ingrediants. It also has Dioctyl Succinate and Hexylene Glycol but these are close to the bottom of list.
    Shall i continue to use this product or not? xx

  28. Cathy Says:

    A very good read. I went through bouts of pimples that were normally caused by hormones. I spent some time in dermatologist’s offices and that helped too. Mostly my outbreaks were mild and usually related to my menstrual cycle. I don’t have pimples on a regular basis anymore but I remember how awful they made me feel.

  29. LISA Says:

    Hi.
    Love your blog. And its so weird cause if have use the same regimen as you do. I also use paulas choice proucts and Differin gel. i had beautiful skin for years. BUT i have a huge problem. I went off Ortho Tri Cylcen for two months. I noticed the first month off that i was breaking out a little. So after two months of being off, I went back on. Im on my second month now and my face is a huge mess.. Tons of white heads on my cheeks. All around the same area too. I find at least two more a day. I dont even want to leave the house. I had beautiful skin, what happened??? Do you think my skin has to get used to the birht control pill again? WIll i geet back my beautiful skin.. Please tell me what you think.. THANKS… Lisa

  30. Marilyn Says:

    Hi, thanks so much for this site. I have been using many of the products that you suggested and have had excellent results in the last month. A Sephora rep suggested GoClear serum and the Clarisonic, which I have to say, took my skin to a completely different level. After 3 days even my husband asked what I was doing because my skin looked several years younger and it got rid of stubborn blackheads. It was hard handing over $220 for a face scrubber, but the best $220 I have spent, I LOVE IT! Get the one with the exchangeable head so you can use it on your body, it is great!

  31. Laura Says:

    Benzoyl Peroxide (cleansers & creams) does/do work and better than Salicylic Acid (for most people). Benzoyl Peroxide kills one form of bacteria that Salicylic does not. Use a small percentage such as 2% and maybe use it every other day (depending on how your skin reacts to it) so your skin doesn’t get too dry or irritated. Use a Hyaluronic Acid serum to hydrate instead of a moisturizer because even oil-free moisturizers have some oil in them. This should be the first thing you put on after you wash your face (morning and night). Exfoliation is key whichever way you choose to do it (scrub or chemical). Antioxidants and oil free sunblock (make sure it’s definitely non pore clogging) are also important. Note: After exfoliating and using acne products your skin can burn more easily in the sun.

  32. Erika Says:

    Jeni,
    First, thanks for the great site and all the information – it has certainly been eye opening. I bought Paula Begoun’s book at your recommendation and couldn’t believe how many of my products were bad for my skin. I would like to share a bit of my story that may help others – after a few years of fighting what I thought was acne, it turns out that I’m allergic to Dimethicone….which is in just about every moisturizer, foundation and sunscreen out there. After using Retin-A Micro, my skin got a lot worse, and stayed that way even months after I stopped using it. I went a few weeks using absolutely no products on my face and things got better, but when I got dry skin and used a moisturizer, I’d break out. So, through a lot of trial and error and advice from my dermatologist…we narrowed it down to dimethicone (which, it turns out, is like the 3rd ingredient in Retin A Micro). So, for those who feel like they’ve tried everything…try eliminating dimethicone for a week or so and see what it does. Here are the products I’m currently using, though I’m still searching for the ideals:

    – Boots Expert Sensitive Gentle Cleansing Wash (super gentle, but doesn’t take off make-up all that well, so I use it with my Clarisonic if I have any makeup on)
    – Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Gel (has really helped my blackheads)
    – Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 (I don’t love the smell of this product and I’d rather have something around SPF 30, but I haven’t yet found one without Dimethicone)
    – L’Oreal Bare Naturale Powdered Mineral Foundation (Also don’t love this foundation, but it’s next to impossible to find a foundation without dimethicone)

    I hope that can be of some help to someone. So glad I finally cracked the code on my skin problems!
    ~Erikka

  33. maryssa Says:

    For the ladies looking for a powder foundation I love sheer minerals powder. It is a mineral foundation and as far as I can tell from reading the list there are no pore clogging ingredients in them. I have been using it for a year now and love it. Look it up online and find out if your area disperses product. There is also a list of the ingredients available.

  34. Julie Says:

    Thank you for the helpful information. Went looking for the Maybelline Pure Make-up and the Neutrogena Healthy Skin pressed powder. I discovered the Pure Make-up is discontinued. What are you using now for a foundation that does not clog pores?

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