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Hi guys. Just like to say first of all that this is a wonderful website and forum, and Dan has produced a marvelous synthesis of all the relevant medical information out there, the result being an awesome resource on spots and acne. Kudos to you!

MY STORY

I'm a male in my early 20s. I've virtually never had problems with acne or spots in the past, luckily not even throughout my teens! And this is when I never did anything to take care of my skin whatsoever (never changing pillowcases, playing tons of sport, not washing face etc). My skin has always been baby-smooth and clear. But, recently I've been having problem with spots. Now, I have had some issues with spots on my forehead since I was about 18/19. I think this was because I started wearing my hair down in a fringe. The rest of my face was clear. Last year I started getting a few spots on my cheeks, but they came and went. But unfortunately I had some moderately bad breakouts towards the end of this summer; in particular, my forehead spot problem, having gotten better over the years, has worsened; and I'm getting some recurring spots on my cheeks (which tend to leave blemishes/marks). I don't have any problems with spots on the chin or the shaving area in general.

Now, I don't think my problem really qualifies as 'acne' because I don't think I've ever had it. Most spots are pimples, though some are deeper. Because of this I don't think I'll ever have an issue with indent scarring (thankfully!). But I'm very concerned with getting clear skin again and avoiding any permanent blemishes/discolouring. Basically my aim is to preserve my once flawless skin, as I'm not happy with the way it's going now I'm entering adulthood. Hopefully this is just a passing phase, because I don't think I am prone to acne (and hopefully I'm not developing a tendency in adulthood). I think stress might have been a contributing factor to recent breakouts, also not keeping my face clean enough. I have olive, Mediterranean skin, with a tendency to get oily, especially my forehead. I also think I have pretty sluggish digestion (which I have read can cause breakouts especially on the forehead) so I've been making sure I eat more fibre and drink more water, with good results.

I think because I've never had a problem before meant I was horribly positioned to deal with these outbreaks. So I was rather rough with them at first and used all sorts of random products knocking about my house which probably worsened the matter. Right now I've managed to stabilize the problem. I visited the doctor and he told me to try Freederm products. So currently, my face care routine is as follows:

Wash face twice a day, morning and night. Applying in order:

Cleanser: Freederm anti-bacterial cleanser

Moisturizer: Simple anti-blemish moisturizer. I also use Nivea Intensive moisturizer around my shaving area which feels like it needs a heavier product

Treatment: Freederm gel

This has helped stabilize the problem and I've seen some improvement. I've been washing my face with the cleanser, drying face, then moisturizing. Then I apply the Freederm gel on my forehead and a bit on any other active spots on my face. Currently I don't really have any active spots (a couple on forehead). But I can still see blemishes particularly on my right cheek where I had some outbreaks, and that's what prompted my further internet searches.

DISOCVERING ACNE.ORG

This is how I discovered this website. I was immediately impressed with Dan's wide-ranging, clear synthesis of information and his comprehensive regimen, so decided to join up. Now that I'm here, I might consider starting a regimen like Dan's in order to get fully clear. Since he suffered with acne from 11, I am very impressed with how clear his skin is! Very happy to hear of his success at conquering his problem after all these years. It's great that he has turned his personal battle into a resource that the rest of us can learn and benefit from.

First of all I really want to find a product that will help fade my red marks, especially on my cheeks. My red marks tend to hang around for ages. But I have read that medically-speaking, they are NOT scars, and they should all fade eventually given time. Is this true? Because so far I've been obsessing over the possibility of permanent damage! I know now not to be rough and especially not to squeeze, so I don't.

So I have checked out the 'Red/Dark marks left after acne' forums and from attempting a synthesis of the information, it looks like the following treatments/products might be most helpful:

(NOTE: I have also made a separate post on this issue in the 'Marks' forum, which can be found here http://www.acne.org/...t-fade-product/, so might be best to skip down to next subheading)

Hydroquinone

Retin A

Azeliac Acid

lpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy Acid Products (BHA, AHA)

Jojoba oil

Emu oil

Manuka Honey products

Copper peptides products

And particular products:

Bio Oil

C+C blackhead clearing scrub

PureDeming Intense Gel

PEL Super Rich Moisturizer

Cetaphil cleansing wash

Calendulis Plus cream

Still, that is quite a huge list. I have another doctor's appointment pending because I was going to inquire about Retin A 0.025% to apply to my marks to fade them. But by the looks of it that is by no means the most effective (and can cause peeling/drying). I am tending to one of the products on the final list, should I make a separate post on the 'Marks' forum to help find the correct one for me? Shall I make a shortlist and ask my doctor about them? I am also still unsure about the difference between and effects of vitamin A and E on spot marks.

STARTING A REGIMEN

From a quick survey of the information on here, and Dan's own regimen, I might switch over to the following regimen:

Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Treatment: Benzoyl peroxide 2.5% (as recommended by Dan)

Moisturizer: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion/Neutrogena Healthy Skin (with AHA)

(I take it the cleanser and moisturizer either side of BP are flexible. If anyone has any objections or suggestions please state them!)

And then obviously use a fourth product for spot fade. Also, I noticed Dan applies moisturizer last. I was applying my 'treatment' product after it (moisturizing straight after cleansing). Is it ideal to apply moisturizer absolutely last, then? And in what order would a fade product come?

Thank you! Sorry for the huge post, and I certainly don't wish for the users here to do all the work for me, so I have attempted to do a quick synthesis of all the information, though I certainly will continue reading and learning. I guess the major problem I have had is that there is so much information out there and so many products to choose, I have been stumped about what to use. And as I'm sure everyone can empathize with, ever since having skin problems I'm very keen to overcome them, and I've been obsessing over it ever since, much to the detriment of my health, work and studies.

Lastly, currently I sleep with a sleep mask because I have a lot of light entering my room in the morning and it disturbs me. In fact, I have been doing so since around late summer which does seem to coincide with my outbreaks (when it was hot, it would make my forehead quite sweaty, though now it's cold that isn't a problem). I am looking to get light blocking curtains, but I will probably have to get them custom made because I have huge windows. Can this cause/irritate outbreaks? I machine wash it fairly frequently, and it is good quality (also minimalist, so doesn't cover a huge amount of my face).

Thank you!

EDIT: I will ask about the Benzoyl peroxide 2.5% at my doctor's appointment also, as I understand it is a prescription product.

Edited by SeraphHymn

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yeah, using treatment before moisturizer helps it absorb better

when you say "Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion/Neutrogena Healthy Skin (with AHA)" do you mean youre going to use both? i think cetaphil would be better at least when youre starting the regimen so you dont freak your skin out with a bunch of different treatments and a new regimen, so i think it would be better if you add the stuff with AHA later

AHA is good for fading marks, but Dan recommends that you use it after 5 weeks of the regimen (again, so your skin doesnt freak out with so much new stuff at once)

but when/if you do start using it, use it after BP and instead of moisturizer at night, and build up to it (ex. once the first week, twice the second week, etc)

burning and redness is to be expected, probably dont want to use it every day, i think its kind of too much for your skin

ive never heard of BP being a prescription product, a lot of people use it and you can get it at any drugstore. i guess it wouldnt hurt to ask anyway. btw gel BP is the best because it doesnt leave a white residue

its good that you wash the mask, dont want to keep putting dirty cloth on your skin haha. and BP bleaches fabrics, so dont get too attached to your mask and make sure your face is completely dry before putting the mask on

and yeah, if the mask touches any break outs, that will irritate them

if youre going to use dan's regimen, i wouldnt suggest trying something else on top of it. sticking strictly to the regimen produces the best results

good luck!

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when you say "Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion/Neutrogena Healthy Skin (with AHA)" do you mean youre going to use both? i think cetaphil would be better at least when youre starting the regimen so you dont freak your skin out with a bunch of different treatments and a new regimen, so i think it would be better if you add the stuff with AHA later

Oh, I meant or. I've just been skimming through the forums to find some good products as cleanser/moisturizer (which I understand are flexible, only BP is fixed). It seems that the Cetaphil products are quite favoured (and I read Dan's alternatives to his own products). I was thinking between one or the other, and I think I got the 'Neutrogena Healthy Skin (with AHA)' from Dan's recommended alternative products (found here: http://www.acne.org/whatiuse.html), and he has it listed as 'with AHA'. Does this mean he adds his own, or is it one of the product's ingredients?

AHA is good for fading marks, but Dan recommends that you use it after 5 weeks of the regimen (again, so your skin doesnt freak out with so much new stuff at once)

but when/if you do start using it, use it after BP and instead of moisturizer at night, and build up to it (ex. once the first week, twice the second week, etc)

burning and redness is to be expected, probably dont want to use it every day, i think its kind of too much for your skin

Okay thanks. Is this Dan's favoured spot fade treatment? If I want something kinder and something I can use more regularly (or immediately), I take it I should use something else, at least initially? Also, might this be why he appears to combine it with the moisturizer, so he can use both simultaneously when needed?

its good that you wash the mask, dont want to keep putting dirty cloth on your skin haha. and BP bleaches fabrics, so dont get too attached to your mask and make sure your face is completely dry before putting the mask on

and yeah, if the mask touches any break outs, that will irritate them

I've been worried about this, but I don't see why, if it's clean, it would cause spots. Isn't it just like wearing or hat or any other article of clothing covering the skin?

if youre going to use dan's regimen, i wouldnt suggest trying something else on top of it. sticking strictly to the regimen produces the best results

good luck!

Thank you!

Edited by SeraphHymn

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One more question, and probably the most important of all: once you have started a regimen, can your body become reliant on it? In other words, does your body get used to it so much so that if you stop, you will just start getting spots again? I think after this experience I will pay far more attention to my skin from now on, and wash and moisturize more regularly, but I wouldn't want to be 'stuck' on a regime for ever. My major goals are getting clear, stopping regular outbreaks and fading the marks I do have. Then easing off and just falling back on a wash/moisturizer. I won't become reliant, will I?

Thank you

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hmmm thats a good question, i think that youll keep getting acne until you grow out of it. since youre male and in your early 20s, its pretty normal to get acne. did your parents have acne when they were your age? this is just my personal opinion, everyone has different beliefs on the cause of acne, but when youre a teen or young adult, youre kind of supposed to get acne, its normal (hormones, imo). sorry, kind of got off topic, but my point is that youre going to have acne until you grow out of it, and topicals and regimens just prevent acne, they dont get rid of the root cause forever. so you cant use the regimen until you get clear, and then stop and never get a pimple again, because the hormones that cause them are still there.

so bottom line, technically you will be "stuck" on the regimen until you kind of just grow out of it. ive tried easing off and the acne just comes back. my suggestion is keep using the regimen until youre around the same age as when your parents say their acne stopped, and ease off the regimen and see what happens

for the mask, even if its clean, it can rub on your skin and cause physical irritation, and can make pimples that are already there more inflamed

yeah, AHA is almost part of the regimen, its kind of like an add on. you dont have to use it, but its there if you want to take the regimen a step further. Dan has his own AHA+ on this website if you want to check it out. if not, this is a lot gentler on the skin than AHA:

http://www.acne.org/messageboard/index.php/topic/162645-problems-with-dryness-or-flaking/

for the neutrogena healthy skin with AHA, i think i know what that is, it looks like this right? (at the bottom)

this does have AHA, if you can see in the picture it says "with Alpha Hydroxy"

i read his comments on the "what i use" page and he says he would alternate between this and cetaphil, so basically he would use both, probably either switching every night and using cetaphil in the morning, or cetaphil in the morning and neutrogena at night

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Thank you for your response, that helps a lot smile.png.

Okay so I have all the stuff I need on its way. I chose:

Cleanser: Cetaphil gentle cleanser

BP: Oxy on the Spot 2.5%

Moisturizer: Cetaphil moisturizing lotion

And I have also purchased Bio Oil and AHA lotion (10%) to help with spot fade.

Basically, I'll follow the regimen guidelines in washing my face with cleanser, adding the BP, then moisturizing. However, I don't think all areas need BP (mainly just forehead), whereas I really need to fade marks on my cheeks. So, do I substitute the Bio Oil/AHA for moisturizer (as I will add these to my cheeks) or do I add it as a fourth step? Basically just wondering how to 'program' my washing routine that combats the pimples on my forehead and fades those pesky marks on my cheeks. Thanks guys!

Edited by SeraphHymn

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