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21 And My Consistent Struggle With Acne - Naperville, IL

I have been struggling with acne since puberty. My...

I have been struggling with acne since puberty. My first battle with acne ended with pitted scars on my cheeks, temples, and jawline. I have used a plethora of creams, face washes, and oral medications, including Accutane. I started using Retin-A Micro .04% once a day on 2/5/14, along with using Cephalexin 500mg, twice daily. It has been a little over a week of using it and I have noticed some dryness around my nose and chin area, but not too bad. I have also started breaking out a lot on the lower half of my face including the front and back of my neck. Hopefully this is just the purging process. Fingers crossed.

2 Weeks In And My Results Thus Far

My acne is far from cleared up but I have noticed that the small spots come and go quickly. I'll have spots at night and by morning they are around 75% cleared up. I am still experiencing major purging in the areas that I normally get acne, but also on the corners of my nose and forehead. The cystic acne on the right side of my face and neck is clearing up gradually but there seems to be way more cystic acne sprouting up on the left side of my face and neck, which is quite uncomfortable. I can't wait to get past this part of the treatment! Is there any cleansers, toners, moisturizers, etc. that anyone would recommend? Specifically something that helps ease dryness and tones down breakouts.

6 Weeks In And My Results Are..

Well it's been a few weeks since I last updated my review and I have to say that not much has changed. I'm still breaking out on the bottom half of my face. Still have very deep cysts on my cheeks, jawline, and neck. I am still using Retin-A Micro every night because it hasn't made me overly dry. I heard about the oil cleansing method so I have started washing my face at night with a castor oil/sunflower seed oil mixture and I just wash my face with water in the morning. I noticed that since I started doing this cleansing that my dry spots from the Retin-A are not as dry and the oil on my face does not get as bad throughout the day. I just want to be done with the purging process already, but I'm going to stick with it for now.

Over 3 Months In.

Just a quick update. Skin is looking absolutely horrendous. I'm to the point where I don't want to go out in public and I want to call into work everyday. I have made a dermatologist appointment to see what else they can do. A little background information: I can't be on birth control to help with my hormonal acne; why? I have a history of blood clots. Back on track now.. I got to the point where it was bearable to put Retin A Micro on my face every night, but then my face started to break out in spots where I don't normally get anything like my forehead and n

3 Months In Continued.

And nose. So I started going every other day and still no change. Forever burdened by acne.
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What else are you using on your skin atm? Describe your daily skincare routine
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I use CeraVe Daily Hydrating Cleanser at night and just wash my face with water in the morning. I've been using Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 during the day and Aveeno Night Cream. Any new suggestions are welcome!
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Dont worry about it all too much your skin really isnt as bad as you think. Youre really pretty! You are also very lucky to have freckles because then if you do get any scars or hyperpigmentation it isnt as visible. You seem to have the typical hormonal acne around your cheeks and chin have you checked for anyhormonal abnormalities that may be causing it?
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Currently I am just using The retin a every night. Sometimes I apply a cream afterwards but it seems to work better if I don't. I moisturize in the morning however and throughout the day if I look flakey. I like using Savlon antiseptic healing cream on inflamed areas and just in general I like to apply a thin layer on my face and let it dry naturally. It feels better than applying a normal cream because I know it won't give me spots (it will prevent infection and promote healing) only disadvantage it may not be super moisturizing and it contains alcohol but had minimal ingredients and works fine so ill stick with using it. I know that when you have breakout youre suppise to use non comodogenic water based creams but they just never moisturize me enough like a slightly greasy cream would
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I'm sure you've heard this, but chin acne tends to be hormonal acne, especially if they are cysts. I didn't read every comment on this thread, but if you haven't tried birth control, it could really help. I've had a lot of luck with ortho tri cyclen (or the generic) but not other kinds. Do you have any symptoms of PCOS other than acne? Just a thought!
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I've struggled with acne since I was 11 years old (and I'm 24). My doctor gave me minocyclen and it has totally cleared my skin up. It took about a month but with a combo of retin-a, I'm actually excited every morning to see no gross blemishes. I would definitely try it if you haven't!
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At night, should you wash your face, wait for it to dry and then apply the tretinoin/retin a followed by your moisturizer. Or can you wash, moisturize AND THEN apply tretinoin. My skin is uncomfortably dry and I really hate sitting around waiting for it to fully dry before applying tretinoin. Also, this is week 7 of therapy for me. My chin is HORRIBLE, absolutely horrible and far worse than it's every been. It's been practically peeling off and I only use tretinoin every other day. Am I doing something wrong. I try to use only a small amount. I have to admit that I have been picking at it. It's just flakey that I want to scrub or peel it all off. HELP!
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I know its best to get a prescription but the ones I order are great and work fine. The ones I order are a-ret by invida which is produced in india where you dont need prescription for tretinoin
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Be careful not to keep switching products and trying different stuff. You have to stay consistent or your skin will go crazy. I used to do that. I'd try this then that then something else & would constantly break out. It took me about 4 solid months of being on the same routine before my skin cleared and now stays about 90% clear. Be patient, let your skin heal itself. Don't over wash either that just dries it out. Don't scrub, it aggravates acne & makes it worse. Believe me I speak only from experience.
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Hey kcd75 thats some good advice. Is there anything else you'd recommend for prevention of acne as well as keeping the skin healthy and balanced? Any favorite products? What about cleansing techniques? I often feel like its not as much about what you do but how you do it that makes the difference. Would you agree?
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Oh an patience. That's the key issue with us skin maniacs isnt it! We want immediate results! We lack the patience but that is the key to getting results
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I wash gently & pat dry. One thing I try not to do anymore is obsess. Like tonight, I came home from work, looked in the mirror to see a nice new one pop up on my forehead. I have to ignore it or I'll keep looking in the mirror. When we obsess, we stress and that leads to more. We (@ least I do) stare in the mirror all the time noticing every flaw & stressing about it. I've noticed when I just ignore my face & stay busy I don't touch it or pick & it stays clearer. I'm a 40 yr old mom & I don't have time to deal with breakouts. But, I wish I'd known 20-25 yrs ago what I know now about taking care of my skin & my complexion would probably look a lot better today. So I hope I can help somebody somehow.
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Thanks! You have helped me. I suffer from mild acne but I know its not the acne thats the problem its me thats the problem! When I think about it every little scar I have left from acne was actually preventable. If only I knew back then that picking at skin (especially with your nails) canfo so much damage. You only realize when you catch your reflection in a really strong natural light. Do you have any scars/ indents from acne? And would you say they were preventable?
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So I read all of these comments and they touched me. Here is my story and I hope it helps you. I will also give you some advice on how to take care of your skin and trust me, it will work. I have done a lot of research on skincare/went to college/and suffered with acne since I was 19. At the age of 19, I started breaking out heavily. I did not what to do. I tried every acne medication from Differin to all sorts of prescribed medications (all were prescribed). I even tried oils such as the jojoba method (just that with nothing else, maybe cetaphil wash occasionally, before putting on my oil). It did work, I cleared up, but my skin became dry and I broke out occasionally. Jojoba is a great oil to just get rid of acne, but it can be drying and cause your skin to be prone to scarring, TRUSTTTTT ME. It works, don't get me wrong, but it is not something to use for a lifetime. It is a temporary trick. Anyways, Tthe thing I did not know, however, is that I was not moisturizing! I was using all these harsh products, and I lacked a simple, basic moisturizer that any derm would advise. That is the most single important thing when it comes to any skincare routine. People think adding all these extra ingredients will get rid of wrinkles or scars, but it wont! The only thing proven to rid scars and wrinkles is Retin-A or ascorbic acid (used in a proper dosage and never ever together or in the same routine!) or laser treatments. Anyways, I am getting off of topic. Follow this routine and you will stay with it for years to come. I finally have great skin. I had some pitted scars and red marks, but all of it looks superficial now due to my routine. You can hardly notice that I suffered from acne, sure I have some marks, but you literally need to get real close to see it. My boyfriend doesn't even believe I had severe acne. He says I look like a doll and people at work say I look so young for 24 years old. So here is my routine (and Ps tell your derm about it and I'm sure he will agree, all of what I'm going to give you Is from their office): Morning: Wash very gently with Cetaphil Gentle Wash with luke warm water, Do not rub, just clean very slowly and gently because you are a retin-a user, your skin is sensitive now and prone to marking easily. Then pat dry very slowly and lightly. After your cleanser, use a pea size of Eucerin Original Healing Crème. A little extra can be added if your dry. Remember the key is to moisturize, but too much product is never ever good! Your skin is the largest organ in your body, it's meant to heal itself as well. So be gentle, and light with the wash and crème. Night: Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (again be gentle, use minimal product). After that wait forty minutes.Then add a pea size of retin-a, only a pea-size, less is better. Then wait forty minutes, and add a pea size of vanicream healing ointment. The trick to this routine is using a pea size of everything, or a marble of Eucerin Original Healing Crème since that is a moisturizing. If you use more than a pea size of anything, you will need more wash to wipe it off, and that will burn and upset your skin!!!! You are now on retin-a! Cut out anything that is drying- from oils to alpha creams/wash. Any derm would tell you that when you are on retin-a you need to keep it simple, and just trusttttttttttttttt the medication. Be patient as well. it will work. There has been tons of studies that it works. You may be wondering....wait oils dry your skin out? Yes they do! Castor oil is actually very drying if you research it. It's a great oil for people with oily skin, it can clear them. Grapeseed is also very drying, it is a great toner. It got rid of my acne marks (superficial ones). But you need to pick which side you are on, if you're on retin-a, you need to throw all that out, mixing things will burn your skin and upset it. If you want to be on the oil side, I can also give you great advice on how to use the oils. I only like Jojoba and grapeseed. Those are amazing oils, if used correctly, but like I said, if you are on retin-a, they are terrible for your skin, they will only dry you out, and possibly scar your skin. Anyway, I hope I helped. Sorry for the long post haha!
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I also forgot to mention, if you decide to use oils, you cannot use it until about three months or so. Retin-a has made your skin sensitive and dry, these oils act like toners/astringents. A derm would tell you that you cannot and I mean cannot use astringents while on retin-a. That includes oils, toners, ascorbic acid, alpha creams/lotions. Retin-a is very strong so just use the products I said: Cetaphil Gentle Cleansor, Eucerin Original Healing Crème, and vanicream ointment (it is really called Vaniply). it is a heavy duty ointment that will get rid of those flakes. But remember, a little goes a long way for every single product. keep these tips in mind: Use less, Be gentle, never rub, and that goes for every single product including Eucerin Original Healing Crème and your Vaniply. I cant stress it enough, be gentle. Hell, don't even let people touch your face, your face is going to be soooo sensitive for about a year. You need to take real good care of it. And one more thing, if you go out in the sun, use Vanicream spf 50. You must use sunscreen on retin-A!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! only if you're going to be outside for a long time (more than twenty five minutes). Retin-a makes your skin more sensitive to the sunlight, a common misconception is that you are allergic to the sun now! No, that is false. Your skin is dry therefore, it shouldn't be near the drying sun. That's really what it is. Also, everyone knows that the sun contributes to 90 percent of your wrinkles. So sun isn't good anyways. Hope this helps!
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Thanks for sharing!! Would love to see this in a review!! 
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Thanks for the tip Natasha
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Tips* some great advice there I definitely agree a little goes a long way and being gentle is key
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Take this from someone who's 40 & has struggled with acne since 15. I swear by retin a. I did go thru a 2 week phase where I broke out terribly. Then it cleared up. I wash my face in morning with warm water only. In the eve I was with lukewarm water & on Obagi Nuderm foaming gel. 30 min after I put a small amt of.01 retin a all over face. 30 min later I put on neova night therapy. Oh in the morning I use neova day therapy SPF 30 before applying Jane Iredale loose powder. I only get 1 or 2 pimples now & then. I have used EVERY product out there. EVERY!! This has been the only thing that's remotely helped. People with acne must moisturize. The drier your skin gets the harder it works to produce oil so balance is the key. When you use acne products that dry out your skin, make sure you moisturize. Also, I take b5 in the form of pantothenic acid every day. It really helps keep acne at bay. Drink your water too. Good luck and God bless... Acne sucks no doubt.
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Hello, i was wondering what amount you used for your entire face when your acne was severe? I think i have over done it, my chinn and upper neck parts are kind of irritated/burned. Some advice please, i will gladly appreciate it.
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Less is definitely more with retin a. I barely use an amount the size of my pinky nail on my entire face & jaw. Something else I have been on for 2 years that I swear by is diamond herpanacine supplements. Google it. I take 5-6 every day & I never get a cystic pimple anymore only the occasional whitehead or blackhead. Got to keep your insides pure to have clear skin so watch your diet & take your vitamins . I also go about every 6 wks & get a salicylic acid chem peel or a microdermabrasion. Those help a lot. It's work to be clear but I'm guessing as long as there are hormones in my body I'll have to deal with fighting acne. I too was left with some mild pitted scarring I the cheeks. I've had several lasers to try & correct. It's better now than it was years ago but still visible in some lights. I think we're more critical of ourselves than others I know I'm terribly insecure about my skin and I'm 40. Hang in there.
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Thank you for your reply, I will try :)
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Thank you for your reply, I will try :)
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@kcd75 can I ask you about something? Ive been using retin a on my entire face apart from my nose because I was afraid that it would widen my pores and give me a really pimply nose during the 'purging' stage as ive got quitr a lot of blackheads there. I worry about this because I put retin a on my forehead where I have/ had couple of small blackheads and it has sort of widened the clogged pore and made the spot inside feel dry and scab-like. Is this normal? Because the pores have been looking like this for a while. The tops seem to shed a bit but the area still looks like it has a blackhead inside. Does that just mean theyre deep and will take longer to come out? Also im afraid that when it gets itchy ill scratch it and rip the scab like spots and cause an indent because atm theyre all sort of half way out half way still inside the skin
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Choklitvomit- I've never had that problem with retin a. I do use it on my nose & I get a lot of blackheads. Every now again I'll get a whitehead on my nose but not from the retin a just oily zone. If I were you I'd go get a microdermabrasion. That helps with scabby pimples and helps suck up blackheads. Microdermabrasion also helps the retin a absorb better into your skin .
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