I'm Alex and I'm a freshman in college. I would really appreciate if you could dedicate a few minutes to reading my story and, hopefully, learn from my mistakes and achievements.
I'm now 18 and have had skin problems since I was 16. I started seeing the first pimples over Christmas break of my Junior year in high school. Like most people used to having perfect skin, I immediately ran to the store and bought cleansers, exfoliators, oil control lotions, etc. Thinking I knew it all, I decided to not consult a professional and started overusing the products. At the time, I barely knew what acne was. Long story short, over the period of two years I've used cleansers (water based, gels and foams), exfoliators, different types of moisturizers, oil control lotions, acne pads, face masks, and much more. I've had experience with all sorts of brands: Neutrogena,Clean and Clear, Vichy, La Roche, Menscience, Kyoku, Shiseido, Jack Black, Clarins, Lab Series, Desert Essence, The Art of Shaving and probably others too.
I'm a really committed person and I persevere no matter what. On top of having a healthy lifestyle (I work out 6 days a week and eat very healthy), I started changing my bed sheets and towels every 5 days. I used to have a towel used exclusively for my face and that was replaced every 3 days. I stopped sleeping on my sides to avoid my face touching the bed (I only sleep on my back with my face facing straight ahead of me), I bought wireless headphones to avoid the wire from getting tangled and pulling my skin, I started wearing button-down shirts to avoid having to touch my face when putting them on and taking them off. I cut my hair to avoid it touching my forehead and sides, I even started showering and using the bathroom with the lights off, so that I wouldn't see myself at the mirror.
After doing some research, I came across what is defined as cavemen regimen. Reading many success stories I decided to give it a try. Today, two weeks after putting all my products in a box, I find myself crying in bed unable to look at other people or myself. I have not had breakouts but my skin started peeling off and my entire nose area is inflamed. The texture and the symptoms suggests it's eczema. I've decided to put moisturizer on and the situation is slowly getting better. Ironically, not using products has created more dryness than using them. I am aware of the "dead skin mask" that comes with the cavemen regimen, but I have not found a person on the web who has reported increased inflammation and eczemas. Thankfully, I don't have acne scars, only a few minor spots with barely visible discoloration, but the redness around my nose and chin is so intense that has forced me to abandon the idea of the cavemen regimen. Last night, I went back to using an exfoliator to get rid of some of the flakiness, but it is going to take a few days before it goes back to normal.
What is my conclusion? Using products in excess is bad for your skin. How often did you use a cleanser when you were 10? After this experience, though, I do not support the idea of abandoning all products. Our body changes with puberty and the world we live in now is different from those of cavemen. Also, how do we know that cavemen had such great skin (aha)? From now on I will only exfoliate once every 1 or two weeks. Cleansing after a really long day is going to be fine only every three or four days. I will also stop washing my face in the morning. I would do it at night before putting moisturizer and after working out, so I don't see the point of repeating the process in the morning.
There is so much more I would like to say, but I also have a life to go back to, so I will finish with a few reflections. Some people are luckier than others. No matter how "poorly" they treat their skin, it always looks flawless. My conclusion is that it is because they are not overly attached to their skin that it looks good. They don't waste hours in front of the mirror testing chemical reactions on their faces.
Let me know what you guys think. At this point there is nothing else I can do. I hope all this redness is going to go away soon. Going from all to nothing was probably a big mistake. Instead of reducing the number of products (which are natural) I eliminated all of them. The result is temporarily catastrophic.
I've never lost a war in my life, but I have definitely lost all the battles with my skin so far. It's time to reverse the outcome.