I had mild to moderate acne as a teenager, nothing terrible. When I was 15, a GP opened his huge book and then suggested Panoxyl Aqueous 2.5 % Benzoyl Peroxide Gel. That worked well and it kept my skin fairly clear. Then, it stopped being as effective so I began used the 5% Aqueous version. I used that pretty religiously until my skin began to clear up almost entirely during college. I would get some congestion and I'd get the occasional blemish but nothing severe and the BP seemed to work quickly without making my skin dry out too much. I am allergic to Salycilic acid at least on my face. Even at 2%, it results in a horrible rash.
Fast forward 10+ years, I could go out without makeup. Then, my mom got sick. I was very stressed. My skin began breaking out and in places it never had before like my neck and jawline. I was not on birth control, did not wish to start. I tried BP but it didn't help at all. Still, I continued to use it, hoping things would improve. My mom had successful surgery and was fine yet my skin was still very sensitive and I was still getting blemishes and not just a couple. I decided to stop using Panoxyl BP and tried Clearasil. Hallelujah. I now realize that the Panoxyl had somehow become toxic for me, who knows why. I had used it for over a decade without issue. The Clearasil Daily Clear Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream BP Plus helped a lot but my skin still had issues with blemishes (whether during my period or not) and congestion.
My mom had been taking Epsom Salt baths for many, many years. She'd always recommended it for relaxation, said it had medicinal benefits though she never expanded on those. I took my first epsom salt bath 2 months ago. It was very relaxing and made my skin super soft. I didn't even google it first (shame on me) but decided to wet my face then apply a layer of epsom salt all over my face while I bathed. My skin felt great. There was no stinging. Lots of people stay away from Epsom Salts because they equate it with table salt but it's not sodium chloride, it's magnesium sulfate. I continued to use the epsom salt for 5 days straight. WOW!
I cannot emphasize enough how Epsom Salts have changed my skin. I am wearing no makeup now and my skin is clear. I have no active blemishes. My nose always gets congested, this is a constant problem and the ES have helped but it's something I think I will always have to deal with. I had some brown spots on my forehead and cheek from previous blemishes, the ES helped immensely with those too. I use it after I cleanse and sometimes I use it to exfoliate.
Here's my regimen.
1) Wash face with Dermaglow foaming face wash (not sure if non-Canadians can purchase it, it's available at a few local pharmacies where I live)
I sometimes wash with Dove. Yes, I know it's a soap but my skin seems to like it and it doesn't irritate my skin.
2) I exfoliate with Epsom salts or St. Ives Apricot Scrub. I know many say it damages the skin and causes microtears. I don't buy that. If derms use a dermaroller and make their client's skin bleed on purpose, how can my skin really be damaged when there is no blood. I don't rub harshly. I exfoliate about 3-4 times a week. If I don't my skin will not look good.
I also use a facecloth every time I bath.
3) I moisturize with either Dermaglow moisturizer or my Holy Grail moisturizer Avene Skin Recovery Cream and also Cetaphil moisturizer. I tend to use the Cetaphil under makeup, the Avene when I go to bed and I always use the Avene on top of Clearasil which I still use.
4) I use Clearasil mostly as a preventative measure. Since I've been using Epsom salts, I no longer need to use it that often, maybe twice a week. During my period, I use it every other day because I'm prone to a few blemishes during my cycle.
5) I take (unfortunately not as regularly as I should) a multi-vitamin, krill oil pills, Omega 3,6, Vitamin A, D and yogurt probiotic pills
Things I have noticed
My skin does not like red meat. If I eat red meat 3 days in a row, I'm guaranteed to get a blemish on my forehead.
My skin gets more congested when I eat sweets. Epsom salts mitigate that to a point.
Eating a low fat diet high in fruits and veggies did not make my skin become blemish-free. I did this for 2 months. The only difference was less congestion and the Epsom salts have helped more with this than a low-fat diet ever has.
Benefits of Epsom salts
It softens my skin and makes it feel hydrated.
It does not sting.
It calms my skin down.
It makes my skin glow.
It is a great exfoliator for face and body.
It is very relaxing in a bath (two cups for a normal-sized tub). If you can't soak for 20 minutes, you shouldn't bother. I soak then wash because it definitely makes the dead skin easier to scrub off your skin.
I know it's not my imagination since others have commented about it. I have a convenience store about a minute away from my house and I would put on foundation just to go my a carton of milk. Now, I go without foundation. I wish I had tried them before.