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celebratethedays

No idea what is going on. Help?

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I'm a 19 year old college sophomore, and in high school my acne was never bad. I had a few breakouts on my chin around that time of the month, some on my forehead becuase of my hair and bad breakouts on my chest that have since cleared since I started using fragrance free body wash and laundry detergent. When I started college I started breaking out regularly on my cheeks which had never happened before. It wasn't quite so bad last year, but it was definitely noticeable. It got much better over the summer when I went back to my parent's house (during the school year I live in a university dorm). Unfortunately, over this past semester and winter break my skin has absolutely freaked out. No drastic change in skin routine, diet, excersise.

I change my pillowslips often, wash my face regularly, exfoliate with olive oil and sugar maybe twice a week. I've rotated between Aveeno ultra-calming face wash and an olay face wash, both of which have no fragrance. I've been using a clean & clear dual action moisturizier with salycylic acid in it for the past several months. I picked up a neutrogena spot treatment with a low dose of benzoyl peroxide but if anything it's just made my breakouts more inflamed.

I'm just not sure what to do. For one, I'm not even sure what type of acne I have. They're painful bumpy red spots that eventually come to a head that all seem to pop up near each other. I do pop my pimples though, so maybe I'm not doing that properly... I'd like to see a dermatologist, but I'm a bit wary of trying something like an antibiotic. I've heard they work well short term but aren't so good for keeping away acne breakouts in the long run.

I know my acne isn't as bad as other cases, but it has had a huge effect on me.. If I'm not wearing makeup, I notice people getting looking at my breakouts in conversation. If I am wearing makeup, I feel like I'm suffocating and my skin. People comment on it every now and then (boyfriend's grandma, guy at the mall, random person in the elevator) and it's a huge blow to my self esteem. I know it sounds dramatic but I just don't feel pretty anymore. I just have no idea what to try next

Can anyone help? :[ Sorry for writing a novel

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My acne was pretty similar to yours when I was 19. I asked my dermatologist specifically for accutane but I was given antibiotics and topicals for years instead. Neither worked. I now have pretty significant scarring, and still have acne at 23...

From my experience:

- Find a GOOD dermatologist who listens to you and you feel comfortable with!

- Don't pop your acne. It will leave scars. You don't want that.. trust me.

- Remedies that could potentially help: Accutane. Retin-A. Tazorac, Differin, Benzaclin, birth control(don't know much about these I'm a guiy)

- Waste of time/money: Proactiv, Dan's Regimen

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Your acne looks so much like mine .. I know how it feels when people look at your acne and not your eyes .. it really sucks. I have been trying to not pop mine lately, and it *kinda* seems to help, but it means they sit there for a lot longer. When I pop them I wash the area first, cover my fingers in tissue, and I stop when blood comes out.

Here are things that have worked for me in the past~

-Accutane ( I took a low dosage which minimized bad side effects, however the likelihood of acne returning is higher like that. )

- Dans PB works a little bit for me, it tends to kill acnes I've popped a little faster.

-Clearasil is the best soap in the world, it doesn't irritate and it makes my skin soft. I like to leave it on for about 10 minutes or so, then wash it off. It feels really nice.

-Egg white masks. Just put egg whites and a little bit of lemon juice and put it on your face until it gets hard to make expressions. It tends to remove redness and makes my skin smoother.

-Taking 2 vitamins a day seems to help a little, but I just started this so I'm not sure yet.

However your mileage may vary .. I think you're very pretty and your acne doesn't detract from that. :]

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thank you both for your replies!

@littleguy, i'm not sure that i'd like to try accutane or oral antibiotics. scared of doing even more damage by drying out my skin or just giving my few antibiotic-immune acne critters the biological advantage haha. birth control has proven to turn me into a psychotic monster, but that's another subject entirely.. ahah. maybe one of the topical treatments will work well.

for me it's soo hard to not pop pimples but i guess i'll just have to suck it up. i don't know how people do it!

@ Thorson, thank you :] and do you apply moisturizer after the egg mask? i've been wanting to try various masks with natural ingredients. that one sounds good, plus i'd like to try one with yogurt and honey..

i've just started taking vitamins as well. hopefully doing that plus improving my diet + exercise routines will help clear everything

hopefully we will all soon have clear, beautiful skin !

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It's hard to give advice because everyone has such different skin. If there was one regimen that worked, we would all be on it, clear, and there would be no message board ;) I would be happy to share what I'm doing right now though, if that helps at all.

washing morning and night with an all natural gentle cleanser (currently using Desert Essence Tea Tree wash, but I think it's too drying and will switch soon) with the Clarisonic Mia

applying aloe vera gel, which soothes the red/active pimples

apply either moisturizer (day) or AHA lotion (night)

Taking:

AcneScript vitamins (google it-- all natural vitamins)

B-100 supplement

Chromium

Vit A, C, D

fiber supplements

niacin

zinc

Not sure which of those are working, but I'm clearer now than I was a month ago. I still break out daily into a pimple or two or three, but that's better than what it was. Notice that I'm not using any BP or salicylic acid-- those don't work for my skin. I turn into a lobster and I think I'm allergic.

Oh, and the biggest thing I'm doing-- NOT TOUCHING my face. OK, I'm not perfect and admit that if the zit comes to a head I do pop it. But I try to not touch/pick because that makes scars and spreads bacteria. This was the hardest thing to overcome, but I'm 75% better than I used to be.

I know there's a LOT of info on this site, with things working for some, other things working for others. I hope something works for you soon. You really are very pretty :)

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@theonlyexception: nooo no pee on the face for me haha. i just want to try being healthier and more active. i recently switched to a job where i am sitting in front of a computer for 4-6 hours at a time, which is obviously not very healthy. thank you for all the advice! and i wish you the best with accutane if you choose to take it. hopefully it'll get you all cleared up!

@xgirl: that's awesome that you are clearing up! congrats :D

and oh man i sure do wish there was a universal acne cure

do you apply aloe vera gel everywhere or just on breakouts? that sounds like a good idea, since most of my breakouts are of the angry red variety

i recently started taking a multivitamin so maybe that will help a bit. the acnescript definitely sounds interesting too

i have no willpower! i know that i shouldn't touch my breakouts but sometimes they might itch or i might absent-mindedly fidget and end up messing with my face. very bad habit :[ definitely need to work on that. and thank you :D i really appreciate it

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Hey celebratethedays, I wish there was an easier solution to your problem. I know first hand what it's like to have stubborn acne that just won't seem to go away. But with the right products, it very well can be an uphill battle. Before I go on I would just like to say that I've just started using this website again after MIA and really love to help people with their skin. I am a NYS licensed esthetician and makeup artist certified in microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing. Before I continue I want to make sure I have a clear picture in my head of what your skin is like since I can't see it in front of me. I'll break this down in sections so as to not write you too long of a novel :P

CLEANSER:

You want to make sure you cleanse your skin every day, twice a day with lukewarm water. Hot water is going to irritate your acne making it worse, but too cold water isn't going to give you enough stimulation. You seem like you have good control over what you use to wash your face, so I wouldn't try experimenting with other cleansers just yet.

EXFOLIATION:

The first thing I'd toss is the sugar and olive oil method for exfoliation. While you may think it's a good natural alternative, the sugar molecules are much too thick and abrasive to be using twice a week. Also, are you using regular sugar cane? In order for this method to work properly you would need all natural-organic unrefined sugar. But even with this type of sugar, it's still too abrasive to be using on your skin type. You have inflammatory acne, with visible pustules and whiteheads so what is happening is is the sugar is going to eventually erupt these pimples, spreading blood and infection over other areas of the face. It's not going to help with your breakouts.

MOISTURIZER:

Another thing I'm concerned about with you is your moisturizer. This is a huge factor in how your skin deals with acne. Drop the Clean n' Clear one you're using, go for something without any harsh chemicals in it. Even though salicylic acid is an anti-inflammatory, it's extremely drying on the skin and can cause much more irritation than you think. Also, since you said you're using a spot treatment containing benzoyl peroxide, this could also be why your skin is getting more irritated. Using both Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl together is a recipe for disaster. If you want to continue using them, use one or the other. My advice to you is to get a plain oil-free moisturizer with SPF 15 or greater and use a controlled spot treatment every other night before you go to bed.

---

EXTRACTIONS:

What you have based on looking at your photos is stage III-IV acne. This means you have active pustules, or inflamed pimples that eventually come to a head and reveal pus. I know how bad you want to pop your pimples, and I'm not going to tell you not to. In fact, in many cases it's better for you to 'pop' them to release the infection. If you leave the pimple alone, it's not going to go anywhere. It's on the surface of the skin, so all it's going to do is pop anyway. But it's NOT okay for you to sit in front of your mirror and squeeze at them until blood comes out. There is a proper way to do it that should be left up to professionals, but you can easily do it at home with the right tools. First you have to make sure you have absolutely no trace of makeup on and you must do this on a cleansed face. Wrap your fingers in soft tissue and wet the tissue with any sort of toner or astringent you have. Gently manipulate the area, making sure not to 'squeeze' the pimple, but just enough so that you extract the pimple until clear fluid comes out. It's crucial that you don't do this until you bleed, because this is going to cause your skin to scar. Gently hold the tissue on the skin until no more clear fluid is left. Then take your spot treatment or a mask and put it on the pimple with a Q-tip.

---

MAKEUP:

Makeup is one of the most important things to factor in when dealing with acne. I know it's extremely hard, but try your best to wear makeup as little as possible, if any at all. What exactly do you use? Are you using a liquid foundation? Is it oil-free? Fragrance free? Do you use a powder? Mineral? Any blushes or bronzers? Concealers? There's many things to consider. If you apply your makeup with a non-disposable brush, wash this brush EVERY SINGLE NIGHT with baby shampoo. This will kill any bacteria on the brush that your face could potentially be exposed to. Do you use a sponge? If so, you gotta have a lot of sponges at hand because you need to throw away that sponge every single time you use it. And do not, I repeat DO NOT, use the sponges or brushes that come included in makeup compacts. If you do, like I said before, those are strictly one time use only. You can't wash them, that's why you must throw them out. If your makeup comes in a tube with a brush attached, throw it out. The product becomes useless unless there is a way to get the product out without having to use the brush that comes with it. You don't want that on your face, it's only going to spread bacteria to your acne, making it worse.

Have you thought about getting any cosmetic treatments done? If you have the money, I really recommend getting some IPL/laser treatments and/or chemical peel sessions. You will need more than one of both these treatments for them to be effective and they are more or less expensive depending on where you go. Don't go to a spa, go to a dermatologist. Dermatologists will be more expensive but will have a better understanding of how to treat your skin.

It is a tough battle, and I know what it's like to have strangers approach you and say things about your skin. But it will get better....and even some of the slightest changes to your daily lifestyle can be proven effective in treating your problem. Please reply back with any questions/answers :)

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@assiraCrose: Thank you for you reply! I do have a couple of questions for you. What kind of exfoliation would you recommend for this kind of acne? I have always heard that it is good to exfoliate with facial scrubs, but I've found that the fragrances in the scrubs I've found (ie St. Ives and others like it) are extremely irritating to me. I haven't been able to find one in stores with no fragrance which is why I tried olive oil and sugar.

Also is it necessary to use a toner after cleansing? I don't currently own one and I'm a little hesitant to use one, because I've heard most of the brands in my price range have too much alcohol and can be very drying.

Unfortunately I am a college student with almost no disposable income :[ Which makes the process of finding the "right" products for my face really difficult, because I'm not able to go out and try a bunch of different things

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@assiraCrose: Thank you for you reply! I do have a couple of questions for you. What kind of exfoliation would you recommend for this kind of acne? I have always heard that it is good to exfoliate with facial scrubs, but I've found that the fragrances in the scrubs I've found (ie St. Ives and others like it) are extremely irritating to me. I haven't been able to find one in stores with no fragrance which is why I tried olive oil and sugar.

Also is it necessary to use a toner after cleansing? I don't currently own one and I'm a little hesitant to use one, because I've heard most of the brands in my price range have too much alcohol and can be very drying.

Unfortunately I am a college student with almost no disposable income :[ Which makes the process of finding the "right" products for my face really difficult, because I'm not able to go out and try a bunch of different things

I recommend trying some things from Aubrey Organics....you can order from them online and they are very affordable, 100% organic products that I myself have had great results with. You can read what every single ingredient is which is so important when finding good skin care. You can order a travel size kit of cleanser, toner, moisturizer and mask along with some other samples for around $10, and if you like anything you try you can purchase full size bottles. I also recommend anything from Dermalogica, although their products are a little more high end and expensive.

As far as a toner goes, I don't think you need one. Right now, your skin is inflamed and irritated so we want to do as little to it as possible to avoid further trauma. Aubrey Organics toners are very mild but still do a great job using after a cleanser, so if you do go ahead and try out there products I would say use it only at night or in the morning just once a day. As far as drugstore products go, I can't say I feel comfortable enough recommending any toner for you, as like you said, most of them contain high concentrations of alcohol and will do further damage to your skin than good. But if you can find one thats alcohol free, it doesn't hurt to test it out.

For exfoliators, since you are on a tight budget and seem to have sensitive skin that reacts from fragrance and synthetic ingredients is one, again, from Aubrey Organics. I don't want to be too redundant and wish I could give you more options but I'm afraid most products from the drugstore give you limited options. For a basic cleanser if you dont want to order anything online yet, try Cetaphil. For an exfoliating scrub, try the Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily scrub. You should have no irritation from these products but everyones skin is different and what works for someone else might not work for you.

If you are able to buy online, I really think you should give Aubrey Organics a try, but that's your decision. I don't want you to feel like you need to try a million different things in order to have clear skin. If you go to the Dermalogica website they have tons of information about skin and acne that would probably help you. Education is key. I had terrible acne since I was around 11 growing up and suffered for years until I got my Esthetics license and learned a ton of information I only wish I had known sooner. I've been there and tried everything, the olive oil sugar method to mixing up random concoctions in my kitchen of whatever I thought would work (lol). Also, are you on BC? Are you drinking enough water? When you wash your face make sure not to scrub too rigorously and pat your skin dry, never rub. Sometimes the solution could be right under your nose that we just don't see. I wish I could see you in person to help you a little better. But I guess this will have to do for now haha.

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I know you said you didn't have a drastic change in diet, but you also said that you started to break out since starting college. well if you eat at the college cafeteria, you're eating nothing like you did at home. if you can, try staying away from anything that has a high glycemic index. breads, pasta, etc. you can google it to look up some good foods. i try to eat as much raw foods as i can like meat and veggies. that has helped me out more than any wash or pill. also, maybe you are more stressed in college than in HS? that could play a role too, but diet usually the most.

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Other people that are commenting on here seem to know exactly what they're talking about, with so much detail.

So my advice might be pointless, although it seems to be working for me.

Your acne looks like mine used to, perhaps a little more severe, but I used to get the red blemishes like that, which grouped together and left angry bumps even when the infection appeared to have gone.

I've basically found that the acne seemed to have been caused by aggravating my skin. I love how you're trying to use natural things to put on your skin and trying to keep youre regime relatively simple.

However, I literally only use a simple cleanser, SBC cleansing and toning gel (I rinse it off rather than use tissue so it doesn't act as a toner like it's 'supposed to'). Then I use Clinique's Moisture Surge.

The simplicity of the two combined have totally calmed down my skin and although my skin first reacted by becoming dry in patches, that's changed now as I have adjusted.

Basically, my skin was reacting badly to facial scrubs and harsh cleansers that claimed to be 'mild' and produced the angry acne that you appear to have.

I changed my regime by making it extremely simple and the results have been nothing but positive.

Hope I've helped in some way, and I must also say that your profile picture shows how pretty you really are; your smile would totally distract me from any blemishes you have :)

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