Wow. I never thought I would be on a forum like this dispensing answers, rather than looking for them. But I have experienced a miraculous-feeling improvement this past year in my adult acne issue (which had plagued me since around 23...I am now 30) and I wanted to share what worked for me in case it can help someone else. Believe me, I know the pain, isolation and hopelessness we long-time sufferers experience.
Ok! So first I will tell you the type of acne I had...it was cystic acne, big old, rooted monstrous ones...usually around my mouth or chin...sometimes on my cheek. They would often appear only one or two at a time, but they were so big and mole-like, it was still very distressing. Those were the good times. I had learned to feel relief when I only had one or two...other times I had infected clusters that would just hopelessly re-infect one another and continue for months to re-grow and re-populate in these poor abused patches of my face.
But as I write this my face is absolutely smooth and I have not a single blemish! Being fair skinned and freckly, my complexion still tends towards slight redness and I get a little pimple every once in a while, but they are so manageable compared to the old days...to me, it's heaven. The fact that I can leave the house without putting concealer on...is honestly something I never thought I would experience.
About a year ago I stumbled on this site and got a piece of information that really helped me (see number 2, below) I also began a new experimental routine that ended up being the answer to my prayers. Below is my process. I've gone into a lot of detail because I remember when i was searching for answers, the more details people could share from their experience, the better.
1) The first major breakthrough I had was scrubbing my face with water-softened Instant Oatmeal. I doubt it matters, but I used Quaker.
I know it sounds weird, and besides that, too simple and easy to be true, but trust me on this one. For me it was miraculous. And the friend who recommended it to me had the same experience, so it's worth a shot! At least give it a month.
What I did was empty a packet of plain instant oatmeal into my hand over the kitchen sink (the chunks can clog the bathroom drain...) and ran hot water over the oatmeal until it got mushy, at which point I kind of balled it up and just smeared it all over my face, rubbing like an exfoliant in circles. I cleaned my face like this every morning and evening before I went to bed after washing with dove soap (Note: now I would recommend Neutrogina Facial Cleansing Bar For Acne Prone Skin)
I know the raw oatmeal thing is a bit messy, but it's TOTALLY worth it. I started seeing results within a week or so and by three months my complexion was clearer than it had been in years...now, about a year later, my face is clearer than its been since I was young. I used the oatmeal cure for about 6-9 months before switching to Aveeno Moisturizing Bar with oatmeal...
I don't know whether it was important to use the instant oatmeal initially, or if this would have worked just as well. I kind of suspect there was something extra powerful about just the straight raw oatmeal for when my skin was really bad...but you could try the Aveeno bar first and see how it goes. Just the same: to play it safe a months worth of the raw oatmeal will likely have a noticeable and encouraging impact on your complexion if you're anything like me.
*About once a week I would make an oatmeal mask as follows: one packet instant oatmeal, one large spoonful plain yogurt (which acts as a natural antibiotic), one smaller spoonful honey (which acts as a natural anti-infectant.) Then add enough hot water to make it congeal, and pat it to your face. This works best if you blend the oats in a blender and make it a fine flour-like consistency. I just blend up a whole bunch and put it in a jar so I don't have to go to the trouble each time. Anyway, just put it on your face for 15-30 minutes once a week, and wash it off with a warm washcloth when it's dry.
By this point you may be wondering if I'm a big hippie and am about to recommend essence of moonflower or something, but let me tell you: I tried all the harsh chemically treatments. This gentle natural recipe is actually what worked best by far!
2) I piled on the Benzoyl Peroxide (I used Neutrogina On The Spot Acne Treatment Cream.) I read here that the more benzoyl peroxide the better. That seems so simple too...I had long ago given up on benzoyl peroxide and had frankly gotten sick of everyone recommending it. "Look," i wanted to say, "it just doesn't work for me." But after I read here "the more the better," that I should just pile it on...I tried that. I started using a Q-tip and really smoothing it into my skin in circles, layering it on...really going through the tubes rather fast each month and... WOW! What a difference it made to pile it on rather than just putting on the bare minimum. I also took to applying several layers throughout the day to the infected areas....
3) I cut out alcohol for a month: Now that my skin is back in balance, I drink regularly again, but when it was freaking out and inflamed and I cut out alcohol, it made a difference. Perhaps because it turns to sugar and sugar can make you break out? I really don't know. The toxicity? I couldn't tell you. But I can say that while you are trying to get your complexion back in balance, cutting out alcohol is worth the trouble. When you are back in balance (yes, it can happen, even if it's been all your adult life you suffered, like me!) you can re-introduce it. But even now, if i notice my skin slipping a bit, I will again cut it out until its looking better.
4) (For the ladies) I stopped wearing cover-up whenever possible: I know this is so hard when you just want to cover up your flaws...! But I think it can really tip you over the edge into healing and is definitely worth it, in conjuncture with some other combination of healing approaches, such as I did.
I had tried not wearing cover up before, tried various purportedly "acne friendly" face make up...etc...and not seen much difference, so I had dismissed this potential cure long ago. But in conjuncture with the oatmeal scrubbing, the excessive application of peroxide and cutting back significantly on my alcohol intake, I did notice that not wearing make up as much significantly helped this process.
When I absolutely had to wear it I would make sure that as soon as I got home I washed it off and applied tons of benzoyl peroxide. When I didn't feel comfortable going totally bare-faced but my skin was behaving reasonably alright I would skip the tinted moisturizer or liquid concealer and just cover up the individual blemishes with a spot stick, or else only do powder (powder is better for your face than liquid, I guess because the dampness of the latter breeds bacteria..)
Anyway, it was hard sometimes to go out in public without my flaws concealed, but I just looked at it as a lesson in humility and not being so caught up in looks and it ultimately lead to now being able to go out in public bare-faced and feeling fine!!
****this whole time I was applying Benzoyl Peroxide and oil-free Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion after cleansing****
IN CONCLUSION: Now it's been about a year and my skin is actually pretty!! My scars are subtle and I hope they will continue to recede, but it's nothing compared to the inflamed hell I was experiencing when I first started my experimental cure (the one that worked that is...which I've presented to you here. I tried a lot of other things before that...and what I noticed was that some things that may not have worked before in combination with another product or process, or alone, did work in combination with something else. So don't just dismiss something because you've tried it before...you may not have done it in the right way (like me with the benzoyl peroxide) or else needed to do it in combination with something else. You have to find the right cocktail that works for you.)
I rarely use the handful of oatmeal scrub or the oatmeal/yogurt/honey face mask any more these days...but if my skin starts to slip I will, and it always helps.
MY REGIME NOW: Morning and evening (or anytime after make-up) Neutrogina Facial Cleansing Bar for Acne Prone Skin followed by Aveeno Moisturing Bar with oatmeal ...at night I smother the areas that tend to break out with Neutrogena On The Spot Acne Treatment Cream (Benzoyl Peroxide.).
Good luck to you!! Remember: even if it feels hopeless now, the simplest solutions might present themselves to you at any minute, and you will experience the miraculous feeling of a once- battleground-like face healed to a calm, pure complexion. If my face could re-balance, yours can too!! Just keep trying various combinations of things, and eventually you'll hit the one that's right for you.
There is hope.
Edited by missmodular, 04 January 2011 - 02:24 PM.