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LionQueen

Product whore turns a new trick

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I've been on this new regimen for about a week now, and it seems to be working for me, so I thought I'd stick my neck out and start a new log.

Quick background: I'm 41 and have had mild/moderate acne since I was 11. I've tried many, many Rx and OTC remedies; a lot of things have helped, but nothing has ever cleared me up entirely. Up until last spring, I had things pretty much under control; some mild cyclical breakouts but nothing I couldn't live with. Then I went to Spain for 2 months and came back with seriously bumpy skin. It looked like I had pebbles under my skin all along my jaw and in patches on my neck, cheeks, and forehead. It wasn't inflamed (unless I picked at it) but it looked and felt horrible.

I don't get cysts or badly inflamed breakouts; for the most part, I only get real pimples during the week before my period. What I have are seriously clogged pores with a whole lot of waxy white gunk backed up underneath. I still don't know why my pores got so much worse while I was traveling, but they are definitely the root of my skin troubles.

I found out about jessfoliation, green cream, and topical vitamin A while lurking around this board. The green cream interested me because it's a high retinol OTC product. (Retin A helped me a lot before, but I just couldn't deal with going back to the derm all the time, and I let my prescription lapse out of sheer laziness.) Anyway, I figured that the purging effects of the retinol would help my bumps ... and I read that the green cream is specially formulated to minimize redness and irritation, which are common side effects of retinoids.

The topical vitamin A interested me because of its purging effects as well. It's fat soluble, so it comes in an oil-based formulation; everyone who used it commented on how soft it made their skin feel. I figured it might offset some of the drying effects of the retinol while increasing the purging power.

3/11 UPDATE: I'm no longer using the topical vitamin A, and don't particularly recommend it to anyone else. The Green Cream is a far superior product.

Jessfoliation works for me, up to a point. I started it right away when I first got on the board, and for awhile it seemed like it might solve everything. At first, the bumps got smaller very quickly -- but then I just stopped making progress. Now I use it very cautiously, because of the retinol, but it is wonderful for sloughing off dead skin.

Anyway, this first week has gone really well. I've been using the products every evening except one, when it seemed like my skin was getting irritated and I took a 24 hour break to let things cool off. A lot of the bumps have purged, but in a fairly painless way -- I haven't gotten any huge pimples or cysts, just some small pustules. Some bumps dried up and flaked off. Others opened up into loose comedones that were easy to squeeze out and didn't leave red marks.

For some reason, the left side of my face has purged more than the right; when I pull the skin tight, I can see that there's very little gunk left under the skin on the left side. The right doesn't look horrible, but it's definitely bumpier.

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Totally clear today, no breakouts or new bumps. My face does look just a tad dry and red, so I'm going to take it easy today -- lots of moisturizer, no jessfoliation, and maybe no Green Cream tonight either.

Still getting smoother every day; fewer bumps, smaller bumps, and even the little pits on my cheeks seem to be smoothing out. (The operative words here are "little" and "seem" -- I am not touting this as some kind of miracle scar treatment.)

A big reason why I wanted to use a retinol treatment was that it's supposed to help with aging and sun-damaged skin. Oh, yeah, I have that! (Wrinkles AND acne, oh joy.) I used to tan a lot when I was in my early 20s -- it seemed like a good idea at the time cuz it seemed to help clear my acne and even out my skin tone. Then I paid the price in my late 20s and early 30s when my skin looked prematurely aged ... and everyone thought I was closer to 40 ... ow.

For the most part, I've been able to rebound from that. I've been taking pretty good care of my skin for the past 10 years or so. It's naturally oily and heals well, so it looks pretty good now, and I'm hoping long-term retinol treatment will make it look even better.

Still have to Botox those forehead lines, though. :)

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I find jessfoliation almost completely stops zits for me, but it causes tons of little white bumps (irritation-spawned I suppose), that would eventually become whiteheads I suspect if I continued with the firm synthetic brush. I'm really happy with the boars hair facial brush I found though. It works almost as well as the synthetic foot & nail (as firm as I think can be found) brush, and appears to be totally nonirritating on my (admittedly pretty durable) skin.

I don't think injecting a deadly virus into your face is a good idea though. Just my opinion.

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I find jessfoliation almost completely stops zits for me, but it causes tons of little white bumps (irritation-spawned I suppose), that would eventually become whiteheads I suspect if I continued with the firm synthetic brush.

I've read the same complaint from quite a few other people ... wonder what's going on there? could be blocked pores purging, or could be irritation as you say. Anyway, it's great you found a solution.

I don't think injecting a deadly virus into your face is a good idea though. Just my opinion.

Well, it isn't actually a virus, but I get the point. :) And I'm sure that by the time everyone else on this board is my age and trying to get rid of their scowl lines, there'll be a much better solution out there.

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Took it easy on my face today, and there's no more redness or soreness. So I used the green cream tonight after all.

Looks like another mild purge is under way. For some reason, on my nose, this results in tiny pustules; everywhere else on my face, the comedones are just pushing their way out with no redness or pus, but on my nose the spots are getting inflamed. No idea why.

Because I squeezed some of the nose zits, I took 6 Advil tablets to help keep redness and swelling at bay. (Advil helps me sleep, too ... a nice side effect ... not that I would recommend taking it every night.) So I sincerely hope to wake up in the morning and not look like Rudolph. Or WC Fields. :)

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Clear and smooth this morning, no redness or soreness. Skin just a tiny bit dry after cleansing, but moisturizer seems to have taken care of that. No inflammation on my nose; spots are dry.

I think if someone were meeting me today for the first time they might actually think "hey, she has nice skin." And if I'd had to run out without washing my face or putting makeup on, I would've felt OK about it.

I hope, hope, hope this keeps up. I need to start focusing on things other than my skin!

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Hi Q

Thought I'd come and check out your thread. Glad things are working for you. I hope it continues for you and thanks for logging your progress as what you're trying is my next move if the ZZ cream stops working for me. By the way, I'm completely clear at the moment after that bad spell with the cream so I'm also hoping it stay that way for me too.

Happy Christmas

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Hi Q

Thought I'd come and check out your thread. Glad things are working for you. I hope it continues for you and thanks for logging your progress as what you're trying is my next move if the ZZ cream stops working for me. By the way, I'm completely clear at the moment after that bad spell with the cream so I'm also hoping it stay that way for me too.

Happy Christmas

Hey sweetie, thanks for dropping by! I am LOVING this product combo -- honestly, I don't think my skin has looked this good since puberty. I hope it lasts.

And I'm so psyched to hear you are clear, too! My fingers are crossed for you.

Merry Christmas!!

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Last night I had to take a break from the treatment -- after cleansing, my skin was red and tender. I was trying out a new Neutrogena cleanser in the shower (Deep Pore or something like that) and I think that one's headed for the rubbish bin. My skin didn't like it at all; the scrub is too harsh. I'm going back to the Pore Refining cleanser and sticking with it.

3/11 UPDATE: Sadly, my long-beloved Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser turns out to contain harsh detergents which are dehydrating and comedogenic. I am now using my remaining supply to scrub rough skin off my legs.

So then I did my usual panicky nighttime routine to ward off total skin breakdown: lots of moisturizer, lots of water and extra EFA capsules, a few Advil. Luckily, my face looks perfectly fine this morning, although it still feels tender and my neck is pink ... so no cleansing at all this AM, just moisturizer until things feel healthier.

My pores are still purging, but in a totally manageable way; more tiny spots on my nose, and some bumps surfacing around the edges of my face. Nothing really visible, though. My skin still looks great (pink neck & all).

Hooray for me. :)

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More of the same, really. My neck is still too dry to use the green cream on, and probably will be for a few days -- especially since I'm going to be in a colder climate for the next 10 days. My face still looks good overall, with two or three very small bumps surfacing along my chin and jawline, a few tiny zits on my nose, everything healing fast. I'm going to be very cautious with the treatment while I'm in Wisconsin because of the cold & dryness factor.

Here's hoping for good results when I check back in the New Year.

Merry Christmas to all (feel free to substitute your holiday of choice) ...

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It's been about 3 weeks now since I started with the topical A/jessfoliation/green cream cocktail. I'm really pleased with my results so far and definitely plan to stick with the program.

That being said, I think the initial period of dramatic results is probably over. I do expect further improvement, but I think it will come much more slowly.

Here's where my skin problems stand right now:

Bumps: Compared to a few months ago, when I first started jessfoliating, my skin looks incredibly smooth. But when the light shines on it from certain angles, I can still see some tiny bumps on my cheeks and jaw. They aren't very noticeable, but I'm hoping that they'll disappear entirely in time. My face is smoother than it was 3 weeks ago, but progress is very gradual.

Clogged pores: Again, much improved but not yet cured. My nose and chin are the places where the pores have always filled up the fastest. My chin is practically clear now -- just a few tiny blackheads here and there. My nose is still a bit clogged, but instead of overflowing with thick yellowish-white waxy stuff, the pores toward the tip of the nose seem to contain just a little oily dirt -- and the pores on the bridge of my nose aren't clogged at all.

Oily skin: Actually, I'm a little on the dry side right now. I ran out of EFA capsules while traveling, which didn't help; also, I spent a fair amount of time outside in the cold (skiing, sledding, skating) and my face got a bit chapped. The Murad moisturizing gel doesn't seem to be giving me enough moisture anymore, and it contains salicylic acid, which stings the chapped places ... I need to find a new lightweight moisturizer with no SA. Also, I'm almost out of my Murad cleanser (which also contains SA), and am looking into some milder, less-drying alternatives.

Monthly hormonal breakout: Just recovering now; I'd say it lasted about 10 days all told. Not too severe this time, just annoyingly persistent! Mostly micro-zits on my nose and chin; they healed fast, but 2-3 new ones popped up each morning and evening. No deep or severe pimples; just 2 red bumps on my jaw and a few on my neck which eventually came to a head, popped, and healed. The big recurring pimples that I usually get during hormonal breakouts (right alongside of my nose on both sides), never showed up at all.

Today, I'm quite clear with just a few tiny red marks here and there and a small patch of dryness next to one side of my nose. My main goal right now is to figure out the right moisturizer for this stage of treatment.

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Clear again today, but I'm going to take a night off from Green Cream; my face feels a little tender, the skin looks tired, and there are a few areas that just need to heal peacefully.

It would be so fantastic to get rid of the current red spots before anything else erupts!

Yesterday I ordered some Calmin cleanser and environmental protection cream from a UK rosacea website. Not that I actually have rosacea, but I do need a really gentle, soothing cleanser. And I'm still scouting around for a new moisturizer.

3/11 UPDATE: After a couple months of blissful ignorance, I had to dump the Calmin Environmental Protection Cream. Turned out to be highly comedogenic. The cleanser is fine, though ... still using it.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of the Murad moisturizing gel left and it's pretty pricey, so I'm trying to use it up. My usual method for getting rid of rejected face products is to start using them elsewhere on my body. For instance, the Neutrogena deep cleansing scrub that took the skin right off my face is PERFECT for getting rid of rough skin on my legs and arms ... I might even buy more. The Murad anti-acne glycolic lotion that kept bleaching out my eyebrows is great for my chest and shoulders. The Burt's Bees tomato soap ... well, that one's pretty much of a writeoff. I tried using it in the shower, but I just hate the soapy residue it leaves behind. Maybe I'll start using it on the dog. :D

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Queen, I do the same thing with products that don't work on my face. I use that greasy ass Neutrogena Healthy Skin moisturizer on my arms and legs. I am using that Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash as a body wash. And I use that STANK Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Lotion on my legs as well. I don't have money to waste!

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Queen,

Check this website out. I actually use the exotic butter moisturizer and LOVE it. I also use the kukui nut moisturizer on my body and it is perfect in the summer, not too greasy. The natural soap is the best I have used and Love it. The acne scrub did not work for me as I hoped it would, I think it was too irritating for my skin. This guy has alot of recommendations on ebay where I originally found this product.

They also make a light moisturizer for acne prone skin. I have not used it but plan to use it in the summer months as the exotic butter is thick but soaks in nicely and does not break me out. I highly recommend these products and have been using them since May 2005 with no problems. My skin is relatively clear now since starting the regimen 9 weeks ago and I use obnoxious amounts of the exotic butter.

http://www.clearandsmoothskin.com/

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Thanks, Butterfly! Finding the right moisturizer is key! I need to use a lot of it, but I don't want to end up all shiny-faced.

Just curious, do you use the exotic butter moisturizer for daytime? And if so, do you wear any makeup over it? I notice that their product list describes it as a nighttime moisturizer, so I'm wondering whether to get it or the lighter daytime one.

My face is clear but still quite dry today, even though I skipped the Green Cream and topical A last night. No redness but there's a lot of dead skin still flaking off, especially around and on my nose. I really want to get rid of that, because it blocks my pores and gunk starts building up beneath it.

Jessfoliation is too severe when my skin is tender, as it was this morning, so I used a very gentle biogommage from Physiodermie to dissolve away some of the dead skin. I also applied Physiodermie oligoserum to calm my skin, and the Murad moisturizer, and took a bunch of EFA capsules. I think my face would be in much better shape right now if I hadn't run out of EFAs while I was out of town ... those supplements really help keep me from drying out.

Anyway, my skin feels fine tonight, not tender at all, so I'm going back to my regimen.

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I do use it in the daytime but I dont have oily skin either. I currently use morning and night. Since it is January, I could get away with it but when it gets more humid out I will switch to the daytime acne prone moisturizer as I think it will work out better and use the butter at night. The butter soaks right into the skin and I absolutely LOVE it. It also seems to help dimish redness in my skin. Actually, all of these products have helped with the redness in my skin all over. The soap helped get rid of redness and irritation I had on my legs forever. I haven't used the acne prone moisturizer yet but based on my experience with the butter and kukui nut moisturizers, I am sure it is fantastic.

I dont wear makeup everyday but when I do I use bare minerals (over proactiv BP and exotic butter) my face will need maybe one touch up to get rid of shine, then it is good for a long time. My acne is hormonal and I dont have problems with oily skin but I think these products could help all types. I would definitely give it a try as the price is right and the ingredients are really nice. If u could afford it, get both (plus they will send u 2 bars of that fantastic soap :)

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My skin is purging again, yet I have no active pimples ... just more little bumps surfacing.

The past 2 mornings, I've gotten up, looked in the mirror, and seen no pimples at all. Then, after working out for an hour, taking a hot shower, and cleansing my face, I check out my face in the magnifying mirror -- and there are the bumps pushing up, mostly along my jaw and in the nasolabial area. I guess the exercise and heat are helping to bring them to the surface?

Today, after seeing the bumps, I jessfoliated my lower face furiously for awhile and then used a sterile needle to extract a few of the larger ones. There was no pus or inflammation at all, just the waxy plugs beneath the skin. I got a little bummed, though, because I could see a lot of miniscule bumps I hadn't noticed before -- probably because there was full natural light shining on my face this morning, and when I pulled my skin taut the magnifying mirror showed me EVERY tiny flaw. Much as I hate having that crud under my skin, I made myself leave the little ones alone. They don't show up under normal conditions, but if I picked them, I'd be all red marks from chin to ears.

My skin was looking pretty dry and tired after all that jessfoliation, so I dug out an old favorite: the Neutrogena multivitamin acne treatment. This stuff is completely useless for preventing pimples, but great for calming down my face, especially after I've been picking at it. It moisturizes gently, takes the redness away, and generally gets things back to normal. (Which is where I am right now: a few small red marks where things are healing, and smooth unless you look really closely.) I read on another thread that Neutrogena is going to be discontinuing this product, which is too bad ... but with any luck, I won't be needing it for too much longer.

3/11 UPDATE: This product is now in the trash, along with all of my other Neutrogena products.

I'm starting to notice some smoothing out of my facial lines, which I assume is due to the retinol treatment. It's only been 3 weeks so far, so I am hoping for still more improvement over the next few months! And if my skin still seems bumpy after a couple more months, I am going to move up to the Level 9 Green Cream; I should be able to tolerate the higher retinol level by then.

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It's been a month now since I started this regimen. Still really happy with the results!

Right now, I have no active acne. The left side of my face (which went through a purge early on) is quite clear and smooth at the moment. The right side didn't start purging until fairly recently and is now healing; there are a bunch of small redmarks where the bumps surfaced, but no inflammation.

My Green Cream bottle is feeling pretty light, so I just re-ordered the Level 6. The website I buy from, lindasy.com, has a cool offer where you can get 4 product samples for $10. So I am going to try out their oatmeal cleanser (for sensitive, flaky skin), the moisturizer for dry acne-prone skin, the eye gel, and the bronzing powder.

I'm also on a pretty strict diet right now, having gained nearly 10 pounds since joining this website (I think I was putting in way too much butt time in front of the computer when I first joined; now that I've settled into my regimen, I'm only checking in every few days). Anyway, I think the diet is helping my skin AND my weight (I've lost 5 of the 10 pounds so far). It's pretty much along the guidelines of the South Beach diet: low-fat proteins, whole-grain carbs, fresh fruit and veggies, lots of water. Also I allow myself a couple small pieces of dark chocolate each day.

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No acne for the past few days, and no bumps right now. I haven't worked out yet this morning, so the bumps may be visible later, but things are looking good right now, even in my evil mirror. Overall skin quality is excellent -- it looks smooth, well-hydrated and healthy.

I wish I'd started with Green Cream about 10 years ago!

I'm not experiencing any redness from the retinol anymore, but I do get small scaly patches of dry skin, mostly on and around my nose. In fact, I'd be perfectly clear today if I hadn't gotten over-zealous about peeling off that dead skin a couple days ago. I pulled a clump of what I _thought_ was loose skin off the end of my nose with tweezers -- and left a big red mark right on the tip. So now I have a scab there. I gotta be more careful, dammit!

My Calmin cleanser and environmental protection cream arrived on Saturday, so I'm just getting started with them. I really like the cleanser -- it's as gentle and effective as promised -- but haven' t tried the cream yet. My current moisturizer is a bottle of Clarins Ultra Matte day cream that I'd ordered from Sephora awhile back and forgotten about until I was searching frantically for something to use instead of the Murad gel. It actually seems like a really good moisturizer, so I may stick with it for awhile.

3/11 UPDATE: No longer using the Clarins product.

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Hi Q

Glad to hear you're doing well. My skin is looking like shit at the moment and I'm not sure I should be breaking out this often usung ZZ cream etc. I think I might try your method. Could you maybe PM me with your routine as you didn't suffer any bad breakouts did you?

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Sure, I'll PM you with the details.

And no, I didn't have any bad breakouts, but I really am not sure why not. If you've followed any of the topical A threads on the board, you've seen that people have had very mixed results. I think perhaps it's a good product for curbing oil production and purging blocked pores, but maybe not so great for people who have cystic acne. Just my take.

It's also possible that I dodged a bullet by combining the topical A with the green cream ... maybe the retinol kept the purging in check.

Or maybe I just got lucky, and this was the right combo for my skin at this time.

Anyway ... having another good skin day today. I think I'm really starting to see the improved texture and the overall glow that the retinol products promise.

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Another round of purging going on, this time on the left side of my face -- chin, jaw, lower cheek. I knew this was coming -- that was my biggest problem area a few months ago, and I've been able to see these bumps lurking under the surface for about a week now. There is still a scattering of tiny ones under the surface there, so I expect I have more of this to look forward to.

Anyway, about 6 bumps surfaced after my workout & shower yesterday. 5 of them were easy to deal with, just the comedo pushing out, and I was able to get them out with tweezers. The 6th was a little bit sore and infected and I had to pop it with a sterile needle. Then I cleansed and jessfoliated the area and applied the topical A and green cream as usual. Today, there's no swelling or soreness at any of those spots. They did leave some slight redmarks, but I don't see any more bumps coming up in this area.

The great thing about the green cream is that redmarks don't last long; even the worst of them are dried up and gone within a couple of weeks. The self-inflicted one on my nose from a few days ago has almost disappeared.

So aside from the redmarks, all of which are pretty easy to hide with a cover stick, my skin looks great. Now that I've stopped using the Murad cleanser and gel moisturizer with SA, the dryness problem is gone. In addition to the Clarins moisturizer, which I just love, I am experimenting with some sample skin firming products from Nicholas Perricone; too soon to make a call on whether these are worth the $$$$$$. ($135 + shipping just for the kit of samples; the same set in full size costs a fortune. But if I find one truly great product, that'll be worth it.)

3/11 UPDATE: All of those costly little Perricone samples are now in the trash.

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Another excellent skin day. No bumps, no pimples, and the redmarks from yesterday are now barely visible. Not dry this morning, but not oily, either ... just right! hope it lasts!

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