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What Finally Worked For Me!

aha alpha hydroxy acid makeup

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#1 clearpores

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:47 AM

I have been obsessed with getting rid of blackheads since I first discovered them when I was 12. 30 years later, I have found a regimen that truly, truly works for me and I hope someone else as well.

A description of my skin issues: I had a very oily T-zone with large, blocked pores. This problem was actually worsening with age. As a teenager, the large, blocked pores were just on my nose. Over the decades the problem spread all over my T-zone. I absolutely obsessed about this because nothing seemed to work and I just felt gross. I have benefitted a lot from what I have read on this board and others and I wanted to share.

Here is what I have learned along the way:
-This kind of skin needs acid. You need a skin wash that is either at normal skin Ph (5.5) or preferably lower than that.
-You need to use AHAs, BHAs, and benzoyl peroxide. They have different actions and we need them in combination.
-You need MAJOR exfoliation. In addition to the acid exfoliants above, you need manual exfoliation. I use the clarisonic, but scrubs are a good option too.
-You need to get out what is embedded in the pore now. No product will take care of an existing blocked pore. That material is like hardened wax and nothing can break it up. If you are not comfortable doing the extractions yourself, getting regular facials (maybe even weekly in the beginning) is crucial. The topical treatments can't work until they have a relatively open environment.
-You absolutely must commit to 100% consistency for weeks to allow this to work. One missed day can undo weeks or months of progress.

Here is what I do:

AM:
-wash with a low Ph facewash in the shower. I use Neutrogena Oil Free and do that as my last shower step to make sure that no shampoo or conditioner is left on face. I make sure the shower really rinses everything off - don't skimp on that.
-I use a Ph balanced 3% BHA product on my affected areas. I use makeup artist's choice formulation.
-After a few minutes, I follow that with a 15% AHA product on the affected areas. I use makeup artist's choice Gly-luronic serum.
-After another few minutes I follow that with 10% benzoyl peroxide. I use clearasil.
-When everything is dry, apply sunscreen. This part is hard because you need sunscreen, but it can be gloppy and remove everything you just did. I use various neutrogena sunscreens, but I am careful around my nose in particular and apply sparingly there.

PM:
-I use the Erno Laszlo wash method. You can google for details, but basically it is filling your sink with hot water, lathering your face (with the acidic facewash and/or your manual exfoliation method), splashing your face 30 times with the now sudsy water in the sink, and lastly splash face 10 more times with hot water from the tap. If you have never followed this method, try it one time. It makes a difference.
-I then repeat all the product steps from above.

Occassionally (when you have the time and inclination):
-I think that the oil wash method can be beneficial particularly in the beginning when the goal is to clear out the existing blocking material. Google oil cleansing method and experiment with what works for you. I use grapeseed oil, apply to my face for a few minutes and then follow the Laszlo washing method.
-Mud masks are also a good product to help reduce oil so that the topical treatments penetrate better.

Final thoughts:

I really believe that if you follow the basic protocol of acid based facewash, manual exfoliation, extraction, BHAs, AHA, and benzoyl peroxide with complete consistency you will have success. The key is finding the right formulations that work for you and not being discouraged by setbacks. For instance, some people will find that they need to gradually work up to their skin tolerating the necessary concentrations of the acids or BP. That is fine, start slow. If your skin gets sensitive, back off a bit, but do not stop altogether. Sometimes you might need to skip the complete AM process to allow your skin a brief break, for instance.

Also, women: As hard as it is, resist putting any makeup over blocked pores. The pores are unsightly, but the makeup just compounds the problem. If you absolutely must cover them, use loose powder only and apply with a brush.

Every morning, I wake up and look in the mirror and can not believe how clear and fine my pores are. It is hard for me to believe. I keep thinking something bad will happen overnight and I will awaken to a return of blackheads, but after months of perfect (yes, perfect!) skin, I feel confident sharing my process with you all.

Edited by clearpores, 16 April 2012 - 08:10 AM.


#2 RB1989

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:49 PM

That's awesome you've found a system that works for you. Recently I've been using a regimen that is helping me out slowly but surely, which is as follows:

- Steam the face for around 10 minutes to help open and soften the pores.

- Use a blackhead removal tool (or similar instrument e.g. end of a tweezer) to gently but effectively remove the hardened substance from within the pores. This will momentarily leave the pores open for the next step.

- Rinse the face quickly with lukewarm water and apply a gentle salycylic acid cleanser/exfoliator all around the affected area, so that the ingredients really get inside the open pores to do their work.

- Rinse off the cleanser, gently pat the face dry and apply a small amount of deep cleaning astringent (with salycylic acid, again). I don't know if other people have found this to be true, but I've found that when the salycylic acid is allowed to get deep inside the pore it helps to break down whatever blockage is inside and thus eliminates the blackheads.

#3 enjoy

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 06:25 PM

my skin could never handle something like that, when it starts getting irritated from too many topicals is when I start seeing the most redness/dry flakyness and more 'inflamatory' type acne

on the other hand though, doing too little is when the plugs form the quickest and new bumps start rising up.

What do you use the BP for? I thought this was mainly for inflammatory acne and not so much comedones

#4 clearpores

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:09 AM

RB 1989 - I think your system is founded on the same discovery that I have made: You must start with as clear a pore as possible and then try to prevent the buildup of new material. A pore that is already blocked - particularly by hardened material - can't be helped by topical treatments.

enjoy - Many years ago was actually told be a dermatologist that BP and topical acids cancel each other out, so not to use them at the same time. Unfortunately, I listened and I chose to prioritize the BP! I now believe that BP alone is ineffective on blackheads, but my regimen really improved after readying the thread that is at the top of this forum about how to treat blackheads. The designer of that system said to use a glycolic acid treatment with BP applied over it. That suggestion has made a world of difference.

For readers who share enjoy's concern about the harshness of the regimen, I suggest getting formulations of the topicals with lower concentrations of the acids. Start with a BHA that is 2% and a AHA that is around 8% (but make sure they are PH balanced). Also start with just using the products on alternate days. The point is that this skin type needs acid! Finding out what you can tolerate and increasing from there takes time and patience. There will by times you unintentionally overdo (I know I have), so let your skin recuperate overnight or for 24 hours. Try not to go longer than that because too much of a pause allows the materials to build up in the pores again.

#5 wicky

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:32 AM

i have been plagued by a constant plugging of hardened solidified sebum in my pores in my chin. They are sometimes very tiny and only look like a white dot but when you get a closer look the pores is actually blocked. They crop up over night even after washing gently and applying products like paulas chioce BHA's or harsher topicals like ziana gel. I believe they are worse when my skin is dry but every time I use any type of moisturizer this brings out more, especially oils. Its been two years of this roller coaster of extracting them and then waiting for them to fill back up. Some are wedged so tightly in the corners of my mouth down you would think I havent cleansed my face in years and take horrible care of it. What causes my sebum to solidify? I have been on and off doxy for two years and I feel this is the culprit. It somehow altered my sebum. How can it rebalance?

Clearpores: What BHA's and AHA's do you use and how exactly do you apply in conjunction with the BP? I thought BHA's were better for getting down deep into the pores. I have two that are in the corner of my mouth that I picked to try and empty the contents but it was a no go. I couldnt get it and had to let it heal. A week later, its healing but its still a hard lump. What do you apply to something like this?

#6 clearpores

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:28 AM

wicky - I think what contributes to the hardening of the pore material is exposure to alkalinity. Try to find products that are a maximum of 5.5 on the PH scale. Acids keep that material softer which allows it to move out of the skin and be washed away. The percent of the active ingredient is important but the acidity of the entire product is equally critical. I use the BHA and AHA formulations from makeup artist's choice. They work for me, but I have also heard good things about Paula's Choice. I am sure there are other good products.

The sticky at the top of this forum (A non-inflamed acne regimen) gives additional information about using BHAs, AHAs and BP to fight blackheads and related issues involving hardened materials inside pores. Despite what we have been told, it is that writer's experience that AHAs are more effective on blackheads. After following her advice, I agree. To combine AHAs with BP, apply the AHA serum and allow to dry for 5-10 minutes and then follow with a layer of BP.

Also - I am not convinced that washing gently is the correct approach for this skin type. Gentle washing (tepid water, mild formulations, little exfoliation) is important for inflamed acne. Being harsh on inflamed acne will exacerbate the problem. With non-inflamed acne I find hot water, manual exfoliation, and high acid concentrations in the face wash to be much more effective.

#7 RB1989

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:10 PM

A pore that is already blocked - particularly by hardened material - can't be helped by topical treatments.


Couldn't agree more.

#8 wicky

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:07 AM

I get so confused as to what to use to prevent the buildup of I get in my chin of plugged sebum that will eventually lead to a closed comedone. I can feel the hardness under my skin and have recently tried using ziana gel. Its a low retinoid and clindimycin. I dont know that its helping those yet. I can get clear but its just a matter of time till I get those tiny pin prick white dots that need to be extracted. why are do they get dry and hard? The only AHA I have right now is one by Skinceuticals called Reactivating Texturizer. I have found it brings things to the surface that otherwise werent even there. Is this what I should do as preventative then follow with BP?