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BlueEyedGemini

Post-Pro-Activ + hormones + HELP

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I read through a bunch of threads to find my particular situation, but I didn't see one that might be close enough to work. I apologize if these questions have been asked before.

35-year-old woman here. I used Pro-Activ for 10 years, 2005 until this past July. I had terrible cystic acne in my early 20s, and the Pro-Activ was the only thing that controlled it. Like many users, I started to develop hyper pigmentation. This past summer was the line for me: I have the dreaded dark skin/mustache when my face tans, even with SPF. Besides, the skin on my face had started to look like a different color from the skin on my neck. I didn't realize how bad it was until I uploaded a selfie onto Facebook this summer. The skin of my face looked read and... kind of yellowish. I haven't worn makeup since I was 20. I don't like how it feels on my skin, and it always made my acne worse. 

Dumb, I know, but I had never looked around to see what other people thought of Pro-Activ. I just knew that it kept my face blemish-free. The more research I did, the more I became angry at myself for using it for so long. Instead of stepping off the PA gradually, I stopped cold turkey and started using only Neutrogena Clear Pore toner at night, after washing my face with only plain water. When I went off the Pro-Activ, my face immediately began overproducing oil, but I didn't get big pimples, just clogged pored and rashy bumps on my cheeks. The oil had slowed down a bit by the end of August, and the rashy bits were clearing up. Then around mid-September, I developed 2-3 sizable blemishes on my cheek and used the BP Neutrogena spot treatment. That few days (seriously, no more than 4 days) of BP use caused my entire face to flare up, both regular pimples and deep cysts along my jawline and under my jaw. 

Of course I stopped with the BP and started using Cetaphil Oil wash because I read it was gentle. I don't know that it cleared my skin any, but it felt good. I also used Lush's Magnaminty mask a couple times a week. That held out until mid-October, when my breakouts became dire. I was developed 2-3 new blemishes a day. They would pop up while I was at work, just out of the blue. At the same time, I started to bloat and have other hormonal symptoms. My October period showed up 2 weeks early, and I've been spotting off and on since. Still dealing with the bloating, too, and the typical PMS stuff: food cravings, temperature regulation issues, fatigue. I exercise a lot to control my stress, and I'm mindful of controlling my work and life stress. We moved in July and August, so I'm sure that stress caught up to me in October, if that's even possible. 

My acne is concentrated along my jaw and under it, with a spot or two on my cheeks and forehead. I read on the forums that the placement suggest hormonal acne. After using the Cetaphil for a month or so, feeling like it never really cleaned my skin, I started using CeraVe SA wash because I read it was good for both hormonal acne and rebuilding the acid mantle. My regime now looks like this: CeraVe in the morning and night as a wash, Neutrogena Clear Pore Toner when needed (no more than once a day), Lush mask 2-3 days a week (with steaming, I have a face steamer), and Burt's Bees Blemish Stick throughout the day. (The BB Blemish Stick stops me from picking for some reason, so even if the ingredients don't work, maybe it's helping.) New blemishes have slowed down, but they're still popping up. I can say that the color of my face is a much healthier pink, so much so that people have noticed even with the acne. I must have really done a number of my skin with the PA.

I wonder what would have happened if I didn't use the BP.  I've thought about not using anything else on my skin to see if it normalizes, but I'm terrified of making things worse. I can't tell what's going on because of the Pro-Activ ending and what's going on because I'm 35 and hormonal. 

Whew: So my question and reason for posting: Has anyone experienced going off of Pro-Activ? How long did it take for your skin to normalize? Do you have any favorite processes or products that you like? I have oily skin, blackheads on my nose. When I used the PA, you could see my pores pushing out little droplets of oil during the day (that I would zap with the "repairing" lotion). It feels like I'm doing too many new things to my skin at once, but I'm really just trying to find something that works. Am I rushing these products? Help with any part of the problem is appreciated!

 

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