When I moved from Arizona to Boston last spring, I knew that the weather change would be dramatic, but my skin has revolted in earnest. Mind you, I can't claim that my skin was under control in Arizona, but the dry and predictable climate made it easier to ignore weather patterns when it came to skin care.
A little on my background:Any "skin care" that I did in my teen years was largely self taught, and not particularly effective; Clearasil, excessive washing with bar soap, and hours in front of the mirror picking at myself. My parents took me to a dermatologist who prescribed...water(as in swimming was supposed to help), sunlight, and Phisoderm. A few months of zero progress, and he had me try Retin-A, which turned my face into cornflakes, and made my condition 1000 times more noticeable. I fired him, lol.
When I first got to college, (2001) everyone in our dorm got a "welcome basket"...u know, coupons, fliers for local take out, college clubs, and they included several of those trial size Clearasil creams. I washed my face and slathered some on, much more than was suggested and it seemed to work, as my skin cleared up unrealistically within a few days. When i ran out of the trial size and bought the regular stuff at the store, it didn't work as well, and the acne crept back until it had taken over my face again. I suspect that the "trial sizes" have a stronger concentration of benzoyl peroxide to lure you into purchasing the normal ones, but I didn;t know enough to investigate at the time.
A few long lonely years at college later sticking stubbornly to Clearasil and various salicylic acid pads to rid my face of that slick, oily excess sebum I was producing constantly and not much improvement. As a guy, it's hard to ask people for advice on skin care, so I was rather willfully ignorant about most things. No moisturizer, no sunblock (in Arizona!) and a very rudimentary washing regimen combined with a highly stressful college lifestyle were probably my primary reasons for acne that has stubbornly stuck around.
In my last year in undergrad, (2005) Proactiv was being actively promoted. I bought some and saw instant improvement, just like the kids on the ads. Was Proactiv some magic formula? Maybe, but Proactiv products, for those who have never used them, dictates a similar regime for face washing: a microbead "cleanser" with 2.5%BP, an astringent called a "toner" that contains salicylic acid, and a final leave-on dose of benzoyl peroxide "lotion." The cleanser supposedly gently exfoliates dead skin cells and excess oil, the toner "balances the skin tone", and the lotion does the real work of destroying the P. vulgaris bacteria that live in the pores and cause acne with benzoyl peroxide. No moisturizer in the standard kit, though they sell them separately if you know what kind of skin you have. As a 20 year old kid who assumed "moisturizer" was only something that girls had to worry about, I never thought I'd need it.
Although my results on Proactiv were a far cry from the hideous mess I had for a face before it, I still would have flare ups, usually around my chin and jawline, but sometimes everywhere. I experimented with their other products, without much success. In fact, the longer I used Proactiv, the worse my acne became. Now that I'm older and slightly wiser, I can see that my lack of any moisturizing at all using powerful drying agents in a dry climate were contributing to my skin's irritation.
When I finally decided to start "moisturizing", i had no idea what to buy. Standard Aveeno or Oil of olay stuff makes me feel like im slathering my face in baking grease, and after a few hours I look like i dipped my head in margarine. Proactiv's green tea moisturizer works ok, but usually my skin will soak it up and then look wrinkled if I don;t constantly replace it. I don't want to keep touching my face, and I don't want to spend hours in the bathroom everyday, but what else is there to do?
So here I am. 28 with the face of a 14 year old suffering from acne, and no signs of stopping, though fine lines are starting to compete with the acne for cringe-factor in the morning. My face is so dry after Proactiv in the morning that it's stiff, and the icy dry winds of the cruel New England winter are just around the corner. I've been using free samples of Philosophy brand moisturizer that I got from a hotel, but now they're out and I can't justify spending the $40 a jar for the real stuff.
I liked the honesty on this site, so that's why I'm here, to catalogue my transition from Proactiv to a milder and hopefully more effective method of keeping my acne under control that includes that dreaded but vital moisturizer. I'm tired of basing my social life decisions on whether my acne is acceptable enough to be seen in public. Hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes.