Hi all! I just created this account because I've been a lurker for quite some times... that sounds creepy but truly, I found so much help through acne.org. I have experimented with a few regimen on this site and I have FINALLY found something that works for me. I hope this post can help others with adult acne/cystic acne to devise a plan of action to HEALTHY (healthy = happy = acne-free) SKIN!
First a little about me...
Before my mid-twenties, I have always had decent-good skin. I would have a few pimples here and there but they were not cystic and were easily treatable with some BP. Pre-adult acne, I had normal skin- not too oily, not too dry just in between. Those were the good ol' days of no makeup and no acne scars
After a certain birthday I will not mention (a lady never tells!), I had unbearable cystic acne that ravaged my face. I would have at least two at a time and once one goes down another would take it place. It was ALL OVER. Places I have never gotten acne, I did. I was super depressed about my skin all the time and never wanted to go out. I had to buy tons of makeup, especially concealer, in order to feel remotely okay. One time, on my chin, I had a pimple the size of Mt Everest with 3 heads... that took 5 weeks to die down and I still have remnants of the scar today. I was desperate and I decided to change a lot about my lifestyle. I washed my sheets all the time, hands were dry from constant washing, I always took of my makeup diligently and kept hair out of my face... I even became a vegetarian!!! Needless to say, this did not help because adult acne is genetics. I did not know this having never seen a dermatologist. So I googled some of my symptoms and found this wonderful forum. One of the regimen suggested vitamin A and probiotics.
Vitamin A + Probiotics
I was on this regimen for about 8 months. It helped a lot! Minus the horse sized pills, my pimples were coming up only one at a time. I never had completely clear skin but one cyst per month was okay with me. I thought that was the best it was going to get... I did the women's One A Day and offbrand probiotics, one pill of each per day. It wasn't expensive and I was able to keep up with my skin. I kept on trying different cleansers that promised many things like "organic" "clear skin" "deep cleansing" "8days!" but nothing really budged. Again, I thought this was the best it could get until I got fed up with just being okay with a few pimples and finally went to a dermatologist. This is what I learned in layman's term: adult acne is when your skin is not naturally sluffing off like it's supposed to. Instead, it is falling back into the pores, blocking the pores creating an inflammation response from the body and ta-da... cystic pimple!
Differin + Acanya + Monodox
For 6 months, I used Differin .3 gel + Acanya together. For 5 months of those 6, I was mostly miserable. Differin was terrible on my skin. It broke me out like crazy and my forehead looked like cobblestone roads (not kidding!). It was bumpy and red most of the time and the cystic acne was crazier than ever. I again looked to acne.org's forum and found a "Differin Diary" post that mentions the crazy purging of differin so I persevered. The acanya didn't help from what I could see and the monodox just felt like taking horsepills without any signs of improvement. Around month 3, my skin was going back to "normal" that is what it looked like originally- 2 or 3 huge, red cystic pimples at all time if not more. Around month 4, pimples going away faster but still same amount and massive. Month 5, same but again, healing faster. Month 6, still some pimples but the healing got faster and faster and my skin was starting to look OK. Throughout all this though, I had crazy dry skin. I looked like a lizard trying on makeup most of the time. I had to use Ponds Dry Cream in order to look less scary. I found out later why my skin was going extra crazy the first few weeks on Differin and it was really all my fault. I did not use gentle cleansers (DO NOT use BP/Salicylic Acid or any "acne treating" ingredients). I did not moisturize constantly to keep my skin, which is super dry at this point, from being hydrated causing more irritations. I did not follow the instructions and "eased my way" into using differin by taking it every 3 days or every other day. I also used wayyy too much instead of the recommended pea-sized amount.
Clarisonic + Cetaphil
At this point, my skin is still popping up some cystic pimples but they are smaller in comparison to no differin and healing quicker. I still am having terribly dry skin which I believe contributed to the formation of new pimples. Reading all the beauty gurus' rave reviews on the clarisonic mia, I decided I would try it for 30 days and see how it helps. The great thing about being on differin for more than 6 months at this point was that I did not purge. I guess it helped that I also knew to use a gentle cleanser, my weapon was cetaphil's sensitive skin cleanser, and the importance of constant moisturizing. Within 4 days, my skin was brighter, smoother, healthier looking and NO FLAKES! I still kept up with my differin every night. I did this for 5 months and every day, I swear my skin was getting better and better. I had only one cystic pimple a month, sometimes 2 if I was about to visit "Japan" (harharhar). When I ran out of differin (it lasted almost a year!), I decided I could just rely on the clarisonic... big mistake. I broke out 3 days after stopping and it was not pretty.
Clarisonic + Cerave + Acanya
Cetaphil's cleanser was amazing on my skin but my moisturizer, Pond's dry cream, was not working as well and was too greasy and not hydrating enough. I decided to use Cerave's daily moisturizer which has helped immensely, giving me a near perfect complexion- no dry spot, no flakes, scars fading faster, very hydrating but without the greasy feeling and a brighter complexion. Whenever I feel a bump under my skin, I utilize the acanya, which seems to be working with the clarisonic, as a spot treatment. Of course underneath that, every night, I religiously put on a small amount of differin (pea size). I use the Clarisonic Mia two times a day, sometimes three, with cetaphil OR cerave's gentle cleansers. I rarely get any pimples and when I do, it's on my chin because of my period. It was a tough 2ish years to get here and I don't think I'm completely done yet but this regiment has worked wonders for my skin and I hope it can help yours!!!
BTW I have found that the deep pore brush is the most effective for my skin... I thought it would be harsh to use it twice a day but so far so good! I also stay away from anything that says "acne free" like the plague. I found that it just irritates my skin more and the drying effects of the BP or Salicylic Acids really does more harm then good. Obviously, everyone is different and their skin reacts differently but that's my take on it- gentle cleanser + hydrating moisturizer = happier skin.
Sorry this was super long and I might have left something out- feel free to ask any questions! Best of luck to all of those out there struggling with their skin. It seems like an uphill battle but I believe there's something out there for everyone and I hope that I could help in any way