I am now 30.5 years old. In late 2010 I discontinued using oral birth control after being on it for more than a decade (the health risks no longer seem worth it). Within a couple months I began breaking out -- usually medium or large cystic/deep blemishes, though I also developed tiny bumps on my cheeks that I think are called millia -- and this continued throughout 2011. I considered my breaking out to be moderate, though it's now lighter after adhering to my new regimen experiment, to be outlined below.
Adapted from advice on acne.org, I began using Zapzyt's acne kit (along with Aura Cacia jojoba oil) in an attempt to clear my skin from breakouts. I am now approximately 8 weeks into the treatment, with measurable success though scarring obviously remains.
Over the last couple of months I've made a conscious effort to wear makeup less often during the day and to be extra diligent about removing all makeup after a night out.
My regimen generally is to wash my face first with my preferred cleanser, Alpha Hydrox foaming face wash, to remove makeup, followed by the Zapzyt 2% SA face wash on my cheeks and chin (used maybe only 3-4 times per week). For astringent, I'm using witch hazel.
After drying off, I either apply the salicylic acid gel (works better under makeup) or the benzoyl peroxide gel (works better for night time or while lounging around the apartment). I find myself using the 2% SA gel more often, likely because I prefer its texture (especially if I plan to wear makeup). The 5% BP gel has a slightly gritty texture and is very drying, so more moisturizer is needed. I have also tried Zapzyt's 10% bp cream, which is extremely drying and must be used very lightly on select spots and on rare occasion.
** Recently I ordered Daniel's bp gel as a replacement, so once that arrives and I get a feel for it an update will follow.
I do exfoliate because my skin is naturally quite dry and flaky in certain patches. My regular exfoliator is Queen Helene Mint Julep scrub, which I use lightly where needed. A month or so ago I purchased Olay's ProX handheld scrubber brush dealie, and it works nicely too (sometimes I apply the Zapzyt SA face wash with this). I've been exfoliating with one of these methods 1-3x per week, trying not to overdo it.
For moisture, I apply CeraVe lotion (CeraVe cream to my eye area and any stubbornly dry patches) with a few drops of jojoba oil, which has been working out nicely. The Alpha Hydrox foaming face wash and CeraVe products were already a regular part of my routine before trying out this acne regimen, and I feel comfortable and satisfied continuing their use. Applying jojoba oil was a new concept for me, though it has helped noticeably more with the BP-induced flakes than the lotion applied alone.
So far I am glad to see fewer breakouts, with those tending to clear up more quickly. In the future I may experiment with methods to reduce the appearance of my scarring. Occasionally I do apply AHA souffle, and perhaps I need to integrate this more regularly into my routine.
Either way, I'm not seeking perfection here, or to blow a bunch of money in vain. This is my experiment with affordable products that I've researched with hope that they will improve my skin's condition. A goal I also need to set is to further reduce my dairy (and perhaps soy) intake, which past experience has already proved beneficial.
For the record, I've never tried Accutane or antibiotics intended to treat acne, nor have I ever seen a doctor specifically about my skin. Nor do I intend to. Thus far I haven't undergone any peels, microdermabrasion, or lasers. My current concern is to buy less, not more, taking into consideration what I've learned over the years and from reading of others' experiences.
Some not-so-great photos to document my progress: