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Observations From A Long-Time User

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Hi all,

I haven't read these forums since I discovered and implemented the Regimen back in 2007, but it occurred to me that sharing my experiences here might serve two purposes: it might (a) provide a helpful data point to those considering switching to the Regimen for the first time, those trying to troubleshoot, those worried about the long-term effects, and so on, and (b) provide some answers to a couple of questions I've had for a long time. I'm sort of skeptical that there's any universally-applicable solution to the problem of acne, and so I offer my observations only as a description of my practices and their results. If you've taken a more literal interpretation of the Regimen but have seen the results you want, I don't consider my experience to tell against that success at all.

First: the Regimen as advertised worked exceptionally well for me, almost immediately. I tried several other routines before settling on it. These precursor routines typically involved some combination of cleansers, astringents, and moisturizers, but I never followed any of them in a regular, responsible way or for long enough to be sure that the successes or failures I was seeing weren't due to confounding factors. I just wasn't that concerned about keeping careful track of my skin, because my acne was never that bad. I always had a scattered spot or two, and a few inconspicuous clogged pores on my nose and forehead. Occasionally, I'd have a cyst, and rarely, I'd have two. No more than less than a month after I started the Regimen, however, even those minor problems were gone. Note: I'm very diligent about following my routine, and I'm pretty good but not perfect about not touching my face over the course of the day.

Second: I've never consistently used moisturizer (even in winter, and I now live in Wisconsin), I don't have especially oily skin, and I've never suffered from dry skin on my face. Given the consensus about the importance of moisturizers, this is a striking fact. I'd like to anticipate the (reasonable) suspicion you might have that I do have dry skin but just don't understand what this means: I have eczema, which sometimes results in me having dry, flaky skin in my elbows and on my neck. (When my neck gets dry and flaky, putting the Acne.org gel on it stings a little at first, but not too much.) I've asked many, many people--some of whom have been quite close to me--whether I seem to have dry skin, and no one thinks I do. Moreover, after applying the treatment in the morning and at night, I sometimes have to blot the excess oil off my face with a napkin or paper towel to avoid having a sheen, even without using a moisturizer. When I add a moisturizer, the sheen gets out of hand.

Third: I haven't observed any substantial long-term effects. This is good news, but I'm afraid there are a few reasons to think that I might not be representative of a typical long-term user. First, I'm more careful than most about what I eat and drink: I drink at least a gallon of water a day, eat lots of berries, mostly avoid alcohol, entirely avoid all other drugs other than cannabis (which I occasionally vaporize). Second, I'm very active and am in excellent shape. Third, I'm rarely exceptionally stressed. In all, my skin seems to me like it's in mostly the same shape as it used to be, and this is already visibly not true of everyone in my age cohort. The only long-term effect is that I've ruined countless towels and pillowcases.

My routine has gone through several changes over the years:

  • I first bought a generic version of the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, the Neutrogena On-the-Spot treatment, and a generic version of the Cetaphil moisturizer. From the very first day, I applied treatment twice daily to my face and neck, and I've never changed this practice. This cleared up my face to almost perfect within perhaps three weeks. I applied them exactly as Dan suggested in his video, only I came almost immediately to skip the moisturizer, first because it didn't pair well with the treatment and more indefinitely because it seemed unnecessary.
  • A year or so later, I switched to the Acne.org gel, and have never switched back to On-the-Spot for any extended period of time. I'll occasionally run out of the gel and will have to temporarily make due with the On-the-Spot, but it seems inferior to the gel in how it applies, how it dries, and (marginally) how it protects against acne. It also might be ever so slightly more drying than the gel, and it's definitely more expensive. In short, I think that it's inferior in every respect that matters and that you should switch to the gel if that's not what you're using already.
  • Maybe another year or two after that, I switched to the Acne.org cleanser. During each purchase cycle, I would inevitably end up running out of the cleanser before the treatment, and so I would just switch back to the generic Cetaphil until the next purchase. I noticed no difference in either the visual results or my subjective experience of my skin.
  • At one point, I scared myself into trying moisturizers again, and so I tried both the Lac-Hydrin Five (which I had used for my eczema before, elsewhere on my body) and generic Cetaphil moisturizers. Both seemed to me to cause my skin to break out more than before, so I stopped and my skin immediately improved again. I have used the Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer sunblock for a day or two at a time, always without issue.
  • I'm weirdly sensitive to shampoos and conditioners: even if I wash them out carefully, some will make my skin break out over time. Head and Shoulders seems to make me break out; Giovanni Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner seem not to.
  • More recently, I wanted to switch to bar soaps, which eliminate a potential problem with traveling long-term on the Regimen. First, I tried the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, but it seemed to make my skin break out a little more than before, so I threw it away. Second, I tried the Neutrogena Transparent Acne-Prone Facial Bar. That did the trick, and that's what I still use. (If you're satisfied with the Acne.org cleanser and don't have some independent reason to limit your travel liquids, then my recommendation is to stick with the liquid cleanser, because it's not any more expensive than the Neutrogena bars and it works just as well.)

I hope all of this helps someone!

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