Nothing made my acne go away. I tried everything available over-the-counter. Dermatologists prescribed me topical and oral antibiotics and Retin-A. I even went on Accutane, the “scorched earth option” for acne treatment, which involved monthly blood draws and the 2/3 likelihood of a permanent solution. None of it worked for more than a couple of weeks, which makes sense in retrospect– I turned out to have a hormonal imbalance that makes it super difficult to get rid of acne.
I tell you that to give you hope, because the ingredients I thought didn’t work for me actually did. I just had to learn what made them effective! Here’s how to fix common problems you might be experiencing with my personal favorite ingredient for dealing with acne– salicylic acid (also known as a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA). This topic may be familiar for anyone who’s been reading the blog since April of last year.
Someone close to me has gotten skin cancer three times now. They used to suntan a lot as a child, and it’s come to haunt them later in life. They’re more diligent about sun protection now.
So I was stunned to find out they didn’t wear sunscreen on their forehead– the most recent place they had gotten skin cancer. “Why not?” I asked in horror.
“It stings,” they complained. “I sweat on my forehead and it gets in my eyes and it stings.”
I get it. Sunscreen is one of the most potent tools in skincare– used properly, it prevents signs of aging, it protects you from cancer, and the right sunscreens can even make your skin softer and smoother. But it’s really, really hard to find the right sunscreens. They smell bad, or they leave unsightly white streaks, or they sting, or they make you break out.
I am here to help. I hope the information in this little troubleshooting guide can help at least one person like it did that person close to me: I have now found them a sunscreen that solves their discomfort issues. Now they are actually protecting themselves.
I’ve had problems with acne my entire life. I also have extremely sensitive skin. I tried everything, from over-the-counter toners and fancy face washes to topical antibiotics, Retin-A, and even Accutane. Nothing actually kept my breakouts away. And most of the stuff I tried made my skin hurt even if it did kind of work.
Then, at the age of 29, my brother’s awesome fiance directed me towards my very first useful consumer-directed resources about skincare. I discovered that “I tried everything” wasn’t as true as I thought it was: the stuff I’d tried had been poorly formulated, and/or I hadn’t had enough instruction about how to use it. Since I got the opportunity to learn more, I use a lot fewer products than I did, my routine is less complicated, nothing hurts to put on, and my acne is gone. (Except around periods. But even then, my hormonal breakouts are significantly better.)
The product I’ve used that’s made the most difference is a properly formulated salicylic acid exfoliant. Which is amazing, considering that salicylic acid was one of the first ingredients I tried and dismissed.