Rebound acne. The worst. You try a new regimen or treatment and within a fairly short period of time your skin starts to clear...maybe you even get completely clear--how exciting!!! BUT the acne returns either because you stopped treatment or the treatment lost its efficacy. ARG!
Though some people seem to believe in bp, it did not work for me. I have tried both spot treatment formulas(i.e. Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency gel-lotion) and full face treatments(i.e. Proactiv) ...more than a few times. For me, each time I tried bp the overall result was the same: irritation. REALLY dry, sore, red, flaky skin. It did help reduce some of the acne(not all) but more importantly it made the surrounding skin look awful. After discontinuing bp the acne came right back and my damaged, leathery skin took ages to regain a more balanced state.
Even those who swear by bp say that you have to KEEP using it to maintain results...if you stop, the acne is likely to return. Medicated for life??? This dependency seems troubling to me... There must be a better way!
I have also tried numerous products that have the active ingredient as either AHA/BHA. I found AHAs to be a bit harsher on my skin, so I have mainly used BHA products. For me this is where the rebound acne was the most disappointing. Each time I have used a product with salicylic acid I would go through the same process of dealing with a bit of redness and discomfort when starting initial use, seeing my skin start to clear up (but be a bit red, dry, flaky, and dehydrated-looking), and then the efficacy would wear off...my skin would plateau and then the acne return with vengeance. Looking back, I think the reason I had this problem is that the areas that I have the most persistent acne I suspect have mis-shaped pores(either from past acne scarring or other skin damage). When the salicylic acid exfoliates the surface of the skin, dissolving any plugs at the surface level the skin looks better with less congestion. BUT with longer use the pore lining sheds and the cells end up getting trapped inside the pore. Then a build-up of dead skin cells accumulates trapping oils and WHAM! Disaster zone. I see BHAs can be a short term tool, but the risk becomes over-exfoliation. Even without the problem of poorly shaped pores, if you speed up cell turnover too much you may experience irritation and dryness. Plus, expect a period of breakouts if you decide to stop using BHAs. Once your skin gets used to the faster turnover cycle, stopping could present a challenge as your skin tries to readjust to a slower pace and dispose of debris in a natural way.