Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:33 PM
First - apologies for the essay...
I wanted to start a log to track the progress of my tazorac experience not only for my own sanity, but because so far reading everyone's stories and reviews have really helped me find solutions and keep sane while navigating the frustrating waters of acne.
I am 26yr female taking ortho tri-cyclin, non-inflamatory acne with sometimes moderate flare-ups (a ton of flesh colour bumps and blackheads all over my cheeks, temples, occasional pustule/papule on jawline - 2-3 at a time, mostly hormonal), no acne on forehead, very sensitive fair skin.
I have tried most things for whiteheads/blackheads/congestion: I had used differin for about 2 weeks before I was in so much pain I had to stop, I used clean and clear 2% SA astringent and it gave me chemical burns (! – yah, dry and super sensitive skin) and I reacted ok to glycolic/AHAs, but needed something more efficient. I found that scrubs either just made everything worse or did nothing besides temporarily feel refreshing. I tried the clarisonic but it really dried me out and if I didn't use it often enough it didn't really deliver results - it was returned. I had done a series of light chemical peels when I was 21, but it cost almost $1000 for 10 and the results were great but only lasted 6mn - year afterwards, not to mention the recovery time (one week of every month!)– not sustainable! They then recommended taz .1% cream. At the time, I wasn't given proper instructions so I used the cream generously for about 3-4 days before I was a peely, raw, red, and infected mess. I concluded that my skin was just too sensitive for it and just continued to buy expensive "miracle" products from department stores and sephora with varying degrees of success (If you want to know: Dr. Dennis Gross Peels were so far the best, but really expensive and never completely dealt with the issue...). I even tried lemon juice....yep...it's just amazing what we will do!
Fast forward to a month ago: I got so fed up with my persistent bumps and thinking about the amount of money I had poured into this situation and went to the doctor. They gave me taz 1% cream again - but actually gave me proper instructions!! Amazing!!
So on that note, here is how it has been going for the past month:
WEEK ONE: Great. My skin just got a bit flakey and any existing pimples just dried up and flaked off. I wasn't too red because I was pretty consistent with the moisturizer, sunscreen, and taking days off.
WEEK TWO: I was extremely dry – I needed to apply moisturizer/sunscreen several times a day to feel comfortable. I also started breaking out in the usual places – either side of my chin and under my cheekbones near my temples. I think it would be about the average “bad breakout” level, which was unfortunate, but not devastating. A lot of flaky-peely skin, but it wasn’t deep or raw – just the very top layer. I could lightly brush it off with a warm, wet washcloth.
WEEK THREE: Absolutely brutal. I basically left the house twice (had the week off) and one day I even cried because my acne became the worst it has ever been in my life. I had clusters all along my jaw/cheeks that were red and raw – maybe 20-30 inflamed bumps at the same time. My boyfriend even asked if I had thought about seeing a doctor about my infected rash (face palm!!). I avoided social gatherings or meeting up with anyone. At this point I felt like giving up. I kept thinking “how can I keep putting this on my face if I know I am just going to wake up looking worse?” I was really depressed. BUT if you are at that point DO NOT GIVE UP! PLEASE! I found that reading positive reviews helped me get through the hard times – so did reading, sleeping, and watching movies (but knit or doodle or something while watching movies so you don’t absent-mindedly pick and leave marks!).
WEEK FOUR: Finally, I began to see some improvement - no infected clusters and I could begin to see large smooth patches on my face. Blackheads in my temple/cheekbone area began to come out and some would surface everyday (about 4-5). Red/pink hyperpigmentation on my jawline slowly is flaking off from my massive breakout/skin meltdown last week. My skin looks worse than it did when I started in a way, because I have some pink marks now - but I think the texture is better than it has been in ages. It certainly isn't perfect yet - I can still see some little bumps that are just lurking - but overall I feel much more confident about this treatment. If I compare my state of mind now to this time last week, it is really incredible what a difference a week will make on this stuff! The skin that wasn't coated in blockages (my forehead) is almost translucent it is glowing so much!
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR:
If I can use taz (and I have reactions to even over the counter treatments like SA & BP), I think taz would be a good option for most people as long as you keep moisturized, give your skin breaks (when I started I was giving my skin two-three days off a week for the first two weeks, but now just do one day off per week or as needed), and DO NOT PICK! I really can’t emphasize enough that it really comes down to moisturizing with a good cream without alcohol, AHAs/BHAs, SA, or other potentially irritating ingredients. I truly believe this is why my skin could handle it. Also – it is tempting to think “more is better” but this is NOT a good idea with taz. You will destroy your skin and scar it badly! I think this is why many people give up with taz - they go too hardcore with application and then their skin is a train wreck. Remember - your skin is a delicate organ – and it isn’t going to show you any love unless you love it back!
Some people on here have complained about oiliness issues from using this product – I haven’t found that at all (maybe because I am naturally dry – who knows).
Ok – I’ll admit that I did pop the whiteheads and raised blackheads that looked really formed and just too tempting, but I did try to leave the other red angry ones alone. It’s really hard – but I think it made a difference with the marks because the one or two times I tried to get one I knew was a bad idea – the mark lasted 10 days rather than 2. Remember that!
Another suggestion: if you are starting out with inflamed acne, I could see the benefits of taking an antibiotic because even though my initial problem was mostly non-inflammatory, I think antibiotics probably would have reduced/prevented some of the week 3 madness (though not all) - I imagine it would be even worse if I had started out with inflamed skin.
Morning: Wash with Avene Clean-ac cleansing cream or cetaphil and lightly buff dead skin with a fresh face cloth. Then moisturize with Olay complete SPF 30 sensitive skin and Cetaphil Cream or Jurilique Candula Cream on extra dry areas. Spot treat with a touch of tea tree oil on any pustules. Use bare essentials mineral make up. I washed my brushes 1-2 times per week.
Evening: Wash face, apply cetaphil cream, wait 30 minutes, apply thin layer of taz.
In week three, I would wash my face, apply some tea tree oil diluted usually with pure aloe or moisturizer all over then wait for an hour for some anti-bacterial help, wash it, and then apply more moisturizer and then taz. I continued this into week four every night and now just do this occasionally.
I hope that is useful to some of you - as I know many posts here have certainly helped me - and I will definitely keep posting at least weekly to keep track of progress.
Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:47 AM
I am a little disappointed as after my skin started to heal in week four after the initial breakout at the beginning of week five, my face had another breakout - I have had about five sore whiteheads and a small cyst on my chin that sprang up pretty much overnight. I think it could be that time of the month related. I also continue to have all of these blackheads and whiteheads surfacing…which is starting to get really annoying
I also have myself to thank for another problem – this week I didn’t give my skin a break and now my one side of my mouth down to my jawline looks badly sunburnt (watermelon colour). It’s about the size of two fingers. The day I woke up with the burn as well as the new breakouts I had a small meltdown about this whole process again because I really don’t want to be embarrassed about my skin in public anymore… the initial breakout and the marks from it was torture enough!!
I have been applying layers of cetaphyl cream throughout the day to try and rescue it. My whole face seems calmer after no taz for two nights and it is now about 80% healed. I need to remember to take my own advice and give it a rest sometimes (every 3-4 days). More taz makes your face look way worse – it is a serious medication!
For some good news, a lot of hyperpigmentation is fading from week 3 and my skin texture is much better. Another thing I noticed: my total skin care related expenses for this month have been a little less than $10.00 (for a new cetaphyl cream). Being forced to stay on a strict regimen has really prevented me from wasting money on ‘quick fixes’. (not to mention, since I have become a hermit for about 2-3 weeks of the past month due to nasty initial breakout skin, I haven’t spent money going out! – really trying to find the silver lining here…)
Looking forward to week 8-12, when it seems reviewers have pretty consistently seen their skin 95-100% clear. This has been the longest month and a bit of my life so far! Maybe a tad dramatic – but every night when I put this stuff on I just get more and more anxious for the day I can have worry-free skin.
Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:08 AM
This morning I woke up and it made such a huge difference with my breakouts. I didn't have a single one and the others seem healed now (just waiting for them to flake off with the taz). I plan to only use the wash once a day to minimize any possibility for irritation (but seriously, after dealing with the taz flaking - I think BP won't really be a huge deal!!). We will see how it goes. So far, this is soooo much better.
Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:03 AM
I think I am back to the usual routine again of about 2 well-formed raised whiteheads near the corners of my chin every morning. They are definitely healing faster (and not spreading around) thanks, I think, to the benzagel. The cyst also healed and flaked off in a matter of days. Something that would have usually taken about two weeks.
I am still not feeling confident about my skin even though most parts are really cleared up and smooth. All around my chin is constantly flaky - not peeling - but just little flakes. This was always my worst breakout area and where most of my bumps were, so I am guessing that it is just due to the fact that the pores were extremely clogged there and it will take longer to resolve. I definitely feel way better than two weeks ago. My skin isn't really itchy anymore except in the exact spot a blackhead or whitehead is surfacing.
It's funny actually, because even though my skin has gotten better and is probably 80% clear now, I have a moving target. So now 80% isn't good enough! Tazorac is such an emotionally draining medication.
Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:28 AM
Good luck and I hope you have continued success!
Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:51 AM
Ok, so I am into my 6th week of treatment now. I am really starting to get impatient. I know, I am really only half way there. Another 6 weeks just seems so far away for perfect skin!
My breakouts are definitely calming down and I’m really starting to clear up, in fact – I didn’t have a single whitehead, blackhead, anything this morning!! It’s a miracle! I noticed that I really have hardly any lurking bumps left. Some of the deep ones I have had forever have begun to get closer to the surface – there are probably about 6 or so left. The red marks are getting better for sure and I think it will really start to improve this week if I can go a few days without any new breakouts (fingers crossed!).
My skin isn’t getting “used to the medication” like some other reviewers have found. Based on some reviews on this site, I have putting it on at night for an hour or so and then washing it off, applying more cream and then going to bed. I find it works equally as well but isn’t as irritating. Occasionally I will just leave it on overnight, especially if I am really tired or busy and don’t really have time to wait around for an hour. I still take a night off every week for good measure. Since I haven’t been breaking out as much, I stopped the occasional benzagel and tea tree oil and am just using my regular gentle cleanser.
I found a really good way to prevent the usual flakiness was to make sure I gently patted my face dry (no rubbing) after my morning shower then immediately apply some cream – I do it while still in the shower when my skin is still a little steamed. It seems to absorb better and prevent the flakes – maybe because your skin doesn’t have a chance to dry and get sensitive? I saw this in a magazine for a way to prevent dry skin on your body and thought, hey, it must work for your face too! And so far it has done pretty well, not perfect, but better.
I am actually looking forward to my update for next week - hopefully I will have more good news for you guys! I hope anyone who is on taz out there is hanging in there - your reviews and honesty have really made a difference.
Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:33 PM
Another thing I have noticed is a sunspot I had from not wearing sunscreen in my teen years has really faded. In retrospect, I should have worn sunscreen to prevent it in the first place - but I am happy it is going away. Not wearing sunscreen will never be a problem for me again - especially on taz sunscreen is a must!
I am really hoping this progress keeps up. It is just amazing how much the condition of my skin affects my mood. I now want to start going out again!
Looking forward to the week seven update and to all the other taz users, keep going!
Posted 23 September 2012 - 03:46 PM
I was having great progress until yesterday evening I got a wave of blackheads and whiteheads surfacing. It was super weird - maybe like 10-12 of them over the course of the evening/night. This was obviously pretty upsetting because my skin was looking pretty good up until that point. I guess they made up for lost time this past week. The breakouts weren't nearly as big or painful or anything as maybe they would have been in the past and they came out really easily, but I could just feel my face getting bumpy! So, back to the drawing board in terms of little marks.
I keep telling myself its ok because my skin is slowly but surely improving. No pustules or cysts in weeks. My skin is still hovering around maybe 85% clear due to these pesky whiteheads and blackheads purging. I can't wait until week 12.
Did anyone else have a similar experience? When did all your comedones finally stop purging? Urgh.
Edited by northerngal100, 23 September 2012 - 03:49 PM.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:33 PM
In other good news (and I don't want to speak too soon) but it seems like my entire left cheekbone/temple is clear - a part of my face that got hit really hard in the beginning of the IB. The corners of my chin are still going strong though - it is the only place on my face I break out anymore.
Unfortunately I was too ashamed at my skin to take before pictures. I kind of wish I did so I would have some photo evidence of improvement. I will definitely post celebratory clear photos when that happens. Hopefully tomorrow.
Posted 29 September 2012 - 11:42 AM
I do have some hyperpigmentation on the sides of my chin and some on my cheeks, but luckily tazorac clears hyperpigmentation fairly quickly (seeing as my week three war zone is now 100% gone - after only two-three weeks - I have high hopes for the rest of it) and I think my skin will be at a really good place by the 12th week. I am definitely not thinking "perfect" skin by the 12th week/3 months is a reasonable goal, but if progress continues, I am hoping to not need any makeup/concealer whatsoever after 4 months of use.
My skin is still flakey, but way less. It seems that the only places that flake are where there is discolouration or a where a pimple is healing which is great news. My skin also feels less tight. I have started applying more regularly to my nose to try to attack some of those reoccurring blackheads, but I find that it hasn't toughened up like the rest of my skin and still peels like crazy if I apply more than once every other day.
Posted 01 October 2012 - 02:23 PM
I just received my shipment of Tazorac today, only .05% though. Will have to read up more and prepare myself before actually using.
The good news, if you can even call it that, is that my face is already breaking out so I won't go through that initial shock of breaking out (I hope!)
Edited by Soi Je, 01 October 2012 - 02:28 PM.
Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:20 PM
Since I last posted my skin definitely has kept getting better....except one thing - I got a cyst under my eye!! This has never (well, never say never now) happened before. Not only do I not tend to get cysts in general, but if/when I do, they are almost always around my chin and during that time of the month and aren't THAT bad. This one is in the area where the really thin skin directly under your eye meets your thicker cheek skin under my pupil. It was so big that the morning I woke up with it, I had to ice my eye as it was a bit swollen and I could see the swollen area out of the corner of my eye the whole day! It is possible it is just some sort of weird bug bite I suppose...but I am 90% sure it is a zit. It is red and angry and really stands out against my otherwise breakout-free skin. Arg. It is slowly going down but obviously not as quickly as I would like. I guess it must have been hanging out there for a while and the tazorac just irritated it. Who really knows?
On the positive side, it is my only active spot and has been since my last post. Waking up without clusters of whiteheads and blackheads is great (though, would trade two or three for this monstrosity!)
Week 12 - so close, yet so far away....
Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:58 AM
I'm going to have to read through your entire thread sometime this week before I begin treatment. I'm already expecting the worst, but it's nice to read about someone else's experiences.
Thanks again for keeping such a detailed log!
Posted 04 October 2012 - 07:06 PM
Also - thanks for reading my log! I didn't know if I would get any comments or not, but it is pretty therapeutic to be able to rant and rave about acne to people who understand what you're going through - even if no one answers. Especially as someone with adult acne, I feel like I don't really have anyone in my peer group who I can talk to - they are all freaking out about getting wrinkles and here I am thinking about things they went through at 15. The other optimistic side of me hoped my story would be positive (I guess we all hope that!) and that people just starting treatment could use it as something to help them realize it would get better after the IB. I know I definitely read every single review of taz on this site during the first month to motivate me, so thanks guys!
Anyway - all that aside - I am here to post more happy things
I haven't had a new breakout in five whole days!!! (Besides the cyst... and that thing is just a freak of nature - it's some sort of personal record or something I am sure. But it doesn't hurt anymore - so hopefully the hard lump/redness will start going away shortly). I am really happy with my progress. Everyday I wake up and my skin is looking slowly but surely better and better. The hyperpigmentation is fading and I don't need near as much concealer, the blackheads on my nose are not that noticeable, I can't see any flesh coloured bumps or lurking blackheads. It's great. The sides of my chin are smooth for the first time in....hmmm...well since I was getting professional peels years ago.
I am still pretty sensitive to the medication in terms of needing breaks and everything - but that's fine. I am at the point now where I don't have to resist the overwhelming urge to just slather it on or keep going every night even though I know my skin is getting angry (ALWAYS a bad idea). I still peel too - not painful peel, but I kind of peel like I did in my first week - its just a really thin layer every so often that rubs off really easily with a warm washcloth.
I will post again after a few days into week 9 or so!
Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:33 AM
I definitely have a pretty good idea of what you're going through. Prior to my teenage years, I had very good skin (as most kids do), but once I turned 12/13, I began to break out. It got progressively worse and I tried all kinds of treatment but to no avail. I was patient and told myself I would grow out of it. Eventually by my early to mid 20s I implemented dietary changes as no medication seemed to help. It's made a difference, but certainly has not cured my condition.
I turn 29 next month and I'm still battling acne so I have all but given up hope. I accept that I will never have good skin if that's to be the case. My face is nowhere near as bad as it was a few years ago, but I still have scars and regular breakouts every once in a while. There's a chance I may have tried Tazorac or its derivative when I was younger, but I thought I'll give this one a shot and see how it goes. Again, I'm not expecting a miracle as I've learned to deal with disappointment. Sorry, I don't mean to be a downer
Edited by Soi Je, 06 October 2012 - 04:33 AM.
Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:19 PM
I am starting week nine. Also know as: getting past the first two months! Woo!
Things are about the same as last post. I did see little raised areas where blackheads were starting to loosen, so I extracted those without any problem - they weren't noticeable really. So I am not counting them as breakouts hahaha. No inflammation or whiteheads - which is great. I am still trying to fade the hyperpigmentation, but I have heard that it really takes a full two months for marks to completely go away on this stuff. My experience so far has lead me to believe it is a bit quicker than that (at least for it to be noticeable at a regular distance). Sigh. Patience, patience. At least my skin isn't sore and breaking out like crazy anymore - red marks are a lot easier to cover than sore bumps.
Speaking of sore bumps, the cyst is still there - it is about 1/8th the starting size and just hard. No soreness or anything. It has obviously left a mark (even though I did not touch it) as it was so monstrous and in such a sensitive area. I think that will probably take at least a month from now to completely vanish. It basically just looks like I have a bag under my eye now instead of a pimple. :S
I definitely don't want to speak to soon - I said earlier that I was going to give tazorac a solid three months before declaring victory or giving up - but I am pretty sure that I am headed in a good direction. The difference between one month and two months is very drastic, so I am hoping there is also a big improvement between month two and three.
In other breaking regimen-related news, I am discontinuing tricyclin as I have been having some crazy side effects in the past 3-4 months that are not going away (breakthroughs, nausea) and in the past two years that I have been on it my acne has gotten worse, not better. Maybe it's related and maybe it's not, but I will probably try a few months without anything before I try something new. It will be interesting to see how this effects my skin....I am kind of scared. Any suggestions are very welcome.
Posted 12 October 2012 - 04:57 PM
My cyst is healed, but alas there is still a pinky-red mark under my eye. It just makes me look tired. Sadly, I can't really put too much taz there to speed up the process because it is right on the edge of my sensitive eye skin - so I'll have to wait this one out.
Anyway, things are definitely better, so I can't complain much. This hyperpigmentation is getting on my nerves though. I have more than I started with and that's for sure .
Only three weeks until I have completed week 12
Posted 14 October 2012 - 02:35 PM
The main changes I've made to my diet: cutting out dairy, refined sugars, and just unhealthy food in general as best as I could. I eat mainly fish (sushi) and organic products now. I read another thread on here about some fellow who managed to eliminate his acne under similar conditions, but he said the magic bullet was "water kefir" so I might give that a go, can't hurt.
I've been using Tazorac everyday for a week now and I might be seeing progress, or it could just be a good time of the month for me. I have moments where I'm relatively clear and no new formations occur so it's hard to say for sure if it's one or the other. I do know the side effects have not been all the bad. I'm flaking, but I'd rather be flaking than have a sore, acne ridden face. For now, I have no plans to take any breaks from applying the cream since the symptoms are nearly negligible, save for the dryness. So far, it IS corresponding to clearer skin, but again, that could just be a coincidence because even prior to Taz, I've had periods like this before.
Posted 15 October 2012 - 08:23 PM
Glad to hear you are having luck (maybe) so far!! It's funny you mention kefir. I picked some up at the grocery store this evening because it has been on sale and I was curious to try it after also hearing good things. I figured it seemed like a good time! It isn't the best tasting stuff in my opinion, but I am pretty much willing to try anything.
Posted 17 October 2012 - 12:14 PM
I went and got a facial and totally forgot until the morning that I also had a follow up doctors appointment (opps!).
The aesthetician gave me some good advice. She said that I am getting some blackheads because, from her perspective (and close up mirror), that my skin is too dry and the skin is flaking off and getting stuck in my tiny pores (because they are so dry, their openings are smaller than usual). She recommended I use tazorac every other day or take a break after every two days to relieve my skin. She also recommended not washing my face with water in the morning - but using a micellular solution and then spritzing with a mineral water (like avene, vichy, evian, etc.), patting dry and then putting on a heavy cream which will keep the moisture at a good level. She also pointed out that moisturized and oily are different things - that if even people with oily skin treated there skin like this they would probably have better results as well as when properly moisturized, ones skin is a "self cleaning machine" and needs a proper PH balance which is messed up by cleanser. Anyway, I thought that was interesting. I think I will certainly give it a try
Definitely recommend getting a facial at this stage too - my skin today looks fantastic. And it hasn't felt this smooth since I started taz.
From the doctors perspective things are going well. I was threatened with Diane 35 bc if tazorac doesn't completely clear me up by the end of month four. I am a little freaked out about that potential, so I think I will keep plugging along and hope for the best!
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