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El Cielo

The Zbc Regimen

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Hi there,

This is my first post here. I've been a long time lurker of acne.org message boards. This forum helped me a lot to find in my struggle against acne.

This post is my small contribution to the fight against adult acne. I hope it can be helpful for some of you. As English is not my mother tongue, please forgive my mistakes rolleyes.gif.

I'm 35, and I've had acne for almost 20 years before I finally found a way to clear my acne at 99%. It was mild acne, papule like, red zits, mostly on the forehead and sometimes on the cheeks. I tried almost everything (including Accutane) to get rid of this condition and met dozens of different dermatologists, without success. Finally, my only hope was to try self experimentation. After many years of struggle, I found a system that almost completely cured my acne.

Who is this for ?

If you ever tried a product that worked at the beginning of the treatment (in the first days, weeks or even months) and then stopped working, then the information below may help you.

Product resistance

When you try a product that works at the beginning of the treatment and then loses its effectiveness, it means that your skin condition (whether acne vulgaris, pityrosporum folliculitis, rosacea, dermatitis or other) became resistant to the product.

The good news is that resistance is not permanent. If you wait long enough, your skin will eventually become receptive again to the product.

So, basically, if you have these resistant pimples, you should apply the following rule:

The longer you use a treatment, the more you weaken its effectiveness. The longer you don’t use this treatment, the more you increase its effectiveness.

This is a counter-intuitive statement, as the widespread idea is that "a product has to be used daily in order to be effective". Well, it is not true for everybody.

Most of the time, this can be very frustrating because we are all looking for the “miracle product” that will cure our acne. Unfortunately, quite often, things don’t work like that.

How to treat your acne if you belong to this category ?

So your acne has a tendency to become tolerant to products that work at first ?

Try the following :

Step 1: find at least two different products (creams, cleansers, serums, shampoos…) that temporally work for you. Three products would be even better. Four ? If you are lucky enough to have good initial results with four different products, go ahead.

Step 2: cycle the products, one at a time. A cycle is a period in which you use only one active product. Length of the cycles should vary according to the product and to your skin. Most of the time, a cycle should last between 1 day and 2 months, so the definition is quite broad. The only way to know your optimum cycle length is self experimentation.

General remarks on treatment cycling

  • When a treatment starts to lose effectiveness, discontinue it and start a cycle of another product.

  • Sometimes, less is more : when you stop using a treatment (end of a cycle), instead of switching directly to another treatment, you may choose to make a pause (from one day to one month or even more, according to the condition of your skin) before you start a cycle of another product. This second option has various benefits : (1) it allows your skin to take a good rest between two cycles (as some products are really harsh for your skin). (2) The more you wait between two treatments, the more you increase their effectiveness.

  • Avoid mixing the cycles : unless you have a very good reason to believe that two products work synergistically, don’t use them during the same cycle : you should wait for a product cycle to be over before starting a cycle with another product.

    The ZBC regimen

    I have tried many cycle treatments and the ZBC regimen (Z for Zinc pyrithione, B for Benzoyl peroxyde and C for Chlorhexidine gluconate) is what works best for me.

    Where to find these products ?

    • Zinc pyrithione: this is the active product in the Head and Shoulders shampoo, which has been used effectively by a lot of acne.org members. 2% concentration soap is available and may be a better option than H&S, which has only 1%. Check out Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc Bar Soap, available on Amazon and other online stores.

    • Benzoyl peroxide: available everywhere OTC. Use 2.5% concentration.

    • Chlorhexidine gluconate: available in every drug store. Retail name: Hibiclens. Also available in generic version in some drug stores. Use 4% concentration.

    ZBC regimen instructions:

    CYCLE ONE: Zinc pyrithione 2% [between 1 week and 2 months. Switch to the next cycle when treatment loses its effectiveness]

    CYCLE TWO: Chlorhexidine gluconate 4% [between 1 day and 1 week]


    CYCLE FOUR: Benzoyl peroxyde 2.5% [between 1 day and 1 week]


    I personnally use 15 to 21 days for zinc pyrithione cycle, 2 to 5 days for chlorhexidine gluconate cycle and 1 or 2 days for benzoyl peroxyde cycle.

    I made the choice to reduce Benzoyl peroxyde and chlorhexidine gluconate cycles to the shortest period possible for 2 reasons:

    1) both of these products are quite irritating, and make my skin look terrible if I use them for more than a few days.

    2) in my own case, both behave like "skin rebooters": they work as if they were reinitializing my skin's ability to respond well to zinc pyrithione.

    Of course, feel free to adapt the duration of the cycles according to your skin reaction.

    Also, remember the golden rule: The longer you use a treatment, the more you weaken its effectiveness. The longer you don’t use this treatment, the more you increase its effectiveness.

    So I suggest that you try to take a few days without applying any of the 3 products between each cycle. During these days without treatment, you may use a regular acne gel/soap (Neutrogena, Eucerin, whatever...) to wash your face. I personally use Neutrogena Transparent Facial Bar, as it is a good value and does the job.

    I have set up a small website with a little bit more info about cycle treatments, the ZBC regimen and especially a section of efficient products that can be cycled. I won't put the link here unless I have the authorization of the admins.

    If you want, shoot me a PM and I'll send you the link.

    Hope this can help you. Please send me your feedback !

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