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I get lots of compliments on my skin in my photos. I got told yesterday on my latest set how nice it was. I won't ever deny it; I use photoshop to take out distracting blemishes, but for the most part, my skin is how you see it. I wanted to go into a bit more depth on how I got to this place. This journal may get a bit gross at times, just sayin'

My skin was not always baby-smooth. Throughout my teenage years I had what is known as cystic acne.  Life was depressing. I can't say which kind of acne is worse, all-over surface type, or one single giant zit-from-hell in the middle of your forehead. I had the second kind. I was extremely self-concious, and I wouldn't have dared to take stock photos had I not found a way to clear up my skin. Day-to-day, I took my stress out by picking at my skin. You can't see it in my photos now, but I do have some permanent damage from skin-picking. It's a reminder that self-harm is self-harm. You don't have to be taking a razorblade to your wrists to be damaging your body.

It's also a reminder for me to tell you: Put your hands away! Sit on them if you have to! Walk away from the mirror! Smash it if you have to! But leave your skin alone! It's not trying to hurt you, so stop trying to hurt it! DO. NOT. PICK. AT. IT.

While I was reading article upon article about what was causing my acne and what might work to treat it, I learned about the different types. I learned that my acne was:

Hormonal caused by my own body's hormones telling it to be all crazy-like and produce way too much oil.

Stress-related oh, joy, stress-related acne that causes more stress!

Cystic Acne The largest and most painful kind. These weren't little blackheads that could be covered with make-up or spots that would fade away after a few days. No, I had the kind that took weeks to develop, were painful without even touching them, and even caused headaches when they were near the top of my head.

I got them pretty much anywhere on my face, sometimes around my ears, neck and shoulders, but mostly around my nose and chin. That's female hormonal acne for you! So I wanted better skin, and I wanted it FAST. It was all down to developing a plan now.

Step one of better skin is to leave it the hell alone.

Step two is to try to figure out what's causing it. It took a lot of research on my part to have that aha-moment and find the type of acne that best fit what I was having. Causes can range anywhere from environmental pollution, to allergic reactions, to hormones, bacteria, fungal infection, or even washing your face too much.

Step three is to figure out how severe your acne is. Blackheads? Small whiteheads? Large? Surface acne or under-the-skin nodes? Is it just one area of your body is it all over? Since the main area of my own acne was my chin, I figured out that it was hormonal, and actually rather common in women.

Step four is figuring out what you would like to try to solve the problem. Remember, acne has no cure. only treatments.

What didn't work for me

This doesn't mean the things I mention won't work for anyone, but they didn't work for me. I'll explain why.

Switching cleansers It didn't matter if it was for acne, made by a certain company, or cheap, or expensive or anti-bacterial. No amount of soap or scrub or cleanser would fix the acne I had. It was too deep under my skin, and the anti-bacterial properties didn't penetrate to where the problem was. All I did was dry my skin out so I had massive lumps and dry, itchy skin. Beautiful.

Changing my pillow case every night This can actually work wonders for people who have surface-related acne. Of course that fabric we put our head on for several hours a night is going to get dirt and bacteria on it. And it makes sense. If you have a shower and then go to bed, you're just rubbing that bacteria right back into your skin. It didn't work for me because my problem was below my skin.

Changing my diet Again, this can work wonders. If you have the patience to try something extreme, and are fed up with a lack of results, try going one or two months eliminating certain foods from your diet. The top culprits that I know of are 1 – Dairy products 2 – Wheat / gluten and 3 – Eggs. Yeah, it's the basic form of all food, I know. But if you're determined enough, you may find you have an allergy to these things. If it IS true, well, you're kinda boned if you love those foods.

washing more frequently / scrubbing lots Just.... don't.

There were also a few things that I'll never really know if they worked or not, but I keep doing because they're just good things to do.

Avoid stress and don't pick. In other words, stop making things worse. ;P Acne isn't the end of the world. We all hate it, but it won't kill you.

Pumpkin seeds Some people say they help a lot, some, nothing. Pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, and raw ones are best. They are also delicious.

Fish Oil I take fish oil regularly as a source of Omegas. They supposedly promote healthy skin and memory. Again, reviews on these are mixed. I keep taking fish oil because for me it also seems to regulate my stress level and short-term memory. It might be a placebo, but I do it anyway.

What finally DID work for me

Oral Ethinylestradeol. Also known as Birth Control. Politics aside, it works for women for hormonal acne especially. For some, slightly. for others, magically. I like to think of it as "Cure for acne! Side effects – Infertility". Sorry guys, no miracle pill cure for you. ;P However, men sometimes respond better to...

Topical Retinol
Retinol is a strange cure, and almost worthy of its own post. The best I can describe it is "Bottled Sunburn". It's a chemical treatment that does two things:

1) It kills your skin
2) It grows your skin

When you first start putting it on, it gently warms your whole face. Then, three days later, an entire layer of skin falls off. And I don't mean "softly exfoliates away into a washcloth" I mean YOUR FACE IS PEELING OFF IN PENNY / QUARTER-SIZED CHUNKS. The top layer of your skin is falling away, and the more you use retinol, the more it will remove dead and surface layers of skin. This kinda frees up your lower layers of skin to grow faster and healthier. It also pushes ALL of the zits that were hiding below your skin to the top. Initial breakout? Oh, yes. The good news is that after two weeks of hell, your skin peeling away in thin, chemically-sunburned chunks and the breakout of doom that is a month's worth of acne at once, you're free to start healing. Ready, set, eat good foods and wear sunscreen.

Because you need to look out for actual sunburn. Retinol thins your skin layers, so your skin is tender and very susceptible to UV rays. No matter how greasy you think it is, sunscreen is a must at all times on retinol. Otherwise you are a walking lobster, and sun damage makes acne scars a lot more permanent and a lot worse. Don't worry, though, the initial breakout a freaky skin peeling go away after a while. Then retinol just works regularly.

Retinol helped me a lot by thinning my skin layers. Part of my problem with hormonal acne was that my blemishes were deep under layers of skin. They got all painful and infected because the zit was, well, like an ingrown hair. It had nowhere to go. Retinol helped push all of the bad stuff up to the surface, and then prevented new blemishes from getting so bad in the first place.

Anti-bacterial Sunscreen This was just a cream that my doctor prescribed alongside retinol. They go hand-in-hand. The cream helps clear up bactera infections in pores, and the sunscreen means you don't have to worry so much about exposure.

It took a long time to be able to see a dermatologist for these prescriptions. I had to wait several months. However, the trip was simple, and the doc took one look at my face and handed me the two prescriptions. Neither were covered by insurance, but honestly, they're not that expensive and both tubes last a while. The Retinol was about $15 while the ABsunscreen was around $25. They lasted for half a year. Not a bad price for either.

Both of these prescriptions took at least two weeks to seem like they were doing anything at all, and my skin got worse before it got better. I only noticed actual "improvement" about 2 1/2 to 3 months into treatment. My best advice is to be patient with a treatment. It needs time to start working, and many people cut a working treatment short because of the initial breakout. Unless something is going horribly, horribly wrong, you need to try a treatment for at least a month, if not two before you stop or switch, and you need to be consistent while you do it.

So, for a treatment like diet, if you're going dairy-free, you can't just go dairy-free for a day or two. You need to be dedicated, read labels on anything and hold yourself to it to see if you're allergic. If you mess up and have a milkshake, then suddenly have a huge breakout the next day, at least you can be more sure that dairy is what's causing it. Don't freak out if you miss an evening of your regimen or forget to take a pill. Just be the most consistent and patient you can.

Eventually I stopped using both retinol and the ABsunscreen after about six months of continuous nightly application. This was about enough time to completely grow a new layer of skin. What's great about growing skin faster is that my surface scars helped fade as well. After the six months, I just didn't feel like I need such a strong cure anymore.

EDITED TO ADD:

If it helps to picture it, think of your skin like a conveyor belt. On the very inside, you have raw, new skin that's very tender. This is the skin you see when you scrape your knee and it bleeds. In the middle, you have your layers of cells that slowly move toward the surface as new cells for underneath and old cells die off and shed away. The end of this conveyor belt is the surface of your skin. The outmost layer is mostly dead cells, and on top of that is your skin's mantle of bacteria (good and bad) acid and oil.

A zit usually forms long before you notice it. It only becomes a problem the closer it gets pushed to the surface on your skin conveyor belt. This explain a bit why retinol helps (It makes your conveyor belt shorter from one end to the other, and move faster) and also why damaging your skin hurts it. Why destroy the conveyor belt? It's trying to do its job. If you take out a cog, the whole thing has to be repaired before it can move again.

Now, while on retinol, because my skin was so thin, it was extremely susceptible to damage from picking. When you damage the tender underlayers of skin, they are more difficult to grow back smoothly, if at all. This kinda helped me stop my stress-picking as well. It hurt and I knew I was making things permanent if I didn't stop.

Finally, as my acne started to show improvement, I switched to skin-maintenance rather than carpet-bombing my face with chemicals. For those who aren't interested in strong chemicals, I found that one key substance has stayed with me for years.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I swear by this stuff. It has worked for me so much that I don't ever wash my face anymore.

You heard me.

I stopped washing my face.


That is to say, I stopped using any sort of soap or cleanser on my face. Turns out, your skin, like your digestive system, has good bacteria and bad bacteria. It has good oils and bad (or rather just too much) oils. When you use alkali (bubbly) soaps on your face, you strip your skin of natural oils and good bacteria that make it lovely and soft. I was drying my skin out, then slapping on way too much moisturizer to compensate. It was also putting a lot of crap on my skin that it didn't need. I found that I'm fairly allergic to a lot of scents and dyes in skincare products. If it's pink and it smells like flowers, PUT IT AWAY! You are not a rosebud. You don't need to smell like one.

So, removing the high pH soaps, the preservatives, dyes and perfumes also helped. Not with the cystic acne, but with overall look and feel. It's a subtle difference that's hard to describe. It's just... nicer. Not instant-photoshop perfect, but my skin felt more comfortable to be in. You know when you've been too rough with it. It's all tight from overwashing, or red from scrubbing, or greasy from product. This was what it felt like to not have any of that.

What I do now

What it all boils down to after years of embarassment, experimenting and energy.

I let my skin protect itself with its own defenses. When I shower, I don't wash my face. I never use cleanser. When I get out of the shower and my face is still wet, I get a cotton pad and soak it in apple cider vinegar. If I want to exfoliate my skin, I'll use it pure. If I'm just doing regular care, I'll dilute it by running a few drops from the tap on it.

I'll wipe my face gently and sometimes dead skin will peel off. Not to the same degree as retinol, this is just surface stuff.

I'll rinse my face with water, then use a no-preservative, scent-free, dye-free moisturizer.

Done.

That's it.

No more picking, or worrying or washing or self-hate. I just let my body take care of itself, and it does. I'm not a doctor, or a scientist, and I know this won't help everyone. I just wanted to share my story with you guys. It took a long time to get here, and I have a much better understanding of acne and appreciation for my skin. Dealing with acne forced me to love my body when I really didn't want to.

If you have any questions for me about what I did or use, or you want to share your own story, feel free to post.


If you're struggling with your skin, Acne.org is an awesome site and community for information and support. I got a lot of my information there. It's a community generated site, so information isn't teh same as seeing a doctor. However, it was good to be around people like myself who were fed up with their skin problems and weren't just trying to sell me a product. You can also take the little survey here to narrow down what kind of acne you might have, and some suggestions for improvement.


P.S. As a final note, I wanted to talk about healing. Acne heals. Scars heal. Your skin can improve, even when you think all hope is lost. Although I don't have any photos (I would NEVER let myself be photographed during a really bad breakout) I had large open wounds on my face from acne and picking at acne. They bled. They scabbed. They became infected under the scabs and I picked at them again. Slowly, only slowly over years of finally taking good care of my skin have my scars begun to fade. The ACV exfoliation helps, but this healing is internal. Knowing it gets better helps. From the worst of the worst skin you never want people to see, to skin you actually want people to touch is amazing. If you have it bad right now, look at my face. That's not gloating. That's healing. You will heal, too.


EDIT AGAIN: Well, I guess that's not the end, because I have more to add.

LOTION ADDENDUM
I've spoken a bit above about how knowing about bacteria is important with acne. I wanted to talk a bit about hygene that people might not think about. Your general bathroom area, or wherever you wash your face are just as important in controlling bacteria (or in some cases, fungus or parasites. Gross, but hey, it happens. I've had lice before.)

Things like

- Your washcloth an towels - Are they clean and laundered enough? Do they smell mildewey? Do you share them with anyone else? There may be bacteria hiding on them that you transfer back to your face and body when you wash.
- Your sink area - is it clean or full of hair, toothpaste and floss? is it cluttered or neat?
- Your bottles themselves - Do you see a buildup of gunk on your moisturizer or cleanser pump? Have you touched the inside of a bottle then put the lid back on? I don't want you to be paranoid, but think about how bacteria could seep into your products and grow in there. If you're constantly using these products with dirty hands, bacteria could fester inside the tubes and bottles.
- also, how OLD are you products? Are they expired or just not taken care of? In some cases, especially if you notice a breakout after washing, the culprit may not be an allergic reaction to a product so much as bad, expired or compromised product. Washing yourself with dirty product won't help you with a bacterial problem.

It's not a huge issue, but if you have old products you know don't work, chuck them out. (Yeah, even if they were expensive. if you didn't use them then, you won't now)
be logical and practical when it comes to bacteria detective. You are a Sherlock Holmes for warm, moist dark places that bacteria may like to hang out in. and in many cases, the bathroom is just that!

LIGHTING ADDENDUM

Working with lighting today reminded me of one thing. When I was very self-concious, my picking was triggered by, of all things, fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting, AKA those bar lights in offices, is TERRIBLE for viewing skin. It's always in commercial buildings and bathrooms. The type of light it gives off makes acne and red marks look so much worse on your face. If you find yourself suddenly hating what you look like, check to see what kind of lighting you're under. It could really be the way you're looking at yourself that makes you think you're having a "bad day". It may not be possible to replace these lights, but try to see your skin under incandescent light (regular round lightbulbs) and natural light to see the difference. They are far more flattering.

MAKE-UP REMOVAL ADDENDUM

(taken from a post in the comments)

I'll say first: I don't wear much make-up. I have a lot of sensitivity as well, and my make-up is restricted to photoshoots or important events. It takes me a day to break out from a reaction, so I get to wear it for parties, then stay at home. :P

My favourite make-up removal is olive oil. (In a pinch, unscented hand lotion). Most make-up is oil-soluble, and so it is removed much easier with oil rather than a soap + water. Especially things like mascara and eyeliner. I especially prefer olive oil when I'm in heavy oil-based stage make-up. That pancake foundation can really do a number on you!

It doesn't have to be olive oil, some people prefer a lighter oil like almond oil. I use olive because it's conveniently in supply. :P

What I do is soak a cotton pad in it to start dissolving my make-up. If I've done theatre or evening make-up, i could go through two or three pads. I just keep soaking a new one and wiping the make-up away. Yes, my skin is covered in oil after the fact, but that's easier to deal with than make-up. When I'm sure no more colour is coming off of my face, I just wash my face regularily, and gently remove the oil. I sometimes choose not to moisturize and just leave a very trace amount of olive oil on my face as moisturizer (usually because it is late at night and I am already tired ;P)

In a pinch, unscented hand lotion works in the same way, but I find olive oil much easier on my eyes. I've actually gotten it in my eyes and it doesn't sting at all.

MOISTURIZER ADDENDUM

My moisturizer right now is: www.en.laroche-posay.ca/produc…
Fancy french name and all. :P I got it from the drugstore in one of those packs (cleanser, moisturizer, bottle of spray-water) I threw out the cleanser, I use the moisturizer and I kept the spray water because 1) lol and 2) meh, it's good when I have dry skin or it's hot out. I doubt it does anything. It's spray-water. :P

Next time, I'll probably buy the moisturizer alone if the pack isn't on sale.

I've also used www.aveneusa.com/phys-ex-toler…
Avene tends to be really, really expensive, but since I'm not buying cleanser or toner, and ACV is cheap, I factor in what I would have bought and just buy the quality moisturizer.

There is a bit of a difference between the two. The LaRoche moisturizer is thinner / runnier, whine the avene creme is slightly thicker, and slightly heavier. Both are very light, though.

People also like almond oil as a natural product (I haven't tried it, also don't if you have a nut allergy)

Aaaand emu oil is recommended by many as a great moisturizer for damaged, inflamed or red-marked skin. www.natural.ca/products/emu-oi… (I'm not recommending a specific brand, since I haven't used emu oil, just showing you what it looks like)
- Comes from animals, so a no if you are vegan.

Other choices are really dependant, some poeple have had great results, and some with different skin types just said they brok out worse.

- Olive oil is good for ultra-dry skin, but not oily, and you have to use it very sparingly. Can clog pores.

- Aloe Vera is also good for damaged, dry skin (straight from the plant, no bottles, you can buy one from the garden section of the hardware store) but some people don't like it. It's heavy, and again can clog pores, depends on the person/skin. Still great for sunburns, though.
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:iconchasingrabbits:
ChasingRabbits Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014
This made me squeal a bit as I have a very similar set up.  My skin used to be...problematic to say the least.  Years and years of trying so many things never worked out.  Avene, La Roche Posay and Embryolisse were the only brands that didn't irritate me at all.  Yay for French skincare!  I don't wash my face as much either.  I wipe down with a micellar lotion in the evening and use a soap free foam cleansing in the morning if, and only if, my skin is feeling icky.  I get one difficult pimple a month these days.  I'll take it!  It took me until my mid-20's to figure out what worked for me.  If my younger self only knew!
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:iconchromarin:
Chromarin Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2014   General Artist
Ok, so I have to admit that I didn't go through all 24 pages of comments, so please accept my apologies if I am repeating someone, but omega/fish oil is also good source of vitamin D, especially in cold areas in winter, so taking it can be generally beneficial for those living in such countries. :) (Unless a person has a known negative reaction to it, of course.)

I personally don't have any particular skin issues, but these are all pretty sound tips/suggestions on skin care IMHO.  :)
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:iconivy020:
ivy020 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, thanks! My friends might use this. :)
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:iconkarahatay:
karahatay Featured By Owner Edited Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
this is an awesome guide!
I just want to add my two cents. I fought with acne for 17 years and developed a horrible picking habit as a teenager that stayed with me for most of that time.  here's some of the things I've done over the years to get my face under control...
some things that helped a little are changing my pillow case, drinking more water and, surprisingly, changing my shampoo (shampoo strips oil from your hair with shocking proficiency, and thus from your face, too), and exercising until my face sweat then showering.  As an adult I tried the 'pro' stuff like Proactiv and the Mary Kay regime. they all helped a bit.
In the end, though, what I've started doing that keeps my face as clear as its been since I had been since I was 12 is to just wash it once a day with simple, unscented castille soap and warm water. Dry with a clean hand towel (either fresh or used exclusively for drying your clean face) and then moisturize with extra virgin coconut oil.  (most moisturizers have alcohol in them, and when your skin is feeling dry it makes more oil and more oil means more blemishes. I wish someone had bothered to teach me this when I was 12).
I'm comfortable enough with my skin that I nearly never wear make up and only break out near my period (darn hormones).  For exfoliating I use some baking soda and water after the soap and let it sit until it tingles then rinse in warm water, maybe twice a week (since I'm one of those nuts who wash my hair with baking soda and Apple cider vinegar, this isn't inconvenient at all).   
so in short, another option is to ditch the complicated, chemical laden scented stuff, and go with simple castillr soap and coconut oil. :)


oh, and also, if you have to touch your face wash your hands, or at least finger tips first :)
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:iconmegaanimefreak7:
MegaAnimeFreak7 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Would this also help in the case of a facial rash (caused by dry skin)? Because had to deal with those more than I'd like too and I want them too stop.
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:iconda-joint-stock:
da-joint-stock Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2013  Student General Artist
This is an excellent article! Well done! (Sorry I haven't commented before now I've neglected a lot of journals).

One thing I could add from personal experience is chewing/biting fingernails = a BIG no no. I know this probably seems logical - don't touch your face = don't bite fingernails - but honestly I didn't make the connection at first. I used to have terrible acne all over my face and you can still see the scars on my cheeks. But I finally learned. Your fingernails happily breed more germs and bacterias than I would care to mention, and chewing them not only releases them into your mouth and onto your skin, but also transfers bacteria from your saliva onto your hands (and therefore, your face). On a side note, fingernails can also get caught in your throat in the case you swallow them (hey, everyone was a kid once right?) which can cause infections, throat irritation and quickly make you sick. If you do have that naughty desire to nibble, wash you hands and face immediately afterwards to clear the germs so they don't get into your pores.

Likewise for guys in particular shaving can also cause abrations in your skin (lips, chin, cheeks, neck) and if you use a dirty towel or if you didn't wash your hands before washing your face, it can cause breakouts. Germs from your razer can get into your skin too, but changing your razer when it starts getting dull can help prevent this. Disposable razers might not be the prettiest and might not be a smooth on your face, but on the plus side they are super-cheap and because they are disposable, germs don't have much time to build up before they get tossed :)

Just 2 little tidbits from experience theat might be useful, assuming they weren't already mentioned further in the comments...

Cheers and thanks again,
Dan
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:iconmorriganart:
MorriganArt Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I am really glad to see this journal... I do pick at my skin, I don't have extremely bad acne but I have a major problem where I just cannot leave my face alone. Which makes the small things so much worse. I have tried stopping so many times and it seems so tough. When my boyfriend sees me touching my face he tells me to stop. This happens a lot, haha. Yes, I have caused some damage and even though one can only see it if my face is examined closely and in horrid fluorescent lighting, which makes red on pale skin so much more visible. I still know it is there and it bothers me. it makes me feel awful but just knowing in time it will heal makes me feel a little better. Everytime I touch my skin I fight myself and tell myself not to do it. Sometimes it works and most times it doesn't. Stress and anxiety really do make it worse, which also makes the self destruction worse. I will definitely be trying ACV. Thanks for this!
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:iconfullmetal-outcast:
Fullmetal-Outcast Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013
Wow, this was really, really really helpful! I've been suffering from acne FOREVER and I'm so happy to have found this journal of yours!

So many things I didn't know about acne... Makes me wonder if my father's doctor took me seriously or not. All he did was tell me to shower regularly [which I do... OTL] and gave me a medicated body wash... asjdfkl;as This journal is SO MUCH MORE HELPFUL and I'll be sure to refrenece this in the future.

Thanks again for this! :love:
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:iconfrontiercomics:
FrontierComics Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013   Digital Artist
very informative and helpful, thanks for sharing!
apple cider vinegar is something i will definitely look into
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:iconorinocou:
orinocou Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Boy if I could have read this like 3 years ago. I am 28 and have had bad acne since I was 13. Inherited from my mom's side. Super embarrassing, etc. Finally I gathered the courage to see a Dermatologist. His suggestions and medicines (I got put on a topical gel plus pill combination) helped more than all the over-the-counter products combined.

If I could give advice to anyone with bad acne, it would be 1) read this article and 2) visit an actual dermatologist. It's not expensive to see one. So, thanks again for sharing this.
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:iconsinned-angel-stock:
Sinned-angel-stock Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013  Professional Photographer
Oh boy, I relate to this...you look at some of my earlier stock, my face, neck, shoulders, chest and back are just covered in little red dots -- and that's what I couldn't Photoshop out. I spent a large chunk of my life without insurance though so I was never able to go to a dermatologist about it, but it doesn't matter anyway because I have a terrible history with doctors misdiagnosing me. It probably would have happened the same way had I been able to go to a specialist. I spent years and years with terrible post nasal drip, nausea, waking up in the middle of the night shaking and almost about to throw up...went to several doctors, they could never figure it out...it took my husband (then boyfriend) to tell me I wasn't drinking enough water. It was dehydration. So simple, no doctor would ever see it. I rarely get post nasal drip, I never have my shaking fits, and I rarely get nauseous now that I drink more water.

Anyway! Off-topic. I think my problem was hormonal, too, but I can't take birth control -- gives me terrible chest pains. Weirdly enough getting pregnant and having a child normalized my hormones enough that a lot of my acne cut down, but not washing my face and not picking really made a huge difference. (Which is funny since my mom was always yelling at me to wash my face, and it was making it worse. go figure)

This is a great reference, I'm glad you said a lot of the things that need saying. Just because the (openly corrupt) pharmaceutical industry says you need something as a person, doesn't mean you do :) Natural products, natural ingredients, and natural processes (like leaving your body alone to do what it's gonna do) are usually the best.
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:iconashleycassaday:
AshleyCassaday Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Student Digital Artist
This is all extremely helpful~ I apologize if this has been asked before but I was wondering where and what brand can you get the topical retinol from? I've researched on how to find it and I can't seem to find anything ^^;;
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013
I used retin-A micro gel 0.04%
Retin-A comes in cream or gel form, some people complain that the cream clogs pores.
It also comes in two strengths, 0.1% (stronger) and 0.04% (weaker)

You need a prescription to get it. I had to go through a dermotologist to get it, but you could ask your GP about it. Some cosmetics counters sell cleansers and potions that claim to have retinol in them, but it's usually a negligible amount. You pay a lot of money for not enough effect. (the small amount can help wrinkles, but for acne you need prescription strength. It's also why I say don't mess around with retin-A. it's strong stuff)
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:iconannfis:
AnnFis Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is really great! Thank you for all the interesting informations.
I have one question about the Retinol: What concentration of Retinol do you use?
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013
I used the lesser strength gel, 0.04% They make a stronger one, 0.1%, but that's more for guys with tougher skin and more severe acne. The lesser stuff was plenty strong enough as it is.
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:iconannfis:
AnnFis Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks :)
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:iconladyravenshadow:
LadyRavenShadow Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012
I just happened to find this while looking at your stock photos for drawing poses, and wow. This is a huge help to me. I'm 28 and get all types of pimples, and all over, not just my face. Any where you can imagine breaking out, I do. And I'm compulsively picking at myself. But this was lots of good info and helpful to me, and I thank you for sharing your story and helping people by posting this! <3
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:iconmia36:
mia36 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
This was really interesting. Please add a photo, I'm adding this to Pinterest so others can learn!
I had horrible acne as a teenager (think pizza face - not exaggerating) and it only began to look better when I discovered makeup. No medicines or treatments helped (I dimly recall a doctor's appointment when I was young that included something icy cold and painful sprayed onto my face for several minutes) until I began to be very strict with my towels, pillowcases, never ever touching my face, and using lighter sunscreens and moisturizers. Even now, I still have moderate acne, and the only thing that ever cleared it up completely was birth control pills.

In my experience, none of the handfuls of dermatologists I saw EVER talked to me about PREVENTING acne. They only talked about treating it - which is how they make money. But as a teenager who suffered severe acne, I wish someone had talked to me about more than just "make sure you wash your face every day." Thanks for a great article I wish I had read 15 years ago.
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
A photo of what?
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:iconyamaberrycz:
YamaBerryCZ Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks so much for the tips!
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:iconskye1236:
Skye1236 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012  Student General Artist
This was so nice to read! I first off, was looking through your art, and then found this. I also have cystic acne, it may not be as bad as it was, (which was pretty painful) but I am still worried it will come back as it always seemed to in the past. I am still dealing with the scars left over, but hopefully, the stuff you mentioned might help. Thanks again for posting this!
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012
No problem. I know it can be really scary and stressful and people often feel like they are alone with their skin problems. I still do get breakouts, but I feel like I have the tools to keep it under control. (and no more pimple-based migraines, thanks!)
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:iconcasalooby:
casalooby Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012
Question: how long after you start Retinol will the "acne hell" be over? I would love to give it a try but i'm very very self conscious as it is and i don't think i could deal go to school with insane acne for two months. I just wouldn't be able to deal with people looking at me, as pathetic as that sounds. Very informative journal by the
way, very insightful (ive been wanting to ask you this for sometime but my deviantart isn't letting me post a comment normally, sorry)
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012
It really depends on how severe your acne already is, and what type it is. Blackheads and very surface acne go away the fastest, but those who get under-the-skin acne will be dealing with it for as long as it takes for those blemishes to surface.

The only redeeming factor is that retinol doesn't make you necessarily break out with "new" acne, it just forces all the acne that you would have had anyway to happen at once. So it's a matter of timing. If you start just before winter vacation or spring break, you can get the worst out of the way (trust me, the dead skin peeling is way more weird than the breakouts that happen, but that only lasts a few days) and then your skin should calm down by teh time it gets used to what retinol does. (I say "should" because of course everyone is different. Some people just have really bad reactions. If you're really worried about what could happen, you might try it on a hidden area of your body (bacne?)for a week to see how your skin reacts.
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:iconcasalooby:
casalooby Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012
Thank you for the reply! It really helped
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:iconjustkeepdrawing:
justkeepdrawing Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012
Question: do you use the ACV instead of cleanser?
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:iconrobynrose:
RobynRose Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012
I don't use cleanser at all. I tend to have dry, very allergic skin, so many products do more harm than good. I find that just the vinegar and moisturizer is good enough for me. (though I know that everyone is different)
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:iconjustkeepdrawing:
justkeepdrawing Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2012
Thanks for your reply! Right now I'm figuring out what works best for me, changing something every few months. I'll see if this helps for me.
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:iconthrash-waltz:
Thrash-Waltz Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012
Birth control gave me SUPER clear skin about two months after I started using it. It's fantastic. Retinol didn't work for me, but as you've said before: Everyone's body reacts differently to different things. Retinol would frequently scar my skin, and while the scars faded away, it really didn't do too much for acne. And yes, I completely agree with the whole "sunburn in a bottle" feeling. Ouch!

I swear by witch hazel, and for spot-treatments, good ol' toothpaste (paste, not gel) works FANTASTIC for "drying up" whiteheads. I still get blackheads from time to time, but I also found that using a soft toothbrush (or a scrubby-brush from Sephora) is fantastic.

I'm glad that you found something that works for you! It's always nice to see another person get yanked out of the trenches of acne!
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:iconblackcatink:
BlackCatINK Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
you just use the toothbrush on the blackhead area and it helps take them away?
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:iconthrash-waltz:
Thrash-Waltz Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013
Yeah, it helps to exfoliate your skin, which helps to clear your pores out quite a bit! Plus, it feels really good as well.
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:iconblackcatink:
BlackCatINK Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Hm i may have to try this haha i get them on my nose really bad -_-
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:iconumioko:
Umioko Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Very helpful - thank you!
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:iconxaevlyn:
xaevlyn Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012
how do you make the face less oilier? ;u;
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:iconkandi-2:
Kandi-2 Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you this helps soo soo SOOO much!
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:iconramenmanga-ka:
RAMENmanga-ka Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012  Student Filmographer
P.S. My mom got me this jar of cream that is supposed to clear up the scars but 1) I have zero consistency with it because i see NO difference and 2) I stopped using it because it leaves this gross crap that I touch and it comes off looking like glue residue...

And also... wth, how do headbangers and all those rock guys with long greasy hair have ZERO problems with acne??? I just don't get it and i'm pretty sure they wash less than I do (which is never until I shower)...
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:iconramenmanga-ka:
RAMENmanga-ka Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012  Student Filmographer
I honestly don't think my scars are gonna leave... they are pretty dark. It friggin sucks. I've been told that (since I'm not really that tanned) that dark marks are specific to the race you are, which is middle eastern/African (which makes sense since our family is from Uruguay, but they immigrated some generations ago from Morocco). Apparently people in the Middle East and Africa scar DARK.

My friend once came over and did a weird treatment of honey and lemon mixed, and used a toothbrush to scrub it on parts where i had scars... it actually seemed to work. One day i tried doing it myself... aaaaand i messed up... i forgot the honey. I burned off the epidermis until you could see the pink dermis underneath with the enlarged pores, no bleeding. But it hurt SOOO bad waiting for it to heal (this was on my shoulders, not face thank god). Once it did, I noticed spots which were lighter than my normal skin tone... like 2 shades lighter it was so weird, and this was 2 years ago, and they are STILL there, even after all the days at the beach and the showers that should have exfoliated them... some of these light spots are slight bumps even, it's quite odd. It seemed to rid the dark spots, but instead reversed the look on my skin -_- i'm so dumb sometimes...

My main issue is scars and that stuff that isn't exactly pus, it's like small dry thingies that come out when you apply pressure to the pores, idk what they're called but let me know if you do XDD. But my mother doesn't exactly make me feel positive either; she constantly mentions to me how much prettier I would look if I didnt have all these scars... well no shit i can't do anything in seconds!! She knows that, but she seems to be so bored and do this for kicks...

Makeup is supposed to help but it doesn't, especially when you have bumps on your skin that are visible anyways.

Thanks for the tut btw!!!!!!
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