I promised myself that I'd write a blog post whenever I found something that 'worked' for me and gave me clear skin. Reading blogs on Acne.org really helped me find the products that worked best with my skin, so I wanted to tell my story in case it can help anyone else struggling with acne/breakouts. It took a lot (like, a LOT) of trial and error to get where I am now - so above all the one thing to take away from this blog post is don't give up. Ever! I know how crappy it feels to have bad skin and some days it feels like nothing will work but, have faith. You will find what works.
A brief overview of my story before I jump into products: I had perfectly clear skin right up until 2 months before I graduated high school. I honestly never broke out at all (or even wore any concealer or complexion makeup), but one day I just started to break out, and It never went away. I still don't know why it happened and I honestly didn't know what to do since I had amazing skin up until this point - when all my friends had 'acne' I was free and clear. I went through a few years of compulsive skin picking (gross, I know), and I couldn't stop myself from picking away at any bump or blemish on my face. This left me with big scabs, and just generally made everything worse. It took me a while to stop picking my skin but even then, I still struggled with breakouts.
Like most people with problem skin, I've tried most popular products for acne. This includes both high end and drugstore brands, plus I even tried a natural route using tea tree oil. I spent so much money hoping that expensive products would be worth it, but it didn't matter. The turning point came when I remembered that I had ordered from acne.org in the past (I ordered the 3 step regime), and that I really liked it but shipping time and cost wasn't great (I live in Canada). So I got lazy and ran out of products one by one. I knew one thing, that Benzoyl Peroxide was the only active ingredient that ever worked for me. So I picked up a drug store brand and the rest is history. My biggest struggle with using BP (Benzoyl Peroxide) is how drying it is - if you max capacity loaded this stuff on your face every day and night for two weeks you'd have crystal clear skin. But it would be a hot mess of dry spots, cracks, flakes, etc. I recommend finding a great moisturizer early on, because it took me over a year to find the perfect one for me. So without further delay and rambling, below is my routine!
NOTE: I only use BP at night. It minimizes dryness and is just as effective as using it both day and night, in my opinion. It also can gather on your face weirdly, and kind of flake off so this is why I prefer to sleep with it as opposed to deal with awkward situations during the day. Plus, it also gives your skin time to 'breath' after being dried out overnight.
1. Eye Makeup Remover: (any brand) I use an oil-free eye makeup remover, to avoid any left over oil transferring onto my skin.
2. Face Wash: Boscia Purifying Facial Cleanser (around $30 at Sephora). This is a simple face wash that I've purchased time and time again. It has no active ingredients (you don't want something else drying out your skin since you will be using BP on it already), and i find that it works very well at cleaning my face.
3. Toner: La Roche-Posay, Toner Astringent Lotion *from their Efficlar line (around 25$ at the drug store). I really like this toner, and I think using a toner is an important step in this process, as the gentle acids exfoliate the skin which prepares it for the Benzoyl Peroxide and aids in absorption of your treatment.
4. Treatment: Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 5 (around 6$ at the drug store). This is a 5% BP gel but I heard that they only make this in 10% within the USA, so I would avoid that high of a BP concentration, as 5% is just as effective as 10%, but far less drying. Try to use a 5% or 2.5% concentration of BP.
IMPORTANT STEP IN BETWEEN TREATMENT AND MOISTURIZER! Let your BP sink in for at least 15 minutes before applying your moisturizer. This allows the product to sink in and absorb before you put on your moisturizer. This step is very important, and you won't get the best results if you don't follow this. Trust me.
5. Moisturizer: Sephora brand Instant Moisturizer, oil-free (around $25 at Sephora). This. Is. The. Best. Without a doubt, the best quality moisturizer for acne-prone skin ever. In fact, my skin is better for using this. I didn't expect much because I've never tried anything from Sephora's skin care line but it really surprised me. It doesn't break me out and it moisturizes very well.
That's it! I took me a month to clear my skin 95%. I still get the occasional pimple but, who doesn't. The real star is Benzoyl Peroxide, as it really does such a great job of clearing up your skin for a very low cost. You can play around with lower cost cleansers and toners, but I'd always spurge on the moisturizer as I find that you really get what you pay for most of the time. I recommend Dan's products as well, as I think they are an excellent value - I may even order his BP since it's much more cost-effective than drug store products.
Feel free to ask me any questions or advice! Happy to help out as best I can