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  • Start a blog to chronicle your journey through your acne treatment. Or just start one for fun
  1. Skin Condition
    • As per usual redness was to a minimum when I woke up
    • All the acne on my cheeks are gone, im left with many prominent marks though
    • My chin is still a whitehead factory, but the whiteheads sorta just.....fell off? flaked off?.... this morning
    • The area around my mouth looked a little flakey when i first woke up.....and once I washed my face and let it dry I saw my entire face was a flake fest.
      • There was dryness surrounding each of the little marks/pimples on my forehead and cheeks which seemed to be good. It was literally a circle of dryness around each pimple.
      • There was dryness on my eyelids and undereyes. Looks like I need to be even MORE careful about not getting the adapalene near my eyes
      • There was the most dryness and flakage around my mouth. My skin looked snow white in that area because of how flakey it was. Im going to need to avoid this area with adapelene too.
    • my forehead looks smooth overall besides a few little pink spots, each looking a little dry
    • The deep "underground" painful pimple really isnt doing much at all. Just chilling there still, but a little flakey around the edges
     
    Application
    • This morning
      • I washed my face with warm water before applying the sulfacleanse and briefly rubbing it in. I rinsed and tried to be careful to avoid my eye area.
        • After washing I let my skin dry a little and it was at this moment I saw how insanely flakey my skin was. I took a warm wet washcloth and GENTLY used circular motions around my mouth to remove the excess skin flakes (ew). Even after doing this it was still very flakey but there was considerable improvement.
      • I applied a thick layer of moisturizer
      • After that dry I applied another layer of moisturizer in the areas that needed it
    • I took my doxycycline
     
    Feelings/Thoughts/Observations
    • The peeling and dryness is here in full force. As much as I want to stop uusing the adapelene and make the peeling stop, Im going to perservere and push through. I am applying less adapelene tonight, and really concentrating on ONLY applying it on areas with bad acne, but using it nonetheless.

    ILL FINISH UPDATING THIS BLOG TONIGHT BEFORE BED. 
  2. I can't believe it has almost been four months! Thank you for the comments and direct messages I have received, by the way!! 

    So I am still on 100mg of Spiro. Now, I am taking it right before bed with my birth control and I am finding that none of the side affects are bothering me anymore. I was taking it right with dinner and sometimes I would get a little light-headed by the time I drove home from work (around 11pm-midnight). My skin has still remained fairly clear. I did get a really random pimple on my cheek around 4th of July that really annoyed me but it was gone in a few days. I still have some redness/pinkness that I see slowly going away but as we have probably all heard, takes some time. The term told me that if I don't see it gone in a year I can start thinking about laser treatments if that's what I want to do. Overall my confidence has gone up A LOT. Buying makeup is actually a really fun experience and I have been more willing to try bolder colored blushes, lipsticks and eyeshadows which has really been fun. I don't mind going out with out make up so I am back in the gym and feeling really great. The LUSH routine I mentioned before is still my go to and it's been pretty sweet..

    Morning: splash water on my face, use either Breath of Fresh Air toner water or Eau Roma toner water, then imperialis moisturizer. 
    Night: ultrabland cleanser, one of the toner waters with a cotton pad to remove excess makeup, imperialis moisturizer and an eye cream. Once or twice a week I'll use the sea salt scrub from LUSH which makes my skin super soft. 

    Hope everyone's journey is going just as well as mine :) 
  3. Today I went shopping and bought more stuff to help my skin. I got a lot more face lotion, and charcoal masks, and peeling cucumber masks. I figured I could do a mask once per week (which I started today). I also got one of those extraction things they have at the dermo. So today I did the same routine as yesterday, but I replaced the cleanser with a mask. I also got new neutrogena foundation that has salicylic acid to help with acne. I wear foundation to cover my acne up anyway, so I may as well wear some that helps get rid of it! Lol

  4. Update 3!

    Okay, so still being consistent with everything. That’s cool. Buuuuut I’m getting a cystic pimple right on the peak of my cheek bone, so that’s sucky. Yknow how you can feel it way deep in your skin way before it reaches the height of its lifespan? That’s what it feels like right now, and it hurts a lot. You can see it getting redder. If you look at my left cheek’s day 3 picture in my gallery, you can definitely see it.

    I don’t really see any big differences in my skin today. Still not looking so hot. I think my forehead is maybe a little clearer, but I could be seeing things. Still sticking to my regimen very closely and praying to the sweet baby Jesus that after a month, I’m at least a little clearer than I am now.

    Talk to you guys in the next update!

    -Amy

  5. Latest Entry

    I said that tretionin 0.05% only cleared me up about 60% and that I was looking for about 80% or more. I did end up finding something that works amazing. 
    Yes, this actually works.

    Saje Natural Wellness has a kit called the "Zap" kit. Let me tell you, it really does "zap" away unwanted zits. The kit comes with everything you need for a strong morning routine. An antibacterial cleanser, a toner, spot treatment and moisturizer. The spot treatment I use at night instead, and I use benzoyl peroxide (.5%) in the morning before the moisturizer. The moisturizer keeps my oily skin at bay really well. I've spent thousands of dollars and tried so many products for my oily skin to only be disappointed. BUT NOT THIS TIME! I LOVE Saje. I'll always be using their skin care line.

    At night, I use a the probiotic cleanser by Eminence. It takes off all my make up and built up crap during the day. Then I use a toner to help catch any areas that I missed when washing my face. I use the Zap spot treatment by Saje if I need to, and that thing works amazing. One day and the pimple will be burnt to a crisp. It's so great. For a moisturizer, I use one that is also dear to my heart. Its called Tea Tree and Vitamin E by Holista. I found it at Shoppers drug mart while i was going through my purge period with tretionin. It is the most perfect night cream you could ever find. 

    I only use my tretionin once to twice a week on my jawline and forehead. It helps with that stubborn hormonal cysctic acne on my jaw line  and the light skin colored bumps on my forehead that i get. 


    Prices:
    Saje Zap Kit = $50 (sounds expensive, but you get everything you need and it lasts you. it's also 100% natural!)
    Benzoyl peroxide .5% = $13
    Eminence Cleanser = $25
    Holista Tea tree & Vit. E = $16



    Things I plan on trying out in the future:   *i will write reviews about them when i do*
    Eminence 7 greens mask - $40
    Holista peppermint and tea tree spray- $16
    Saje balancing elixir = $20
    Saje konjac kare with charcoale sponge = $10

  6. Latest Entry

    Hey y'all morning supplements: (before food: n-a-c & 2 probiotics) after a light breakfast:
    2 magnesium 2 spiru blue , 1 neem, tulsi holy basil, ashwagandha, coq10, calcium, krill oil, evening primrose oil, digestive enzyme, triphala,

    I've been drinking calendula, spearmint, milk thistle and dandelion root tea at work today. My hair has been amazing today omg wait till I show y'all the pictures. It's hot as hell in CA right now but my hair is looking gorg.

    tonight will be the usual face mask and do some chores and watch ghost adventures!

    omg the Winchester mystery house oh my god the Winchester mystery house. If you were watching please comment!! I got full body chills when they video taped the shadow guy walking in front of the lights in the beginning. And OMG the sound of the child running so fast down the hall eeeeeee it's almost 11pm I need to sleep that was crazy y'all 

    also the first couple shirts arrived yesterday woooooo love these!

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  7. So..

    I had my second dermatologist visit yesterday and it was with the head dermatology nurse. Basically long story short she believes Isotretinoin is what I should go on since I've had acne farrr too long and tried pretty much everything. 

    So plans are:

    Next Wed I start birth control after I visit my doc and then the following week I meet the nurse again to take a pregnancy test and pick up my Accutane prescription. (Also yes I was confused too because I thought i had to be on birth control for one FULL month before starting BUT the nurse told me she doesn't want to delay my process with this and trusts that im not going to be silly and get pregnant) 

    Next update will be when I'm taking Day 1.

    Wish me luck guys.

  8. Latest Entry

    Well I'm through five full weeks, currently ending this week on an up but I would've loved to see more improvement at this point in the process than I have. Now don't get me wrong, I have noticed a lot of improvement but I am still a long way off from where I want to be. My skin is definitely smoother and my active zits seems to be coming in considerably smaller and I think the small bumps of hormonal acne I have are also shrinking so yes all good things. BUT I have noticed an increase of little (barely noticeable but still bothersome) spots on my forehead :(

     

    As for right now I have like 4 (super little) active spots under my jawline, one weird zit on the side of my nose that is healing, and two small whiteheads right next to each other on the right side of my face (my major problem area). So much improvement over a week ago but this is a process and I have to remember that.

     

    As far as side effects go- I have noticed the oil production on my face has decreased from the Spiro and my skin went through a day of being drier than usual (could be from the Epiduo but most likely from not properly moisturizing after a face mask I use for old acne scars)

     

    3 weeks until my follow up derm appointment-----super anxious about if she feels like I've made some improvement!


    Please comment questions, your story, or words of encouragement. Acne sucks but knowing there is other people who struggle helps a lot!
  9. This whole week  has been interesting n i f-ing knew it was going to work. my face is around 85% clear I don't know where to start, but i had a feeling this was going to work. I have no knew acne what so ever my old comedones are starting to come to a head n dried out, my face is smooth  as fuck its scary , its been to dame long to have this feeling again a whole year almost since last November. Everyday my face is healing i only have like 6 small dried out pimples on my face my marks are starting to fade, my back acne is clearing up good n chest. the small pimples on my shoulder/arm are starting to come to a head man it crazy. Man i''m getting my life back, its really hard to believe man fuck, even my mom notice . every day as my body heal my confidence grows but since my last post all ive been doing was following my blood type diet list. MY diet consist of 60% fruits and vegetables 20% fish 10% grains(rice n oats) also nuts n seeds. oats with fruits in the morning maybe smoothie or fish/veg. lunch n diner stir fry cook in olive oil. i only been washing in the mornings with carbolic , oatmeal, creamy clay soap from the soap works. some of you guys might want proof, i can't give that 2 you since i did not take a before and after pic but it all makes since about this diet. But ask yourself n think whats is the cause of acne n what is acne. Our skin/eyes are a window into the body, if something goes wrong it shows up on are skin. You put wrong in and you get negative results, its not rocket science. people that don't have acne don't have that gene saying your skin is going to be come a window into your body. just like hormonal acne, a result of the body going through its cycles or pcos. I'M no professional whats so ever, im just some guy that loves science and doing research n getting peoples mind thinking plus helping out. My mom and dad both have acne so did my mothers parents, there was no way n hell i was going to live with this forever but it is all common sense. But like lord gains said "do whatever the fuck you want do". ill still be on this site to help out others  

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    I am going to make this as short as possible. I am a 22 year old male white with oily skin. I rarely get anything on my face besides blackheads. My back is loaded with cystic red bumps and blackheads. It is in giant patches on the upper back and the lower back has very few. I also get it on my thighs. I have had back acne for 7 years now. I have tried everything from eating healthy, to getting food allergy test, changing/washing sheets, taking cold showers, washing back, taking shower everyday for less than 5 minutes, drinking plenty of water, getting 6-8 hours of sleep, I have very little stress, use scent free dermatologist detergent, wearing loose shirts, exercise and take shower directly after, I am in good shape 150 pounds and many other things. I have been to multiple dermatologists trying creams, back washes, antibiotics, salt baths, Epsom baths, benzoyl peroxide, taking vitamins, zinc, detoxes and many other things. I am running out of ideas and losing hope. I have nothing else to test to find the cure. This is the biggest thing holding me back in life. The only 2 things  I can think of is I masturbate every day/ sex every week might be a problem. Or its because  I go to the bathroom every other day due to constipation. I am going to make this as short as possible. I am a 22 year old male white with oily skin. I rarely get anything on my face besides blackheads. My back is loaded with cystic red bumps and blackheads. It is in giant patches on the upper back and the lower back has very few. I also get it on my thighs. I have had back acne for 7 years now. I have tried everything from eating healthy, to getting food allergy test, changing/washing sheets, taking cold showers, washing back, taking shower everyday for less than 5 minutes, drinking plenty of water, getting 6-8 hours of sleep, I have very little stress, use scent free dermatologist detergent, wearing loose shirts, exercise and take shower directly after, I am in good shape 150 pounds and many other things. I have been to multiple dermatologists trying creams, back washes, antibiotics, salt baths, Epsom baths, benzoyl peroxide, taking vitamins, zinc, detoxes and many other things. I am running out of ideas and losing hope. I have nothing else to test to find the cure. This is the biggest thing holding me back in life. The only 2 things  I can think of is I masturbate every day/ sex every week might be a problem. Or its because  I go to the bathroom every other day due to constipation. I have tested and taken stuff to go to bathroom and saw no difference. Basically I'm hopeless running out of ideas.
     
  10. The camera on my laptop isn't great but improvement can be seen. A lot on the second pictures are the red marks I am left with, which will fade I am told. Make up totally covers these marks easily.

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    Hey everyone, i haven't posted for a while, just because there hasn't been a great deal to say. Things have improved since my last (depressing) post, mood wise, not skin wise! My skin is still pretty horrendous, but i am trying to just get on with and not have a breakdown over it. I had weird/ blurred vision for a couple of days but that seems to of subsided now. My lips haven't got dry or chapped yet (hurrah) but they do feel tight whenever my lip balm has worn off. I think because i had read so much of the lip horror stories i made sure i was frequently applying vaseline and lip balm before i even started taking the accutane, so i think it's kept it at bay- for now. I have no doubt Accutane will throw a curve ball in sooner or later, but for now, i am trying to always stay one step ahead of it! My dryness hasn't been too bad, my face doesn't look dry when i have no products on it, it's just when i apply my makeup (Garnier BB cream) then it looks dry and and a bit cakey- even though i only apply minimal amounts. But there is no way i can go without makeup with a face like Shrek so I'll just have to manage! I bought a MAC setting spray today which is supposed to take away the dry/ cakey look, so when i get it I'll let you know if it's any good. 

  11. Latest Entry

    Today is day 15, and i have seen a bit of improvement in my face. I have dry eyes, lips, and a dry face. My face is getting less oily during the day and overnight. My back sadly has not improved and my face is still breaking out a little bit. I'll be patient. 

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    I have started on a very very low dosage (10mg / once a day). I actually asked my dermatologist to go higher, but she wanted me on a low dosage for 6 weeks before upping it. 

    First day, nothing major, the only thing I noticed was being really thirsty/ feeling dehydrated. I think I ended up drinking like 4-5 litres of water and still not feeling satisfied. 

    I made an effort to take Accutane with a reasonably fatty meal (a butter croissant) but going forward I'll try avocado on toast / something a little healthier / more sustainable. Did this make a difference for people? Would love to know if it was fine just taking it with a yogurt/ something lighter. 

    I know this sounds weird but I'm actually really excited to start seeing some of the side effects kick in. 

  12. Latest Entry

    I haven't posted in a while because I am trying not to think so much about my skin. It makes it easier to wait for results if I don't assess my progress every half hour since I'm using a long term medication. Over the past week my cheeks have been very clear: only about two normal sized pimples on each, which is pretty good for me. I still have some decent red marks left over but they are fading quickly. My forehead an chin looked like war zones a couple days ago but my chin has healed pretty well. My forehead still has at least a dozen active pimples. I'm not stressing over my forehead much because I'm convinced that the Differin gets rid of small bumps on the surface by speeding up the process of them turning into pustules. It will probably take a while (my forehead is extremely bumpy), but I am starting to gain some confidence that this treatment will smooth and clear my skin. Luckily my forehead an chin don't mark very easily and clear up quickly after the inflammation subsides. Obviously I'm not very far into this process, but I am beginning to see some early promising results.

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    It's been a month, and I can see improvement on the icepick scars treated with cross. I'm thinking of doing dermarolling soon.

    Anyway, I AM BREAKING OUT. WHAT. THE. HELL.

    I currently have FOUR cysts on my face - a ginormous one on my chin (the size of a quarter), two smaller ones on my forehead and one on my jawline. I don't understand what's happening though I can probably pinpoint to four different causes. If anyone can help me figure it out, I'd be delighted.

    1. SOY - I became paescetarian earlier this year and I haven't been eating anything except a lot of meat substitues (with lots of soy in it), fish, seafood and vegetables.
    2. ALCOHOL - Enough said.
    3. LOTS OF SUGAR - I have been obliging my sweet tooth lately even though I know better.
    4. SUMMER??? I live in California.


    UGH, this sucks. I got cortisone injections but I am simply not looking forward to more of these.

  13. Hello everyone!

    Time for week two check-in!

    This week was the first week my body has begun to react to the medication. I have been on absorbica for 16 days now and about 6 days ago, I started to get super dry. The first week I noticed my lips chapping and a tiny bit of dryness around my nose and mouth. Now, I am experiencing dryness on my  entire face, arms, and neck. I also mentioned last week that many people experience a big breakout in the beginning of treatment while your liver is flushing all the toxins out, but I was not experiencing any signs of that. I feel like I have jinxed myself! Now I am getting a bunch of new pimples and they are extremely sore and don't pop like normal ones. 

    Fingers crossed it only gets better from here!

    Have an awesome week! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. 
     

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  14. Wow! Its been a while! In the past few months, I mainly stopped uploading because there wasn't a lot of change to my skin. There are still breakouts every day, on both my forehead, hairline, neck, and back. There has been slight improvement after using the topical gel and medicine -- I usually only have 4-5 pimples at a time on my face. But I'm still anxious to get rid of my acne. On Friday, I will FINALLY be going to the dermatologist! I'm hoping that I can finally get on Accutane. If all goes as planned, I'll post an update after the appointment and then hopefully start a weekly log documenting my Accutane journey. Stay tuned!

  15. My skin is so dryyy omg it's crazy..I'm just gonna leave it get to the point of peeling everywhere so that it could peel all the bad off. And I think my moisturizer causes more oil production, making more acne. which obviously isn't good so i'll just see what happens, unless any of you recommend anything to use :)

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    Today marks week three!
    Wow, Im still smiling and alive so at least for now have dodged the nastier side effects of Accutane - depression and suicide. Thank pete! I dont think hubby or the kids would be impressed.
    So far it feels a bit like have a face peel, my skin is so darn tight and almost feels like I have a mask on all the time. 
    There are a few cystic nasty pimples around but hopefully they will start to get less often. Who knows - some of the Dr consultation felt like a sales pitch from a pharmaceutical company. Anyway, its sore and DRY!!! They are in funny places like the back of my neck along my hairline and right against the back of my ear. ARGH!
    The dosage is really low but next week doubles. Even though Mrs Dr said it would improve, I haven't had the beginner 'tane intense breakout yet so the double dose might be the trigger.
    There have been a couple of weird things to note - I was stung by a wasp and it was like I am now allergic (it swelled to baseball size!) but wasn't before, so Im assuming its mediation related. The other funny thing was that I had this severe whack of eczema on the tops of both my hands. Figured it was hives from the sting, nope - its a symptom from the accutane too. 
    Now its settled down again and Im just hanging out with the mouth of ulcers. woooo.

     

  16. So haven't had a chance to update on progress over the last few weeks - been incredible busy with work and marking the end of Ramadan!

    Generally speaking my symptoms have not varied much:
     

    • Acne Update - am still breaking out here and there with small white heads and bumps - mainly on my forehead for some odd reason (which pre accutane was clear!). Thankfully no more cysts on my chin. Generally speaking my skin is looking much better  - it feels much smoother and the scars are beginning to fade.
     
    • Dryness - my hands seems to be getting worse in terms of how peely they are. I have been drinking LOADS of water but no difference. *Time for a shout-out* - my fiance ordered me some hand cream for tough hands last week so will be giving that a go - am hoping it helps because it is so horrible having such dry peely hands all the time no matter how much I moisturise :(
     
    • Lips - OH EM GEE.. so my lips have generally been okay, nothing too major, but last 2 weeks the corners are cracking and I cannot open my mouth fully because it hurts and cracks and bleeds. Am always rubbing aquaphor on the corners but it doesn't seem to help - everyday is the same. Has anyone else had this and if so, any advice?
     
    • Toilet Problem - This has to be my biggest problem on Accutane and gross as it is - this is my blog and I want it to help others out there too who may be suffering the same. A month in to my accutane, I found that sometimes there would be blood on the tissue when wiping. This was on and off for a while and it was very painful during bowel movement - felt almost glass like. I spoke to my Dermatologist when it first happened and she said to increase my water and fruit intake. More recently it worsened and I learned that this was/is most probably hemorrhoids and have since been using prep H wipes and other creams which have helped. I have been drinking lots of water and eating lots of fibre foods to help - past few days have been much better and hoping it continues!

    I last had my dermatologist appointment 2 weeks ago and she was happy with my progress and said that my course would most likely be 5 months which means I am half way there and should be done by September - cannot wait!!!

    Hope everyone else is progressing well :)
  17. Zoe

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    It's been a little of a month and I don't know if I should stop the product because I have a lot of break outs on my chin and in my T zone and I have some cystic pimples but the dryness has gone away but should I stop the treatment???image.jpeghere is a photo 

  18. Hey everyone. I'm approximately 2 weeks into my Spiro regime(50 mg), so it's update time. I do "think' my skin is improving but I'm not sure if I can attribute that to Spiro as of now. I have just finished one month of the clear skin vitamin pack by Innate Skin, and I think that has been helping me more than anything else. I don't see a substantial difference, but there is improvement regardless. My skin is very up and down right now, which is disheartening. My skin will appear to be clearing up one day, and BAM, I get 3-4 new cysts the next day. I know that when you heal your acne internally it can take at least 3-6 months to see significant progress. I'm trying to stay positive, and I am avoiding mirrors as much as possible. My diet has been shit, so I'm sure that factors in somehow. I'm going to compile a list of "acne fighting" foods this week, and hopefully make up some meal-plans so I can stay on track. I'm hoping to move up to 100 mg of Spiro next month, because, frankly I just want to get ALL of the initial breakouts out of the way at once. My skin routine is the same. I'm still using daily manuka masks, and drinking at least a cup of matcha per day. The only new addition to my regime has been 2 grams of Fish Oil per day. My MIL is coming to visit this Friday, so I'm glad to be distracted from thinking about my skin for a bit. Hopefully by the one-month mark I will have a better update!

  19. Latest Entry

    Almost 300 days on this journey and i'm still in the same boat as i was then, albeit with a little less heinous acne.  

    This medication to be fair has lessened the severity of breakouts at times but it's still as ongoing as ever and i've been having pretty consistent eczema to boot.  I gave the oolong tea ( a tea that is suposed help eczema) a try of 3 months and nada.  

    As of today, I am having a breakout of swollen pimples and closed comedones that extend from my right cheek down to my right chin and  on parts of my lips.  Left side is breaking out on my chin but nowhere as bad as the right.

    I saw my naturopath last week and we are going to work on getting my diet in line for HEALTH, not ACNE.   It's been pretty horrible for a few weeks now.     The things she wants me to incorporate into my diet are as follows:

    green smoothies:

    spinach
    kale
    mixed greens
    flax seed
    kiwi
    berries
    beets
    carrots
    apples

    Fish/Meat (organic/grass fed)

    chicken
    bison
    salmon

    veggies:

    stir fry
    mixed greens
    beans (from scratch)

    Grains

    quinoa
    oats
    brown rice

    Not rocket science at all but i just have to form a habit of eating like this consistently.  Not expecting much.  I've pretty much given up on getting advice for things that will help me as the more people suggest, the more frustrated and aggravated i get.  It stresses me out.

    My birthday is on Friday and i'm disappointed that i will be celebrating yet another birthday....nothing more to say on the issue.  Gonna keep putting one foot infront of the other, just like i always do. 



      

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    Latest Entry
    Hello! Brief introduction, I'm 17 this year and i'm Asian. I live in a humid country. My acne main concerns are on my cheeks as they are everywhere on my cheeks and get dry in the night but oily under the sun/will turn red. I have a few acne on my jawline too.

    Daily routine

    Morning:
    Slather my face with Raw Honey (Really Raw Honey brand) for at least 30minutes to an hour ; sometimes when i'm lazy or in a rush, i use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
    Wash it off and apply toner (I use Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, dilute 50-50 with water)
    Spray water mist (Miracle Bio Water from Bio-Essence)

    Evening
    Honey or Cetaphil, depending whether I'm lazy
    Toner
    Water Mist

    I'm also taking Vitamin A (From Fish Liver Oil) 10,000 IU and Vitamin D3 5,000 IU daily before I sleep to help my acne. I'm not sure if there are any improvements as it's only been a week since taking them. I have just ordered Zinc Picolinate 50mg and Aztec Indian Secret Healing Clay and will give them a review once I tried it out.

    I have dry/oily acne prone skin, and I'm finding a suitable moisturizer for my face to use at night. I am currently not using any sunscreen as well in the morning because I don't know any good products for my face, in fear to break out. I wanna try using coconut oil as a moisturiser but I'm scared I'll break out... Any recommendations or suggestions? :)