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A young female's journey in battling the onset of severe adult acne

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This is the end of my updates on this product for now, because I've started on Accutane.

I tried continuing to use the retin-a micro while on Accutane, but I'm a couple weeks in and it's just making my skin wayyy to dry now. I tried spot treating with a hydrating salicylic acid lotion and saw dramatic improvements in my skin almost immediately. The retin-a micro was just making my skin too dry, crepe-ish, and flaky. Also my acne was much worse on it, than it had been with other over the counter acne products.

In summary, I had an initial breakout, and experienced breakouts in very unusual places on my face. My skin never cleared; my forehead was a wreck (when usually it's clear) and my skin was uncomfortably dry and peeling a lot of the time, and very red. I did notice a dramatic lessening of hyperpigmentation, which is really great. I would continue trying to let my skin adjust to it, but the Accutane is preventing me for now. I will resume with this product when I'm done my course of Accutane in a few months. :)

I'm SO excited to be writing this,

I've been waiting for this day for 3 years.

I've tried the Regimen, two types of birth control, antibiotics, retin-A micro, and countless other over-the counter oral/topical drugs for for my acne, and they just haven't been enough. So, at the advice of my dermatologist, I start my new journey tomorrow on Epuris, a form of Isotrentinion (aka Accutane).

Here are my reasons for taking Accutane, and reasons for anyone to consider if they have oily skin, persistent acne, and are relying on hormones to keep it under control.

First - I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I have had extremely oily skin since grade 8. And when I say extremely, I mean like, this stuff seeps out of my pores at a litre a minute. After exactly 60 minutes after blotting & powdering my skin will be a shiny oily slick mess. This makes keeping make-up on difficult. I've always been a maid, because I'm too embarrassed to work an 8 hour shift somewhere in the public eye, where I won't be able to touch-up every hour.

My dermatologist reccommended OC8 mattifying gel. I think it probably would work great for a normal oily skinned person. But on me, it was like trying to soak up an ocean with a cotton ball. Not happening.

Accutane is great for drying out skin. In fact, it's one of the very few drugs available that can slow oil production, and quite possibly the only one that has the potential for long lasting/permanent results.

Second- I've been on birth control for almost two years. Someday, I'm going to want a child. And when I do, I clearly can't be on any type of hormonal acne treatment. Besides hormones, Accutane is the only drug I'm aware of that can effectively control acne of my severity.

Third - My body acne is very persistant, and all the 'body acne' treatments I've ever tried just don't cut it. Birth control has been great, but I still have moderate body acne, and when I do someday go off birth control, it would probably go right back to the severity of my early teens. Gah.

Fourth, and possibly the most important - I won't be missing the acne on my face. I don't really need to explain this. It has been a psychologically damaging and emotionally draining journey battling with this. It has stolen many things from me, the greatest of which was my confidence. And I'm never going to stop fighting until I have beat it. I know that my confidence shouldn't be shattered by physical appearance, but even with that knowledge, I just can't get past this fear of looking people in the eye. I want to be confident in my skin and not be held back by it any longer.

So that is why I made the informed decision to go on Accutane, and I'll be praying every night that it will be effective, and that the effects last. Keep your fingers crossed for me. smile.png

PS. I laughed so hard when I saw the back of the blister pack containing the individual pills. First of all, I have at least 10 documents saying DO NOT GET PREGNANT ON THIS MEDICATION. The derm, the pharmacist, the sheets they both gave me, the drug information insert and information in the actual medication boxes ALL lecture on NOT GETTING PREGNANT ON THIS. There are manditory pregnancy tests, it's manditory you're on at least two forms of contraceptives at all times even if you're abstaining (which they really, really, really push by the way. ) There's a sheet of 'reminder cards' you can remind yourself with to not get preggo, there are two documents to sign promising you won't get pregnant, there's a booklet that explains over and over how not to get pregnant, aaaaaand in case all that didn't sink in, the back of the blister pack has a little NO sign over a pregnant lady, on the back of every single individual pill.



My right cheek is clear. Clear. CLEAR.

This is kindof a really, extremely, ginormously big deal in my world.

Like I'd put it on the national news if I could.

And not only that, but it is starting to look like a normal cheek. The scars are still there, but the hyperpigmentation is so faded. Compared to healthy skin, it has a ways to go. But compared to the skin I'm used to jaw literally dropped when I washed the makeup off tonight to reveal this. It actually came out of nowhere. Only a few short days ago it was still covered in clogged pores and red lumpy painful spots.

The rest of my face seems to be following suit. (suit? suite?)

I still have many active breakouts on my forehead that are still painful at times.

My left cheek is almost as bad as my forehead, but I'm pretty sure it's because I occasionally sleep on that side (I try my best to sleep on my back because even though I change my pillowcases religiously, anything pressing on my skin makes me breakout to high heaven.)

My chin's doing alright. It's full of clogged pores still, but less than before, and the active breakouts are down to 2 which is also a miracle.

I'm hopeful someday I may be able to wear my glasses again, but my skin is still too sensitive to wear them. I break out right away where they touch.

BUT ANYWAY, the super exciting thing is that I discovered a secret, and I've only been experimenting for three days, so I can't be sure, but it seems like this little secret is what's making the dramatic, overnight improvements I've been seeing.

Ready for it ?


....I stopped wearing moisturiser at bedtime. (except around my mouth )

That's all. I'm a religious moisturiser wearer. And none of that thin watery stuff. I mean the thick heavy duty stuff. I NEED moisturiser on my face to survive in life. My skin instantly is super tight and painful without it, and cracks and peels like a bad sunburn. Buuuuuut oddly enough, applying Retin-A micro is like applying a soothing moisturiser on my skin. It immediately makes my skin feel soothed and hydrated. Applying moisturiser after, dilutes the product strength and I guess I wasn't allowing the medication to work at its full potential. The few days I've stopped doing this, I've seen dramatic, overnight improvements. Oh and p.s. I still use moisturiser in the morning, of course.

I wouldn't recommend this to the newbies who are still letting their skin adjust to this medication, but maybe if you're a couple months in, and frusterated like I was, that your skin is still getting worse, try letting it breath by just applying the retin-A on it's own.

Worth a shot !

(Just so you all know, I would die without my CURE exfoliating gel. Google it. It's worth the hype. It's a lifesaver for anyone on a skin-drying product.)

Over the last couple weeks I've tried adding in a few other acne fighting products back into my routine. I tried tea tree oil, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and a witch hazel/aloe vera toner. It's not going well. The products just make my skin peel more.

A story for youuu : My boyfriend took me out to a lovely dinner at a nice restaurant, and bought us a $115 meal.

We both dressed up (like always, hahah) and had such a nice evening!

EXCEPT...halfway through the meal I went to the ladies room, and brought my purse so I could touch up my makeup (woes of very oily skin). And when I looked at the mirror....I was SO HORRIFIED. My skin on my chin and around my mouth and nose was all scaly and each 'scale' was raised up so my skin looked...fuzzy. I couldn't even pretend to myself like noone had noticed it was so terribly obvious. My makeup was a disaster, and when I desperately tried to rub away the scales it only made it worse. I had done my makeup three hours before, and it had seemed fine at that point. I had to go back to the table holding my head up with a pretend smile pretending nothing was wrong. If you're going to look like a crazy person, might as well be a classy crazy person.

Anyways, the clogged pores all over my face from the beginning of my retin-A micro are slightlyyy less noticable now, although they are still mostly all there.

I've got some REALLY big pimples in the past couple days. Six of them. Like...REALLY big. Really. Buuut overall, my skin tone looks more even. And even though I'm getting huge pimples (painful too), they don't last long. I'm still hopeful.

I just had surgery, so the stress may be what's breaking me out. If I still have all the clogged pores when the dermatologist removes the stitches in a couple weeks I'm greatly considering requesting to be put on Accutane. Retin-A Micro really is my last hope before Accutane, so fingers crossed it will come through in these next couple weeks. I don't really need great results, just something to look at positively!

Aaah, I can't believe it's been five weeks already!

The time flew by.

So on the packaging insert it suggests that results probably wont show for at least a month, in which time your skin condition may worsen. My skin definitely needs more time than a month to adjust to this beast.

As a quick recap, from years on benzoyl peroxide and birth control, my acne was mild before beginning my treatment.

Weeks 1&2 I spent adjusting to the retin-A by burning my skin, letting it heal, and then burning it again. Those two weeks sucked, aaand I quickly learned that less IS more, and eventually switched to a healing, all natural, hempseed-oil moisturizer which helped a lot.

I also was trying out cetaphil (ugh...just ugh), complex-15 (not moisturizing enough), sweet almond oil (soooo heavy), and emu oil during this time. The first three are about to be thrown in the garbage, the emu oil however has been great!

In the first couple weeks of using Retin-A I broke out with some deep painful pimples and two nodules which I still have, although they've flattened out. My skin was severely dried out and words don't do the description of 'dry skin' justice. My skin was bright red, tight, and flaking like you wouldn't believe. I couldn't move my face. I couldn't wear makeup, or leave the house.

In weeks 3-4 My skin began to adjust and the redness went away. I started applying cream heavily to the creases in my nose, and alllll around my mouth before applying the Retin-A. I developed hundreds and hundreds of tiny clogged pore lumps aaaaaalll over my forehead and chin, around my nose and down my jawline. It's really odd, because I rarely breakout on my forehead or around my nose. The clogged pores don't really coincide with where I generally breakout. Some of these clogged pores have become small pimples that go away within a day or two. Some of them have become giant pimples that last for a few days.

Week 5 !! - I started using a 2% salicylic acid lotion on my forhead in the mornings. The clogged pores are slowly lessening; My chin has about half the amount it did a couple weeks ago. My forehead still has an impressively overwhelming amount of tiny lumps. I have broken out some, but mostly just clogged pores. My cheeks are smooth and the hyperpigmentation has greatly faded.

I'm very hopeful.

I've always been terrified at the thought of Accutane. I've done extensive research; read countless articles, watched the videos, seen the photos, read the horror stories, read the success stories, interviewed everyone I know who's taken it, read blogs, forums, etc.

I'm a health nut. I like to know exactly what's going into my body. I'm a huge supporter of PETA and insist on knowing exactly where my food came from. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are my best friend. I drink a green smoothie every single day.

The thought of (even temporarily) toxifying my body and straining my liver with massive amounts of a vitamin terrify me.

I try so hard to be in tune with my body, I would be so stressed knowing I was doing damage to it, probably some of it permanent.

That being said, today I broke down and realised I have to take the chance.

My mom is still breaking out at nearly 50 years old.

I've been relying heavily on birth control for my face and body acne. If I ever want to have children I would have to stop taking birth control. You also can't use topical retinoids during pregnancy because it's unknown if it can effect the fetus, and I wouldn't take the chance. I'd have to rely on benzoyl peroxide which, although it works amazingly, isn't enough for my skin, and I couldn't apply to my body without bleaching everything I come in contact with. Also my doctor told me that they don't recommend anyone to take birth control for more than 8 years for fertility reasons. I want to be able to have children someday.. :(

I don't want to have to chose between clear skin and children. Because clear skin isn't about vanity. It's about the ability to hold my head up in public and meet someone in the eye. It's about beating the depression that comes with the pain and self-contiousness that comes with broken skin. Acne is a disease. And I'm so exhausted from fighting it.

With that, I have decided that I need to give in and go on Accutane and pray that it will work for me.

I need hope.

I need a cure.

Hello lovelies,

So...remember when I said that so far I had zero redness or irritation from using Retin-A micro 0.04%?


Watch me now eat my words.

The first three days were lovely. My skin was happy, normal colour, normal texture. I got five new pimples in those three days. Completely normal.


I watched my skin turn from a pale tan colour to a tomato red. It became tight. Very, very, very tight. You know those clear gel masks you put on that dry and then you peel them off? But before you peel them off they create this tight seal on your face and when you try to move it wrinkles your skin into a thousand tiny wrinkles? Yep. It was just like that. Super shiny, like it was shrink wrapped.

And then it got even better. It started to....I'm not really sure how to describe it. It was like it was shedding/peeling/fuzzing up all over the place. I IMMEDIATLY stopped using retin-a micro, along with every other acne medication I own. I tried several different moisturisers (thank goodness I'm a moisturiser hoarder and had loads to choose from. My usual one has acne medication in it) until I found one that made my skin feel 'loose' enough to be able to open my mouth far enough to eat food. Barely. I thanked heaven for purchasing a giant bottle of jojoba oil previously.

So, four days in to the chemical burn and my skin actually is kindof starting to look like skin again. I 've been applying neosporin to a red 'rash' circling my mouth of oozing sores where my skin was the most badly burnt. I've been applying moisturiser every hour or so religiously. And gently exfoliating every few hours because it's the only relief I get from this intense feeling of tightness.

I have three giiiiiant pimples on my face...but other that that my skin is now clear. Which is odd. very odd. I'm very concerned about the length of time I've gone without acne medication. Prior to this I haven't gone more than a day without benzoyl peroxide or some subsitute for almost two years.

I'm anticipating a massive breakout in a week or two. Finger crossed it doesn't happen.

So, I've learned my lesson. When adjusting to Retin-A Micro, maybe starting out three days in a row is a BAD IDEA.

Once I go back to it (yes, I am going to go back to it. I don't blame the product, I blame my stupidity for not easing into it) I will make sure to use it once a week for two weeks, then twice a week for two weeks, then three times for two weeks, then four, then five, etc. This way it will take me about 14 weeks to become fully adjusted.

That's almost four months. Maybe a bit of an overkill, but I honestly can't fathom ever going through this chemical burn again. It was terrible. And for anyone wondering, no. I couldn't wear makeup without looking like a crazy person.

I'll give my poor skin another few days and try out benzoyl peroxide and see how that goes. Maybe in another week I'll retry the retin-a. Eep. I'll be nervous for sure. And CLOSELY monitoring it.

Well I guess that's it for now, if you've had a similar experience with any vitamin A based products I'd love to hear what you did to help heal your skin after!

Hello my lovelies, smile.png

So I had to go to the dermatologist to get a giant mole removed...

And while I was there I talked to him about my acne.

He immediately recommended that I start accutane, unless I want to keep breaking out until I'm 50 like my mother.

I'm a bit traumatized by all the things I've seen about accutane online, so I'm very hesitant.

So while I consider it he prescribed retin-A micro 0.04%.

I've only used it a few days and so far I've had zero dryness, zero redness, zero irritation.

I'm a little concerned because I feel like it should be doing SOMETHING.

I've continued to use benzoyl peroxide in the mornings because I can't really see a reason not to. The pharmacist said it should be fine so long as my skin doesn't get too irritated...well so far my skin's actually way more soothed than normal. We'll see. It's still super early stages of treatment.

I hope this helps clear out the rest of my pimples. My acne has been mild for many months now, but I'd just love it if it would just go away for good. I guess I need accutane for that to happen.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated. Benzoyl peroxide is good. Very good. But I don't want to rely on it for the rest of my life.

Gah. Acne. You stress me out.

The Journey

I'm not a writer, but I've been meaning to tell my story for a long time now, I hope maybe someone can relate to it and maybe find something helpful..even a little by it. smile.png

I'm a 20-year-old girl from Canada, attending university here. I have three sisters, all of whom take after my mother; I was always a 'daddy's girl' however, and he was my role model. The other three all resemble my mother, and I my father. The few traits that I did get from my mother were all the ones she hoped not to pass on tongue.png...The one trait that BY FAR has given me the most grief was adult acne. My dear mother has struggled with adult acne since (I believe) her early 20's and is still fighting the battle at nearly 50 years old. My three sisters with their lovely clear skin make me so jelous. They all wash their faces with water, maybe moisturise if they feel like it ..and that's the extent of their skin care routine. I, however, have spent probably around 2-3 thousand dollars on skin care products over the past several years and devoted my late teen years to finding a cure for my skin.

It was around the end of grade 11 I think that I first started to break out. Just tiny occasional pimples on the apples of my cheeks, probably from blush, nothing unusual for a highschool girl. I'd wash my face at night and in the morning and that was that. No moisturizer, no toner, no treatments, nothing. In grade 12 I was captain of the cheer team, loving life, social butterfly, couldn't have been happier. And then my little eleven year old boston terrier baby got sick. He was absolutely the love of my life, the vet said he was dying; I would hold him at night and cry and cry and cry. My beloved grandparents who had been married since they were teenagers suddenly went through a terrible split-up and messy divorce. I'd had to quit my job of 2 years for my role as cheer captain and was having a lot of difficulty getting another. It was the beginning of my chronic nightmares; night after night of restless sleep left me exhausted every morning and I started skipping class. I had no idea what to do for university in the fall, I had no money, etc etc etc. Stressful.

That was when my skin began to change. Nodules, cysts, whiteheads, you name it. It hurt to talk, it hurt to make facial expressions, it hurt to look in the mirror and see the rapid changes that were happening to my skin. Face, back, shoulders, chest.

The summer passed and things got a little better. I attended the university where my daddy taught at. But every day that passed brought new trauma to my poor skin. I apologize for not having photos of that time; I avoided cameras and never thought to record my skins condition until it began to improve. At this point I had tried hundreds of different skin care products (cleansers/moisturizers/toners/salicylic acid treatments/BP treatments/glycolic acid treatments/oil cleansing methods/holistic treatments/strict diets/supplements/natural this,that and the other thing/facial steaming/peels/masks/oil pulling/tanning beds/laser/YOU NAME IT I TRIED IT). I'd take three hours to get ready in the morning. One hour cleansing/extracting my skin, one hour for foundation/concealer/desperately trying to disguise the lumps, one hour for everything else. By the time I was done I'd be too self concious to leave my dorm room and I basically never went to class. Needless to say I failed my frosh year. I decided to take the next year off to devote the time needed to heal my skin so I could go back into public again without wanting to hide.

I want to stress something here...everyone's skin is different. All you can do is DO YOUR RESEARCH on everything before it goes on your skin. Educate yourself. Doctors and dermatologists can help, but doctors aren't trained much in acne, and dermatologists need to know how to treat a million different skin issues, they don't 'specialize' in acne specifically. You're going to have to learn little things on your own to help treat your skin...step by step. Learn what works for you, and what doesn't. You are unique, so your skin isn't going to be exactly the same as anyone elses. (I don't mean don't ask for professional advice, my doctor has given me three prescriptions to try, as has my dermatologist. Most of them helped reduce my overall count of acne spots.)

This is my UPDATED list of what I use. :)

Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo (birth control) - Did a 1.5 year course. greatly reduced acne in my back, shoulders, chest, and jawline after 6 months

I then switched to the regular dose Ortho Tri Cyclen - Not as effective for some reason. Acne started to return, also constant nausea. Planning to switch back.

Benzoyl Peroxide - I used Dan's BP, but it doesn't go well under my makeup, so I only used it at night. I eventually switched back to my HG benzoyl peroxide treatment called Oxy Acne Vanishing Treatment (Little white bottles with black caps and red lettering) Contains 5% Benzoyl peroxide.

Clean&Clear Make-up Dissolving Foaming Cleanser - removes make-up very well, feels gentle on skin. Also works as a wonderful cleanser, even if you don't wear makeup.

Retin-A Micro 0.04% - I'm just starting my third month of this. My skin broke out quite a bit on this, in random places. It's really reduced my hyperpigmentation, and my acne is slowly lessening everywhere except my forehead which is REALLY bad, oddly enough, it's usually the clearest part of my face. In the last little while I've been using BP on my forehead to try to help it out, and to spot treat pimples, but my skin is too sensitive to coat my face in this like I did before I started on Retin-A Micro.

I use Nivea Oil Free Moisturizing Day Cream for oily/combination skin (it's super hydrating)

And mix it with random other types of moisturisers, most contain oil (I know everyone always says don't use oil-based moisturisers, but they seem to work best with my skin. Heavy oil-free ones like cetaphil and cerave make me breakout to high heaven. I run the other way. )

And starting tomorrow...I'm finally going on Accutane !!!! :) Hopefully someday I won't need all this anymore, and I'll be able to go off birth control.....keep your fingers crossed for me on my NEW journey (which I'll be blogging about every week or two.) :) (If you want to read about my reasons for taking Accutane - on the advice of my dermatologist - check out my blog posts on my Accutane journey. :))


Colorstay foundation for oily skin in Sand Beige

Maybelline dream matte powder in light. (discontinued. Omg.)

NYC bronzer in 720 Sunny

I'll post a few photos below of my journey;

The first photo is a few weeks into my birth control/benzoyl peroxide combination treatment that I started during my first year at university.

The last shows a few months later the dramatic improvement that occured; they only show one cheek but the acne covered the rest of my face and upper body pretty evenly.

I'm now very happy to say that I'm heading back into university to redo my first year. I have a new little boston terrier puppy, I have a wonderful job that I love very much, I also have a wonderful boyfriend who is attending the same university. I wear SOO much less makeup now, and instead of 3 hours to get ready it takes closer to half an hour. So grateful that I live in a time where these products are available, and that I could afford them. Looking forward to the school year and a new start to my education. I'll be starting a nursing program the following fall, which I never could have done without the confidence clear skin has given me. I don't know if anyone will ever read this but if you did, apologies for the length; thank-you for your time. Best of wishes on your own journey.<3


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