Friday, January 27th, 2012

By Sam, Teen Beauty Expert

Sam is 14-years old, lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her mom and two (of three!) older brothers. She was born and raised in Georgia, but her family originally hailed from Illinois. You will find her busy meeting new people and enjoying teen soap operas/dramas (like Vampire Diaries)–and of course, she’s madly in love with all things beauty. When she’s not playing around with makeup, you’ll find her with headphones on listening to everything; from classical to rap, pop to heavy metal, and almost everything in between (though she favors rock!).


Sam’s Teenage Acne Must-Haves

Almost every teenager goes through breakouts and even some adults still deal with it. It happens. And it sucks.  I could go on and on about how frustrating it is to wake up with a surprise on my face, but you probably already know how that goes!

A little history on my experience with acne: I had my very first breakout when I was around ten-years old. I’ve never heard of anyone breaking out as young as me, even though they were far and few in between. I was around twelve when I started getting worried about my skin. My breakouts were on the moderate side but becoming more frequent. I would drag my mom to Walmart or CVS to buy a new cleanser every few weeks. I literally tried everything I could buy at the drugstore.  Usually the product would work fine for about two weeks, give or take, but then my skin would tolerate whatever I was using, and just like that I was back to square one.

I’m almost fifteen and  I’m still struggling to keep my skin tame, but from trial and error, I have learned a few things that I want to pass on to readers, teenagers or not, who relate. I really wish I had some “before” pictures, but either the camera washed me out or it was taken too far away and you couldn’t see it at all!

Stay Confident No Matter What

Self-confidence isn’t a product you can buy at the store or a topical treatment you apply to your face or a prescription a dermatologist can give you. It comes from with in, and trust me, it helps!

I’ve shed my fair share of tears over my skin and that’s totally fine! Acne can really take a toll on one’s self esteem, if they allow it. Sure, sometimes it may seem like you’re the only one among your friends who’s breaking out. But you’re not alone in this! I’ve watched all three of my older brothers go through it, and now it’s my turn.

Staying positive is key! Look in the mirror and list a few things you love about yourself. You’ll feel better instantly and having a good attitude will make a world of a difference! If you focus on the negative, you’re only battling yourself and nobody wins. That isn’t worth the time or energy, now is it? Remember that having acne isn’t the end of the world!

Check out three products Sam uses to help with her acne! 

My holy grail acne/skincare product would have to be my Clarisonic Mia ($119.00). It has changed my life as well as my view point on traditional skincare.  Mia is a one-speed face cleansing gadget. There are interchangeable brush heads for different skin types, and the bristles vibrate and rotate to rid your skin of dead cells and deliver a much deeper clean. It also helps boost the absorbency of post-cleansing products (such as moisturizer) making them more effective. The charger is a neat little magnet rather than a plug, which makes Clarisonic waterproof so you can also use it in the shower. The $119 price tag may seem a little steep to some, but I can’t express enough how much it is worth it!

I use my Mia at least once a day, twice if I remember, with my Benefit Foamingly Clean Face Wash.  Just how fresh my skin feels after is worth the money itself. I could see a difference in my complexion’s radiance and cleanliness after the first use. After one day (two uses), my skin was already noticeably softer and brighter than usual. About a week of use, my complexion evened out significantly and the redness from my (current and past) breakouts were subtly vanishing.

Two weeks into use, I noted that when a pimple or two did show up it wasn’t like my typical acne type. Normally my skin would get flaky and red near my breakout zone, but now if there is a pimple underneath the surface, I can feel it before I see it–cystic acne. Experiencing a breakout with Clarisonic is normal and expected, though. I believe it’s just bringing all of that dirt, oil, and toxins to the surface. After giving it some thought, I think the cystic zits are a small price to pay compared to the decrease in amount I breakout. Breakouts aren’t as visible as they used to be, and I haven’t scarred once since using my Mia. Has it eliminated acne completely? No, but it has shed some light into my skincare regimen.

After a few months, the results in using my Clarisonic were almost unbelievable. I still have some scarring that needs a little extra TLC, my skin is smooth to the touch and major breakouts are merely a thing of the past. I can recommend this tool to anyone, regardless of skin-type or age, with complete confidence! I’ve never been one to share my skincare products – or really any products – with my brothers (too much money + too many people + too little amount = a rather quickly diminished product), but I actually felt this was too good to pass up and encouraged them to try it for themselves! If I can pry it out of one of my brothers, I’ll definitely provide some information on how their skin has reacted.

My favorite moisturizer is Josie Maran Argan Oil ($48.00), as mentioned in my must-haves list. I only need a minimal amount, and since using my Mia, I cut down from three drops to one! It sinks into my skin quickly, which always makes or breaks a moisturizer for me. The reason I love it most is because it has made a huge difference in my acne scars. I don’t think I breakout as much as it looks like I do. The deepest and most red “pimples” on my face are actually scars from past breakouts. A few days after I switched to this moisturizer, one of the first things my mom mentioned in the morning was how great my skin looked.

I feel this moisturizer is universal enough for several skin types to get away with using. Both the oily and dry areas of my face have benefited from it. I don’t feel like I have applied a thick lotion to my face. Instead, my skin feels hydrated. I don’t think I would recommend this to people with skin that’s super oily; and somebody with skin on the more dry side may want a little extra hydration.  It is a great addition to my skincare routine. I also like to mix it with other products such as a thicker moisturizer for my evening routine.

I will admit that I was nervous about spending $14 on a small vile of oil (0.5 oz.) since I’m a teenage–my budget doesn’t have much breathing room!  I’ve been applying this religiously for three months and so far about two thirds is gone. I’d say it gets my value stamp of approval, and it’s money well spent.

Biore Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips ($7.49) have worked for me in the past and are still a favorite of mine to use occasionally. They are easy to use and clear out most of the gunk on/around my nose. But why should I pay almost seven and a half dollars for six strips?! Ridiculous! My solution was to start using a well-known flavorless gelatin + milk recipe. The recipe is:  1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin + 1 tablespoon of milk; mix, then cook in the microwave for ten seconds and mix again, and then apply as much as needed.  It’s much more cost-friendly and just as effective, if you can get past a few of the cons:  the smell is awful (and I haven’t found a way to get rid of it) and the consistency is thick and gel-like, which may be different from other products (like the strips).  My skin felt soft and almost moisturized after I peeled off the rubber-like mask. I don’t get that result with the ones you can buy from the store.  Overall, I recommend trying one of these if you get those annoying little black dots on your nose and can’t seem get rid of them.

That’s everything I can think of that’s changed the life of my skincare routine. Let me know in the comments any useful tips/tricks you have to send acne packing!

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69 thoughts on “Sam’s Teenage Acne Must-Haves

  1. Andrea

    This is a bit of a contradiction, only last week there was a post on here saying only use your Clarisonic a couple of times a week!

    • Georgia

      It depends entirely on the person. I have friends who use it a couple of times a week, but I use mine every day and my skin has never been better.

  2. Dame Elizabeth

    This really does show how massive the variations are in people’s experiences with skin! The Benefit cleanser gave me a terrible red rash and I have used my clarisonic for 6 months and had no improvement at all in my skin. The reason for it not doing anything for me is genetics – hormones and huge pores = terrible skin for me, so I’m now trying to control my breakouts with Yasmin.
    I’d say that’s a big tip I’d give to anyone – figure out if your problem is down to genetics (i.e, large pores, oily skin etc) or if it’s down to a bad skin routine (i.e., not cleansing, not taking make-up off, not moisturising)
    Once I figured out that I had a problem from the inside, I can now start to treat it hopefully.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      I’m sorry to hear your skin had such a bad reaction :( I’m glad you’ve found the root of the problem though, and good luck with Yasmin. I’ve heard birth control does wonders for womens’ skin.

    • Sarah

      I agree, I’m sure this post means well but acne is just not that simple – everyone reacts differently and at 26 now I can say for sure that a Clarisonic would have done nothing but aggravate my teenage cystic acne, and argan oil is MUCH too heavy for a lot of us and leads to incredibly clogged pores.

      Throughout my teens nothing applied topically had any affect whatsoever – it was a course of Accutane that settled things down to a manageable level. Unfortunately for many acne sufferers, you tend to waste a lot of money trying to find the next “wonder cream” before you treat the source of the problem. Acne is so unique to each person in cause & remedy.

  3. Laura R

    great tips Sam! i just got a Mia a week ago and i’m so in love! :)

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      Isn’t it amazing? :) haha it was love at first wash for me. I made sure everyone knew how much I loved my Mia <3

  4. tat

    what a lovely girl!

  5. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Janeen Janeen

    I really must get that Clarisonic! I’ve heard such amazing things. I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t get acne during my teenage years, but when I hit 20, a bomb went off in my face. Cystic acne of the worst kind, painful, like the Rocky mountains migrated to my cheeks. I literally tried everything, in the end, went to the dermatologist and he prescribed antibiotics plus topical meds and it did the trick. Also the pro-activ sulfur mask is amazing, just started using it (about 2 weeks) and my face feels so much softer, smoother, acne marks not as prevalent, and it has Allure’s stamp of approval. :)
    Taking care of one’s skin is extremely important, I’m glad you have your acne under control, but if it ever gets bad, I recommend seeing a doctor before your self-esteem is non-existant. Thanks for your tips!!!

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      I don’t think I can recommend the Clarisonic enough :) I also heard rave reviews about it, but really it’s something you have to try for yourself. And if you don’t end up liking it, Sephora has a pretty amazing return policy.

      • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Alison Alison

        It really is worth every cent!

        In my late teens/beginning of my twenties, I had moderate to severe acne all over my cheeks, with painful white heads on my nose and forehead: I had huge patches where you could not see my skin, it often looked more like a graze or like I had pimples on top of pimples.

        Now that I use the clarisonic, if I break out, I get a pimple or two – and they’re much less sore, and disappear faster. It makes my pimple creams more effective, too. My cheeks look totally clear a lot of the time and I don’t break out on my nose or forehead anymore.

        Plus, my skin is much softer, smoother and soreness isn’t an issue! It actually feels a little plumper when I use the clarisonic. I do have to use it twice a day, (I DEFINITELY can’t skip two days if I don’t want to break out!) but its work it – I already put a lot of effort into my skin anyway.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Taylor Taylor R

      You really need the Clarisonic Mia! I know it’s a little pricey but the amount I’m saving on spot treatment and other products makes it worth it. I’d definitely pay it twice over for the difference it made in my skin.

  6. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Anna Anna

    Hi Sam!
    First off, great post! I have a younger sister who is 18 but has had problems with bad acne for years. It’s cleared up significantly in the past year or so, but she’s left with discolored scars which are very difficult to cover up. I’d love to get her to start using the Clarisonic to help regenerate her skin, but she refuses to talk about the condition of her skin and always gets really irritated and blows me off. (I was definitely more aggressive with her about this when she just started breaking out because I had a similar problem, if not as severe, when I was a teen – I’m sure that is where this attitude is stemming from!)
    Could you please give me some pointers from your perspective on how to talk to someone who is very sensitive about this topic? She’s normally actually quite self-confident, but this is just the one thing she refuses to discuss with me!
    Thank you and once again, great post!

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      Hi Anna! Thanks for the feedback :)

      My advice is to try and approach the subject as delicately as possible. I also used to be sensitive about the subject. It seemed like every time it was brought up with my mom it turned into an argument. But that was just her trying to help me understand that my acne doesn’t effect who I am as a person, and there really isn’t a reason for me to be so insecure.

      Try providing some comfort and security. Let her know that she doesn’t have to get defensive, that you understand what she’s going through because of your own experience, and let her know that she can talk to you.

      Also, if you don’t think she would try a new product on her own, try gifting something to her. That could help prod her into trying new things to help scars or breakouts, and I’m sure she would appreciate the gesture nonetheless. The moisturizer mentioned in the post is my recommendation :) it’s natural, helped with my scars, provided additional moisture I wasn’t getting before, and comes in a smaller sample size. Try wording it like “it was highly recommended by another teenage girl, and I thought maybe it could help you.” Or, when it all comes down to it, you can link her to this post. I know I would’ve liked reading recommendations from fellow teenagers when I was having a rough time.

      I hope this helps! I can’t say I’ve been in your position, but I have been in your sister’s. So I’m just basing this off of what did/would’ve helped me. Good luck!

  7. NeenaJ

    It’s nice to read a young perspective on the blog! It’s an interesting change of pace. One thing I wanted to mention is that pore strips and other masks that rip the gunk from your pores can and will stretch out your pores over time, making them bigger and more prone to blackheads.

    It’s really tempting to use them, as I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love that satisfaction of seeing all the congestion removed in an instant. Just a note of caution as you’re young enough to remedy that before it creates a new problem.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      Thanks for the tip, Neena! I’ll definitely keep this in mind. I don’t use pore strips very often, though. Once every month or two, tops!

  8. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Peggy Peggy Wu

    I try leaning toawrds organic face products. I’m currently using The power of plants, Botanics moisturising deep clean foam, and Botanics organic rosewater toner.I also try to avoid having to deal with pimples, and try prevention. I used to have a bad habbit of going to sleep with my makeup still on, but now, I’ve very very OCD about having to wash my face before I go to sleep. I also use organic or very light face washes, because I don’t want the stress from the pimples to activate me to use harsh products that may/may not harm my skin even worse.

    • Isobel

      I like using products with natural ingredients too, becuase my sensitive skin :). I like Lush because they use all natural products and are usually vegan or vegetarian. garnier and st. ives have natural skin care ranges. aside form natual stuff I also like cetaphil, sorbolene and dermaphil lines which are specifically for sensitive skin and don’t have any excess chemicals.

  9. Gillian

    I’m 14 myself and currently battling acne. I’ll have to try this out!

  10. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Katherine Katherine

    This is a really helpful post, and very well-written! I’m in my mid-20’s and still suffer from some acne. I finally figured out it was related to soy in my diet, and my skin has gotten much better since avoiding soy, but these are great tips that I wholeheartedly agree with, especially staying confident and positive.

  11. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Ashley Ashley

    At 25 I’ve finally found a product that made a HUGE difference in my skin – prescription Retin A. I never broke out too bad but I usually had at least one blemish at a time and they always left horrible red marks. With the Retin A my skin is clear and smooth, and any blemishes I do get barely leave marks. Just as a word of caution, don’t over do it, it will dry your skin out A LOT (for the first 2 months of using it, my coworkers were asking me if I had gotten a chemical peel). I use it every 3 days and it seems to keep everything balanced.

    • Rachel

      My dermatologist recommended using Cetaphil’s moisturizing cream (which, if you haven’t felt it, comes in tubs or tubes is quite heavy) as a moisturizer when using Retin A. It seemed a little crazy at first because of the weight, but it’s worked and I haven’t had the dryness most people have complained about while using it daily.

  12. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sarah Sarah

    Heh, I can relate…I began breaking out when I was nine or ten years old (my dad had bad skin too…the nasty side of genetics). My acne became awful during my middle school and high school years. Like you, I tried anything and everything I could get my hands on from the drugstore, from dermatologists, natural remedies, etc. Nothing worked, and worse, many products caused either an increase in my acne or gave me chemical burns (apparently, my skin can’t handle retin-A products at all). I finally found a great dermatologist my junior year in HS, and after trying all of the creams, lotions, gels, even antibiotics, he put on me accutane…and it worked. Really well. I’ve since had two kids, and ten years later, my skin has survived in pretty good condition despite all those hormonal changes. I find now that I have really sensitve combination skin, and certain chemicals make me breakout. I use the new Neutrogena naturals line, and their Combination Skin, Oil-Free, Non-SPF moisturizer, and I’ve had very, very few issues. But good luck. It’s a constant battle of trial and error, and finding out what works you at your particular stage in life. It’s rough, it sucks, but keep the concealer handy, and try to keep a strong, confident attitude. This too shall pass.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      Thank you for your inspiring words, Sarah!

      I’ll look into that Neutrogena line next time I stop in Ulta. Sounds like we have a very similar skin-type!

  13. I’m 24 and have struggled with mild to moderate acne since I was about 13. I finally got it under control this past year. I started using the Clarisonic and feel it has made a huge difference in the frequency of my breakouts. I don’t care what that skincare expert lady says, lol. I only use it once a day because I don’t want to over exfoliate, and I also tend to use the delicate brush head.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen a dermatologist, but if you haven’t I highly recommend that you do! I really don’t trust most over the counter (drug store or high end) skin care products at all. My dermatologist has been KEY in providing the right medications to finally kick my acne in the butt!

  14. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Jessie Jessie

    I second the milk-strips… they really do smell horrible but i find they actually work better than the biore pore strips

  15. This is an awesome post. And now I’m seriously considering the Mia, even though I don’t really have a problem with acne – I get the occasional hormonal zit – usually cystic – but that’s it. But softer, smoother, even-textured skin sounds amazing.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      The clarisonic is great for all skin, even if you dont have acne. :) I let my cousin try it. Her and I have night-and-day difference in our skin-type. She hardly ever breaks out, but she fell in love with it as well. Our skin feels so fresh after using it, and with time, the softer, smoother skin makes it’s appearance ;)

  16. I am far from being a teen ;) But I’m getting hormonal acne again! I finally bought a Mia and *love* it. I keep trying different creams, so far none that work great–I have thought of looking into the Argan oil (I have some samples). Another one my daughter uses is Manuka oil–it’s related to the Tea Tree, and the honey can heal burns, and ever cure MRSA! I may have to use some myself, it’s good antibacterial stuff!

    Great article! You are a very good writer :))

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      Thanks! :) I definitely recommend the argan oil. I just got my brother’s girlfriend to start using it and she LOVES it. I’ll look into the Manuka oil too.

  17. Marwa

    *vial rather than vile

  18. This is incredibly well-written for a 14-year-old, and has some great tips! Thanks for your insight, Sam! :)

  19. Hmm I’ve never heard of the gelatin face mask. Unflavored gelatin smells so nasty though! Think I might give this a try, but I can already smell it!

  20. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Tracey Tracey

    Could the resident dermatologist please define what cystic acne is, because I’ve seen it thrown around so much and it is definitely misused.

    • Not a derm here, but my next post for Temptalia addresses the stages of acne. Basically cystic acne is when the hair follicle becomes so inflammaed that it ruptures and expells its contents (sebum, bacteria, dead keratinocytes) into the dermis, which is why they get cystic pimples become so large and deep.

      Hope that helped!

  21. Heather

    Im glad the benefit cleanser works so well for you! It made my skin feel yicky and was way to creamy! Sadness because I love the smell and texture

  22. Naomi

    I use these same products! they are amazing!

  23. Melissa

    I disagree with the majorirty of this article.

    First of all, I own a Clairisonic. I do love it, but I disagree with its uses. Foremost, it is touted as a cleansing system. It is not, it is an exfoliator- no doubt. Secondly, Clarisonic recommends daily usage. This is excessive; for most people this will incease oil production, worsen acne breakouts, and aggrivate skin. One should exfoliate 2-3 times a week, at most! I hope this poor girl understands that exfoliating twice daily can destroy the skin!

    Moreover, if any skincare regimen is causing cystic acne, that skincare regimen needs to be halted ASAP. There is no scientific evidence for the concept of purging; there is only antecdotal evidence. Whenever a skincare regimen causes acne, people will say “oh, your skin is purging, that’s to be expected.” All evidence contradicts this; your skin is adversely reacting to ingredients that are too harsh, and while your skin may eventually adapt to these harsh ingredients, the fact remains that they are not good for your skin!

    I have tried the entire Benefit skincare line. The cleanser is decent, but be warned: cream cleansers work best on those with dry skin, and gel cleansers work best on those with acne-prone skin. I have been using both the Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil and the Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser with Botanical Blast. Boscia uses gentle and natural ingredients. These two products have done wonders for my skin, and I no longer experience acne. As for the rest of Benefit’s line, I found it to be mediocre. There are definitely better skincare products out there, specifically ones tailored for the needs of acne-prone skin.

    I also highly recommend Peter Thomas Roth’s Sulfur Cooling Masque. The sulfur works wonders on acne-prone skin, and the cooling eucalyptus scent removes any traces of the smell of sulfur. It also doubles as an overnight spot treatment! I also love Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Daily Face Peek. It has antii-acne and anti-aging properties, and the results are drasting and immediate. I can’t live without this product! Lastly, I use DDF’s Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew. Moisturzers are an integral part of any skincare regimen, and too many people with acne swear off moisturizers altogether for fear of causing more acne. But this product is non-acnegenic, and it never leaves you feeling greasy. It’s perfect!

    In regards to the Biore Pore Strips- really? Pore strips are terrible for your skin. First of all, they remove about 15% of blackheads and whiteheads- at most. Second of all, they dry out the skin. When you rip off the strip, you rip off skin cells with it. Moreover, they remove good oils from your skin as well. Overall pore strips are just a bad idea for all types of skin. I would never recommend pore strips for anything. The best way to remove blackheads and whiteheads is professional extractions. The best way to prevent them is oil cleansing, using gentle skincare products, and using products with non-acnegenic ingredients.

    As a whole, skincare is extremely individualized. What works for one may not work for another. But using gentle, natural products supported by dermatological science is always the best bet.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for your honest feedback!

      I haven’t found any bad reactions to my clarisonic, though. I only broke out like so after the first two weeks of use. I haven’t had a similar breakout since. To me, it was like using a good acne mask — it drew out what was underneath my skin’s surface. I haven’t noticed any increase in oil production (and trust me, I used to have a pretty oily T-Zone), and it surely hasn’t worsened my skin.

      Like you mentioned, skincare is a very personal thing. I wrote this post based off of my skin type, my experience, and what worked for me. These are my recommendations for fellow teenagers.

      • Melissa

        I’m glad that you find a skincare regimen that has helped. However I don’t feel that you should stop doing research on skincare products! Although your current issues with cystic acne may seem better than your previous issues with acne, the fact remains that no issues with acne is the best scenario of all! There is still room for improvement within your skincare regimen.

        But please understand that there is no science behind the theory of purging! The idea that a product purges dirt, oil, or toxins from the skin is unproven. Toxins are not filtered externally; they are filtered internally. Skin purging is a rampant beauty myth based on anecdotal evidence. People use harsh products which cause acne, then the skin adjusts to these harsh products and the acne slows/halts. That’s all that is happening; there is no “drawing out of what’s underneath the surface” going on there, based on scientific evidence of how the skin works on a basic cellular level. Your experiences with the Clarisonic are more akin to the acclimation of the skin to harsh products than to the skin purging itself- which simply does not exist.

        You are young; your skin bounces back. The damaging effects of your skincare routine- pore strips, over exfoliating, harsh products, etc.- can be easily corrected now. It is when you are older that you will be able to more readily see the effects of an improper skincare regimen! Also, no skincare regimen is complete without a product with SPF. It is never too early to protect against sun damage. I believe that said that you mix JM’s Argan Oil with another moisturizer- I hope it’s one with SPF! Best of luck to you as you continue to search for your HG skincare regimen!

    • Abi

      I too was horrified to read that using the Clarisonic resulted in cystic acne. I would so much rather have a few superficial pustules for a day or two than a deep painful cyst that can take weeks to heal! Perhaps the author meant something other than what I think of as “cystic acne” if she doesn’t mind it. I’ve been thinking of getting a Mia for some time and I remain on the fence.

      As a bedical student who has struggled with acne in the past, I can attest to what’s worked for me: gentle gel cleansers (I like JJ Clean & Clear), exfoliating – chemically w concentrated glycolic acid or a product with beta hydroxy acid, or mechanically with the Neutrogena Wave, once a week is plenty. I also LOVE sulfur based products – masks, Elf zit powder, Mario Badescu healing powder, that drug store mask with “Acne” in the name- all great. In summer, I like to clean off my facial oil with an MB Cleansing lotion on a cotton pad. Oh, and Differin, when I have a tube, does wonders for my skin.

      I don’t use ALL of these at once. Too many cleansing products will just irritate the skin, and promote inflammation. IMHO, a gentle cleanser with weekly exfoliation, a weekly mask, and spot treatment is plenty.

      • Maybe if you have 20 pimples you’d rather have just one painful one? The one thing I’ve noticed is that cystic acne, if you leave it alone, is much, much easier to conceal on a daily basis! Lots of little ones are so much more difficult, because they’ll be in different stages and they may be so close together that it gives the skin a textured look :(

        • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Quinctia Quinctia

          Medically, though, cystic acne is the bad stuff. The infection is deeper, often more painful, and this type of acne is what is most likely to scar afterwards.

          Totally anecdotal, but I managed to go through all of my adolescent/teen years without one acne scar, but I’ve got one dark spot on my upper lip now from a cystic pimple.

          Knowing now that there were only a few during one brief time period is a different thing, but out of context, someone saying they used a clarisonic and it gave them cystic acne would be a good reason to stay far, far away from one.

      • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sam Sam

        I agree with Christine here. As I said in the post, my skin would breakout in angry-looking red and flaky bumps. My whole face would breakout in these, and they were far more difficult for me to get rid of.

        And yes, I’m positive it was a cystic breakout. My oldest brother had cystic acne when he was my age — I remember clearly what it looked like, how he described the way it felt, and what treatments it reacted to best.

        In my experience, I had three cystic pimples total. Two on my forehead, one on my right cheek. They were painful for the first day or two, so I’m not denying they hurt. But with gentle care, I noted that they were gone in about five days with no scarring left behind. I’ve not had a single cystic breakout since.

        So, comparing the two types — red bumps that flaked and bled if I even tried to touch it; difficult to conceal; took weeks to diminish; and scarred. Versus three total pimples that hurt for a few days; concealable; gone within five days; and no scarring. If this was how your skin worked as well, which would you prefer?

        I wrote this post based off of my skincare regimen and what WORKS for me. This combination just happens to be that.

        • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Quinctia Quinctia

          Cystic acne is a deeper infection that’s more prone to scarring, so your testimonial that the clarisonic led to that sounds a bit scarier than what you’d want in an endorsement. :)

          Add in the vagueness about bringing out toxins–it’s more likely that when you first began to use it, the loose skin cells, detritus, and bacteria that were on the surface of your skin from the surface breakouts may have gotten forced into a few spots on your face, causing deeper infections. As the surface skin got better, there was nothing to cause infection deeper.

          I don’t have a clarisonic, so I don’t know what the brush heads look like when detached, but hopefully there’s a good method for disinfecting/cleaning the brush head between uses? I know they’re replaceable, but if someone begins using a brush when they have a lot of surface breakouts, they probably should be disinfecting the brush between uses.

        • Vix

          Hi Sam,

          Your skin sounds a lot like how mine was as a teenager. I had the painful red bumps that flaked, bled, and took a long time to heal. My dermatologist at the time figured it was teenager acne. The treatments never really worked. When I was in my early 20s I lived in Ohio for a year and the summers were hot and humid. The bumps came back something awful. The dermatologist was then able to diagnose Papulopustular Rosacea due to some mild redness on other parts of my face. I got a prescription cream that helped them disappear.

          I’m 33 now and my face is dry/sensitive. I very rarely get breakouts but I do get a bit ruddy after I exfoliate. One thing that irritates the hell out of my skin is mineral oil/paraffin.

          If the system works wonderfully for you, stick with it. Sorry for such a long post, but I figured it might help. It’s hard to diagnose with teenagers since it looks like acne yet it can also occur alongside acne. Sorry for such post. I figured that if it’s something you might have that you may be able to get it cleared up sooner. Thank you for sharing and having confidence is the best advice :)

    • Emily

      It would be nice for you, Melissa, to include your skin type and your age so that others may benefit from your experience and product recommendations.

      • Melissa

        Sure thing! I am 25 with oil-prone and acne-prone skin. In the summer my skin is more oily; in the winter my skin is more normal/combination. I say “prone” because I no longer experience these issues due to a diligent skincare routine. I also used to have very large pores, with terrible blackheads on my nose. I hope this helps someone out there to find the right skincare regimen. I know that acne is awful to have to deal with, but there are solutions to correct acne problems. It’s just a matter of separating the myths of treating acne with the science of treating acne, in my opinion!

  24. Ivy

    $1 ACNE CURE!!
    I used the E.L.F. Zit Zapper, which is only ONE DOLLAR at eyeslipsface.com or in Target stores! It’s a MIRACLE! At first I was hesitant because I didn’t want to put cheap products on my skin, but after reading the hundreds of positive reviews I decided to give it at try.

    I have dry skin with a semi-oily T-zone, but as of a few months ago I kept breaking out in the same spots. As soon as I started changing my pillowcases weekly (also, I use one pillow for when my hair’s dirty & when when it’s clean) and applying this Zit Zapper on my problem areas, I’ve had NO BREAKOUTS at all!! I recommend it to you all :)

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Elizabeth cydoniac

      it had never occured to me that the pillow case could cause a skin problem until I read this…!!I’m actually in awe right now…seriously,not kidding…

      • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of nancy nancy y.

        changing pillow cases every week does make a difference! and washing makeup bushes weekly, and cleaning your cell phone too.

  25. Roxanne

    You know, I personally find it really fishy when the Clarisonic claims that the initial breakouts are from “bringing dirt, oil and toxins to the surface”. Is there any real science in this? Also, what does the Clarisonic do that an exfoliating cloth or brush doesn’t?

  26. im 26 with annoying skin still and i completely 2nd the Mia, Josie’s Argan Oil (although I’m going to try Garden of Wisdom’s version for $9/1 oz bottle) and the pore strips (ultra strength). it’s made a big improvement in my acne too!

  27. Alice A

    I live in Australia and none of these products are available here apart from the Mia – which has a whopping $150 price tag!! Can you please suggest any alternatives?

    I started using a cream called Duac back in November and it has helped VASTLY. I now almost get barely any pimples (since I was about 13, I have had constant break-outs on my forehead – and nowhere else. I’m 17, almost 18) and using coconut oil on my face nightly makes my skin look radiant. These are just my own little ‘fixes’ that I thought I could share. :)

  28. I also have to completely disagree with Sam’s appraisal of the Clarisonic unfortunately. I’m not a dermatologist, but I have a BSc in genetics, and I’m currently studying for my masters in medicinal chemistry, so science is my thing.

    I also have a Clarisonic, and acne prone skin. I’ve never had as badly inflamed cysts as when I used the Clarisonic. I gave it many chances, using it with extremely gentle products, but the cystic acne did not abate.

    In my (somewhat) informed opinion, the sonic vibration of the Clarisonic is irritating the follicles deep in the skin, and causing them to become inflamed. This leads to cystic acne which we both have experienced. I have ceased use of the Clarisonic, and I haven’t had a single cyst since.

    My skin is clear now, not thanks to the Clarisonic, but to use of chemical exfoliants (AHA and salicylic acid) and retinol products.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Maggie Maggie

      Kat–I am also wary of the Clarisonic for the reasons you stated. However, I know of some doctors who actually use this in their routine so maybe it shouldn’t be dismissed outright.

      Sam–I love your attitude with the self confidence and self esteem. I have a recommendation for your cystic acne: Peter Thomas Roth Acne Spot and Area Treatment. The glycolic acid and sulfur combination is awesome. It’s not a miracle worker but makes my cystic acne go away faster. Also do you wear spf? I find I break out and scar more if I forgo it.

      I do have a question that you might find redundant: have you ever tried using the dermatologist step-by-step prescriptions? I forget how they prescribe things but it involves using prescription retinoids, and things like clindamycin. If you tried it, how did that route of skincare work out for you? I personally find that using Differin and Clindamycin helps tremendously but unfortunately, my skin has gotten too sensitive to use both anymore.

      Also have you tried incorporating chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA’s) in your routine as well? It might be too strong on top of using the Clarisonic but I’m curious as to what you think of it.

      How about rotating your skincare (for example, 2 weeks of using one set of products that work, and when they stop working, use another set of products and keep on changing it up and cycling back and forth?) This would make most skin types freak out but it sounds like your skin goes back to breaking out once it actually gets accustomed to something.

      Also, argan oil can be comedogenic even though it’s an excellent moisturizer. Other acne-prone readers should be aware of this. My breakouts don’t seem to get worsened by using organic 100% jojoba oil (which is similar to sebum bc it’s made up of wax esters, instead of triglycerides like most oils)

      Pore strips, for those who have never used them, shouldn’t start. It does pull out skin cells and thus, can make your pores look bigger. I like chemical exfoliants for this sort of thing, used only a couple times a week.

      • Hi Maggie! Absolutely, I totally agree that the Clarisonic shouldn’t be dismissed outright, as different skins will react differently to it. Sensitive and acne prone skin should be very wary however.

        People who have acne usually have follicles clogged with oil and skin cells. This is perfect “food” for bacteria, who multiply, and produce skin-inflaming chemicals. Then the Clarisonic comes along and shakes this all up with its sonic vibration, causing huge irritation and rupture deep in the follicle. The bacteria can then invade nearby tissue and folicles, causing a serious infection (a cyst or nodule). This type of lesion is more likely to scar than superficial acne near the surface of the skin.

  29. Brittany

    I would really love to try the clarisonic but its soooooooo expensive!

  30. Emily

    Very well-written! :)

  31. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Jen Agkelos

    Ah, just a note. The “deepest and most red pimples” that you mentioned are actually not acne scars. They are hyperpigmentation that occurred because of the bacterial infection that caused your acne. They should and will go away in time (the length depends on how fast your body metabolizes melanin). There’s really nothing that will effectively take them away though some methods (like exfoliation) can speedup their “fading away” period.

    Real acne scars are defined as sunken in or hypertrophic spots on your face that are left behind by acne. They are usually skin-colored and will probably never go away on their own without dermatological intervention. It’s these that must be avoided at all costs and also why people say that you shouldn’t pick at your acne.

  32. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Carolina Carolina

    Dear Sam, I loved your post because you started by listing Confidence.
    I think this is an unbelievably mature outlook to have at your age and I want to praise you for it.
    The products in your post might not work the same for everybody, but at least one part of your post will always be true: staying positive is key!
    Well done! :)

  33. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Aimey Aimey

    I’ve been meaning to get my hands on some argan oil! Also, I’ve heard good stuff about the Clarisonic system, and I’ve always wanted to try one! I’ve also heard good about the pore strips. I don’t think I have bad pores–but then again, what do I know. I want to try them to see if I can see any changes! :P