My issues with acne began when I was 14, after tweezing my brows for the first time and using skincare products to try and clear it up. Thankfully my moderate acne cleared up to very mild to mild when I found a cleanser that worked for my skin, but my skin started to become more sensitive and thinner as a result of the daily manual exfoliation offered by the product. In 2010, I changed my routine around in hopes of finally finding a concrete routine that would work at keeping away all of the acne and benefiting/removing all of the other skin issues I was experiencing, but instead my skin just started to break out slowly. By the summer of 2010, my skin broke out quite a bit in what would eventually become the worst outbreak of my life. My acne went from mild to moderate to moderate to severe within 6 months, and I've been plagued with red marks and scarring because of how I treated my face. I experienced very bad pustular and sometimes nodular acne all over my cheeks and chin, as well as my chest, neck, and back. I also had bad clogged pores, and for a few months I had moderate to severe comedonal acne.
For those who've had the unfortunate pleasure of reading all of my past logs, you'll know I tried numerous attempts to unsuccessfully clear up my acne via natural and DIY treatments, often going no more than a week before switching my routines around. It wasn't until the start of 2011 that I decided to completely stop using products, but until May I'd still use washcloths or my hands to scrub my skin clean and usually remained on a specific schedule/time-frame for cleansing. At the start of June, I stopped the schedules, I stopped using anything at all, and I commenced on my current water-only skincare routine, which has since cleared up my skin and has been slowly helping my skin in other respects.
My current routine is to shower and let the water rinse over my face. There's no real plan to it, and no method other than not scrubbing at my face. I don't moisturize or use spot treatments, and my skin has improved substantially.
So, what is my skin like now 7 months into my current routine, and a year and a half after the initial outbreak occurred?
1) My skin appears way, way less oily. Not just less oily in a visual sense, but also in a tactile sense. In the past my face would feel weighed down by the oil, and would often feel almost gummy. Now it only feels a bit tangible on the surface when I'm sweating quite a bit during humid conditions - even then it only lasts while I'm sweating and goes away once I'm able to cool down. I still get oily during the day, but it's normal-person oily, meaning just a mild sheen to the skin associated with youth. When I touch my face, I don't actually feel any residue on my fingers unless I've been sweating and did not rinse my face (as I only rinse it while I am showering, which was how I'd go about face washing as a kid - no water touched my face unless I was showering, swimming, or doing other water activities), and even that is barely even noticeable. I used to also get a weird slime feeling to the skin, which is no longer there. My face doesn't look or feel like it's collecting a pool of oil.
2) My skin is much less sensitive. This is something that was not as immediately noticeable because it was a pretty gradual change, but I find that my face rarely reacts as it used to. I only become red when I'm hot, embarrassed/emotional, or sometimes when I'm stressed. I'm even finding that I don't get too red when I'm in the cold now compared to a year ago. It no longer seems to feel irritated in other respects either, so clearly a lot of my irritation had more to do with products than with natural reactivity.
3) My skin is thicker. Again, not something that was/is super obvious, but I've been able to see that areas where little veins were once noticeable are now barely even visible. The skin doesn't look as stretched over certain areas like it once did. It's kind of hard to explain how one can tell that the skin is thicker, I guess it's just something that you have to see for yourself!
4) My skin tone looks more even, although still not perfect. I still have a bit more peach/warmth in the area around my mouth, but this is also the area that doesn't get flushed. But even when I am flushed it tends to look a lot more even than it did years ago.
5) My face doesn't feel as tight. I still have some tightness, which doesn't surprise me, but it gets better and better every day. I also still have some flaking now, which started when I stopped using products, but the flakes are less concentrated as time passes. I experienced bad flaking on my arms and legs when I went water-only for about 6 months before the skin completely shed itself, so I assume that my face will simply take longer because of how extensively I used to exfoliate and because of how much I had picked at my face.
6) I no longer experience dead skin build up. When I used to exfoliate all the time, I could only go a max of one week before dead skin could be scraped off with a finger nail. And now? I honestly don't recall the last time scratching resulted in flakes under the nail.
7) I break out less, of course. I stopped getting regular, consistent/predictable breakouts. I now maybe get a couple a month if it's a stressful month or if I've been picking, but I usually don't get new ones very often. What I do get tends to come from areas I've picked at, so I know that once I completely eliminate that problem my likelihood of experiencing small breakouts will decrease even more. Over this Christmas break I've pretty well stopped scratching at the minor flesh bumps I had on my forehead, and they are about 98% smoothed out now. This was an issue I had since the summer, and I had been scratching the flesh bumps out since last year.
I am sure that there are more changes, but that's all that I can really think of now. While my skin is not perfect, I'm happy with where I am. The red marks are fading, and the scarring seems to be less pronounced with time; or maybe I just don't feel bothered by them anymore. I really do think that this is a viable routine to try out, but it's not an easy or short-term one. It needs to be approached with patience and with commitment. It won't work for everyone, but then again neither do any approaches.
For now, here's a comparison of my skin at the beginning of the journey to now. I am not showing the very first pictures I took, as I feel that the artificial lighting webcam pictures aren't very clear in showing the severity of my marks (and none even really show my scarring). I know that it's hard to see any real difference between a grainy webcam picture and a digi camera picture, but bear with me, I can't go back in time to take better pics
August 10, 2011:
January 1, 2012: