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What follows is the results of a long and hard search to try to find out what possible causes could be eliminated in order to get rid of a mild acne I have had since age 22 (I'm now 36). This cannot be considered as scientific however you may find some of my findings helpful and interesting.

My personal history:

Up to age 22 I never really cared about my skin. My regimen was very simple. Water and soap once a day. A little moisturizer from time to time. My skin was perfect and never broke out. I must also mention that I had never had any problems regarding my period either. I'm not too sure why my skin started to get that bad and gradually worse. Theorytically at age 22 you're not a teenager anymore! I had a treatment of adapalene/benzoyle peroxyde for a while that worked quite well but too constraining. Besides the moment I was stopping it, my acne was coming back.

Let's try to find out:

My 'research' started about 2 years ago after a really bad acne breakout, the worst I had in years. First I made a list of all the things that may have had an impact:

- I had used the morning after pill several times. This has probably caused havoc in my body!

- I had moved to live in another country at some point

- I had started to get into cosmetics (cleaning/toning/moisturizing/scrubbing)

- I had started to smoke a lot (but stopped before that test)

- I had stopped doing regular physical activity though I was still quite active

- The quality of my sleep had become poor though better since I stopped smoking 4 years ago

- I stopped having meals at home (made from scratch, very balanced and healthy)

- I started to live on my own on and off after age 22 with no regular meals or quality food involved

The record:

I started to log all the things I was eating, the products I was using, the contents of all these products, if I had my period or not and carefully recording the state of my skin day after day. I also found out that my skin (for an unknown reason) was not oily but dry and still covered in spots, pustules and even cysts (on my neck). The more I did for it the worse it was getting. This defies everything I read!

I took a drastic decision to completely stopped using any product for a start. This means that I would just washe my face twice a day with water only, pat dry and leave it this way. This was feeling very strange. The strangest was that I felt that all the fun from 'taking care' or so called was gone and I missed it a lot! How unexpected. My acne cleared though I had all these red marks left on my face and I was desperate to get rid of them and so impatient. I re-introduced slowly products in my routine.

Reintroducing products:

At that time I was still very much into the 'natural is good/chemical is bad' view. I won't start a debate on that because it's not that all black and white. I just found that for myself the only washing product that my skin was tolerating is a handmade soap containing only natural elements (among them papaya, clay, rosemary, sheabutter). This is still true today. I have swapped for other soaps, nothing compares to this brand I use. My skin still needed moisturizing so I began a long test-and-see journey. I must say here is that it definitely is a personal journey. After reading loads of stuff on the web, one can say some things work for some people some don't.

Findings summary:

- Almond oil and nivea cream are causing me terrible breakouts. It's still possible that there were other causes but everytime I have used one of these, I ended up with spots.

- Calendula (toner) has dramatically improve the aspect of my skin

- Moisturizers containing cucumber hydrates my skin very well without 'charging' it

- Good quality sleep helps my skin clearing (I don't know how but it's true)

- Increasing my intake of fruits, vegetables and fish makes a big difference (though again I've always heard that diet doesn't count)

- Physical activity seems to improve the appearance of my skin (tone, colour, aspect)

- Oils are not all that bad

- Dermarbrasion is useful if preventive. My opinion is that you should never scrub your skin when you have spots.

- The quantity of product seems to have a crucial importance. I found that the least you put the better it is, both in terms of amount of a product and amount of products used

- Agnus Castus has helped me a lot with my period problems (heavy and painful) and vitamin B complex seemed to have helped a lot too for my skin

My skincare regimen: NB: I always wash my hands before I actually clean my face!

- Morning: I use a springwater spray until my face is quite wet then wipe gently with a cotton pad. I heard some people being shocked claiming this doesn't wash your skin. Well considering the colour of the cotton pad, I have another opinion. This is also very gentle. Then I apply a calendula toner and let it dry. Skin should feel comfortable at that point. If it's winter or windy and cold, I spritz a little bit of water again then take 4 drops (not more!) of a multi oil repair serum or Jojoba oil then rub the oil between my palms and gently applied onto my face. The oil mixes with the water and is very easy to massage in. I'm not too sure what happens there but the combination of oil/water makes the face perfectly protected without feeling greasy.

I sometimes use some make up to unify the tone of my skin. I use an oilfree onestep compact foundation in tiny amounts. This covers enough but let a bit of skin shows too. No breakouts and stays for the whole day.

- Night: I use a soap from a handmade soap company with water and rinse well (about 20 times) with lukewarm water, never cold or hot then pat dry (not rub). Then I spritz a little bit of water as I do in the morning and apply the Jojoba or repair serum.

- Once a month (if my skin is clear of spots), I do a nosestrip and a microdermabrasion.

I have followed this regimen for over a year with success. My skin will never be as it used to be of course because now I'm facing the problems of my skin ageing but I can say it is 'normal'. The few bad breakouts I have had since happened when I was straying from this regimen, not eating correctly and when I stopped taking Agnus Castus and the vitamin B complex.

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I'm off to the continent in a few days and the humidity rate is dramatically different (about 30% against 70% where I live). This is actually another thing I forgot to mention in my first post. Everytime I have been back home (home is where I come from not where I live!) my skin got worse. The water is much harder and the weather so dry I can't keep my skin moisturized properly (even with the multi oil serum).

Also I'd be quite interested if anyone was intending to try my regimen and let me know how it goes. It's very easy to follow, very gentle and cheap too!

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Good quality sleep helps my skin clearing (I don't know how but it's true)

yeah, proper sleep is probably the most important part of my routine... and the hardest to stay committed to...

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