As I noted in a recent post, I was pretty lucky as a teenager. I didn’t suffer from any real acne problems, and only wore light makeup for very special occasions.
Then I hit my 20s and it was like I got acne as an unwanted take-home with the college experience. Probably not coincidentally, I also started taking birth control for the first time. I ended up trying several different kinds of BC before settling on my current method (Implanon). Of course, I’m sure that wreaked havoc on my hormones. To help control it, I ended up going to a dermatologist for the first time in my life.
Currently, I’m using three different things to control my adult acne. I have a 10% benzoyl peroxide wash (Panoxyl) which I use once a day, usually in the mornings, and leave on for 1-2 minutes before washing off. At night, I use an oil cleanser to remove makeup, if any, and a gentle non-Rx wash then follow up with a 0.025% retinoid cream, tretinoin. I also take an antibiotic, minocycline.
Of course, I always always always wear sunscreen. I wear SPF 50 on my face/neck/decolletage, and SPF 15 on my body/arms. Why the difference? A silly reason. I use a lotion with sunscreen for my body, and the formulations with SPF 30 make me reek of sunscreen. Of course, my facial sunscreens are always Asian formulations, so I can get high SPF with basically no downsides. They’re just too danged small to use on my body.
I wish US sunscreens could get on board with Asian sunscreens. Light, fast-absorbing, no scent. They’re basically the bomb.
The use of three acne treatments at once seemed like overkill to me at first, honestly, as my acne has never been terrible, even in my opinion. My only complaint was that any pimples I do get are more likely than not to leave dark spots/hyperpigmentation. However, my current regimen has cleared up my skin significantly.
I’m even brave enough to take a picture of my bare face. Here you go.
Just kidding. For reals, now.
Obvs I’m wearing eye makeup and lipgloss in that picture. I had to do some post-processing and color correcting, and that made me look like I was wearing blush for some reason. Now that I’m looking closer… it looks like there’s blush on my laugh line and along my hairline… I promise I did not put blush on my hairline.
Also please ignore my gross hair and old Tshirt. It was like 3 in the morning and I was bored.
However, you can see I have some small spots of hyperpigmentation, most notably on my nose and a lighter dusting on my cheeks and forehead. I took this picture about a week ago. Even from then to now, the difference is noticeable with my current regimen. The dark spots are significantly lighter.
It’s a little weird. I’m not uncomfortable going out in public with my bare face at all, but I hate taking pictures of my bare face. Something about the camera makes it seem so much worse to me. Unfortunately, no type of acne treatments will ever give me real-life Photoshopping. But that’s why we have makeup, right?
If you suffer from acne, I can’t recommend going to a dermatologist enough. If you’re not one of the lucky few who can control it solely with OTC products, a doctor will be able to assess which Rx treatments might be best for you. Moreover, your derm may be able to recommend specific OTC products or prescribe stronger Rx versions of them (retinol is the most salient example; the strongest OTC retinol pales in comparison to the retinoids a dermatologist can prescribe).
If you can afford it, and your acne is affecting your self-esteem, it’s worth the time.