This is a long overdue update on my skin since I stopped taking birth control pills in January. My skin was pretty good for the first couple of months and then it all went downhill.
I'm now back to having hormonal acne around my chin, jaw and mouth area. Lovely, right? Fortunately, it is not as intense as it was when I was in my early 20's but it's something I'm not used to as I had pretty great skin for the last several years (which, looking back, I didn't appreciate as much as I should have).
Perhaps I'm just overreacting because I'm not used to having several blemishes at once, but the kind I get leave marks behind, which is incredibly frustrating because it feels like the old marks are just starting to fade when a new one pops up next to the mark that's fading. It's like a vicious cycle. Dear skin, please stop being crazy.
I'm finding that as I get older (I turn 29 at the end of this month!), my skin tends to scar/get marks on it more easily than it used to. Any little blemish leaves a mark---and the deep, under the skin ones are the worst because they can take weeks to go away, even with products that help fade the mark. Weeks of peeling, crusting, flaking and fading are now typical for me.
Another surprise side-effect of being off of the pill is that I am now also getting breakouts on my back (read: bacne). I also had a couple of blemishes on my chest area but I have gotten that under control and it is clear again. My back continues to be a struggle with spots popping up randomly so I've now established a routine for that too. Fortunately, only a few crop up at a time so it's manageable but still annoying.
I thought it would be helpful to outline the products I'm currently using to control my acne and to preventatively treat my skin.
Cleansers- I am still using both La Roche Posay Effaclar cleanser and Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Power Foam Wash. These are my tried and true cleansers and I've been pleased with them for many years.
Treatments--- I continue to believe in layering products and these are the ones I use on a daily basis depending on what I'm treating. The Mario Badescu buffering lotion is primarily used to treat and prevent cystic acne, the La Roche Posay targeted breakout corrector is used to treat and prevent, the Kiehl's to treat whiteheads. I'm also still using the Kate Sommerville Exfolikate about once a week (especially good for dealing with all of the peeling I have).
Another treatment I'm using every single night is the Proactiv refining mask--- I use this overnight to treat existing breakouts or ones I think will sprout up. This mask, in my opinion is essential for anyone struggling with acne. It really helps dry out breakouts and reduce the inflammation that comes along with them.
Moisturizers- 99% of the time, I use my Neutrogena Sensitive Skin moisturizer. It's truly the best one I've found and I have not had any issues with it whatsoever. It leaves my skin hydrated without clogging pores. I can also use this at night if my skin is dry and it gives just the right amount of moisture. Occasionally, when I have a post-work event, I will use the Origins Zero Oil moisturizer.
Scarring and red marks---this is one of my largest pet peeves about acne. It's not so much the acne itself, it's what it leaves behind that can be the most difficult to treat. My skin tends to get really really red and then there is weeks of peeling, crusting and flaking before the mark is completely gone. The products that help me most are Kiehl's Clearly Corrective and Dermatix scar cream which I use when needed (it helps smooth an area that's really peeling and red---I'll put it on top of the Kiehl's sometimes and sometimes I use it on its own. I tend to apply it when the mark is on its way to being healed)
Bacne and pores- to treat and prevent acne on the back and chest, I am using Neutrogena body wash on my chest and back only. Then, after my nightly shower, I apply medicated acne cream via Clearsil pads to my back only.
Pores- to reduce pore size and helps clean them out, I still use the Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction pads and Finacea prescription cream. I use the pads about twice a week and the finacea once a week or so, twice max.
Flaking and peeling--- although the Dermatix helps a bit with this, I am also using plain ol' Aquaphor to treat the flakiness overnight. I just apply a tiny dab and let it sink in before my head hits the pillow.
Makeup setting spray--- this doesn't count as skincare, but I thought I'd throw it in here anyway. I've been enjoying this spray. Definitely makes makeup stay fresh longer.
Finally, here are some of my tips for acne sufferers:
- Change your pillowcase at least every 2-3 days
- Sleep with your hair off of your face (I like to wear mine in a high ballerina bun, but not too tightly)
- Try to reduce stress
- Treat your skin preventatively, every night, not just when your skin is breaking out
- Use makeup that doesn't clog pores (check the label)
- Drink a lot of water
If you have any questions about my skincare routine that were not covered here, please ask me on my Formspring page. If you have any products that have worked for your acne, please share them below!