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Post in Acne-Prone Skin

Acne Investigation Diary!

Hey folks, I thought I would start an "acne diary" here reporting on my observations and experiences trying to get rid of acne.  I hate those days (which sometimes stretch into weeks) when my face feels like a battleground full of acne and post-acne marks and I either feel bad when I look into the mirror or spend way too long messing with concealers/foundation before going out.  


We've had so many posts here about what products to use to combat acne, but fewer posts about the actual causes of acne.  I think this is because it's so different from person to person, and also unless you have the patience of a saint it's really difficult to force yourself through the intensive trial and error needed to figure out WHAT is causing your breakouts.  And even then, it might be due to vague causes like "stress" or "environmental irritants" that you have no control over.


I'll try to update once a week or so, to report on what I'm currently adding (or removing) from my routine and what the results are.  I would also love to hear other people's personal experiences and maybe we can all learn from each other.


EDIT Apr 28:  Here's the new motto for those of us trying to isolate ingredients at the root of our skin problems:


So what do you do when your skin is freaking out and you don't know which product is causing the issue? "Quit everything cold turkey," advises Dr. Chapas. "Makeup, moisturizer, sunscreen—stop everything you're using. Try to use a mild topical hydrocortisone on the skin until your reaction goes down. Start adding products in slowly and use mild, fragrance-free formulas. Eventually, you'll find out what's offending your skin. If your skin continues to react, see a dermatologist."


thanks to krunce (is that pronounced "crunchy"?) for pointing me to the Victoria Stanell Beauty Myths article on beautylish!

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!


Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

LOL!!!  i'll check in again later and see if you're here, drunkenly posting random stuff.... Smiley Very Happy

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Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

hahahahahaha!  that's awesome!  

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

If you suspect your acne is hormonal, especially if you're an adult, Talk to your doctor about Spironolactone!! It has been literally a miracle drug for me. (For all the rest, I know this will sound crazy, but try not wearing foundation all the time and using so many products. Less is more! Ever notice how guys don't have so many skin issues? Its because it works itself out.)

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

Do you have any suggestions for someone who can not go to the dermatologist due to a medical condition that prevents me from taking prescription acne medication, who has tried proactiv, clearasil, and Neutrogena....what kinds of products should I use? (I am on birthcontrol, but my acne is still pretty bad. I just want clear skin for prom)

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

Hi summer888, what kinds of prescription acne medication are you unable to try out?  Do you mean really strong medication like Accutane?  There are other things a doctor could prescribe for acne that work differently than Accutane (like retin-a or spironolactone if appropriate).  A visit to a dermatologist is the best way to find out for sure, if you tell them about your medical condition they will definitely be able to explain what treatments will or will not work for you with regard to your condition and whatever other medications you may be taking.


What type of acne are you struggling with?  Is it mostly cystic acne, blackheads, etc?


Let us know more details about what products you're currently using in skincare and makeup.

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

I'm really glad to see your indepth updates! It really helps to put it down on paper (or in this case a thread) so you can track progress and notate things that might slip your mind later. It's very constructive and positive!

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LOL yes, I do my weeping in private!  JUST KIDDING but it definitely helps to keep a journal of changes.  Skin changes gradually over time and I'm so absentminded, unless I actually write this stuff down I'll forget all about it.  Supplemental to this thread I actually have lists of products I used daily and also keep track of acne/clogged pores that pop up.  I might have enough data by now to create a histogram or chart to statistically prove stuff, haha!

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Hi drragon,


Are you using any BB/tinted moisturizer that is without titanium dioxide


Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

Hi alkapassi, I'm not currently using BB cream or tinted moisturizer....because of all the acne and scars I've been needing fuller coverage stuff for a while!

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What kind of foundation are you using to cover up? I'm having trouble finding a quality one without titanium dioxide!

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

Hi blynn33, what qualities are you looking for in a foundation?  Most of the time unless TD is used as an active sunscreen ingredient, it won't contain high amounts of TD.  Sephora sometimes includes the complete list of ingredients, or you can usually google for it.  


The ones I like and have purchased multiple times are:


Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse -- really love this one a lot for its smooth application and beautiful finish.  it's medium coverage and formulated for dry skin, but shade range is not great


Lancome Teinte Idole Ultra -- sadly discontinued now, but I hear the 24H version is pretty awesome


Lancome Dual Finish powder foundation


Clinique Superpowder Double Face Makeup


I currently have samples of Kat Von D Lock It and Estee Lauder Double Wear, both of which I like for med-full coverage.


looking into CoverFX and Lorac powder foundations


Sadly, my favorite powder foundation was Bare Minerals, it was so finely milled and looked much more natural on than the pressed powders do.



Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

I've had acne since I was about 12 (and I'm now almost 26) and in that time I've tried just about everything barring accutane to clear it up. I will mostly attribute my acne to hormones and my genetics (my mom had acne also), but there are tons of little things that can exacerbate the problem. I really applaud your investigating into the root cause of your breakouts, because I think figuring out how to stop acne flare ups from happening is so much more effective than always trying to clear them up. As one random example, I've noticed that my skin got much happier since I've been single, and I realized that it was probably because I didn't have someone touching my face all the time!

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

thanks colorobsession!  I'm definitely much happier having figured out the cause (for now!) and honestly I feel really lucky that a few relatively simple things helped so much.  Hormonal changes, stress, and other non-specific causes of acne are so much harder to deal with!  I'll make a note of the being single possibly helping out with acne, hehe Smiley Happy

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

UPDATE #3  -- April 3


Last update was the discovery that titanium dioxide was the root cause of my cystic acne, but I still had tons of clogged pores.  They started out as tiny little bumps under my skin that eventually grew into huge red angry swollen pimples that did more damage (scars) than the cystic acne did.  I was so frustrated!


Finally I started wondering why my left cheek always had more clogged pores.  I'm a side sleeper and that's the side I normally sleep on!  And no, changing out my pillowcase frequently had no effect.  From there I guessed that I was applying too much goop to my face at night after cleansing, and while I was sleeping the pores were getting clogged between the goop and my pillow!



THE EXPERIMENT -- started mid-February


1. Switch to lighter products designed for oily/combination skin, away from super emollient products for very dry skin.

2. Reduce the number of products applied at any given time (I used to easily layer 3-4).



THE RESULTS -- six weeks later


1. drastically reduced number of clogged pores!!!  Yay!





It seems obvious now, but I failed to realize this for so long because my skin was undergoing a very gradual change. For my entire life I've had the nastiest, dryest, flakiest skin ever. In my worst periods I needed to apply Aquaphor twice a day over my eczema medication (which was a thick ointment!) and my skin soaked it all up no problem. Then when I started getting into skincare 2-3 years ago, due to my extraordinary dryness I had the luxury of being able to layer on multiple products without having to worry about the potential for clogged pores.


Well apparently my skin has slowly become less dry over the last year or so (even to the point of an oily forehead!), and since I didn't really notice this I continued to glop on the same amount of moisturizers and creams designed for extra dry skin.


Once in a while I still get some acne but due to the 10% glycolic acid moisturizer, it goes away much faster than before.  I think it's also helping the acne scars fade faster!




When I get up the courage, I will try phasing back in my Benefit boxed powders and Bare Minerals (Coralista, I MISSED YOU!!!).  Although they contain high amounts of titanium dioxide, I'm hoping it was only BB Creams and goopy sunscreens that were bad for me and not powder products....



Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

Bare Minerals clogs pores like nobody's business, or at least that was my and my friends experience. We all used that line for a good chuck of high school (and some into college) with the same eventual conclusion. I hope it works for you better than us. It is always nice to finish products in your collection. 

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I hope your old stuff can work out for you again!  Titanium dioxide is so difficult to get out of pores once it settles in, if the leanser isn't strong enough to dissolve it all, then it becomes a problem for me (like this past weekend when i tried a different one, my face is FINALLY starting to calm down from a lot of grumpiness)! 

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holy crap MoreGun it never occured to me to consider whether my cleansers were effective at breaking down the titanium dioxide!!  Whence comes this secret knowledge of yours?!  It makes so much sense!  I've always stayed away from harsher cleansers due to easily-irritated skin...that could have contributed to the problem for sure.

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It was a recent revelation, I used Mario Badescu's Silver Powder for a short time which was removed entirely by a toner when it was done and was nothing BUT titanium and zinc oxides, never had a breakout.  My BB cream uses these as well for its SPF component, when I began using my typical night cleanser (SK-II Oil cleanser) I've noticed a drastic improvement, if I switch back to my normal foaming cleanser at night, there is still some issues, but very few, during this past weekend I was at the fiance's and trying a more gentle cleanser at night since I didn't want to carry the cleansing oil with me, and my face got angry, very angry, because I was not removing these clogging ingredients from my face fully.  


Cleansing oils have proven superior to this task due to the nature that it practically dissolves and lifts makeup from the pores in my experience.  Hope this helps Smiley Happy

Re: Acne Investigation Diary!

Wow, that is really valuable information!  I wonder if my Clinique Take the Day Off Balm counts as an oil this is great, so maybe I won't need to lay off the T.D. forever after all.....I reeeeaaaallly loved that Too Faced Beauty Balm!  Thanks MoreGUn! Smiley Very Happy

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