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Paula's Choice Product Progress Blog



Going to put my info here here so I can keep track of it, and if anyone wants to check it out, maybe it will benefit you when using her products yourself.

So, I've been using Dianna Yvonne's 2% SA Exfol Serum for a year or so. I've gone through 2 bottles. As I neared the end of my second bottle, I thought about reordering but, I didn't think it was making much difference. I knew it was working somewhat because 1) my lips would dry out from the SA migrating to them and 2) my skin seemed better using it than not. BUT, I was still breaking out and I was a bit upset that when I tested the product with a pH strip, it was not nearly as low as advertised on the site.

I had also started using more vitamins. After reading that people with acne have lower Vit E levels and antioxidant levels, etc I bought a nice well rounded multi vit, a broad spectrum antioxidant, a Vit E complex (I didn't realize there were so many Vit E components lol). I also had been taking Vit D3 for seasonal depression but only 2,000 units a day. It didn;t seem to ward off teh blues as much as I would like, so I upped it to 4,000 a day. Then I read that our bodies produce 10,000 units a day from sun exposure (and a friend of mine who makes no Vit D whatsoever even with sun was prescribed 10,000 units a day) I decided I would double my intake again to 8,000 units. I have seen no ill side effects. My mood is better and I noticed my skin was not as oily. Vit D3 helps with hormones, too, so perhaos that is why.

Anyhow, My skin seemed to do better on this additions, but I would still get some spots. Well, in march I had some larger spots and I was probably a little too aggressive, causing dryness and just a big mess. Lots of moisturizer and gentle skin care helped them heal. In April I got spots again and I just had it. lol Ridiculous! Truthfully, I don;t know how to handle more "normal" skin. I'm used to greasy skin 24/7, so yeah..I didn't change my routne to suit my new less oily face. *sigh* I don't use a moisturizer regularly because I'm normally an oil slick. So, i was just drying out my skin without taking it's new property in consideration.

Ok, so on to Paula's Choice. I decided to buy some samples because they come highly rated. I was especially interested in the 2% SA stuff as maybe a replacement for the Dianna Yvonne. Online the website said it was at proper pH to be effective, etc.

May 18, 2014

I started using the 2% lotion and neutrogena 2.5% BP. I chose many samples, and decided to try the lotion despite me having previosu oily skin. I really like the lotion. It doesn't make me greasy/oily AND it seems hydrating enough I don't need to put a moisturizer on top. I'm also using my Neutrogen ultra gentle foaming face wash.

May 21, 2014

Been using the above for a few days. Today I went to church so I washed my face, used hydralight toner plus the hydralight moisturizer and put on my makeup. Wow--not oily and my makeup looked great.

May 23, been using the hydralight toner and moisturizer in conjunction with the SA lotion. Works great. This morning i washed, used hydralight toner, then topped with the BHA lotion and spot treated with nutrogena's 2.5 BP. Before out dinner out, I washed, used the clear regular strength 2%BHA toner then the hydralight moisturizer. Really like all these products so far. Glad they work well together!

May 28, 2014

So, my monthly friend showed up today. BAH. I ran out of my BHA lotion samples. So, trying out the 2% BHA liquid (which on site says it is the exact same as the clear BHA toner extra strength). Seems ok. A little oily like I read in reviews but putting on before bed.

May 29

Put the BHA liquid on this morning and night

May 30-June 1

SUCKS. I have painful spots. maybe cysts. http:////dn4iqhjvtt39e.cloudfront.net/messageboard//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png It's ben a week off the liquid. I decided to try it again. Not on my whole face, though! Too scared! But i did ut it on the stubborn blackheads on my nose (I don't normally get spots there) and then dabbed a tiny bit on each of the remaining cysts that haven't come to the surface yet. We'll see what happens!

I also started adding a drop of ACV to my neutrogena cleanser to bring the pH down. It is at a 7. http:////dn4iqhjvtt39e.cloudfront.net/messageboard//public/style_emoticons/default/sad.png Needs to be closer to 5. Thought about trying PC, but many of hers has sodium laureth sulfate and I;m not a fan. However, the earth sourced (or whatever. it's in a green bottle and supposed to be natural) looks gentle enough and hopefully non drying. I think all of hers are at a pH of 5 or 5.5

June 9

Well nothing new popped up. Going to repeat it today. But only once per day. If all goes well, then I'm going to think it was either exfoliating too quickly or I was using too often and my skin couldn't deal with the irritation.(maybe that is what other reviewers expereinced, too) If I work up the courage to try it full face, and don't get a reaction like last time I think I will use this once or twice a week for a deep cleaning of pores. But, I'll stick with the regular strength liquid or the lotion (or maybe even the gel) for an every day maintenence. I haven't notice much difference in my red marks, though. I have a sample of the 10% glycolic acid but waiting to use that when my skin has calmed and cleared more. I'd also like to try out the reinol (I have used the .3% skinceuticals in the past and liked it). PC now has a new 1% formula! It is comparable to a.025% trenitoin.

Going to also try a sample of Paula's 2.5% BP..I'm almost out of my neutrogena and maybe hers will work even better!

Below are some images from the last 3 weeks. In each collage, the photos are in order from left to right: End of 1st week, End of 2nd week, End of 3rd week They are not miraculous, but some had gone and just left some red marking. The others are not as inflamed. I know it will take a while, so I'll keep on going, as long as it doesn't cause more problems than it solves. HA! But, so far, the only terrible reaction was the BHA liquid, so I think that' a positive sign. I think should make a note that the past few days i ate JUNK--as in pizza and sweets. Usually I stay away from processed foods because it seems they make me break out. I only eat them every now and again. However, it seems since I started my vitamins and such, I can be a little freer in my choices. Antioxidants help deal with stress to the body, so I'm wondering if now my body can cope interanlly with the onslaught of food irritations. lol (I'm not talkingn about gluten intolerance or allergies, etc). But white flour, sugar, etc in general causes systemic inflammation. Anyhow, I'm not emotionally stressed either, so I think my body has a very fine balance it maintains and if either one gets too high..well it can't cope. If I am stressed out and then eat bad food..it can't deal with both factors. Just some thoughts I've been kicking around lately as an explanation.




Updated photos: June 23, 2014

6 weeks using PC 2% BHA products--4 weeks of consistent 2%BHA Clear toner Big bumps gone. Pores still cleaning out and lesions that occur are smaller. Red marks still hanging on.




Updated photos: June 28, 2014 (photos from June 21)

11 weeks using PC 2% BHA products--8 weeks of consistent 2%BHA Clear toner Big bumps gone. Pores still cleaning out and lesions that occur are smaller. Red marks still hanging on. happy with progress--no spots due to *ladies time*




First 3 weeks collage and large photo on bottom is now (June 21) 8 weeks later

blogentry-52584-0-07735500-1402374718_th blogentry-52584-0-46861900-1406577846.jp


15 weeks!!! Sept 7, 2014



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Been using Neutrogena ultra gentle witha drop of ACV to make the pH at 5. Used a few days at 2x a day. My skin apparently hates ACV. Skin was drier and not in a good way.

Today, June 10

Used earth sourced cleansing gel from Paula because it has no sulfates and looks closer to the neutrogena than her others. pH at 5.5 per her website

Went on well, lathered slightly. Seemed to rinse clean. Thankfully, no burning or stinging, etc, but skin did feel somewhat "off" like tight but not ouch tight. Used the 2% BHA regular strength toner and then added lots of hydralight moicturizer on top. Hours later skin still doesn't feel normal. But maybe it is and i just don't know what normal feel slike anymore! HA

Is there an adjustment period when switching poduct pH???? I'd love to do my skin good by getting the pH proper, but right now it feels like I'm doing more harm (because of the tightness). Usually, that's a sign the product is wrong. I want to keep my skin barrier healthy as a lower pH helps keep bacteria in check.. Asked nuetrogena is they'd considered lowering their pH to 5-5.5 (because it would be a PERFECT cleanser me then!). They said they have no plans right now. *sigh*

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Hmm, ok I can across some studies. One in particular seems to stretch the safe pH range to 6.5. And another says that including mildness enhancers and moisturizing agents help reduce damage to the skin. So, neutrogena ultra gentle does not have SLS in it but coco betaine. It also has glycerin. Maybe it isn't so bad. hmm Thoughts?

Abstract (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18494892/)

Skin-cleansing compositions based on alkyl carboxylates (soaps) have a higher irritation potential than those based on syndet surfactants such as alkyl isethionates or alkyl ether sulphates. Contributing factors include inherent differences in the irritation potential of soaps and syndet surfactants, pH-induced changes in surfactant solution chemistry, and the direct effects of pH on the physical properties of the stratum corneum (SC). Past work has not directly addressed the effect of solution pH on the SC itself and its potential role in cleanser-induced skin irritation. In the current work, alterations to SC properties induced by buffered pH solutions and two strongly ionizable surfactants, sodium dodecyl sulphate and sodium lauryl ether sulphate, at different pH values are measured. By utilizing optical coherence tomography (OCT) and infrared (IR) spectroscopy we have directly measured physical changes in SC proteins and lipids. Our results indicate that SC swelling, which reflects alterations to SC structural proteins, is increased significantly at pH 10, compared to pH 4 and 6.5. The transition temperature (T(m)) of SC lipids is found to increase at pH 10, compared to pH 4 and 6.5, suggesting a more rigid SC lipid matrix. Surfactants cause a further increase in swelling and lipid rigidity. Some aspects of what these results mean for SC physical properties as well as their implications to potential mechanisms of surfactant-induced skin irritation are discussed.

Abstract (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14728695)

Cleanser technology has come a long way from merely cleansing to providing mildness and moisturizing benefits as well. It is known that harsh surfactants in cleansers can cause damage to skin proteins and lipids, leading to after-wash tightness, dryness, barrier damage, irritation, and even itch. In order for cleansers to provide skin-care benefits, they first must minimize surfactant damage to skin proteins and lipids. Secondly, they must deposit and deliver beneficial agents such as occlusives, skin lipids, and humectants under wash conditions to improve skin hydration, as well as mechanical and visual properties. While all surfactants tend to interact to some degree with lipids, their interaction with proteins can vary significantly, depending upon the nature of their functional head group. In vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo studies have shown that surfactants that cause significant skin irritation interact strongly with skin proteins. Based on this understanding, several surfactants and surfactant mixtures have been identified as "less irritating" mild surfactants because of their diminished interactions with skin proteins. Surfactants that interact minimally with both skin lipids and proteins are especially mild. Another factor that can aggravate surfactant-induced dryness and irritation is the pH of the cleanser. The present authors' recent studies demonstrate that high pH (pH 10) solutions, even in the absence of surfactants, can increase stratum corneum (SC) swelling and alter lipid rigidity, thereby suggesting that cleansers with neutral or acidic pH, close to SC-normal pH 5.5, may be potentially less damaging to the skin. Mildness enhancers and moisturizing agents such as lipids, occlusives, and humectants minimize damaging interactions between surfactants, and skin proteins and lipids, and thereby, reduce skin damage. In addition, these agents play an ameliorative role, replenishing the skin lipids lost during the wash period. The present review discusses the benefits of such agents and their respective roles in improving the overall health of the skin barrier.

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June11, 2014

This morning I used my neutrogena for was, then took a break from the toner to let my skin recoup a little. Used the hyrdalight toner instead. I really like it! It was mositurizing enough by itself that i didn;t even use moisturizer. Spot treated with BP. Finally had 2 of the cystic looking spots come to a head and drain yesterday. Today, one by my eye (on the side of my nose) came to a head. Been using ice and bp, plus, at night, putting bacitracin on them. I have 2-3 spots left right now that are sitting there angry. No heads. Hoping they clear out asap so my skin can heal and clear up. Now i have so many red marks. *sigh* Well, better marks than acne, though! I'll deal with the marks later. Just gotta get the face clear first. Really upset, still, the liquid gave me those huge bumps. Well, lesson learned. I didn't realize it was so powerful/irritating. I'll use it again less frequently and see how it goes....maybe. This regular strength is working well it seems..slow but steady.

Tonight I used neutrogena (I'm going to use it now and maybe try the earth sourced one again later), the clear toner, hyrdalight moisturizer and bp

Oh today marks 3 full weeks of using PC BHA items and 1 full week of using the clear toner. Still have a ways to go before the 1 month mark, but hoping this stuff does the job!

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The thing that sucks about acne is everyone is different..and not everything works for everyone.

I have not been able to pinpoint my exact cause (except the hormonal spots and product reactions of course) for any of my breakouts. I've done eliminations...I can't reproduce results by using foods. It's just crazy. I do, however, know my skin is clogged and every time I get a spot, in the end a plug comes out. As to what is forming plugs, I don't know other than what I have read online from others, in studies, etc. Either I've got sticky sebum, too many cells, a fault exfoliation system.. *sigh* I've done the omegas to help my sebum..didn't resolve anything.

The best skin looked was a combination (different days) of retinol, 10% glycolic cream, Stridex, and BP (or tea tree oil). I must have some issue with exfoliation or sebum. Who knows. But, this is why I decided to go to PC and try out the products since they are touted to be more effective. If drugstore stuff helped enough I could SEE improvement, then certainly better products mean even great result. I hope so anyhow.

June 13

Today I added back the clear reg strength toner. First I washed with Neutrogena (from now on I'm just writing N) and used the clear toner. After 20 mins, I out the hydralight toner over it and spot treated with PC 2.5 BP. I REALLY LIKE the hydralight toner and I might just try the cleaser, too. I just received my box of stuff today but when I ordered they were out of the hydra cleanser..so.. bummer. Anyhow, I did get to try the PC BP for teh first time. I'm almost ou tof my neutrogena on teh spot, so figured I'd give PC a go. I saw a gal complain about it having laureth-4 which is supposed to be ultra pore clogging. Kinda worried abou tthat. We shall see.

On a better note, I have not had any more spots come up (except small ones that I know were clogged under the skin because I could feel them. One came up and could be easily extracted and it's now healing! Also, received some TTO from vitacost. My other bottle was super old and needed to be replaced. I always like to have that on hand.

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June 23, 2014

I updated photos above in original post so they were closer to the first pics and easier to compare. 6 weeks ago, I started PC products--sampled the 2% BHA items (lotion, reg toner, liquid). After using the liquid (extra strength toner) for 2-3 days, my skin reacted badly and broke out in huge bumps (cysts? nodules? I don't know!). So, I had to deal with those. I stopped using it and stuck with the 2% BHA Clear toner regular strength now for 4 weeks straight. Using it 2x a day, though sometimes i do take a day off and use the hydralight toner instead if my skin feel stight. BUT, no peeling or any reactiosn like the extra strength liquid caused. I did re sample the liquid--1x and it was fine. I think 1-2x a day was just too harsh for me, so I purchased the full size regular strength instead.

My pores are STILL purging stuff. But, it seems the little clogs come up and out easier. I may get some whitehead looking bumps, but they do NOT inflame or turn into cystic type bumps! I can deal with the smaller ones no problem. lol I figure it will take some time to clear my pores because, honestly, I don't ever think i have cleared them out. I used Diana Yvonne's 2% exfol serum for months, but just don't think it did as much as PC.

Last night, I used the 10% AHA (glycolic acid) weekly treatment. I wanted to remove some dead skin so these white bumps could come out quicker. My skin was brighter this morning..and thankfully no bad reactions to set me back.

Overall, I have to say i am pretty happy with the progress..even as slow as it might be. I know the liquid may clear it out quicker, and sometimes I think I'd rather have a crappy face for a week or two and then be done with it...but every time i get a huge breakout, I question myself why oh why couldn't you be patient?? lol So, I'm forcing myself to just wait it out. Mostly red mark left now, but I will deal with those later.

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Paula's Choice has a sale right now.

You can get the Clear toner regular strength--what I'm currently using for $15.40 (normally $22)


Or, if you want to try the Clear cleanser (I haven't sampled it), the full size is only $7.70 (compared to $11)


You can get $10 off your first purchase of $15 or more by using the refer link below.


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June 20, 2014

10 weeks using BHA altogether (was trying different PC products with BHA)

8 weeks using PC 2% BHA Clear Toner (regular strength) consistently about 2x a day

Well, my skin is looking SO MUCH BETTER! Honestly, I'm amazed and hope it keeps getting better. My *lady's time* was 22-25..and the week leading up to it produced NO cysts.. I repeat NO cysts or really any bumps at all. I normally get one larger bump, sometimes it doesn't turn cystic. But, nothing new this time around. That in itself is pretty darn cool.

Also, I'd like to note that lately I've eaten more processed junk food. Yes, white buns and sugar, tea, etc. I had cut most of it out and went with whole grains, etc. I would break out within days. Now, nothing. I might get some very small spots which I can totally handle if that's the extent of it!

I'd like to remind you I am also taking 8000 units of Vit D3 which seems to have helped as well.

PC website says it can take up to 3 months to see the full benefits and right now I am at the 2 1/2 mark, so we'll see how it goes. Still using the clear toner regular strength 2x a day plus the 2.5 %BP from her as a spot treatment only. There are times I feel my face getting dry, so I alternate the barrier repair mositurizer and the hydralight lotion. I've also tried the earth source cleanser gel and it is working out well. it dried my face at first, but now it seems ok and most importanlt,y doesn't break me out. I still use my neutrogena ultra gentle wash as well (usually when I wear makeup) And I use the 10% AHA one time a week.

That's all I've used. Up next--I want to try the new 1% retinol to remove red marks and try some of the other cleansers. Also, looking at some of her makeup. Pics are up above in the main post so it's easier to compare them.

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June 27, 2014

11 weeks using BHA altogether (was trying different PC products with BHA)

9 weeks using PC 2% BHA Clear Toner (regular strength) consistently about 2x a day

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Sept 12, 2014

15 weeks of BHA toner

I have to say I am sold on this product. It has done more to my skin than anything else I've tried. I can't say that my pores are shrinking, but I they are less noticeable. I think they are just cleaner so you don't see them. I am not sure pores really shrink to poreless type skin. But that's just my opinion. I am happy with the toner and have bought a second bottle. It is gentler and I still do have some clogs, but I am OKAY with that. I am not getting huge painful cyst type spots, not even during my lady time. I use the 2.5 BP by Paula as a spot treatment only. Recently, I had a bigger bump come up by my temple and I put the BP gel on it..yep it shrunk. Didn't turn into a hideous monster. My skin is by no means perfect or glowing, but it is so much improved and that makes me happy!

I started the 1% retinol from paula on Aug 29th. I mixed it with some barrier repair mositurizer. I did that a couple of time a week so far and didn't notice any side effects. On the 10th, though, I did see some flakes on my nose. So, that evening, I used the 10% glycolic 1x a week treatment instead of the BHA toner. Next morning..flakes gone. The retinol seems to be pulling up some plugs the BHA hasn't removed yet. I'm hoping it will remove the red spots and sun spots I have..I want luminous glowing type skin! That's my goal. But, if it doesn't haopen, well, I'm perfectly content with less acne!

I'll have to put a photo collage above in main post as progress. These were taken before I washed my face.

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I started using Paula's Choice 2% BHA liquid and Paula's Choice Balancing Cleanser 5 weeks ago. I am still getting pimples! One cyst and then mostly white heads. I see you kept breaking out for the first couple months. Should I keep using these products? When did you experience clear skin and did it stay clear?

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Hi there! There was a page on Paula's site that gave a timeline of how long you should expect to see improvement. The general consensus was 2-4 weeks of a purge, but can be up to 8 weeks! She says 2-3 MONTHS (so about 12 weeks) to see full benefits. I would definitely say these timelines are pretty right on, atleast for me. I would still get pimples, but they did start clearing and many didn't turn into full fledged cyst bumps. I also spot treated with her 2.5% BP which you can buy in a sample tube.

I did use the BHA liquid, and it broke me out. I think I had too many plugs and its overly strong action tried to resolve them, but they became infected. I stopped using it and went to the 2% BHA regular strength toner. It is gentler so it may take longer, but I was able to use it 2x a day. If I started getting dry(which for me causes huge cysts) I would use some moisturizer like the barrier repair or hydralight.

I have excellent results from BP on whiteheads..you might, too.

I think you should keep using the products. I didn't really notice my skin getting WORSE, since I've always had some kind of bump on my face. I decided to stick it out for that loooong 8 week time frame. If you didn't normally gets cysts, and now you are, I would think about switching to the BHA toner regular strength..as the liquid may be too strong for you. Just a thought!

As far as when I became clear. I did notice it getting better in the fact that while I was getting pimples, they weren't as severe. They seemed to come to a head faster and clear up. Right now, I would say I am CLEAR...meaning I am not grossed out by my skin. lol I don't have any pimples right now. My lady time will come soon, so I expect a few, but nothing like before and hopefully NO cysts! I can live with a few small spots here and there. I am to the point that I do not wake up dreading what popped up on my face overnight. I'm not looking in the mirror, seeing another red bump and crying ANOTHER ONE? Are they ever going to stop? I still have red marks and my skin is by no means perfect, but I feel like I can actually look at my husband and not feel embarrassed (I know, that's sad.. but such was my state before).

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I was also using the 10% AHA (glycolic) weekly treatment..once a week. At night, instead of using my BHA toner, I would put a small amount of the glycolic acid.

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Well, almost a year of using these products. May 18th 2014 is when I started.

Sadly, I'm STILL getting bumps and these past few weeks, it's been more painful cystic types. Right now I just have 2 spots finally healing and i thought, wow, just these 2 and I'm over it. Today, I have 2-3 more I can feel...maybe because i used the resist barrier repair moisturizer last night (it has very low retinol in it). Who knows!!?? I am NOT happy at all. I think I am just giving up. My skin had some progress last year but I figured I would be further along than I am now. I guess my skin is just stupid and honestly, I'm just tired of trying....

* I've been continuing use of the clear regular strength toner which I still like. I think it had cleaned most of my pores.

* I found that while I do love the hydralight lotion, if I use it too many days in a row, white stuff comes out of the pores on my chin..so I guess it is clogging them. I'm still looking for a nice moisturizer. I like the skin balancing gel, but hate the silicones in it. I don't like that too soft/smooth feeling and when I get oily, I know it is trapping the oil down under that silicone layer. I wish Paula would make an alternative that leaves out the silicones in it.

* I still like the earth sourced gel cleanser, but now have questions about its pH. UGH So supposedly, everything of Paula's should be 5.5 (except the acids, etc)..but I saw on an out of country site that she lists the pH of the cleanser at 6. That sucks if true. But, I guess since it is also billed for babies, it needs to be gentle for their eyes. I may try the Resist Perfectly Balanced Cleanser. It is the SAME thing as the Skin Balancing but with peptides and antiaging..and it may have a better pH. I do love the earth gel, though... UGH

* I don't think the clear toner has removed all the debris from all of my pores. I think I need to bump up, but I hate the zits that follow. I can use the 2% liquid every now and then, but I started looking at the gel since I read more people seem to prefer that. Well, if you don't know, the gel is the SAME thing as the liquid, only in gel form. I checked the ingredients against each other and the lists are the exact same bar one or two extras in the gel. I assume those are what make it a gel. So, it has the same penetrating power as the liquid which means it could also cause breakouts if used too frequently.

* I may switch over to the Resist Daily pore Refining 2% BHA treatment toner. It is teh same thing as the clear regular strength toner but has peptides and anti aging ingredients. I may use this in winter and the clear toner in summer.

* I still love the 10% weekly glycolic acid treatment.

* I still take 8,000 units of Vit D3.

* I think soy (in large quantities) break me out. I had a soy protein shake like 3 days in a row.. then BAM huge cysts pop up on my chin. OUCH. Read online that many people have reactions to soy. Funny, though, I never did before. I thought maybe my hormones have always been screwed up..maybe my estrogen was always low (for whatever reason) and using soy only boosted it to normal range which didn't have an effect one me. Now, using the Vit D3 which is supposed to regulate and help balance hormones..well if they are closer to normal range, then that soy just tipped the scales to estrogen overload. I have no hard facts this is what happened, just my observance and personal thought on the matter. But, I will stay away from concentrated soy products!

* I just need a good moisturizer. It seems most that i look at which are non pore clogging and meant for oily skin use glycerin. So, I'm just going to look around and try to find something with similar ingredients. I don;t really care much for PC moisturizers due to cones, or heavy creams. The lotions are ok, but still seem to clog me up. I think it may be the cetyl alchol. I wish she would just make a basic gel base and add in all the good peptides/anti aging/antioxidants/hyralauronic acid and good ingredients. That would be super.

Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and purge the rest of these pores. just use the gel and get them clean. Maybe then the regular toner can maintain. I don't know. I hate dealing with this. Sat down today, bummed about skin condition at this point. It has been 15 years dealing with this mess in one way or another. I thought about how SAD that was. I seem to make some progress and then I don't know. I still end up with bumps. I'm just tired of even trying to figure it out anymore. Maybe it just is what it is.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ok, I must be a hopeless optimist. I was depressed and bummed out completely, but now I'm optimistic again.

* I keep logs in my calendar so I can spot patterns. Looking back, last week I was ovulating. Maybe that was part of the cyst flare up.

*My skin is oily. Always has been. But, now I'm wondering if I really have DRY(as in dehydrated) and OILY skin. What a terrible combination. :( I normally don't use moisturizer and maybe that has been a constant factor. My face had been getting drier and I think that is a real problem for me. It is so hard to tell if it is dehydrated because it is OILY. I guess I never stopped to think that oil doesn't equal hydration. My skin seems to explode when it is dry. I've had some episodes of really bad cysts and I've been keeping logs in my calendars. I've gone back and looked them--the worst breakouts were around times I noted my skin being dry. Maybe bacteria gets in easier and/or my skin is damaged from dryness to repair itself. I don't know. But now trying to figure out a good balance. So, with that in mind.....

April 17, 2015

*I switched cleansers and am now using Cerave foaming cleanser. I was using Paula's earth sourced gel (which I love btw), but I thought is was 5.5 pH. A PC rep told me it was a 6, so I decided to get something closer to skin pH. (NOT HAPPY PC uses high pH)

*I started using the cerave pm moisturizer (tiny bit). I haven't seen any increase in acne and my skin actually looks better. Not red tinged and my pores seem smaller (maybe bigger from dehydration??). I'm still working on healing the spots I have, but I'm feeling better and optimistic again. I hope the lower pH will help aid my skin in repairing and managing itself. I also think this is helping my 2% BHA clear toner work better! My skin cleared up and my pores were cleaning out before, but I still have areas (from nose to chin area) that are visibly congested. Since using the new routine, little plugs have been coming to the surface. Honestly, I can't tell if the mositurizer is helping lubricate and move them up or if the BHA is exfoliating them. Both?

I have read research saying that lower pH is better for the skin. In theory, if you use a high pH cleanser and want to use an acid right after, your skin will neutralize the acid because it's pH is higher. This could make the acid ineffective. You can wait a while for your skin to normalize, but that seems to be putting it through unnecessary stress. If you keep your skin closer to normal 5.5 pH it will be healthier and also no wait time to use your active ingredients. I think this is why i noticed an increase in effectiveness of the BHA clear toner. It worked pretty well before with the 7pH wash and also the 6pH wash, buity that was likely effective only on the easier/smaller clogs. Since I am seeing clog purging in the congested areas now, i can only speculate that the acid is more effective.

Incidentally, I emailed PC about my skin issue and asked if it is possible for the Clear toner to stop working OR if it might be too weak to work on my more congested clogs. The rep was super nice, but directed me to using the Resist Daily pore Refining 2% BHA (it is the same formula as the clear toner but added anti agers). She told me it was a faster exfoliation..but I don;t see how since it's the exact same ingredients as the clear toner???? I saw no other penetration enhancers. Only difference were the anti agers.

As of now, I am not going to use the Resist simply because I have a full new bottle of the clear toner. It may be helpful to use in winter since my skin gets drier then. I have a sample of it to try and also samples of the BHA gel and liquid, so I will probably use them on the congested areas once my skin clears up from these current spots. Maybe that will further clean out, and I will just use the clear toner as maintenance and maybe switch to the resist in winter.

Well, that's my newest update. It's a lot of work and hassle. Maybe one of these days i will figure it out.

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I haven't had any more cysts show up and still working on these two slowly healing. I have noticed more plugs coming out of my pores. I really think the new pH and moisturizer is helping and the BHA is more effective now with the change. I am getting the hard plugs popping up and out of my more congested areas. My chin is noticeably clearer and not clogged. I can always tell when products junk it up because the pores have white stuff in them. They are cleaner than they have been in a while. So, I know the Cerave pm lotion is not clogging them, or they would be full (like they are after the Paula's hydralight lotion). This is good news since it's been a little over 1 week of using it daily and usually 2x a day.

Did the PC 10% AHA weekly treatment this morning.

My time starts tomorrow and I haven't had any flare ups of spots--for which I am thankful. I even had soda and pizza a few days ago with no problems. Normally, I stay away from refined grains and excessive sugar. I don't completely cut them out, but I do make sure to limit them and eat veggies, fruits and whole grains the majority of the time.

Still working out..nothing intensive, but I do lift weights heavy enough for toning and do mild aerobics. Nothign hardcore, but to up the heart rate and also tone muscles. Not looking to try and bulk up or anything.

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May 15, 2015

As far as my routine, it seems to be going ok. At least it doesn't appear to be negatively impacting my skin. I am still using the cerave cleanser at morning and night and then in the morning I use the PC 2% BHA clear toner, wait 20mins then follow with the Cerave pm moisturizer. At night, I just follow cleansing with the pm moisturizer. Of course I spot treat at least 2x a day with bp or tea tree oil. I've been encouraged because plugs keep coming out. My chin is clearer even while using the moisturizer 2x a day. It doesn't seem like either product is breaking me out or clogging my pores. I think the BHA is working more effectively in the lower ph environment. Even some plugs (the most stubborn for years!) on my nose have started pushing out and my pores there do seem clearer, to me anyways. Overall, the rest of my skin looks cleaner. Now, my Tzone where I have the most plugs is a mess yet. Right now I have spots where my eyebrows and bridge of nose meet. :( I am really hoping that this is the purging of the plugs. I got this also when I started the whole PC line last year. I went back and looked at my calendar and I wrote I had spots but they weren't as huge as before and did eventually resolve. I really hope this is what is going on now and the BHA is doing its job. IF that is the case, I can handle this.. We'll see.

I am pretty convinced that pH of the skin prior to product application is important. It seems the BHA is working, evidenced by the plugs ejecting. I can only guess, but it seems logical.

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Ok, it's been quite some time since I have come to update!

July 16, 2015

I am still using the cerave foaming facial cleanser. I have had no breakouts from it..rashes, itching, burning..nothing. I think it's safe to say it is non reactive on my skin. Also, have not noticed ANY clogging of pores from the cerave pm moisturizer! I can always tell on my chin when products clog up because I get white bumps and gunk coming out. But, have not seen that in a long time now. They do not seem to react negatively with my other products which is a huge plus! Very satisfied with those two products.

As I have pondered before, I am beginning to believe the value of pH. I have read articles and studies pertaining to the skin pH and how it affects the overall health and capacity to heal, fight off acne and prepare an environment for effective treatments. Well, it doesn't make logical sense to wash your skin with a high pH and then put a low pH on it thinking it will work as it should. The pH of your treatment product will be raised and unless it is quite low, it can be raised to an ineffective level. What is the point of that? The theory is, you can wash your face then let it sit for 20mins to balance back out. Then, you use your treatments. But, I don't have time for that! Seriously, why not just keep your skin at proper pH and go onto your next step?

So, with that in mind, my own theory was that my products would work better if i kept my skin closer to the normal range. Hence my use of cerave. There are others out there which would do just as well. i just picked it because I felt it had the least amount of potential to break out my skin. Now, I use my 2% clear from paula's choice and I think it works better..not being neutralized by a too high pH skin. I have seen plugs coming out all over but especially in my more congested/large pore/breakout prone areas.

****FYI Paula's acids are at the upper effective pH range. Most of her other products--toner and cleansers are higher than they should be and can affect your treatment products. I have NO IDEA why she doesn't make her cleansers more compatible and lower the pH of them. She has some good ones I would like to use but won't until the pH changes.****

I went through the same type of "purge" activity as the first time I started the BHA regimen. This gave me hope. Now, I am at 13 weeks (tomorrow) of this regimen of cerave and BHA. I have added in a few other products to push it further since I feel like now my pores are clearer and less likely to erupt in massive mine fields. :)

I am also using benzaclin as a spot treatment to help cut out the nasties that pop up from the purging process. It has helped keep everything under control through this stage.


Cerave foaming cleanser

2% BHA Clear paula's choice

cerave pm moisturizer (tiny amount) plus tea tree oil to 10% concentration

spot treat with benzaclin


Cerave foaming cleanser (with facial brush if I have worn make up)

alternating with the following:

*1% retinol from paula's choice + cerave pm moisturizer

* 10% AHA (glycolic acid) from paula's choice

* 2% BHA liquid (same as extra strength Clear) from paula's choice

* cerave pm lotion

spot treat

This has been working, so I am not looking to change it anytime soon. However, I may also add in Paula's Vit C to my moisturizer at night to help break up the dark spots--both from breakouts and also the brown spots from the sun.

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Sept 16, 2015

This Friday, the 18th, marks 22 weeks of using my new regimen.

I have NOT had a cystic spot in quite a while!!!!!!!!! I haven't even had any inflamed ones. Still a few whiteheads pop up here and there and also a few plugs come out. But, overall, I have NOT had to worry about bumps on my face!

I no loner need to regularly apply the benzaclin as a spot treatment. I also do not even use BP. I only need a dab every once in a while. A HUGE improvement over the the last several years.

I have changed my AHA to Reviva Labs (http://www.vitacost.com/reviva-labs-10-glycolic-acid-renaissance-cream) because it has a lower pH than the PC and I feel it is more effective. It will cause some skin flaking..so I guess if you don't want that, then try the PC. I find I manage it fine with an occasional scrub of Freemans charcoal mask/scrub. I also do not add in moisturizer to my retinol any more. It seems to be working well without dryness/flakes.

My routine is still the same:


Cerave foaming cleanser

2% BHA Clear paula's choice

cerave pm moisturizer (tiny amount)


Cerave foaming cleanser (with facial brush if I have worn make up)

alternating with the following:

*1% retinol from paula's choice

* 10% AHA (glycolic acid) Reviva Labs 10% Glycolic Acid Cream

* 2% BHA liquid (same as extra strength Clear) from paula's choice

* cerave pm lotion

Retinol is every 3 days (say I use it on the 1st, then the next time would be the 4th, 7th, 10th, etc)

10% AHA from Reviva labs is every three days..so I start on the 3rd, then next time would be 6th, 9th, 12th, etc)

The 2%BHA liquid (or extra strength clear same thing) is every 4th day because it is too strong for me more often. So, say I start on the 5th, the next time would be the 9th, 13th, 17th, etc)

I keep track on my calendar so I know what is when. Also, sometimes these will land together on a day. When that happens, I will try to do one in the morning and one in the evening (stay at home mom here). So, I'll do my BHA or AHA in the mornings and my retinol at night if they fall on the same day.

I am still taking 4 Vit D3 pills (8000 IU) each day and that has made my menses 28 days almost EXACT. I think this has helped with the hormonal flareups. Haven't had any chin lesions for a while.

Now, I'm more worried about tackling my brown spots and making my skin "brighter". :)

Hope this is helpful for someone. If you have any questions, just ask. I am not on here all the time and only check in when I remember, but I will eventually respond.

Here is the Freeman's charcoal scrub. It has a ton of good reviews. It is pretty cheap at Walmart, too. Most importantly, it has not broke me out. I don't know if it really cleans out my pores, but it feels warm and i like that the sugar dissolves as I scrub so it isn't as harsh as some scrubs.


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PS.. My son was using my leftover Paula's earth sourced gel cleanser plus stridex in the red jar.. his cheeks were a mess. :( So, now I have him using the cerave foaming cleanser like me and the bezaclin spot treating..he is clearing up. Still has red marks but haven't seen the large breakout as before.

I REALLY am sold on the idea that pH of the products matter! They allow the treatments to work much better. Now, if you want to wait 20 mins after cleansing for your face pH to reset, that's up to you. I'm much too impatient. lol I want to slap it on and go.

By the way, if you are looking for a salycylic acid try the stridex in the red jar (without alcohol). make sure it is 2% unless you're super sensitive. I had great results from that same product a few years ago. That's why I suspected the PC would be even better and it was. So, if you want to just try it out to see if BHA benefits you, could try the cheaper stridex before you get PC. Of course, I recommend getting the sample sizes first at PC to make sure they won't be overly harsh. I found the extra strength much too drying for my skin if used more than 2x a week. Otherwise, it's great. That's why I use the regular strength daily and the extra strength 2x a week.

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September 20, 2015

My cycle started on the 18th. Normally, a week before this I am prone to acne of varying degrees. And the few days right before would be prime eruption. However, I have not had any acne before my cycles. I think last month I had one tiny non cystic spot. A little bezaclin and it went away within 48hours and it wasn't red or angry, etc. It's presence did not bother me. VERY happy!

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Here are some pics from today...Not a fresh washed face so I'm kinda oily, but hopefully shows the progress. My skin isn't beautiful but it is clear of active lesions. :)



Edited by callendula
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Ok, so here are some pics from Sept 20 (the album above included all pics and may be confusing :)

These are from Sept 25

These are from October 9th

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