I was fortunate to go through puberty with minimal acne. My skin has always been good to me and I thought I was just blessed genetically, until last January. Out of nowhere I started getting the worst cystic acne ever. It did a lot to my self-esteem, but worse than that, it was excruciatingly painful. They were so deep and tender that little things even like accidentally bumping one while reaching up to adjust my hair would have me wincing and holding back tears. Not exaggerating. I examined my diet, my sleep, my stress levels... everything you can think of. Finally, come May I went to the dermatologist and now my biggest regret is not going sooner!
This is hands down the most difficult post I've ever shared on here. Since re-designing and relaunching my blog in January, I've made a very conscious effort to open up and be more personal on here. I noticed that all my favorite bloggers are so good at opening up, and that's what makes them so intriguing and fun to follow! That being said, everything I've opened up about has been through text from behind my keyboard. But you know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so sharing these photos of what my skin looked like last May is such a vulnerable feeling for me. OK enough build up... here goes nothing!
(lol at how dark my eyebrows were right after I got them microbladed here)
I want to detail the exact skincare routine my dermatologist put me on that got me totally acne free (and my skin is even better now than before this all started) within 4 months! I still have some scarring, which we're working on fading, but overall my skin has never looked better!
So a few of the items I added to my skincare routine were prescribed by my dermatologist. Of course I can't link these and you'll need a prescription to get them (that's if your doctor even decides this is the right option for you), but I think these had the most impact on my skin out of everything, so I wanted to share what I was put on.
This is what I credit for making the biggest difference for my skin! My acne was hormonal, so I was expecting my dermatologist to put me on birth control, which I really did not want to start taking. I'm so grateful Spironolactone exists instead! It is a diuretic and steroid that has estrogen-like affects and blocks some testosterone. If your acne is hormonal (cystic, and along your cheeks and chin), and if you've ever noticed you get the occasional random chin hair, this medication will probably be great for you! It helps regulate hormones, but it's not as extreme as BC. Spironolactone is also used to help people who retain too much water, so if BC made you gain weight and you're only using it for acne, getting off and switching to spiro could help you shed some extra weight! Note that it does take about 3 months to kick in, so be patient if you don't see results right away.
This is an antibiotic which has been so good for my acne, however I've heard it's not recommended for long-term use. For the first 6 months I was taking 100mg a day, then I dropped down to 75mg for 3 months, and after having a good reaction to that I was lowered again to 50mg, which I'm currently taking daily. I haven't noticed any acne coming back since going down to 50mg so I'm hoping we can keep weaning me off since I really don't want to keep taking an antibiotic forever.
This is a topical cream that's also an antibiotic. I've been on this 10 months now and I love that it doesn't dry me out at all the way that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid do. I put this all over my face after cleansing/toning morning and night, and I feel so much better about being on this long-term than I do the oral medication! Not sure if having it topical makes it even any healthier than an oral medication, but in my mind it is?? Any doctors/nurses out there are welcome to comment on this theory!
Mario Badescu - Whitening Mask
This is what I've been using to fade my acne scars and I seriously love it!!! I notice a difference instantly.
Avène - Clean-Ac Cleanser & Glossier - Milky Jelly Cleanser
My dermatologist specifically recommended the Avène cleanser, but I just love the Glossier one soooo much that I had to use that one too. I now alternate between the two every night, which I heard is actually better because your skin won't get immune to a specific product.
Mario Badescu - Facial Spray
Love this because if my skin starts feeling dry it's so easy to refresh it without having to touch my face and transfer any bacteria!
Exuviance - CoverBlend Concealer
Best concealer ever! My derm also recommended this one, because it's designed to work as a spot treatment and concealer in one. It dries out your acne as you wear it so my skin looks even better after I take it off! I use the shade medium.
Mario Badescu - Cellufirm Drops
This serum doesn't help with acne at all, but I like it because it makes my skin feel super glowy after using all these different drying products so often.
I linked to my 3 favorite moisturizers above, because I seriously can't pick a number 1! All of these are water-based, so if you have oily skin or struggle with too much sebum production, avoiding oil-based moisturizers can be really helpful in getting acne under control.
Lastly, I didn't link a BB cream because there are so many I really love (if I had to pick a favorite it's probably the Bali Body BB Cream, but be forewarned that one is really sheer!) The first thing my dermatologist ever told me was that with my type of acne, I basically need to completely give up liquid foundation. Like, for life. It's just too thick and doesn't let my skin breathe, and I really think switching to just a BB cream and using concealer on anything that doesn't get enough coverage has been a total game changer.
Long story short, if you're dealing with any type of acne, go see a dermatologist ASAP! I put it off for 5 months thinking I could fix it with my diet or by getting enough sleep, when it turns out my acne wasn't caused by those at all. If you're in Orange County, CA I highly recommend Dr. Cheryl Effron in Anaheim Hills!
Also, please let me know in the comments if you have any good ways of fading acne scars and pigmentation! I have my breakouts under control now, but the scarring still drives me crazy! Ugh.