Because this community has provided me a tremendous amount of useful info over the years, I wanted to give back and let others know about the combination of treatments and activities that have, at last, resulted in my clear skin after suffering for 32 years with acne.
I started breaking out at 13 or so. My father has had acne as long as I've known him (still does and he is in his late 60's) so the conclusion was that a combo of the teens and hereditary resulted in my "condition." My sisters inherited my mother's flawless, porcelain skin so I got to feel like the ugly duckling a lot. Overall, because of ignorance or complacency or a little of both, my parents didn't do much to help me.
As an adult, I've tried everything over the years from about 15 on: dermatologists, light treatment, several rounds of antibiotics (temporary help until resistance sets in), glycolic acid peels, microdermabrasion, no wheat/dairy/gluten diets, oil treatment, Proactive, Dermalogica, Chinese herbal remedies, and just about every oral and topical treatment (no Accutane - the side effects scared me too much) under the sun. By 40, I was exasperated thinking that I was cursed, like my father, with acne for the rest of my life. Because I have a high profile position as an executive, I kept looking, to no avail, for a "cure". Let me interject here that I eat healthily and have for 20 years: organic, no hormones, no sodas, lots of spinach (about 1 lb/week), high fiber, no processed meats, drink 90-100 oz water/day, fast food limited to about 3x/year, and, because I often suffer from low blood sugar, watch my carbs:protein ratios fairly carefully. Additionally, I maintain a healthy lifestyle: don't smoke, exercise 3-4x/week, drink minimally, use sunscreen religiously (a brand tailored for acneic skin) and, all things considered, have a manageable amount of stress in my life. My annual physicals are a total bore...and that is a good thing!
About 16 months ago, I attempted another "big push" toward the acne cure (mind you, I'm always looking but, life was affording me more time to focus). I knew my acne, at the topical level, was caused by 2 main problems: over-production of oil and inferior exfoliation capabilities (of course, somewhat linked to the oil production). I also knew that the sebum production, based upon the research, was internally governed. So, I determined to do a few things:
1. Eliminate BP all together (my skin was developing fine lines and discoloration from the use of it)
2. Go as natural as possible with everything I put on my skin - no fragrances, dyes, comodegenic-causing ingredients
3. Ascertain the internal triggers causing the crazy amounts of sebum and treat the root cause(s)
4. Incorporate tips, techniques, adjustments to my routine that would improve my skin
Step #1 resulted in a serious purge that left me looking like a 16 year old all over again for about 12 weeks. Since I'm older, scars ensued. But, I stayed with it and have remained free of BP ever since. Bonus: the fine lines have diminished significantly and the discoloration has almost completely faded.
Step #2 required much more time and experimentation to implement. What has worked for me is:
*Wash with Dan's cleanser AM and PM
*Apply non-alochol mandelic acid (10%) and wait for 30 min - AM
*Apply green cream or diacneal (alternate between the 2) - PM and wait 10 minutes
*Apply plain aloe vera jel - no dyes, perfumes, just 100% aloe vera jel as a moisturizer - AM and PM. In the winter or in very dry climates, I add a little 100% organic, pure jojoba oil to the aloe vera
*2x/ week apply a spirulina mask for 30 minutes
*Only mineral or clay-based makeup
The exfoliation has worked very well while not overly drying my skin (disclosure: my skin was very tolerant of acids because of my 20+ year history of using them). The texture of my skin is good - plumper, fewer lines, more even tone. (I'm middle aged so being afflicted with aging, acneic skin is frustrating!) Within a few months, my cystic acne surfaced and dried up. (Tip: When a cyst surfaces, dab vitamin E on the cyst and a bandaid and place the bandaid on your cyst after you have cleansed and treated your face and before going to bed at night. You may have to do this for a few nights in a row but the cyst will finally subside and do so w/o scarring.) Within about 8-10 weeks my whiteheads disappeared. It took about 4 months for most of the blackheads to skip town, but I still have a few of those pesky things in my t-zone from time to time. The spirulina masks (warning: your face will retain a yellow hue for a few hours from the deep green color of the spirulina so do these masks at night) softens my skin and gives it a nice glow. It is also super cheap to do with just plain spirulina and water and doesn't dry like clay masks.
Step #3 was the most complicated and I did it shortly after starting step #2 which increased the efficacy, I believe, of both steps by doing them together. I consulted my Dr. who confirmed that my body was in good health, even my slightly low blood sugar had been under control for over a decade, and that things were operating well. Going back to my father, though, I knew there was an internal issue. So, I researched this site and oodles of others and tinkered with a number of theories until I came upon a set of supplements that, ultimately, reduced my sebum production and acne substantially. The following has worked for me and produced no ill side effects:
*Upon rising, even before my morning coffee, I take 2 spirulina tables and an acidolphilus tablet with 1 full glass of water. If I have had a glass of wine or a heavy meal the night before, I squeeze 1/2 lemon in the water to help cleanse the liver.
*After breakfast, 2 chelated zinc (30mg), 1 Vitamin B complex, 1 500 mg pantothenic acid (B5), biotin supplement (serious stomach cramps if I don't take the B complex and the biotin with the B5), and a couple of Omega 3-6-9 softgels.
I do not take anything else throughout the day. If I feel that I need an extra boost in cleansing my organs, I drink organic roasted dandelion tea or a glass of unsweetened, pure 100% cranberry juice.
A few comments about this step:
*Within a few weeks, my sebum production had reduced by 70-80%. Whereas for decades I had to blot my face every hour, I now only have to blot twice in a 12 hour period.
*I don't subscribe to megadosing B5. I have used only the amount listed and had no side effects and all the benefits.
*Because this site frowns on promoting product names, I've tried to be respectful of that. What I will say is talk to your health foods store personnel and inquire about the supplements and the brands you are considering. Find out how they are produced, what's in them and, almost as important, what is not in them, if people have had problems with them, and their return policy if that particular supplement doesn't work for you. Spend a little more to get the quality you deserve - this is your body - and, as a rule, avoid any supplements manufactured in China.
Step #4 was the easiest because this step consisted of making slight changes to my routine:
*Place a clean towel on my pillow each night so that my face is resting on a clean surface
*Always pull my hair back away from my face before going to bed
*Finish each shower with a cold rinse to close facial pores and flush the lymphatic system
*Wash thoroughly and gently as Dan describes in his video
*When showering, wash my face last to be certain that all shampoo, conditioner, etc. is removed
*Change my wash cloth after each use
*Apply all treatments very gently to avoid irritating my skin
You may read all of this - the topical treatments, the supplements and the techniques - and think you can't stay this disciplined, but it is really not that hard. I travel a fair amount and have even managed to even incorporate this system while on the road. If you have suffered as much/long as I have with acne you will do whatever it takes to get and stay clear. Is my face "perfect"? Nope, but I will say that I have no whiteheads, cysts or pimples. My pores are much smaller without all that junk clogging them and the redness from past eruptions is gone. I still have some pockmark scars, though they are slowly diminishing, and a handful of blackheads in the t-zone, but I've put these in context. They are reminders to me to stay disciplined and, maybe in another 12 months, they will be nothing but a memory. Finally, a bonus I've noticed from taking the B vitamins and spirulina is that I have more energy, and, at this age, that is a very good thing.
I sincerely hope this info helps someone out there on their path toward breaking the chains of acne, and I want to thank Dan and the contributors of this site for all the help you have lent me over the years. Without this site, I would not have the improved skin I have today. Good luck to everyone out there.