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The Regimen + Sensitve Skin = Disaster!

I have fair skin and I have had mild to moderate acne for years. I'm 18. I used Proactiv once when I was about 13 or 14, and it made my skin red, extremely dry, and it swelled, due to the BP. I stopped using that and have since been using Dove soap and salicylic acne products. I have been to a dermatologist, and I was on antibiotics and Tretinoin, but I didn't see the results I wanted so I discontinued the use of those products and I have seen my dermatologist for a few years.

Last month I had a bad bout of acne and I just wanted to get rid of it! So I happened across this site. I decided to try the Regimen even though it uses BP. I didn't think I was actually allergic to BP, and I thought since this method was different than Proactiv, it was worth a shot. I used Noxzema Deep Cleansing Cream for my Step One. (I had used this to remove makeup previous to my beginning the Regimen and it didn't irritate my skin.) Next, for my 2.5% BP treatment, I used the AcneFree Cleanser from the AcneFree system. It was the only 2.5% BP I could find at Wal-Mart. My moisturizer was some Vitamin E Lotion that had always worked well for me before.

(Oh, and before I started the Regimen, I put some BP in my inner arm to test for an allergy like Dan says to do and I experienced no swelling, but slight redness, which I thought was normal)

Now here's where the trouble begins. I started the Regimen at the near the end of December, probably the 29 or 30. The first few days it didn't bother me at all. But I realized I wasn't using the BP the way the Regimen instructed. I was using it the AcneFree way, which involved washing it off the skin. The next day, I left the BP in my skin, let it dry, and applied the moisturizer. It felt fine until I woke up the next morning to a red swollen face! My whole face was flushed, and my eyes and upper cheeks were very puffy. So I decided to reduce the amount of BP, even though I didn't start anywhere close to the full amount that Dan says we need to work up to. I used about as much as the size of a pencil eraser. I didn't apply it anywhere near my eyes. I checked the "What to Expect" link on this site, and aside from the swelling, the redness and dryness seemed like a normal reaction. So I was on the Regimen, doing it twice a day using a very small amount of BP, and I did this for about a week until I could no longer stand the pain and embarrassment from my red skin and puffy eyes, plus, it had no effect on my acne. It didn't worsen it, but it didn't make it better.

I quit the Regimen after about a week. My face was EXTREMELY dry. It hurt to smile, talk, laugh, anything. My eyes were puffy and dry for about 3 days. I tried to cover up the red and puffiness of my face with makeup, and everyone asked me if I had gone tanning, because of how red my face was, and the makeup added to it made it look a lot darker. So I used lighter makeup, but my face was still red, swollen, and dry. Someone even asked me, "What HAPPENED to your face?!" It was so rude of her to say that, and I was embarrassed that my skin looked so bad that someone would say that to me. Every night, I used a lot of moisturizer. I used Coco Butter, Vitamin E Cream, Vitamin A Cream, Pond's Dry Skin Cream, a cream that contained Aloe. And when I had to go outside, I used a cream with Aloe and Vitamin E that also contained SPF 15. Finally, after a couple more days, I could wear makeup to cover up what was the main problem in the first place--my zits! My forehead, chin, and my lower cheeks were no longer dry. But my eyes, upper cheeks, and around my mouth was still a bit dry. Even though where I live right now, it is cold and that's means it's normal to have rough skin this time of year, I didn't have dry skin on my face before the Regimen. I'm still continuing to moisturize with the Vitamin A and E lotions.

Now, my face is almost completely healed of the redness, swelling and dryness. But, my eyes do not look the same, and that it my main concern. In fact, it is a HUGE concern. Underneath my eyes, I have lines, like wrinkles, from where my skin was dry and swollen. They are more prominent when I smile, but I can see them faintly still when my face is relaxed. They have improved since I ended the Regimen and began moisturizing both day and night. But they still look A LOT different than they did before I commenced with the Regimen. These lines or wrinkles are causing me a lot of emotionally anguish. I look older than 18, when before, I was very comfortable with my appearance, save for the acne. The lines are hard to correct with makeup, because it gets caked in the lines.

Since the Regimen, I'm only using Dove soap for Sensitive Skin and I apply it with warm water and a soft wash cloth. My acne isn't too bad right now, but really, I could care less about the acne now that I have these hideous wrinkles to deal with. It's really upsetting me. In order to combat the wrinkles, I have been drinking lots of water and I have tried to get a lot of sleep. I have tried to reduce stress. (Even though the lines are my cause of stress!) And also, like I mentioned before, the heaps of moisturizer.

I called the AcneFree number on the box and described my symptoms so I could get a refund on the product. The lady on the phone said that it sounded like a had a genuine allergy to BP, and that I should stick with salicylic acid products. I have bought a new one. Clearasil Stayclear Skin Perfecting Wash. It's 2% SA, and its supposed exfoliate gently and keep skin moisturized. I haven't used it yet, however, because I'm waiting for my skin to heal completely from the BP burn.

Sorry this is such a long post, but I've never tried asking my own questions on here before, I just look up other people's post on the search, but I couldn't find a whole lot pertaining to wrinkles caused by BP.

Here are my questions.

--Will the under eye wrinkles go away eventually? Do I need to used a different moisturizer? (My main concern!!!)

--Is the Clearasil product good for keeping skin moisturized?

--Was the AcneFree product a bad choice?

--Any recommendations that have worked for you?

--Any help at all is appreciated!

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Some comments:

While it sounds like you probably do have an allergy to BP, I will throw out there that your problem might not have been an allergy to BP, but rather that you left a cleanser on your skin for an extended period of time. Cleansers are NOT meant to be used this way! (Cetaphil for Sensitive Skin is the only exception I know of.) They have ingredients that help them lather and remove oils that you really don't want to have sitting on your face all day, so I can see that being hugely irritating even if you don't have a BP allergy. If you feel brave enough to try BP again in a few weeks after your skin has completely healed, I would test out a small amount of leave-on 2.5% or 5% BP treatment, like Neutrogena On-the-Spot or the treatment lotion step of the AcneFree or Proactiv kits.

Your eye wrinkles will get better, I promise, but the skin there is very thin and delicate so it takes longer to recover from irritation and dryness than the rest of your face. I like using a vitamin E cream made by JASON Naturals for the skin around my eyes because it has a good consistency and is inexpensive (I can get it for around $7 at a health foods store). Just keep loading up on whatever unmedicated, non-irritating moisturizer you like there, and the wrinkles should diminish over the course a few weeks.

Finally, I think you might be relying too much on cleansers to manage your acne. I made this mistake too. The thing with acne cleansers is they don't really leave that much of the active ingredient (BP or SA or sulfur) behind when you rinse them off, but you definitely need to be rinsing them off, so you just don't get that much treatment. For people with very mild acne they can be perfect, but if you get multiple inflamed acne lesions at a time, a cleanser just won't cut it. A lot of acne cleansers (especially products marketed as a "deep cleanser") also have things in them like eucalyptus/mint/menthol that make your skin tingle when you use them, so you think it must be working (because you can feel the tingle!), but all that feeling means is that your skin is being needlessly irritated.

What I would do is switch to a gentle unmedicated cleanser the ones listed here. Given your sensitive skin, you'll want to go with a liquid rather than a bar cleanser. All it will do is wash away the products on your skin, but that's all you need it to do. To actually treat your acne, assuming you are allergic to BP, you'll want to use a leave-on salicylic acid lotion all over your face (like Neutrogena Rapid Clear Lotion or a Paula's Choice BHA), and maybe tea tree oil for spot treatment. The follow that up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer as needed (like these).

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Thank you for your help. I think I do have an allergy to BP, and after all this stress it has caused, I don't think I will ever use it again! I think the wrinkles are starting to get better as days go by, but I wasn't sure if they'd ever heal all the way. Thank you for letting me know that they will get better, that is a huge relief for me!

Someone recommended that I use Burt's Bee Radiance Eye Cream. I read some reviews and it sounded pretty good. I may use that along with my vitamin lotions.

Spot treatments and lotions with SA...I'm not sure those will do the trick. I've used spot treatments with SA and it works okay. I just don't think I like the idea of having SA sit in my skin since I had such devastating results with the BP.

I thought the cleanser would be a decent option, seeing as it was the only 2.5% available to me, so I thought using a higher percentage would be even worse. But yeah, you're right, leaving a cleanser on my skin probably wasn't the greatest idea. Even though I had the same reaction with proactive years ago when I used it as directed.

I hope everything continues to improve.

Any other help/suggestions is welcome!

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