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I have been using Retin A for 1 year and 1 month. It cleared me up really nicely. Better than anything in the past ever has. However, I was never completely clear. I would still breakout and pretty consistently have 1 or 2 mild pimples. Of course, that wasn't good enough for me so I tried to add to my regimen and ended up breaking out from it. I don't remember when that was, but my skin hasn't been quite as good since. (I know, I hate myself for being too greedy).

Anyways, my skin is going through, probably the worst breakout in MONTHS at the moment, and I really don't know why!

I am still using my Cerave cleanser and my .1% Retin A every single day. I was also using Peter Thomas Roth's 10% glycolic acid pads and have been using them with nice results for the past month-ish.

But suddenly, redness is up, irritation is up, I've got a deep, painful, and slightly itchy pimple on my right cheek and various, more mild ones elsewhere. Drives. Me. INSANE!

Anyways, I want to stick to this:

Cerave Cleanser

Retin A

Hormone Balance pills (2 months in on these...soooo hoping they help!)

Apple Cider vinegar tablets

Nightly honey face mask.

I HAVE to stop experimenting. My skin just can't do it.

So back to the basics with additional hormone balancing supplements and mask that i KNOW is only beneficial to me. Honey calms breakouts and redness so well. Totally organic and non-irritating, bacteria-fighting as well as moisturizing. I'm just logging as as a way to give myself some....accountability.


Day 52

So, it is Thursday, middle of week 8 and, as badly as I don't want to jinx myself, I have some exciting news!

I am 99% clear! It has also been exactly one week since I started taking the peppermint oil. Coincidence? I think not. I think it's doing an absolutely outstanding job at blocking excess testosterone and the formation of DHT, which is the root cause of oily skin. I'm still a little oily but it doesn't bother me. Since oily skinned folks age slower than any other skin types, I don't mind a little excess oil as long as my makeup isn't sliding off and I'm not feeling uncomfortable, which is no longer the case.

I am able to wear less foundation now and I notice, after applying makeup, my skin has more of a glow. I look healthier rather than looking like I just am covering up a bunch of nastiness.

Even though I'm in week 8 with Retin A and these results could very well be from that product, I feel that this leap in improvement is more credited to the peppermint oil. I think both products are outstanding and will continue to use them indefinitely.

I don't expect to never breakout again, but the fact that I've had 3+ good skin days in a row is unprecedented with this regimen. Usually, I will have a single day of good skin (if even) before the next breakout. My skin looks more and more healed each passing day! I still have one underground zit on the right side of my nose. It was one of those big ones that never came to a head. It is getting smaller and less red but is still there. Other than that, my skin is looking great (as far as active pimples).

Another benefit of taking the peppermint oil is, I've noticed that I do not bloat NEAR as easily as before. I'm a small framed young woman, naturally slim and athletic. I can always tell, after a day or two of eating badly, that I bloat in my abdominal area. Since my stomach is naturally flat, it is always apparent when I'm bloating and it's always after a bad diet day. Well, I've been drinking sodas and eating out this past week and I am not experiencing the bloat I normally would. If you research peppermint oil, the main use of it is to help digestion and I can say that it is definitely improving mine!

Just so everyone knows, I use a therapeutic grade oil from Young Living. I have used oils from Whole Foods and Akins before with dismal results. Young Living is where it's at. I wouldn't recommend ingesting oils from any other vendors as they are more likely just perfume grade and are not pure. I take a single drop of peppermint oil in a glass of water morning and night.

Hope everyone is having a good week! I'll be back with more updates.

Today starts week 8! Yay for perseverance!

On thursday of last week, so, 4 days ago, I began taking peppermint oil to try to help my oily skin. I've read many things about people drinking spearmint and peppermint tea and how it acts as an anti-androgen and thus helps keep oil production in check. Lots of people have had success with the teas and so I thought I'd try the oil (I hate tea). It's said that a therapeutic grade peppermint oil, in one drop, is as powerful as 24 cups of tea. So, I've been putting one to two drops of oil in a glass of water and drinking it twice daily. Honestly, I feel like I noticed a difference after the first night. I still am getting a bit shiny but that disgusting oily feeling is gone! I'm still not head-over-heals amazed yet, just because I'm scared it's a placebo affect. However, I am keeping it up to see where it will take me.

My previous breakout is nearly completely healed. I had two new pimples come up which I popped and cleaned this morning so hopefully they will be going away soon. Small ones though, not the big, underground ones I got last week. Thankfully.

My right side is 95% clear, forehead is 95% clear, chin is clear, I just have those two pimples on my left side. So, pretty good! I feel like redness may be down as well but that would make sense since my big breakout is also calming.

Four more weeks until the three month mark. I can totally do this.

I'm slowly approaching the two month mark! I'm so proud of myself for being patient and faithful to my regimen, even though I'm not yet seeing amazing results. I expect this, I know retin A can take a long time to work. The thing is, I never know when the results are going to start showing up as it's different for everyone. From what I've read, some people get over the week 8 hump and things just clear up! For others, it takes them beyond 6 months to really be satisfied.

Anyways, I'm approaching the point in which I could possibly start clearing up. Medical websites say 8-12 weeks for results and next week is week 8. Yippee!

I had a pretty good breakout this week. Large pimples too, not just the little whiteheads. A big one on my left cheek near my nostrils, a big, underground pimple by my right nostril and a large whitehead (group of whiteheads) just underneath that. I also got an under the skin pimple on my chin and a large whitehead on my forehead. I have been able to pop and clean out 4 of the 5 monsters. The one on my right nostril does not want to come to a head. Even so, I gently prick it with a sterile needle and give it a little squeeze until some blood comes out. Then I slap on a hydrocolloid bandage and when I wake up the next morning, it has drawn up some pus (I know, sick nasty). So I am slowly taking care of that.

Not to be extremely disgusting, but these were some juicy ones. For real.

I do still breakout about once a week with one or two good skin days in between. This has probably been the biggest breakout I've had since week 2-3. Maybe that means it's really starting to dig out the deepest gunk. Idk, that's really just hopeful thinking.

My skin is still super oily and I'm thinking of trying out some peppermint essential oils to help balance things. For high grade oils, one drop is equivalent to, like, 24 cups of tea, and since so many have success drinking mint teas, I feel the oils will be even more successful. The good thing is, I don't necessarily have to put it on my face (and risk irritation). I can apply it to specific points on my body such as my ankles or wrists, or even ingest it (therapeutic grade only). Worth a shot since birth control no longer keeps me balanced (boo).

I'm kind of waiting until month three to start seeing results. After 3 months on birth control, I just cleared up beautifully. I know retin a and birth control don't have anything in common, but since 3 months is always a good judge on when acne treatments are supposed to start working, and since it took 3 months last time, I'm hoping and thinking it may be the same. We will see!

Day 38

So I'm halfway through my 6th week now and my regimen is as follows:

Morning: Cleanse with Cerave Hydrating Cleanser (REALLY calms the redness in my face and keeps me from getting dry at all)

Evening: Remove makeup with Cerave Foaming Cleanser then do a double wash with the Hydrating Cleanser and my Clarisonic Mia. Wait 30 minutes then apply Retin A gel .05%.

My skin goes back and forth with being very oily. Some mornings I wake up looking all balanced then, this morning, I was a greasy mess. I don't mind it too much although I really hate the feeling of my face oils mixed with makeup in the late afternoon/evening. I'm hoping that will balance out with time.

As far as pimples, I only have two at the moment. One on my forehead that I was able to treat last night so it is currently healing and a tiny whitehead that I am currently treating and will be gone before I know it. For spot treatments, I use nothing but hydrocolloidal bandages. Leave it on a popped pimple for a few hours (or overnight, my preference) and it will suck up all the bacteria, leaving behind a much flatter lesion. And there is no risk of causing any irritation like a harsh benzoyle peroxide or salicylic acid might do on Retin-A treated skin. I LOVE it.

I still have a big problem with hyperpigmentation. Every little blemish leaves behind a mark so, over the years, I have acquired quite the collection. I'm not using anything specific for dark mark treatment for fear of it irritating my skin. I may wait for the 3 month mark on Retin A to try and introduce a different product. Even so, since Retin A is an exfoliant, it will help some on its own.

The thing that has made the most difference in the appearance of marks and overall redness is Cerave Hydrating Cleanser. It truly makes a marked difference. I have no idea why. But it does.

I haven't gotten dry or flaky in a while. My skin was NEVER dry but there were days I would have some minor flakes. Since switching from washing with the foaming cleanser to the hydrating cleanser every morning, no more flakes. Works better than the Cerave PM moisturizer.

So, face is doing well. I can tell this is going to work for me and will continue to be my best friend for the rest of my life.

Day 32

I'm in my fifth week of treatment. Of course, I am still breaking out some. HOWEVER! My breakouts now consist only of small whiteheads, 80% not even inflamed. I have two inflamed pimples, one that is still forming on my chin and one on my forehead that should be in recovery. Even so, they are not near as big or painful or long lasting as my breakout during week 2 and 3. Other than that I have, I think, 3 tiny little non-inflammed whiteheads that I'm just leaving alone and they should be gone in a day or two.

Overall, my skin is clearer and smoother with Retin A .05% gel. Breakouts are MUCH smaller, as in the severity of each individual pimple is much less (from papules and pustules to whiteheads and clogged pores), and I believe they heal faster as a result. I do have an unmentionable amount of PIH left on my face and, as tempted as I am to add in a new product to fade them, I don't want to upset the balance of my regimen so I'm not going to. In fact, my Clarisonic and the Retin A are both working to exfoliate those away so I don't want to get too aggressive. That's my downfall.

So, this week is a breakout but it's so minor that I'm more grateful than discouraged. I'm seeing improvement and get so excited every night when it's time to apply Retin A because I know that's just one day closer to perfect skin. I cannot wait until August/September, 6 months in, to see how far I've come :)

If you're just now checking in, this is my regimen:

  • Wash with Cerave Foaming Cleanser in AM (and apply Cerave moisturizer only when needed)
  • Wash off makeup with Cerave Foaming Cleanser in PM
  • Rinse
  • Use Clarisonic Mia with normal head brush with Cerave Foaming Cleanser
  • Wait 15-30 minutes then apply Retin A

I should also note that the extreme oilies I had last week are more balanced this week. I'm still a bit oily but I no longer feel the nastiness on my face. YAY!

Have a fantastic weekend ya'll!

Day 23

I just wanted to make a quick update and say that the remaining blemishes I had on my face are healing rather quickly. My face is even less red/inflamed looking and, so far, I don't see any new pimples.

I had a tiny whitehead on both my chin and my forehead and they basically disappeared overnight without any kind of treatment.

I'm seeing great improvement in just the past 3 days! Getting excited...!

P.S. I have no peeling or dryness, on the contrary, I feel my face is a bit more oily now. When I was using Tazorac, the same thing happened. I was oily for the first month or so then it evened out so it's not something I'm concerned with.

Just wanted to post the progress. Hope everyones week is going well :)

Week 4

It's hard to believe I am starting my fourth week on my regimen. Thankfully, time has flown by thus far. That's always a good thing when it comes to new acne treatments.

My current regimen is simple. In the morning I wash my face with Cerave Foaming Cleanser and apply the Cerave PM moisturizer (I wanted to love the AM moisturizer but the SPF broke me out!). Every night, I double cleanse using my Clarisonic Mia with the normal head brush (still intending to buy the acne brush) and my trusty Cerave Foaming cleanser. I do not apply moisturizer every evening. I try not to let anything interfere with my Retin-A, which I apply 10-30 minutes after cleansing. I use only a pea-size amount for my entire face and am currently using the .05% in the gel consistency.

My first week, nothing really happened. No peeling, no redness, no irritation. Starting in my second week, I started to get breakouts in areas I have been breaking out for months. What I thought were just dark marks left behind by past pimples suddenly became inflamed, as if it had never truly healed in the first place. I broke out everywhere, both cheeks, by my nose, on my chin, forehead, you name it. They weren't exceptionally numerous, but they were deep and often painful. I did my best to keep typical acne medicines away from my face as I don't want to further irritate my skin. What I did as a spot treatment then, was apply a small hydrocolloidal bandage to the pimple and let it sit overnight. If you have not discovered hydrocolloidal bandages as a spot treatment, I highly recommend them! There is something in those bandages that literally sucks all the nastiness out of your pores. All I have to do is gently pop the whitehead with a sterile need and put the bandage in place. I go to sleep and when I wake up, I can literally see all the gross gunk that has been sucked out. The pimple is deflated overnight. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I get mine from walgreens and it is simply the walgreens brand for relatively cheap.

Anyways, so that breakout lasted all through week two and three. Today marks the first day of my fourth week and the breakout is looking much better. Less red, less inflamed, more smooth. This week will say a lot as to whether or not my initial breakout is over with. That would be amazing, however, I'm not getting my hopes up too much. I know it can take months to start seeing results. I know it could get even worse than it was the past two weeks.

I am very thankful however, that I have not experienced any unusual dryness or peeling. Healing pimples will have slight peeling but I actually kind of like that. I take it as a sign that they are dead and not coming back.

As long as I apply my Cerave moisturizer at least once per day (for me, in the morning before makeup), I never feel dry or cracked or anything like that. HOWEVER! My first couple of nights using Retin-A, I did get it too close to my lips and for the past two weeks I have had a very dry and painful scab at the corner of my mouth. It was small and not noticeable, thankfully, but I am careful now to keep the treatment away from areas of my face that are thinner or too sensitive, ie, eyes and lips.

I'm continuing on this journey through October to give it a fair shot. That is 6 months. In an ideal world, I'll be clear within that time. It could happen to. I just really want to give this stuff a run for its money. Retin-A is so highly recommended and works for so many people. Not to mention the glorious anti-aging effects!

So, this is week 4 and I am hopeful. I'll update again.

Like all of you, I've run the acne rat race for several years. Like you, I have tried so many treatments it would be impossible to list them all. I have spent all my free time researching, experimenting, testing and learning about my specific type of acne. I've found things that work and I've found things that work against me. I feel I finally have enough knowledge to put an end to it all. I've been clear before. Birth control kept my face flawless for several months. Unfortunately, it no longer has a clearing effect.

I'll make a short list of the things I've tried to clear my acne. This is definitely not comprehensive but may give you an idea of just how stubborn my case is.

  • Low Glycemic diet (no white flour, sugar, milk, etc)
  • Regular exercise
  • Birth control
  • Retin A
  • Tazorac
  • Clyndamicine
  • Benzaclin
  • Salicylic acid
  • Benzoyle peroxide
  • "The regimen"
  • Monocycline
  • Glycolic acid
  • Chemical peels
  • Professional laser therapy (Isolaz)
  • Zinc products
  • Sulfer products
  • Omega-3 supplements
  • Weekly facials
  • COUNTLESS home remedies
  • Proactive
  • Clarisonic

So, you see, you name it and I've tried it. There have been a few things I've tried that make a noticeable difference in my skin.

1. Cerave cleanser. I am absolutely in love with how gentle this cleanser is. It never aggravates my skin and allows for it to heal faster. The hydrating cleanser helps reduce redness and the foaming cleanser removes all makeup like a charm. This is my first step to clear skin.

2. Clarisonic facial brush. I do not find it helps with my acne but it does help my skin. My face is smoother and softer, which allows my makeup to look so much better. I am careful to be extra gentle and thus I don't feel it causes any irritation.

3. Retin A/Tazorac. By reading previous blog posts of mine, I rediscovered the effectiveness of Tazorac. Within 3 months, my face cleared up. I only stopped using this product because I became solely reliant on BC to keep me clear. I just didn't feel I needed it anymore. However, I do know the Taz worked for me because I was on it for 3-4 months before starting BC and it did an excellent job.

4. Pantothenic acid (B5). I started taking B5 two weeks ago to the day because I had heard so many amazing things about it. It was one of those "what the heck" things. So far, I don't notice any substantial clearing from it but I plan to continue using it for at least 4 more weeks.

These four things are what I will rely on to keep me clear. I truly feel, if I can have the will power to remain on this regimen for 5 months, I will discover a face I haven't seen since I was 16.

I am currently only using my cerave cleanser with Clarisonic alongside my B5 supplements. I'll be getting my Retin A in about two weeks. So, starting May, I should be able to fully commit to this plan.

I've said so many times that this or that regimen will clear me. My face right now is not great and not hideous. I am ok with my skin in this state and I believe the gentleness of Cerave is what is keeping it here. Since I am ok with my face right now, I believe I'll be able to stick with this plan as I am not desperate for a quick cure.

5 months. I want an entirely transformed face by the end of this summer.

5 months. I have absolutely never maintained a skin regimen for that long. My longest has been 3 months with second place coming in at 1 and 1/2 months. I've noticed that when I stick with something, I see results. My biggest problem is being too harsh and switching products too fast.

5 months to perfect skin.

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