It's been a long time since I've posted anything on here, and trust me, that's a good thing. I find that this place has a wealth of good information, but with that, comes a great amount of disinformation. Factless claims based on little scientific evidence, and a lot of inflated paranoia when it comes to the dangers of certain acne treatments. But I guess that comes with the territory, and it's certainly outweighed by the DIY attitude and at home experimentation that has brought about many valuable remedies to our condition.
Like my massive thread on Niacin -
To this day I still get emails from people thanking me for clearing them up, and that warms my heart. As for myself, Niacin was only a temporary fix and did not completely clear my acne. Two cycles of Accutane haven't even gotten me to that point, but I will say Accutane has put a large dent on my overeactive sebaceous glands. I'd recommend it to anyone with not just acne, but problems with oily skin. And I'm not talking about the oily skin you hear repeated in cosmetic commercials, if you notice that members of your family have had terrible breakouts and problems with too much oil, then you should shrink your oil glands by going on Accutane. No questions asked.
But there are things you can try before hopping on the tane train, and these treatments that are keeping me clear after getting stubborn breakouts even post-Accutane. Most of these have been talked about on the forum, some even discovered on here, but I think I may be one of the only people to use them all in combination with each other which is why I'm writing this for everyone today. Below I've sorted and outlined what they are and why I use them.
Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo - that's right. I wash my face with shampoo. It's become common knowledge around here that H&S is great for back and body acne, but people have largely avoided applying it on their face. I wash my face with this stuff at least twice if not three times a day. It dries my skin up a lot, but not to the point where it hurts and cracks like slathering on a finger length of BP (now THAT's crazy). H&S makes my skin feel tight, and you'll definitely get dry spots when you start using it, but that fades away over time. I wash my hair with it so I just let the suds sit over my face when I shower, it's super easy and convenient, and I'd say it's the best cleanser for acne prone skin.
I also have to note here that I largely avoid moisturizers. To me, oil is oil, and the notion that your face has some oil regulation system that goes into overdrive if you wash your skin too much is just another disproven myth.
Natrol Cholesterol Balance Beta Sitosterol - take 1-2 a day. I'd be willing to put money on high-doses of Beta Sitosterol being able to completely clear most cases of acne. The problem is that it really messes with your sex drive because it works on DHT-testosterone conversion which will make you less horny, but also much less oily and prone to breakouts. I prefer to keep the sex and stay on the low-end while treating my acne through other avenues, if anything it just makes me last longer. Out of all the vitamins/supplements known for treating acne, this one is the most serious, and the most effective. This is not something you should take if your acne is mild and isn't hereditary.
Dan's AHA+ - by far the best product on the site. The 10% concentration of glycolic acid (AHA) let's you use it everyday, so you can repeatedly exfoliate your skin. It's also a great moisturizer without being an actual moisturizer, in conjunction with H&S it takes care of the dry spots and greatly improves the quality of your skin. I highly recommend using these two together, they compliment each other perfectly, and you might get limited results by choosing one or the other.
AHA Peel - peels are mostly intended for red marks and scarring, but they also treat acne as well by effectively turning over your skin. Clogged pores and acne are caused by an abnormal shedding of skin cells. You need to keep up with your skins shedding by exfoliating the crap out of it. I do a 30% AHA peel once a week and AHA+ daily (skipping on the day of the peel of course).
Shaving - a lot of people are afraid of shaving, but if you do it right, it's another great way of exfoliating. I shave every day with a two blade disposable going WITH the grain. Sometimes if I pop a pimple I might even go over it with a razor to prep the wound and slough off the dead skin around it. Shaving is a great way of smoothing out and cleaning the top layer of your skin so your pores won't clog and break out.
My approach to treating acne is based on the assumption that EVERYONE has a face filled with bacteria. The only difference between a person like me and someone who has never broken out in their life is that I have overeactive sebaceous glands that are very sensitive to hormone levels. That's why treatments centered around killing bacteria never work, it will always come back because it's natural for bacteria to be on your face. So the focus is on reducing oil and exfoliating the skin to stop it before it even begins to start. I find that doing all the above tackles all of these issues, and if they don't keep you reasonably clear, I'd highly consider pulling the trigger and going on Accutane.