Suffering from acne can be a very lonely journey so it’s sometimes comforting to know that you’re not battling this alone. We’ve documented a 3 month journey with before and after photo’s along with the list of skincare products, peels and makeup used.

The Journey

Week 7 and 8

Acne Journey Week 7 And 8

I started the Hydroquinone after 1.5 weeks from the retinol peel. I apply it at night to just the scars. The day after I notice a slight peeling where I applied the cream. It’s a little pink but I see a noticeable difference in the darkness of my scars. I’m a little sensitive at this point and apply the Hydroquinone every 2 -3 days.

My skin is looking pretty good at this point. The large cystic bumps have not made an appearance in a while, though I still have the little whiteheads that appear under the skin. Front on, you wouldn’t notice them, but when the sun hits it from the side, you can see all the little bumps everywhere on my cheeks.

Off I go again to find a solution. I read about extraction tools. I’ve been to get extractions professionally before and it not only is excruciating, but it’s costly. I read all the reviews and decide to buy the Tweezerman double sided Extraction tool – it’s a metal stick with 2 loops at either end of the stick, one for blackheads and the other for erupting whiteheads. It’s best used after a hot shower or after you steam your face.

I run the shower and after 10 minutes, my pores have opened and I start the extraction process. It’s painful but bearable. I get to all the small bumps and they erupt with light pressure. My advice – leave the larger ones until there’s actually a white head otherwise it makes it worse…a lot worse! It takes a bit of getting used to but I like it!

To cover up the scars, I run out and get a heavy duty concealer (Cle De Peau). It’s supposed to be the best in terms of pigment, coverage and blend-ability. I finally understand why there is such rave reviews about this product- it covers AMAZINGLY well. It’s expensive BUT worth every penny! By far THE BEST concealer I have ever used!

Week 9, 10, 11 and 12

The last month has been more maintenance than controlling the acne. I seem to have it under control (for the time being). I stopped the minocycline. The scars are fading gradually and I’ve maintained the daily routine. The only difference is that I’ve substituted the DermaDoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Acne Control Serum with La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo which is working for me charmingly. I’ve also stopped using the Neutrogena Rapid Clear spot treatment – I think in future, I’ll try a different spot treatment. I just couldn’t get past the stickiness of it and the fact that it just sat on top of my skin.

Acne Journey Week 9, 10, 11 and 12

The routine now is:

Morning: Cleanse (Clean and Clear) or St Ives Apricot Scrub; Tone with P50 Solution; La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo all over face treatment.

Makeup: I’m at the end of the journey and I’m starting to experiment with different makeup. I’m using the Nars Tinted Moisturizer – which falls a little short of calling itself a BB cream, but it has good SPF and gives my skin a really beautiful dewiness – which I’ve always loved but could never pull off with the amount of acne I had. It hasn’t made me breakout (yet)…but I’ve only just started using for a week. I put a light dusting of Bare Minerals on top for extra coverage and because I’m a little oily and it’s starting to warm up now – the scars are still there, but has significantly faded. I can get away with just a tiny dab of the Cle De Peau concealer now or can even skip it…which tells me how far my skin has come!

Other treatments: I’ve applied a lighter retinol peel (0.5%) again.

Night Cleanse (Clean and Clear using the Clarisonic); Tone with P50 and La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo all over the face.

Although it did take a quarter of a year to get here, I didn’t think the day would ever come where I’d receive compliments on my skin…but I did! All in all, a painful journey but an eye opener. I realized 2 things:

  • Expensive acne products don’t always work. You can find cheaper alternatives by looking at the active ingredients. After all, the active ingredients are doing all the fighting!

  • Be persistent! Don’t stop after a week because you can’t notice a difference. The changes happen gradually – you won’t notice until you see the before and after photo’s!

Acne Journey Week 12

With a bit of makeup, using Nars Tinted Moisturizer in Alaska and a dusting of Bare Minerals in Golden medium and NO concealer…you can barely see the scars!

Acne Journey Week 12

The Yay and Nay Product List

Product Notes
Cleansers
Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser (active ingredient 10% Benzoyl Peroxide) Good Buy You can buy a cleanser with a lower concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide – anything 2.5% and above should work the same.
St Ives Apricot Scrub Blemish and Blackhead Control (active ingredient 2% salicylic acid) MUST BUY
Cetaphil MUST BUY! Just to use when you’re feeling overly sensitive with the retinol and BP.
Toners
P50 Biologique Recherche MUST BUY!
Treatment Products
Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2 in 1 Fight and Fade gel (Spot Treatment active ingredient 2% Salicylic Acid) Don’t Bother I’ve tried other spot treatments such as Mario Badescu Drying Lotion containing sulfur that are better than this one.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (Active Ingredients LHA and Linoleic Acid) Good Buy This seems to keep my acne at bay – good buy but can b pricey considering I’m putting it all over my face.
Dermadoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ medicated acne Control Serum (active ingredient 2% salicylic acid) Don’t Bother There are other all-over face treatments that will do the same job at a lesser price. This is good, but I just couldn’t justify the results with the price.
Hydroquinone 4% Cream (Fade Cream for scars) Good Buy You need a prescription for this concentration of Hydroquinone. In other countries (except USA), 2% Hydroquinone can be found in many creams at the pharmacy.
Retinol Acid Peel (Rx only) MUST BUY! This changes your skin! If you can bear the weird looks you’ll get from strangers. The 1% will make you shed, the 0.5% is just for maintenance.
Minocycline Antibiotics (Rx only) On The Fence I’m not sure if this really did anything for me. I’ve been on this previously (10 years ago) and it did nothing so I was hesitant to try it again.
Makeup
Bare Escentuals Mineral Foundation Original Good Buy I really like this mineral powder especially for the price. Urban Decay’s Surreal Skin Mineral Powder is just as good, with heavier coverage and comes with a nifty applicator so it’s less messy when you travel – it’s just a little pricer.
Clinique spot treatment concealer (salicylic acid) Don’t Bother This sets into the skin quickly and makes it look cakey after a day wear. Not entirely sure how much Salicylic acid is in it to be effective. There are better concealers out there.
Cle de Peau Concealer MUST BUY! The BEST concealer you will ever use!
ColorScience Pro Mineral Sunscreen Good Buy It’s a little expensive and there are others out there such as Peter Thomas Roth. This has a bit of color in it which is great.
Benefit Benetint Lip and Cheek Stain Good Buy Nice natural Flush and didn’t seem to clog pores or make me break out. There are other cheaper stains out there like Stainiac, The Balm. This one had good staying power however.
Tools
Clarisonic Brush with Acne Brush head MUST BUY The Clarisonic is a MUST. The different brushes are a nice touch but I think I might stick to the Pore Cleaning one rather than the Acne head. The Acne Brushed seemed a little softer for days when your skin is a little sensitive.
Tweezerman Extraction Tool Good Buy This takes a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it’s good. If you’ve never gone to get professional extractions, then you might not understand the thrill of this. It just feels like you’re squeezing your pimples with your fingers, only it’s more hygienic.