Acne: My Struggle and Triumph

This post was inspired after reading Ann Hs post Proactiv - What do you think about these products? Link
Like most girls, I had my fair share of acne battles. I started my fight in the 6th grade. My mother noticed that I was breaking out, so she ordered the 3-step Proactiv kit for me. After a month of using it, I thought they were miracles in 3 little bottles. The kit kept my skin clear and flawless, and my oily skin wasnt oily or dry from the products, it was just the perfect balance. I used the kit twice a day, morning and night. I felt proud to have lovely skin. During my junior high and high school years I felt lucky to have my acne under control while others were struggling. Then during my 2nd semester of my Senior year in high school, my acne started flaring up. I was shocked because my acne was virtually non-existent for the past 6 years. I kept using Proactiv, hoping that it was keep my acne under control like it always had, but it just stopped working. I later realized that my acne had become immune to Proactiv. I was shocked and upset. My mother even ordered the advanced kit that contained a stronger formula, but that yielded no results. My mother and I started to look for other products to replace Proactiv and control my acne. We tired dozens of products but to no avail. Sometimes we tired products that seemed to work, but only for a little while. Most of the products I tried made my skin either very dry or very oily. My skin was looking absolutely horrible. I was getting large white heads around my face daily, my skin was irritated from all the products I was trying, and I had become ashamed of my skin. My mother was even telling me how horrible I looked and that really stung. Entering my freshman year of college with a face full of acne wasnt the way I had pictured starting college. I had become very frustrated with my acne, and I had become exhausted fighting my acne. I didnt believe I could win. It felt like my lucky run of clear skin had just run out. I even the amusing thought that since I had great skin during the years everyone else flares up with acne, that it was time I experience it (seems foolish I know).
During the start of my second (current) year of college, I decided to see my doctor and a dermatologist to see if they could help me fight my acne. My doctor called me in and took pictures of my skin. I was really embarrassed because my skin looked so awful, but I knew it was for medical reasons. Within a week, the dermatologist prescribed me Erythromicin and 0.05% Retin-A cream. The Erythromicin was to be applied twice a day, morning and night after I wash my face and needed to be kept in the refrigerator. The Retin-A was to be used once a day before I go to bed. I have to admit, the first 3 weeks of using the prescribed medication wasnt as pleasant as using the Proactiv. My doctor did warn me about the side effects, and she wasnt kidding. The Erythromicin made my face swollen a little bit, and it made my skin very flakey and dry. After applying it, I had to wear a light lotion (as recommended by my doctor) to keep my skin from drying too much but the Erythromicin made everything else I put on my face burn immensely. It felt like the lotion I put on my face after the Erythromicin set my skin on fire. But I was told that this was a normal side effect and to keep applying the two creams. Even though it was still painful, I still kept at it. Within 2 weeks, I saw a significant change in my skin. My acne was finally clearing up! I see bits of my once clear skin underneath all the ugly acne. In two months, my acne had cleared up. I was/am extremely happy with the results. After a month, the side effects of the medications wore off. There was no more burning, swelling, or dry flakey skin. I continue to use the two medications prescribed to me today. With that said, even though my skin is currently clear, I am by no means done with my battle with acne.
I have acne scars that are slowly fading away from the severe flare up I had in the last 2 years. Though they are fading, they are a reminder that my acne is still around. I have a feeling that someday, my current two miracles will run out like the Proactiv, and Ill begin the search for something new. But for now, I love my skin and I think everyone has beautiful skin.
My current skincare routine is using a cleanser in the morning. I use a cleanser from Lancome called Lancome Gel Pure Focus. I have oily skin and gel washes are preferred for those who have oil skin. If you have dry skin, go with a foaming cleanser. I do not use a toner because my doctor advised me not to use one because toners contain alcohol and that flares up acne. After I wash my face, I apply the Erythromicin gel in a thin layer over my face. I let that dry for a few minutes, and then I apply a very light lotion. I use Lancome Bienfait Aqua Vital, it is non-comedogenic (wont clog pores) and oil free which were things my doctor advised me to look for in a lotion. I also wear a sun screen on top of my potion for protection against the sun. I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 55 with Helioplex. At night, I wash my face in the shower, I later apply the Erythromicin and a thin layer of the Retin-A cream before bed. Once a week a use a clay mask from Lancome just to clear out my pores to feel fresh.This routine does not mean I have cured my acne. I still have the occasional break out, although I get very few pimples now. Just one or two, usually around the time before I get my period but that has always been normal for me.
I decided to share my story because I feel like a lot of girls struggle with acne like I did( still do). Acne is very frustrating but dont give up. There is something that works for you out there. If you cant seem to find a solution, you should make an appointment with your doctor to see if they can prescribe you something that can help. If theres anything that Ive learned, its that you have to be patient. Results wont appear over night. You have to wait at least 2 to 3 months to see change so stay patient and dont get frustrated. Stay positive! We all have beautiful skin, whether we see it or not. Let me know your acne stories and what works for you.

*Photo from*
*I am not a dermatologist or medical professional. This is simply my experience with acne and the products mentioned are not sponsored in any way*
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