I'm not new to the forum actually. I follow almost every thread here and read some of them almost everyday. But today I felt the urge to sign up and share.
I'll try my best to keep this short but in case there are other users who suffer from the same issues or in any way that they can relate to my story, I won't refrain from giving full details.
As an adolescent I never had much issues about acne. I used to have one or two on my face and I would do nothing to get rid of them. I can't say that I was very much into "hygienic" stuff either. They would simply go away with time without any scars. I simply didn't care.
I'm 25 now, male, and two years ago, during a very hot summer holiday by the seaside, I had this huge pimple on my left cheek. I, somehow, got obsessed with it. I didn't pop or squeeze it but I just hated it. It was like a huge nut and made me enormously self-conscious.
After the holiday, one of my colleagues told me that she was using La Roche Posay's Effaclar facewash and it helped a lot with her acne. And she was simply amazed at me when I told her I was using NOTHING on my face. I used to take a shower, not even touching my skin. Then, I visited this "dermocosmetic" pharmacy nearby and asked for advice there. The pharmacist was very positive about Effaclar, so I gave it a shot. I got the facewash, Effaclar Duo to apply on that huge thing and Effaclar toner.
Two days later, my face was all flaky. The pimple seemed to reduce in size, but it didn't go away. After a week, I visited the pharmacy again, telling them that it dried me out. She then told me switch to a milder facewash, drop the toner but continue to use Effaclar Duo. She gave me Toleriane facewash this time which was apparenly suitable for highly sensitive skin. I started using it, only to develop more pimples. The huge one had gone away, with three small red scars behind it. I later realized that the main reason for its hugeness was three "untreated" blackheads.
I, then, became obsessed with my skin, slowly and overtime. My significant other, who has always praised my skin, was very worried. Not because of the pimples or the three small scars but because of the amount of money and time I started spending on my skin. I would constantly google new products, check their ingredients, etc. So she advised me (she's way older than me) to quit every cosmetic and return to the basics as she and her mother does. Plain soap. It was a huge relief after such a complicated regime. Using a mild soap would mean no moisturizers, no toners, no facewashes and no more obssessive googling.
It worked like a charm at first. My skin would feel tight. Less breakouts and it was a real time and money saver. Only until a month of washing my face with soap, twice a day, in the mornings and at nights. My face was again flaky, I would breakout more and had red patches here and there. So, I freaked out and it was time to see a professional derm.
I found this derm, quite an expert and famous in my country. She examined my face and told me that it was no big deal and my acne was very mild. She told me that all those dermocosmetics -whether they are for sensitive skin or not- had terrible chemicals in them. And she complained about how "gently" we treat our faces. She told me that the facial skin was the strongest skin of our body since it's exposed to everything since we were born. She said if I don't clean it, dead cells would accumulate and my face would produce more sebum and oil to get rid of them and of course, that would result in clogged pores. So, she prescribed my Nivea Baby Soap to wash my face twice a day, again in the mornings and at nights, Sebamed Clear Face toner, two-three times a week, Cleocin T to apply on the new pimples (active ingredient is clyndamycin) in the mornings and Avene Cicalfate lotion again to apply directly on the pimples at night.
I was so happy. She treated me well, gave a bunch of things. (I was afraid that she would send me home without anything). So, I started my now one and a half years regime.
Again, at first, Cleocin T worked like a charm. It would immediately dry out any pimples that I would develop before they even turn into real whiteheads. I wish that was a happy ending. But it's not. My face overtime turned red. I visited her again and again, thinking it might be rosacea or whatever. But she said no, there was nothing to exaggerate and advised me to go on with my regime. So, I did. What I have here now is a slightly red nose, instant rashes that would go away in couple of hours, dry cheeks and little red bumps on my cheeks. It's a vicious circle now. They appear on my skin, I apply Cleocin-T, they go away, but my face becomes so dry, it itches at times, so I apply Toleriane moisturizer (she didn't recommend this but I got it on my own, she said dryness wasn't of a much issue and moisturizers were useless), they fade away, then come back again. My left cheek now is permanently reddish. And I'm sure that those little red bumps are not pimples at all. They're something else. I kinda imagined that it was the baby soap that's doing this. Because it again dried out my skin, I dropped Nivea Baby Soap, it felt so good at first. Redness slightly went away but after a couple of days I would break out again.
Then, I met another derma, she told me that I was being way too harsh on my skin and told me that many baby soaps had lanolin in them, which would produce acne in time. She agreed that it was a definite vicious circle. The soap would dry the bumps/pimples, then produce new ones due to the lanolin and this would go on until forever. She told me that she -all of the life- used a special toner only to be prepared by a certain recipe and by a pharmacist. It basically has alcohol, acetylcalycilic acid and pure water. She told me not to use anything else on it. No soaps, no facewashes, no toners. But just that. I would just wash my face with water in the mornings and wipe my face with that special toner and rinse it immediately at nights.
I tried to commit myself to this new regime but it was it so difficult because my face would be very oily and shiny and -as I told earlier I'm very obsessive about the regimes and stuff and changing my routine just hurts-. And after one and a half years of soap using I felt as if my face was absolutely dirty. So I switched back to my old regime. Which was a very big mistake. What I have now is instead of three small red scars on my face, my cheeks are red, there are small red patches on the cheeks, dry and again red nose.
I just don't know what to do anymore, I want to feel confident, I want my "white" and spotless face back, I want somebody to understand me not put me off with "Aw, you're so handsome" consolation sentences. I just want somebody to tell me use a product or whatever and make it work.
I'm really open to hearing similar stories/recommendations here. If you could put up with my long story, of course. Hope there are some others to reply and share.
If you're reading this and have just one or two pimples on your face: this is the moral of my story: try not to get obssessed. Love your face, and believe me, overdoing anything just makes it worse. Keep yourself and your soul clean and you're good to go.