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.
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.