Acne has plagued my life since my early teens. I thought I'd have clear skin by the time I reached college, but I was wrong. In high school, I became more self-conscious of my skin. It seemed that all the girls had faces like porcelain dolls (or they were really good at makeup). This hurt when relatives mentioned the rough state of my skin. I know they didn't mean harm, but I still stand by "if it can't be fixed in a couple of seconds, don't point it out."
To cover up my insecurities, I started wearing concealer in public. Since college, the amount of breakouts I've had has decreased, and I've even seen a reduction in scarring. I'm slowly building up confidence, and I've managed to go out barefaced during the quarantine (thanks to making face masks the new norm!).
I'm not a licensed dermatologist, but here's what I learned over the years of battling acne.
1. Most acne care products are designed for oily skin
Throughout my whole life, I've heard acne is caused by excessive oil on the skin. This is why most skin care products work to dry oils. Recently, I've determined oily skin is not the culprit of my acne. Though I believe hormones are to blame, dry skin has played a huge role in stubborn acne. I've seen significant results after using moisturizers and products designed for sensitive skin.
Moving from New Mexico to Illinois also improved my skin. Most people complain about the intense humidity in the late summer months, but the extra moisture in the air made my skin healthier.
2. I may be allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient in acne products. At one point, I started using Acne Free, which made my skin flare-up in bright red splotches. It felt like a chemical weapon was being poured on my face, so I switched to using salicylic acid based products.
3. Makeup doesn’t make my acne worse
I know everyone's skin is different, but in my experience, makeup hasn't caused additional breakouts. As long as you're careful about the products you buy and cleaning your face and brushes, it should be safe. I've also used Neutrogena SkinClearing Complexion Perfector, which served both as a concealer and an acne treatment. This product reduced my acne, as well as blended smoothly on dry skin. If you suffer from dry skin, I recommend sticking to liquid concealers/foundation.
4. My current treatments
After years of various creams, antibiotics, and cleansers, I've recently found a combination that has improved my complexion. While I understand everyone is in a different phase of their acne journey and has different needs, if you're at the point where you're having less breakouts and simply want to control/reduce smaller amounts of acne, you don't need to spend that much money.
For the past six months, I've used Neutrogena's Oil-Free Acne Wash in the shower, paired with Clean & Clear's Duel Action Moisturizer. When my breakouts intensify, I use the shower scrub every day. On days with healthier skin, I use it every other day. I apply the moisturizer twice a day---once before applying any makeup and again before bed.