Acne Treatment and Solutions
I suffered from acne for over a decade and nothing-NOTHING-helped. I tried every over the counter cream, pad, gel, you name it. I tried Proactiv. I was afraid of accutane, and retin-A helped a bit after months of use, but without health insurance it was too much of a drain on my short funds. Finally I read the book The Acne Cure, and, combined with internet research, I created a system that works for me. I have been clear of acne for over 4 years now (except for the occasional pimple) and it has been commented on numerous times by people who've known me for years. I feel better and my skin looks great. Everyone is different, but I hope this information can help others-no one should have to suffer with acne! Here is what works for me.
Wash with 2% salicylic acid face wash
I found that using a benzoyl peroxide face wash is sort of pointless, as most of the medicine gets washed away. Salicylic acid actually works with the water to loosen nodes in your pores. Add a few drops of water and gently rub the face wash into your skin for at least a minute, then rinse with tepid water. I use Neutrogena Face Wash, but there are a ton of options out there with the same 2% formula that should work.
8%-10% glycolic acid
Glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, is often used in anti-wrinkle creams, as it encourages skin renewal and promotes the shedding of the top layer of dead skin. Because acne is caused by the blockage of pores with oil (sebum) and dead skin, encouraging the sloughing off of dead skin helps prevent its accumulation on the surface of your face, and therefore, the blockage of your pores. It also stimulates your cells to make collagen and elastin fibers, and over time can help with any scarring. Over the past few years, many of my scars have vanished or become minimized, possibly aided by the daily use of glycolic acid. And it is derived from sugar cane, so is completely natural! I use Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion or their mousse, which are about $12-$16 here in the states, but there are plenty of options that would work just as well.
SPF 15 at least!
If you're using glycolic acid (and really, even if you're not) you need to use a sunblock with SPF 15 or higher. Be sure to get an oil-free, noncomedogenic one so you're not treating your acne and then blocking your pores with mineral oil or something. There are plenty of options now that skin cancer awareness is so high. I use Oil of Olay Complete All Day Moisture Lotion, SPF 15. If I'm going to the beach or the park where I'll be in the sun all day, I bring it with me to reapply.
That's it for the morning! Make sure your make-up, if you wear it, is oil-free and noncomedogenic.
Benzoyl Peroxide 2%
Wash with 2% salicylic acid face wash (same as Morning)
2% Benzoyl Peroxide
The percentage of benzoyl peroxide in your night lotion is VERY important. Many over the counter creams are 10% strength-this is too much and will irritate your skin. It sounds good-stronger must mean it's better, right? But studies have found that 2% is just as effective as 10% with much less irritation, which means less redness and flare-ups. It is important not to skimp on the cream, but slather it on, concentrating on each area of your face until it is absorbed. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find lotions with 2% strength. I buy mine online here, which costs about $20 with shipping, but it lasts a couple months.
This is SO IMPORTANT!! Drying your skin out encourages clogged pores and irritation. Once the benzoyl peroxide has dried, replace everything you've taken out with a good, oil-free, noncomedogenic (see the theme here?) moisturizer. I recently started using Burt's Bees Radiant Night Cream, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone who is just getting their acne under control, as it is heavy (but I'm older than I used to be!). There are, again, a wide variety of options for moisturizer, so find the one that works for you.
That's it! Remember that the skin you'll see in a month is already underneath the skin you're seeing right now, so you probably won't see instant results, but you should see gradual clearing as you stick with the program. Be patient and stick with it!
- Icing a breakout can actually help. Just as you ice a swollen, inflamed sprained ankle, icing a swollen, inflamed pimple eases pain, reduces redness, and lessens the swelling. There is also a tendency for the skin to get clogged around an already existing pimple (so unfair isn't it?), because the swelling of the pimple causes a compression of the surrounding pores, causing them to become more easily blocked. Icing a pimple will help prevent this sort of spreading of a breakout.
- If you have oily skin, avoid packing on a bunch of powder to control shine. Oil blotting papers are great, inexpensive ways to control shine, and don't introduce a bunch of new materials to the surface of your skin to clog your pores. The best blotting papers I've found are the Papier Poudre, which contain a touch of powder.
- Be aware of face touching-this goes for hair, hands, and phones. If you wear your hair over your face, wash it regularly. Some of us tend to absentmindedly touch our faces a lot-the oil from your hands gets on your face and voila, breakout! Try to be aware if you do this. And if you're on the phone, be aware if the receiver is touching your face and hold it away. Many people rest the phone against their faces when they talk, and this can cause pimples to erupt in that area.
- For tips on over-the-counter scar treatments and preventing scars, read the Over-The-Counter Acne Scar Treatment hub.
- For natural acne solutions, check out the Natural Acne Solutions hub.