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Post in Oily Skin

Major congestion, PLEASE help...

I am 26, I have very fair/sensitive/oily skin. I finally just tackled the acne issue by using a retinol cream at night (Kate Sommerville's RetAsphere) but no matter what I do, I cannot seem to clear up the congestion and bumps all over my forehead and cheeks/chin and now I see some are appearing on my neck! I have tried the Clairsonic, ended up returning it because it did nothing, I've done a Salicylic Acid Chemical Peel with SkinCeuticals and she convinced me to buy the Clairsonic again a year later - still isn't changing anything. I have eliminated dairy/gluten/sugar from my diet. Exfoliating doesn't work, Josie Maran Argan Oil Moisturizer doesnt work. Glamglow Supermud doesn't work either. Organic/natural products do nothing.  I've tried a bunch of different foundations. I'm looking for someone who might have similar skin as me and has had this issue. I'm an actress, so when the camera is close, it's very embarrassing! The photo I have posted is kind of an extreme angle and lighting and the camera REALLY picks up the bumps - it doesn't look that bad when I'm in normal light and at a normal distance from people.


Any suggestions are wildly helpful. Thank you!!





Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

Curious if you ever found anything that works? I have very similar skin to you and have desperately been looking for something. Hoping you found some clarity!!

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

@kaylaaboe hey girl! I had a similar skin late last year/early this year. This may not be super helpful, but I was prescribed 6 weeks of an antibiotic, followed by a topical cream for maintenance. The antibiotic cleared everything up within 3 weeks (which is fast from what I hear), and the topical got the rest. I only use the topical once a week and I haven’t had any issues since! At the 3 month mark there were some bumps that came close enough to the surface to be extracted (not required, but if you wanna do this, definitely get it done by a professional so you don’t risk scarring yourself!!). The topical cream is Clindoxyl (there’s a generic form I’ve also used, Taro-Clindamyacin, and it’s the exact same). It’s 1% clindamyacin phosphate and 5% benzoyl peroxide. It WILL stain your towels, sheets, clothes. I know it’s expensive to see a doctor/derm for treatment, but if you’re gonna be spending money on Kate Somerville, Sunday Riley, or other high end skin care brands (and this is coming from someone who LOVES these brands), it may be worth the investment to see a professional first. If not - you can definitely find a lot of products with BP in them, so at the very least that should help!

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

Thank you all so much for getting back to me. I'm going to sephora today to try and find something - I think I will try the Benzol Peroxide. I'm also very curious about the Sunday Riley products, particularly the UFO oil.


Does anyone know if I can use the Benzol Peroxide or UFO oil along with the Kate Sommerville Retionol night cream I'm using? I just want to get clear on what I can use together and when I should use it (am or pm) and if I should alternate days. 


I am so grateful for any info. Thanks ladies!!



Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

Just chiming in to say that I agree with @k617 and would recommend introducing new products/ingredients slowly, so you can really see what works! Also, this should help minimize irritation and excessive dryness. As you said, you may want to alternate days too.


Always remember to keep using your retinol product at night, this ingredient isn't something you'll want to use in the daytime. Also, make sure you're using your sunscreen, as retinol and many of the other ingredients mentioned here can make you extra sun-sensitive.


Good luck, and I hope you have fun on your shopping trip today. Smiley Happy

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

If any of these ingredients are new to you, I would suggest introducing it slowly into your routine or you will irritate your skin. Try using once a week, then slowly increase frequency if you don't see irritation.


I think the benzoyl peroxide will depend on what product you choose (spot treatment vs. all-over product).


Personally I can use BHA (what's in UFO) daily in the AM and AHA in the PM with a retinol product, but I have been using all 3 for well over a year now and my skin did go through a period of redness/flakiness when I first introduced them in my routine. I have been using benzoyl spot treatment on pimples for years.

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

I would recommend trying a benzoyl peroxide product! I had very similar skin to you and I used to avoid benzoyl peroxide because I thought my congestion didn't count as real acne. I tried mud masks, BHAs, and retinol and only had minimal improvements. Once I started using a benzoyl peroxide lotion my congestion and closed comedones really cleared up. It's not 100% gone but it is so much better than it used to be. 


If you do decide to try benzoyl peroxide get a gentle formula (I use Kate Somerville Anti Bac) and don't use it at the same time you're using any acids. 

Good luck and hoping you find a solution to your skin troubles! Smiley Happy

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

If you have sensitive skin, I wonder if the Kate Somerville cleanser is a bit too harsh for you. The second ingredient is sodium laureth's a detergent/foaming agent which I steer clear from in all body and hair products. 


Sometimes if we see bumps on our face, we immediately think acne, and throw all the acne products we can at it. In some cases it might actually be acne but other times it could be just our skin's way of telling us that something's not quite right. 


I got bumps like yours not too long ago (not so much the more prominent ones, but the smaller less deep ones) and I also thought my skin was congested, but it was actually a reaction to a product I was using. So it was a form of contact dermititis. I removed all the suspected offending products, stepped back my skincare routine to products I know my skin will not react to, and it cleared up in just a little over a week.


At this point I would avoid adding other new products to solve this issue as it might actually make your skin worse. If you have access to a dermatologist, perfect--I would recommend an appointment. If not, as a first step I would switch out your cleanser for something that you know has worked in the past. Remove the Glamglow--if it's not doing anything to help maybe that product is preventing your skin from healing. I know not wearing makeup is not always an option especially if you're an actress, but if you can go makeup free some days, gently cleanse apply moisturizer only and see if it helps with the bumps. 


Unfortunately even if someone had similar skin to yours and has recommendations, it will still take some time and trial and error to find what works for you.  

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

@veganbee LOL, it's happened to me too. I shouldn't try out retinol at night. But I couldn't use it during day time either. Luckily I only tried 1 time. And here is what I do to clear up my skin. I take Airborne immune support supplement with a lot of waters twice daily. It has vitamin C and all of the vitamins you need so it helps to clear out all the bumps and acne. Wash your face with Charcoal pore minimized cleanser and cold water. Using too much chemicals when you have acne just make it worse. Stress is another reason that you have acne skin too. So just stop using all of the chemical and let your skin has sometimes to heal. Hopefully this will be helpful tip. 

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

Hi veganbee,


Could you please elaborate a bit more on your regular skincare routine? I know you mentioned that you've tried many different things, but I'm curious about what you're using on a regular basis. I definitely think you could benefit from consistent and frequent exfoliation and masking, as long as you keep it on the gentle side. 

Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

Oh thank you so much for getting back to me. 

I don't want it to seem like I'm going from product to product (I realize it looks this way). I have had this problem on and off for years, it seems to go down in the winter.. but I live in LA now. 


I use Kate Sommerville Detox daily cleanser with a toner from Skoah. I was given the Blemish and Age Defence Serum and Serum 10 from Skinceuticals about 2 months ago after my first peel, so I've been using that. I use the Glamglow Supermud mask once a week (if I remember to, since it never seems to do anything but get deep into my pores and dye them black for a day no matter how much I try to clean them after) and I was using a very heavy moisturizer from Skoah afterward (not sure if anyone will know what Skoah is as I think it's only in Canada). It has run out, so I've moved onto the Josie Maran Argan Oil - and its been only a week on that as my moisturizer so far. 


I cleanse with the clairsonic 2-3x a week for the last 2 months too but I'm ready to send it back. 


Maybe I am using too many different things after all? I just want to find the right system and stick with it and stop all the guessing. I was hoping the photo would help to find someone with the same skintype/issue who has conquered this thing once and for all.


Thank you again, any info is super helpful.



Re: Major congestion, PLEASE help...

I have had this in the past except my bumps were a little more red than yours, but it was the same in that it wasn't as noticible except in certain lighting and angles. I swear by benzoyl peroxide (sp?) in drugstore brands like clean and clear acne cream wash, proactiv, and even clearisil although I hate that stuff. It did cause some bleaching of towels and pillow cases and could sometimes be drying but that was what I needed since my oily combo skin in a super humid environment had no dryness otherwise. I dont know if it is bad for any other reasons, but for me it worked. I think I also had stress and hormonal breakouts, so found ways to alleviate that too. Did not change diet. 


Now I do double cleanse with oil to remove makeup and a powder exfoliater then deep moisture at night and my skin is heaven compared to what it used to be. I use tatcha mostly, but have been experimenting with K beauty and other nice skin care when I get samples like the glamglow for example. Even though my skin does seem to like it, I feel like it is really abrasive especially compared to the tatcha powder which is so gentle. 


Just my two cents from someone who has been there and come out on the other end, good luck! 

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