I never had problems with acne until my twenties. In high school I had some blackheads here and there, but nothing to the extreme I experienced after my 22nd birthday. A couple years ago, I had ear to ear acne that stretched along my jaw line. I'm not talking about little white heads, I had giant red cysts that no amount of make up could truly cover. Not to mention painful! Sometimes my acne hurt so bad, just getting dressed made me want to cry. This went on for at least 2 years.
I tried expensive cosmetic products like Dermatologica and Peter Thomas Roth. I tried every spot corrector on the planet, I washed my face multiple times a day, and I tried every homemade goop you could imagine (eggs, avocado, honey, cayenne, olive oil, oatmeal etc...).
After literally trying everything I knew, a doctor asked me what kind of makeup I used. Turns out my Bare Mineral makeup was a huge part of the problem. I stopped using Bare Minerals and any mineral make up for that matter. I switched to Physicians Formula which is much cheaper anyways! The doctor told me the more natural the makeup, the less risk of break outs. However, just changing my makeup didn't entirely fix the problem. After I got my insurance up and going, I was able to go to a dermatologist, who shared some very insightful knowledge with me.
Mr. Dermatologist enlightened me on the fact that you should never have to spend tons of money on something you are just going to wash off your face, so $40 on face wash is essentially stupid. He told me to wash with a sensitive face wash (I recommend Basis, Aveeno or Olay), he gave me a topical antibiotic to use twice a day and oral antibiotics. The doctor informed me that you have to take the oral antibiotics for at least 8 weeks!! I had never taken them longer than 4 weeks prior to. He also told me to go get a spot treatment with no less than 10% Benzoyl Peroxide and any generic brand would do.
I followed this regiment: Spot cream 2x day, topical antibiotic 2x and oral antibiotics 2x day for 4 weeks. My acne did improve but wasn't 100% better. The Doc then had to give me cortisone shots in my cystic acne to break up the bacteria.. ouch! He also gave me a tube of Adapalene... I still have no idea what it is, but it helps! ..... and I continued with the other regiment above. After 8-10 weeks I was finally feeling better about my skin (that was last year). My skin is still not great, but it is much better than it was 3 years ago. I still get hormonal break outs, I still get the occasional cystic acne, but it's much more manageable. I have listed some of the things I have learned along my acne journey below, please feel free to share some of your tips. This is a trial and error problem and I am all ears for new solutions!!
2. Wash with cold water. Like I said before when you wash your face you are smearing dirt and make up into your pores. If you wash with cold water then your pores will not open as much, thus keeping extra gunk out of them.
3. Exfoliate, but not too much. Everyone is different, but I like to exfoliate at least once a week. If you over exfoliate, you can irritate your skin and cause more harm than good. I personally love the exfoliating gloves because you can use your regular cleanser and you can use them to exfoliate your whole body!
4. Wash your make up brushes weekly! I am so bad about this step, but it is so helpful! Your make up brushes harbor tons of bacteria, wash them often! Click the image to see how to clean your brushes.
5. Change your sheets and pillow cases! There was one time when I changed my pillow case every night. When you sleep, you sweat and then you lay right back in all that bacteria the next night. I think changing your pillow case/sheets weekly is really helpful.
6. Makeup with an SPF can cause more breakouts. I know we all need sunblock, but the foundations that come with an SPF have a tenancy to make you break out more. Try using a lightweight water based sunblock and then putting on a foundation without an SPF. (Also told to me by aesthetician)
7. Don't pick, don't even touch your face! I am such a picker, I love to pick my face, it's a terrible habit! Picking causes scars, it exacerbates break outs and your fingers have a ton of bacteria that you are essentially redepositing on your face. If you have cystic acne and you pick it, my dermatologist compared it to an iceberg. When you push and squeeze on the cyst, you might get it to pop, but your also making it explode under the skin. Trying to squeeze a cyst will just spread the bacteria under your skin! Click the image below to see how to stop picking your face!
I also found this fun diagram on Pinterest and it tells you why you have the acne where you have it! It's pretty interesting with tips to help your problem areas :)
Please feel free to share your own solutions with me too!