I had pretty much perfect skin until I turned... maybe 16 or so? I was a late bloomer, didn't have a major monthly hormonal change til I was 15, within days of my birthday. That's also around the same time I started using Proactive to try to scrub away the rough texture of my cheeks. You couldn't even see anything! I was just self-conscious about how they felt. Oi vey. But anyway, by the time I was 16 I had embarrassing pimples kinda spread around my chin, nose, and forehead... the typical T-zone. Then I got this weird rash that showed up on my chin and caused my skin to crack. It was red and itchy and seemed to spread if I touched it and another area of my face. The medicine the doctor gave me did nothing, but it eventually faded and went away on its own. To this day I have no frickin clue what in the world that was! Haha!
Ok. So then... some days and weeks I would be be relatively clear using various benzoyl peroxide treatments or whatnot. So I looked like this:
....which now that I look back is relatively clear. Annnd sometimes I looked like this:
Which I thought at the time was pretty bad. I think you can already tell the difference in skin quality after using too much benzoyl peroxide. I was washing my face a lot and treating it with that stuff, trying to mess with near-perfection. Then for some reason it started seeming worse and I was tired of it not improving. And I thought... what if benzoyl peroxide is messing my skin up? Just letting you know, I still have no clue if it was hormones or benzoyl peroxide that started it, but I definitely believe that it was benzoyl peroxide that didn't allow it to stop when my hormones were supposed to have settled down.
Anywayyyy, this belief led me to look stuff up on the internet last Christmas break (2011). I found acne.org and couldn't believe I'd never thought to look on the internet for a solution before! After reading the negative comments about benzoyl peroxide, eventually my perusal led me to the caveman regimen. I'd already bought all the stuff to start Dan's regimen, too (darn)! I was so excited, but in the two days before I was able to get the products for Dan's Regimen I didn't wash my face with anything and I noticed improvement in skin tone and feeling. So the wheels started turning and I thought... maybe this caveman thing is my "cure"! Maybe I've just been holding myself back! So I put Dan's regimen stuff away and started the no-water treatment.
For those of you who don't know, the caveman regimen is targeted to help those who are only getting acne because of irritation. It's supposed to eliminate all irritation and allow the skin to restore its natural pH. The nasty thing is that eventually you get this wicked layer of dead skin that builds up and turns all brown and crusty, but once you peel it off there's supposed to be fresh, clear skin underneath. This takes 2 months to work up to, however. I was ready! Oh yeahhhhh.
Let me just say. It was so hard not to wash my face. It gradually improved over the first week. The redness disappeared, the oiliness actually went WAY down (I would say it turned to normal). And I gained so much confidence from saying "What the heck, I give up! I give up! I'm not doing anything any more! Face, you're just gonna have to deal with it!"
And then it got gradually worse over the weeks. But hey-- this was to be expected, right?
It would improve, right?
...Yeah I don't think so. Because all the acne caused by irritation may have been gone, but now I had a new problem-- all the millions of little acne bumps that were starting to pop up because they couldn't get out from under all the skin build-up! It was bad. And it hurt. And ladies who were checking out in my line while I worked as a cashier at my local grocery store were giving me acne advice and telling me "It's a lot of tiny little infections, all over your face. That's why you have to keep it really clean and make sure you wash it." Which told me right then this lady had NEVER suffered from acne. Annnd it got worse.
My phone isn't really high resolution so it doesn't show all the redness or the little bumps (flash washes your face out) BUT! Wherever there is not a red bump, there are rough tiny little irritated flesh-colored bumps that would gradually turn red. There was NO smooth skin on my forehead. All those little bumps that covered my forehead in the previous pic were turning into a bunch of LITTLE EVIL CYSTS THAT HURT LIKE ... like whatever. And I have really expressive eyebrows and these painful bumps were messing up my eyebrow game! I'll post a pic of them at the end heehee! Btw, keeping these pictures was hard. I was reallllly self conscious. But I wanted to have a before/after story so I made sure to document my "before." Which was hard. Did I say that already? It was hard. I think you can even see something on my lower EYELID. Pain...
Okay anyway. So I finally caved and went to a dermatologist. I never did that until it actually HURT. I remember the day of school after I took that picture. I felt absolutely awful about my face.
So I go into the dermatologist and he grabs my chin and mumbles "So you're having some face problems." And then he proceeds to mumble at a million miles an hour and not make eye contact for the rest of the 3 minutes that he's in there. Anyway, he prescribed Ziana, which has clindamycin phosphate 1.2% and tretinoin 0.025% as its active ingredients (I copied and pasted that off of Google). The derm said Ziana was the new Retin-A, basically. So I was like "yay!". He also gave me minocycline (I think...) as an antibiotic to take every evening. Let me just tell you that this stuff is so easy to use. I take a shower, wash my face with some really gentle Cetaphil cleanser (REALLY GENTLE) for 5 seconds, MAX, towel dry, slather a pea-sized amount of this clear gel on, rub some Cetaphil moisturizing cream on top, and pop an antibiotic pill. The process doesn't look weird when I sleep over at a friend's, I do it once a day, takes no time at all... and it works. Funny mini-story: I still get excited when I pass the facial section in walmart and walgreens and stuff. I think I was actually addicted to the hope that used to be in face washes. Now my routine is just so easy it almost takes the fun out of it. Product withdrawals haha!
So here are some gradual improvement pictures on Ziana:
As you can sorta tell by the flash, my skin texture flattened out before the color improved. What I mean is that all the bumps and nodules or whatever turned to normal flatness but the redness remained. I felt like my acne was an illusion haha! A little bit of extra info: This photo was about 1-2 weeks in. I saw little to no improvement between the 2nd and 3rd week. Then similarly between later weeks. It's very slow-going. The places where zits were started peeling away in little circles of dead skin. Anywhere I'd applied the Ziana my skin took on a putty-like texture. Very smooth, but kind of odd. I also lost stretch-detecting feeling in my forehead. As in, we all have multiple kinds of touch nerves. There are pressure-sensitive nerves, surface touch nerves, and then I'd imagine stretch nerves because that's what I can't feel any more haha! I cannot feel my forehead if I pull on it and stretch it in two different directions. But I can feel everything else so it's all good.
In the image above you can see the red marks fading slightly. I was wearing eye makeup and a sheer powder, but nothing else. So it's almost what you see, maybe a little more red in reality. What I saw with Ziana is that the texture of my skin evened out as little bits of it peeled away. The redness was the last to go.
And this is the picture I took just now. As you can see, I still have some chest acne but I started using the Ziana on that as well as the bit I have on my back. What you see is really all I have. Almost gone!
The best part about this whole humiliating ordeal is the confidence that I gained coming through it. I'm a lot less sensitive to criticism and my appearance affects my mood a lot less. I really don't know what I'm going to do if Ziana is no longer available to me... it's pretty darn expensive without the coupon things... but I know that if I got through it the first time I can get through it again. The other best part is the new understanding I have for people who go through it. I love it when people who've never had acne would give me advice, especially if they were prehormonal age. I was always like... just wait... heh heh heh.... but at the same time, I don't wish this on anybody! I never want someone to experience acne the way I did. I'm not going to get laser treatment for the little bit of scars I have. I want people to be able to see what I went through if they ever need to know that I understand. Because that's what a compassionate soul did for me once, when I showed her one of my "before" pictures. She gasped with an unusual amount of understanding. And then she pointed to the severe acne scars on her cheeks. That is one of those moments where it's like... "you get me." And I love those moments!
By the way, the scars I have are a result of the caveman regimen. And I completely stopped picking at my face during that time so it is NOT from picking. So, attempt that regimen if you'd like, but ... I'd recommend just going to a dermatologist.
Edited by Haley May, 03 August 2012 - 01:39 AM.