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Looking for advice (try to identify the cause for my acne)

I know this is a long post but i feel that i don't want anything overlooked and i want to make sure that i'm not doing anything stupid. I'm going to try and put it all into different numbered sections so it will be easy to discuss different parts and also partly so i can organize my thoughts.

1) My Skin

I get about 10 zits (papules/pustules) a week on average and the occasional nodule which usually appear in groups. I also have a lot of red marks that don't seem to go away. All my acne is localized almost exclusively to my cheeks with little bit on my chin and oddly enough some inbetween my eyebrows (more on this in section 3) =/ (luckily my forehead is nearly 100% clear and i have NEVER had anything on my body). My skin is quite dry and flakey if i don't apply moisturizer after washing my face. All in all my acne isn't all that bad but of course i want my skin to be perfect.

2) Products/Regimen

I wash my face exactly twice a day using Cetaphil Cleanser and moisturizing with Cetaphil Moisturizer after. I have been using the same products and doing the same regimen for 2 or 3 months now and it may have helped a little; no huge improvements though. I used to try and wash with warm, then cleanse, then wash with cold until i saw Dan's video claiming that it doesn't matter. I do my best to gently pat my skin dry.

3) Possible Causes

I have thought a lot about what could be the underlying cause of this and all of my efforts to reverse it have been futile. I'll start with a bit of background on when it started.

All throughout high school i got perhaps a maximum of 20 zits. I never thought about my skin, tried to take care of it, made sure to wash or be gentle or anything and it was amazingly clear (i only realize now). Once i went off to college my mother bought me a cleanser made by Clearasil and i started using it once a day (age 18 by the way). Since i was living in the dorms away from home my whole life was drastically changed; eating/sleeping habits, social life, daily activities etc. About a month or two into college i started getting flakey skin and acne started forming. For quite some time i was absolutely horrible to my skin (only knowing this now). I'd pick at it, wash it 5+ times a day, squeeze zits like there was no tomorrow etc. I have since been much more delicate. Fast forward until a little over a year after my acne started forming and here we are.

Here is a list of possible causes that have entered my mind in no particular order.

a) Most recently i have been trying to sleep on my back to avoid contact with my pillow. For a week or two it seemed like it was helping but the past couple days it has gotten worse. I don't think this is a viable cause because for as long as i can remember i've slept with the side of my face directly in my pillow.

b) I came to the realization that my skin is very sensitive to touch after i noticed that my sunglasses are causing me to breakout in between my eyebrows. I'm fairly sure it's my sunglasses because i can't think of anything else that would be causing it. The only time i touch my face throughout the day is if i have an itch and even then i try to minimize contact as much as possible. I think i am as delicate to my skin as possible so i can't do much else to help.

c) The past month or two i have been exposed to the sun more than usual. I have a 10 minute walk east in the morning (with sun ahead of me) and a 10 minute walk west in the afternoon. I have noticed that my nose appears to be generally red which might indicate a sunburn (note that i also have a fair amount of tiny blackheads spread fairly evenly across my nose). Should i introduce a sunscreen into my daily morning routine to minimize the damage from the sun? If so would i not moisturize and only put sunscreen?

d) I started shaving a few months before my earliest breakouts so there possibly could be a connection. I use an electric shaver; is this better or worse than a straight razor as far as acne is concerned? I never get ingrown hairs or any pain during shaving.

e) Just a few minutes ago i read about the acid mantle and the pH of the skin and i have an inkling that the Clearasil cleanser that i used before i had acne has severely destroyed my skin. Is this possible? Is there any way to check the ph of your skin to see if this could be a problem? Are Cetaphil products pH balanced and would they help restore the acid mantle? Would it be beneficial to wash solely with water once a day (maintaining 2x per day) or perhaps only wash once a day?

(Extraneous question) Say i shower in the morning and then workout in the afternoon. I'd like to wash off any sunscreen/dirt/sweat but i don't want to wash it 3 times in one day. Should i wash my face after working out but not before bed?

I know this is a long post and I'm sure i have forgotten a lot i wanted to ask so i'll most likely reply with more info/questions/comments.

Thanks for your time and please reply with any info you have, however minor it may be.

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Okay, my skin WAS like your's because all the spots that you have acne. I had. I wash my face once a day in the shower with Cetaphil cleanser and after I get out of the shower I put on the moisturizer. I've been doing this for a month and from getting 10 zits a week I get around 1 a week now. What I've changed is described in my signature.

Yes, college life has defiantly played a huge role on why you're breaking out. Stress is one of the biggest of course.

Washing it 3 times is more then needed. After working out all you need to do is just splash some water on it. If you feel your face is oily before bed then I recommend you cleanse.

How often do you shave? Electric shavers from my own personal experience have had a bad effect on my skin so I stick to regular shavers.

Again if you have oily skin and oily hair. Then you should change your pillow case more often but if not then it's not needed too.

One last thing, the less you touch your face, the better!

Edited by Deadmau5

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Yes, college life has defiantly played a huge role on why you're breaking out. Stress is one of the biggest of course.

I don't ever feel stressed so i don't think that's much of a problem.

How often do you shave? Electric shavers from my own personal experience have had a bad effect on my skin so I stick to regular shavers.

Depends on when i have time in the morning to do so, but usually 3 times a week. Is it best to wash your face then shave or vice versa? Seems like you'd want to get all excess bacteria/dirt off your skin before shaving but at the same time you'd want to clean your face after shaving. Hmm...

One last thing, the less you touch your face, the better!

Luckily i've been pretty good about it recently.

I've been reading about the "All Natural Regimen" where in you do absolutely nothing to your face so it will restore itself. This is very tempting but i'd have to plan it in a time when i don't have class or anything else to do.

Thanks for the reply!

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When I shave I always do it after a nice hot shower because the pores are open up and better exfoliation and the skin is clean.

EDIT: Do you put on a after shave lotion/cream? If yes does it have any alcohol in it?

Edited by Deadmau5

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