Acne journey 2012 - 2017
My acne began my first year of college (I had very mild acne as a teenager) and it was very stressful to take such a beating to my confidence during a time when I was supposed to "go out into the world and find myself." Instead, I found myself constantly browsing the aisles of CVS in the hopes of finding a miracle cure. I don't have any photos of this time in my life, because I hid from cameras and deleted all evidence of my red and oozing face.
Anyway, that was also the year when I first discovered acne.org, and the Regimen, and I will say right now that the Regimen is completely responsible for clearing my first bout of acne in 2012. It worked! It was the miracle cure I was looking for, and I have plenty of clear skin photos from my sophomore and junior years of college. However...
There is a reason it's called Dan's Regimen, because it is made most specifically for HIS skin type. This doesn't mean it won't work on yours, but what it means is that while it might solve your immediate acne issues, it still might not be the best option for your personal skin type, and while the acne is gone, you're left with tight, red, uncomfortable, dull looking skin. This was the case with me.
For example, the Regimen worked wonders for me at first, but over time it became clear that it wasn't the best option for my skin. I have sensitive, dehydrated, and oily skin, and the Regimen would leave my skin way too dehydrated, while also not being able to absorb the moisturizer, so there was an oily layer just sitting on top of the tightness. The benzoyl peroxide (bp) was also painful and continued to cause redness when first applied. It also bleached all my damn pillows. I was happy I didn't have acne, but I wasn't happy with the thought of constantly "feeling" the oily/right/clearly unhappy skin on my face
So I stopped using it. I realized my acne was an issue of sensitive skin meeting inflammation issues (I also have migraines eczema which are other inflammatory issues), so I wanted to stop treating symptoms, and start treating the actual problem, so that my acne would go away for GOOD and I would no longer be relying so heavily on the damaging bp. And so I stopped the Regimen cold turkey in my senior spring, and unsurprisingly, the acne came back with a vengeance.
I actually have some photos from this time, since I had learned a thing or so about self-love the importance of body image and documenting great experience despite what you look like:
These are make up free photos where you can see the moderate acne on my chin/jawline, forehead, cheekbones, and around my mouth. It was mostly deep, cystic ance and although I'm smiling in these photos, it hurt like a bitch.
Although while on the Regimen, my face was crazy oily while also flaky, itchy, and dull, I was quickly considering going back on since at least my face would be relatively clear. But Istuck with it for another couple of months, and finally figured out the real issue with my skin and was able to really, truly, get rid of my acne (hopefully, for good).
And this is what the issue was:
I have sensitive, dehydrated, oily skin that breaks out especially when I'm stressed or with my hormonal cycle. I'll talk about each element separately.
sensitivity: It is common for allergic reactions to show up around your twenties. Some common examples are gluten, seafood, and nickel. The symptoms for these can sometimes show on the skin, such as eczema from harsh soaps, itchy piercings from bad metal earrings, or acne from even the (normally) most harmless of chemicals. In my case, it was all three of these things. So after doing a shittonne of research, I finally understood what Dan had been preaching from the get go: IRRITATION = ACNE. The acne is the INFLAMMATORY response to these irritations, whether it be from metals, diet, chemicals, or even water...yes, water is also an irritant aha. So I finally stopped putting irritants on my skin. I threw my soaps and moisturizers away, keeping only the bp, which was still my crutch, and started to wash my face with only water, barely touching my face, and patting dry with a clean face towel. And amazingly, things started to get better! Sure, I still had acne, but my skin FELT better, and the redness went down a LOT.
Dehydration and oil: This one was so tricky! For the longest time I thought that I didnt need to moisturize because I had oily skin. however, there is a difference between oily and dehydrated skin. let me repeat that for emphasis: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OILY AND DEHYDRATED SKIN. oily skin means your skin naturally produces more oils than usual, leaving the skin feeling a bit heavy sometimes, but generally painless outside of the acne. Dehydrated skin is when your skin lacks water, which can cause the face to OVERPRODUCE oils to try an act as a protective barrier to keep what little moisture it had in the face. If you're also using harsh soaps that further strip these oils, that ALSO aided the body to defend itself
by producing extra oils. These issues combined causes the face to feel not only oily, but as if the oil is floating above a sea of tight, brittle skin. Adding traditional moisturizers only adds to this layer of oil, which is useless because no moisture is actually penetrating into the skin. the excess face oils literally feed the p. acnes bacteria living naturally on your skin and on top of that, the tight, dehydrated skin exacerbates the situation by causing further irritation! so the solution is to hydrate hydraye hydrate. I use micellar water because it removes the excessive oils and ALSO penetrates deep into the skin, delivering lots of moisture where it is actually needed without violently stripping my skin of all its natural oils from my oily skin type.
hormones and stress: in addition to cutting face wash and adding micellar water into my regimen, I also learned that when I'm stressed, both eczema and my acne flare up a little bit, and although there's not always that much I can do about that, at least it helps me be prepared, so that when the acne does come up, I remind myself not to stress out even more and create an endless cycle of stress and acne. As for the hormones, I was actually pretty much clear by the time I went on oral contraceptives (I'm on the Taiwanese version of Diane, called Esdian). But the OCs definitely did a lot for controlling pesky period-related pimples. Keeping an eye out for my hormones also lets me know when I can expect to get a little acne, and lets me prepare with some benzoyl peroxide around that time. Nowadays that's the only time I really use any bp, when I'm extra stressed or when it's a certain time of the month, and even then it's only the slightest bit in concentrated problem areas on my face (mostly the chin area).
So to recap, this is my Regimen, which works for me, and which may possibly work for you if you have similar issues with inflammation and oily/dehydrated/sensitive skin.
Morning and night:
- Wash face with water, barely touching face, patting dry with clean towel
- Use cotton pad to gently apply micellar water (I'm using Simple's right now but I also love bioderma's oily skin formula as well as garnier's).
- (Sometimes) apply a water-based gel moisturizer, such as in the winter months or in dryer locations (I like the Goodal one from Korea as well as the bio essence gold moisturizing gel)
- Apply a very, very, light and hypoallergenic sunscreen (tbh I forget to do this all the time, which I've been trying to work on, but Paula's choice is the only sunscreen that hasn't caused a breakout on my skin).
Extras: bp for spot treatment and prevention of hormonal and stress related acne, and an exfoliating gel that doesn't use particles to remove dead skin (this is mostly for removing acne scars and for improving my skin's general appearance and less about the actual acne prevention).
Bio essence deep exfoliating gel (also comes in sensitive and oily skin formula)
And this is what my skin looks like today (dunno why I look so sad I promise I am v happy on the inside). I haven't had skin this clear in FIVE YEARS. It's still shocking to me when I look in the mirror sometimes. And I will tell you now it doesn't always look this good, like I said, I keep my trusty bp around for these cases. But generally speaking my face is clear, and more importantly, it feels GOOD. I still have oily skin, but it's not tight and uncomfortable underneath. There are no more flakes and redness from excessive bp use.
And I hope this works for someone else!!!
And if not, then please please please don't give up. I know the hardest struggles of acne are the mental and emotional ones. But you are strong, and you WILL find what works for you and your skin. and if you are interested in trying my method out, or would just like to ask some questions or chat please feel free to contact me!