Have you dealt with acne? How did you overcome it?

For me, my acne was resolved through my primary doctor, who prescribed (generic) Differin and clindamycin (foam), which pretty much cleared up much of my acne. Mario Badescu’s anti-acne products (like the Drying Lotion) worked well for dealing with active acne, but the prescription products cleared up my skin that I don’t use other products to control/prevent it.

— Christine


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Michaela Avatar

Cystic acne plagued my teen years – I found a combination of things eventually cleared it up – drinking a lot of water, good skincare (exfoliating at least twice a week, face masks, always cleansing/toning/moisturising) – I love Mario Badescu as well, especially the glycolic and cucumber cleansers! Like you though, what eventually cleared up my underlying issues was going to the doctors and getting medication – benzoyl peroxide worked wonders for me – acne can be cleared up so many ways though, the only thing I’d solidly recommend to anyone is perseverance and self confidence – your skin doesn’t define you!

Katherine T. Avatar

I’m fortunate in that I never had any serious acne, other than the occasional pimple. I used to have blackheads on my nose but exfoliating and salicylic acid lotions took care of those. If I have a a pimple, I’ll take a shower to open up my face pores, then dot some Neutrogena Clear Body Wash (in pink grapefruit, with 2% salicylic acid) onto the spot, leave it in for a few minutes as a mask, then rinse, then follow up with Paula’s Choice BHA 9 lotion, and that usually shrinks it by morning. And if the pimple is close to the surface, I’ll pop it with clean fingers. I know I’m not suppose to and it can leave scars, but I can’t help it (ugh)

Sarah Avatar

Yes! I had bad acne as a kid and a teenager and used Proactive but then I started eating all clean foods and just using natural skincare and it has cleared right up. If I use something that has chemicals in it for acne, my skin becomes red and irratated.

Nancy T Avatar

Yes, I sure did! First started getting pimples at 12 y.o., but by 14, I had full-blown acne. Gosh, I remember always being very self-conscious of it, trying out every zit cream and potion around! None of them “cured” me, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide reduced them, but I never used to have the patience to wait, so a sterilized sewing needle became my ugly secret. Left scars,too.
I have only been rid of the bad breakouts since menopause, and still get a bump here or there, but not bunches anymore. The only other reprieves I got were when I got pregnant. Hormones!

Lulle Avatar

I’ve had more acne in the past few months than ever before in my life :/ I can’t say that I’ve overcome it, it comes and goes in the form of major breakout crisis. I use a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment when I have an active cyst, and salicylic acid and/or retinol to try and keep the breakouts at bay. I haven’t had a new zit in a few weeks now so I’m hoping it’s under control, but I’m considering trying Mario Badescu if I breakout again.

Angela Avatar

Over the past 20 years (I am 45 now) I have tried every medication including Accutane for my cystic acne on my chin. I even tried smooth beam laser. Nothing worked for long. The acne kept coming back. It was ugly it was painful. I usually only had one or two sis so much in but they were very painful and they would be lumps. I would not want to leave my house because I felt self conscious. Last fall I had a bad flare and once again was at the Dr. I actually started crying. The doctor told me maybe I need a counselor if it was upsetting me so much. Clearly there was not anything more he could do. Getting cysts in my chin injected was extremely painful and some left deep scars. After much pain and emotional suffering. I did as much research as possible. For me dairy was the problem. I have not been a milk drinker but I did eat a lot of cheese. I have not had any cheese in a year and my face its been super clear. I wish I would have known this 20 years ago. A lot of women are allergic to dairy and it comes out and cystic acne on their chin. Hormonal acne. If you’re struggling from what doctors call hormonal acne try giving up dairy it is totally worth it.

Ginny Avatar

It’s not an allergy, but that the hormones that are present in commercial cow dairy may affect some people’s hormone levels, eventually causing acne down the line. Absolutely worth cutting it out for someone who feels like they’ve “tried everything.”

Laura Avatar

Wow. That is a great story and I am so happy you found something that helped. Good for you. I actually had hormonal acne on my right cheek (and there only!) from age about 32-38 and it was really frustrating. I found medication from Derm to be only answer (spironolactone) and now my skin is very clear.

Jen Avatar

I am 43 and my story is very similar to yours. I can’t agree with you enough about dairy products. Anyone having recurrent acne should really investigate this as a culprit.

Trisha Avatar

I agree, I started eating Activia yogurt for a stomach issue and started having horrible cystic acne around my chin. Never had cysts before on the skin, just the occasional blemish here and there. I knew it was from the yogurt as this was the only change I had in my diet. I stopped eating the yogurt and my skin returned to normal.

Linda Avatar

Yes and so badly from 13-28 but it’s quite good now. Cutting out peanut butter and cheese helps (I will break out with either of those every time *sniff*), and taking a greens drink with B-complex has made a big difference, as has washing make up brushes religiously. Also using more lightweight and higher end foundations I believe have helped (I swear UD Naked Skin is skincare in itself!)

Unfortunately my skin will break out if there’s even a drop of oil in a product, and silicone primers don’t work either – I have to pass on so many products due to that.

Kimberly Avatar

Yes, I actually got acne very early on when I was 9 or 10. It sucked being early to the puberty game and I was constantly on different cleansers, acne creams, etc. Even visited a dermatologist who gave me some kind of medicated ointment that didn’t really work.

Eventually, when I was 15, my mother bought me a multivitamin called Vykmin (it’s been discontinued… sigh) and I started using Cetaphil (super gentle creamy cleanser – better than Kiehl’s, Philosophy and Origins!) twice a day. Gave me great results, my skin cleared up after 1-2 months. Also found that Oxy’s Maximum Strength 10% Benzoyl Peroxide instead of salicylic acid works best on my spots. I think the main way to overcome acne is to make sure you eat as clean as possible, take vitamins, drink lots of water, moisturize, and find out the best cleanser for your skin. Everyone’s skin is different so it takes time to figure out what works best for you. Don’t give up!

Anne Avatar

For me I never had a huge acne problem, though I started to have a few issues with it around the puberty/hell age. I used Proactiv for only about a month and it mostly cleared it up, and I think I mostly did so as at the first sign of acne I was afraid I’d have a huge problem with it like my older sister did.

Aside from that brief spell, I’ve been lucky both genetically and in terms of lifestyle (lots of water, always use sunscreen, get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke, don’t cake on the makeup, etc) so I pretty much only get the once a month 1-3 spots that clear right up with Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. I’m super lucky in that respect.

My poor sister is about to turn 29 and still has major issues with acne, though that’s definitely due to A LOT of her bad habits like smoking, not sleeping ever, barely drinking any water, no skincare routine, some serious wisdom teeth issues she won’t deal with, etc as whenever she stops those things her skin clears right up.

Jessica Avatar

I couldn’t help but respond to this ridiculous statement. Here (link below) is a recent study that smoking does have a high correlation with non-inflammatory acne. It took me 30 seconds to find and there were half a dozen others with similiar conclusions. I know correlation does not mean cause but if we are throwing in anecdotal evidence here I can usually spot regular smokers by there skin prior to being close enough to smell them.


Natalie Brown Avatar

I did a 9 month treatment with Retin-A several years ago and it truly changed my skin for the better. I haven’t had any acne since. If you can get through the first month of “super break-outs” and stay out of the sun, it works very, very well.

Dreamer19 Avatar

I had really bad acne for year. Nothing topical really helped. I went on birth control pills for about 8 months (something like Yasmin, but a different name) and it cleared it up. I just wish I had got that years earlier. Would’ve saved me a lot of heartache.

Rachel Avatar

Yes! I’ve struggled since about 13 and it continued into adulthood. I have issues in my chest, back and face. I see a dermatologist because most OTC washes and creams tend to aggravate my skin without addressing the problem.

Retina micro has worked the best for me over the years. Also, vit C serums and sunscreen to help with scaring.

Laura_Lou Avatar

I’ve never had acne, just a few spots that tend to cluster on my chin/forehead every so often. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo + has been the best thing I’ve found to clear up my skin when I have breakouts. I also have a tea tree and witch hazel spot stick from Boots which works amazing at clearing up spots that don’t want to budge!

Victoria Avatar

Of course when I dealt with puberty, I had the worst case of acne. It pops up all over my face; you know, the whole miserable experience. Funny to say is that I don’t remember it completely. My mom gives me Aveeno to wash up my face and it helps me since. I don’t break out easily. I have very dry and sensitive skin. If I get acne, it’s a rare event and it goes away within a few days.

Danielle Avatar

I have a 4 month course of antibiotics, I also use Duac acne lotion. My acne wasn’t so bad really, just a few large zits on my chin every now and then. It’s pretty much cleared up after a month.

Diana Avatar

Mine just cleared up with age. I had acne pretty young (starting around 10 years old), so it was weird having clear skin by the time a lot of my peers were beginning to struggle with acne.

Rachel Avatar

I get one or two pimples on my chin when it’s that time of the month. That’s the only time I deal with acne. I tend to just avoid wearing foundation and use a spot treatment from Murad.

Lesley H Avatar

Unfortunately I’m an exception to the rule that Accutane cures acne. I’ve done two rounds of Accutane (one in my late teens an the other in my mid-twenties) only to have my acne return in my 40s. I’ve resisted oral antibiotics due to side effects and stuck with my clindamycin gel and good skincare with mostly good results. I still break out, but it clears up fairly fast.

Ginny Avatar

Cod liver oil is one of the most beneficial supplements/vitamins out there. It’s a natural food-source of vitamin A (Accutane/isotretinoin is a synthetic form of vitamin A) among others. If you have acne I highly recommend trying it. There’s very, very little to no health risk (unless you are allergic to fish) and is an old remedy that your grandmother’s mother probably forced her to take when she was a kid to prevent cold and flu in the winter.

Yen.Lin Avatar

I had two bouts of horrible acne, and still break out quite often.
Differin (0.1% gel) by Galderma, i.e. adapalene saved my life. Had horrible acne but my skin’s condition improved after around 3 months of usage. It’s been nearly 2 years since but I still use Differin to control breakouts/whiteheads. I use it in combination with La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo+, which is less drying.
I make an effort to stick with my skincare regimen: Remove makeup thoroughly EVERY NIGHT (regardless of how tired I am—clear skin is worth it), cleanse face with a face wash (pick one that isn’t too harsh/drying), and follow with a layer of pimple cream where needed. I use Vaseline as an overnight mask (the molecules are too large to clog pores—got the tip from this article: http://www.xovain.com/holiday/better-skin-overnight), to counter the drying effects of Differin.

Sun Avatar

I had “garden variety” acne as a teen (mostly on my forehead) which cleared by the time I was 19; then I had a very bad bout (way worse then my teens) of acne in my mid-30s. I was using BP, which dried out my skin and bleached my towels. Finally, I went to the doctor who recommended topical Clindamycin and I also found that my skin tolerated salicylic acid better than BP. Between using products with salicylic acid to help keep my pores clear and Clindamycin to kill the p. acnes bacteria, my skin cleared up. Still, I remember feeling very self-conscious during that time and it made me realize that good skin is a gift. The silver lining is that I became much more diligent about my skincare after that, especially daily use of sunscreen: I’ve never been a sun worshipper, but I wasn’t always so diligent about protecting my skin from the sun.

KJH Avatar

I inherited my father’s skin, which is porous, oily, and unrefined. (My mum’s was great.) and general hormone-mediated stuff from mgm. Acne didn’t hit much in HS. Docs never thought it was too bad, so were never willing to titrate down the oral ATBX to a control dose. That would have worked. No topical scripts did anything. Allergic to BP: hives. (and now a host of other oddities.). I used every HE and cosmeceutical with SA, until Paula explained the need for correct pH w/ SA products. Nancy made me realize that menopause is a good thing, in one way. Thanks! Sure you’re right. You may lose the plump, but losing the acne is a boon. I started Paula about age 65, and my skin looks better than in 40 years, acc. Friends. Use primarily the anti aging/anti acne line, BHA9 for any incipients. Also the Clarisonic. I still get some, and the pores fill, but it’s nowhere the cyclic and period-driven mess it was. Being semi-retired and battling acne is preposterous. But, Paula works. The ingredient dictionary and beautypedia reviews are invaluable, in figuring out what is not generally good for skin, what is research-proven, what is the likely culprit, and what performs well. I never agreed w/ her makeup sensibilities, which was my initial exposure to her philosophies, so never thought to try her line, until I read her comments on SA in another source. Did one order, and I’m confirmed. It has refined the texture, controlled oil, and minimized wrinkles as well. For me, it’s win-win-win-win. Bye Drs. Gross, Brandt, Denese, phyto-everything, xyz ceuticals, and the HE skincare sections of Sephora. Rear view mirror. I could have bought a house, so much money wasted.

Kathleen Avatar

I battled with cystic acne throughout my entire 20s. I was put on the -cyclines (tetra and doxy) which just made me throw-up. I was given 10% benzoyl peroxide wash which didn’t help much. There were other gels and ointments prescribed which did nothing. And of course I tried all the OTC options. Finally, in a second-to-last-ditch attempt my dermatologist put me on Spironolactone for 8-12 months. It worked great. I had slightly dry skin which was a nice change from my oily skin. Lighter and less frequent periods which was fine by me. But then I started having periods every other week so we stopped the Spiro. From there we decided to do the last-ditch attempt of Accutane for 6 months. 2-3 years later I rarely have breakouts and people always compliment my skin. I’m comfortable leaving the house without makeup. My skin is dry but not like it was while I was on Accutane. There are side affects while on Accutane (dry skin, my feet hurt so bad I could barely walk, etc) and it’s a real hassle being a lady to get it (monthly birth control tests, pregnancy quizzes, office visits) but if you’re prepared and the acne is bad enough it can be a great help.

Lea Gee Avatar

I’ve had acne on and off my whole life. I’m in my mid-thirties now, and it got really bad again a few years ago (when getting off of bc). I struggled for a while, but finally found a combination that works. I use acne.org products (their cleanser, benzoyl peroxide treatment, moisturizer with jojoba in the morning and AHA at night). If I’m wearing a lot of makeup, I first take it off with a cleanser cloth – something designed for sensitive skin. Then, to clean my face, I put their cleanser on a clarisonic mia using the acne brush. Then the bp, then the moisturizer or AHA depending on time of day. To remove old scarring (or the occasional scar I get from a one-off pimple – they’re much less frequent, but still sometimes it happens) I use Peter Thomas Roth max complexion correction pads (1/2 a pad, twice a day, until the scar is faded). I have to be really vigilant (do my routine twice a day, never ever leave makeup on over night) or the acne comes back. I drink lots of water, use only oil-free primer, use bare minerals foundation, and a concealer designed for acne (I’m loving the coverfx blemish treatment concealer). One of the biggest helps is to try to not pick! It always makes things worse. It’s tough, but you can only “remove” of the blemish once it’s all the way at the top of the skin (see here http://thebeautydepartment.com/2012/12/the-only-way-to-pop/). If I don’t wait until then, a scar (and at worse, more pimples) will come up. It’s really hard, but these steps keep my skin looking pretty good. I’ve heard the dairy thing, but I’d rather go through these steps than ditch the cheese. To each her own!

Erin Avatar

The road to clear skin was a hard one and not greatly understood in the 80’s and 90’s. I took every antibiotic from 8 on, essentially destroying my immune system. I did two rounds of Accutane and took BC. That got rid of all the acne but my skin still was not clear. I had a thyroid issue I didn’t know about as well as food allergies and product allergies. They kept my skin in bad shape until I found out these issues and corrected them right around 30 to 32. My health severely suffered due to trying irradiate an issue that was only a small part of the problem!

Knowledge and good skin care are the key to acne. Use less harsh products and don’t continue the inflammatory process with your diet habits!

Rachel R. Avatar

I had an oil slick for a face all through my teens, 20s, and 30s. I had acne on my face as a teen, and bad cystic acne on my back. Unfortunately, this was in the ’80s and long before Differin, etc. Back in those days, they had me use a topical liquid called Staticin, which was an antibiotic that was supposed to kill bacteria. It helped with the regular acne, and somewhat with the cystic acne, but not completely. I probably overdid it with washing my face and using toner. If only the dermatologist has educated me better on that score.

I’m 46 now, but I have still have oily skin, so I still get occasional blemishes. I try to prevent blackheads and whiteheads by washing my face morning and night, using a toner, and using a marine mud mask. I use Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix under my moisturizer and makeup to get rid of zits. I use mineral foundation and powder when I have a big breakout. It seems to help calm my skin down and it doesn’t clog my pores. I use non-comedogenic cosmetics.

I get hormone related cystic acne around my jaw and chin a once a month. I avoid caffeine when I have them, as it seems to make them worse. I’ll steal a little of my son’s topical Differin cream if a cyst gets too large or painful.

Ashley Lilland Avatar

I never had acne as a teenager or young adult but when I hit 29 it more than made up for its previous absence. I’m still dealing with it but I’ve actually found Paula’s Choice products to be really helpful in changing my skin. I also see a dermatologist who gave me a treatment that includes a small amount of tretinoin and that certainly helps, but it also makes my oily skin flaky so I’ve got super oily areas like my forehead and cheeks, then super dry spots like my nose and chin. Some day I’ll get this sorted out.

Rosy Avatar

I didn’t get acne until I was in my very late teens and it was cystic kind. For many years I didn’t know what to do and I was just content with covering it up. Then I decided to do some serious trial and error on clearing it up.
I found that doing a glycolic and retinol switch off at night with a vitamin C during the day was what worked. That and making sure everything I used was fragrance free plus moisturizing. Also, making sure everything I use didn’t come in jar form since that just makes your ingredients unstable and stop working.

Maria Avatar

Oh, man…I’m 31 and I have not beaten acne; not by a long shot. I’ve done a 9-month course of Accutane, several antibiotics, topical and oral, birth control pills, none of which worked after the course was over. Topical antibiotics don’t work on me at all. I’ve been using topical Retin-A 0.025% now for 8 months and my face cycles between bad and moderate breakouts. I’m still going through the Retin-A uglies — I’m certainly NOT one of the lucky ones. I’m hoping it’ll improve around the year mark at this stage. I cannot tolerate stronger Retin-A concentrations.

I may try Accutane again in the future but honestly, I may just stick with Retin-A long term. It should work on everyone eventually, right?

Genevieve Avatar

I was so lucky that I never had acne, but I still had plenty of pimples when I was a teenager. Like you Christine, I went to a doctor and had prescription medication and foams to dry them up. My twin sister had seriously bad acne and elected not to have it treated medically. She now has acne scars. When my son was a teenager and had acne, I took him straight away to a dermatologist, who prescribed medication for it. He now has flawless skin and takes care of it.

Twyla Avatar

I never had acne in my teen years. Only after I first got pregnant when I was 20. Omg the acne was out of control. Some prescription lotions and spot treatmen a friend gave took most of it away in time for my wedding however it returned after though not as bad. I went to a dermatologist a d tried various medications that didnt work, from ointments, to lotions, to pills. Then I had my second child a couple years after the wedding the acne returned full force but I instantly went on birth control after my second child and within months my face was completely clear. And apparently I popped the right way because I have no scars. Tried to get off birth control for being on it so long and cystic acne came on my neck and even monthly facials and peels couldn’t get rid of so back to birth control for me. I can’t live with cystic acne.

Sarah D Avatar

Yes, yes and yes again. I have dealt with breakouts since puberty. But at 16 went on Accutane when they became cystic and relentless. Nothing else worked. In college, I again developed treatment-resistant acne. It wasn’t cystic this time but it was “Hello pizza face!” acne. Went on Accutane again and again, Accutane cleared up my skin beautifully. And just this past year, after YEARS AND YEARS of simply the occasional minor hormonal breakout, I awoke one morning to whiteheads and cysts covering my face. I thought it was the flaxseed supplements I’d just started taking 2 weeks earlier. I’d read about flaxseed oil causing horrible breakouts in some people. But I quit that and waited about 6 weeks and my skin got worse. I went to my dermatologist and he put me on Accutane again. For NOW, I have nice, clear skin. But my doc has told me he has patients in their 60’s that have cystic acne. So I reckon I may need Accutane again eventually. And I wouldn’t hesitate to go on it again. The only upside to the oil slick that is my skin is that at 41, I have the skin of somebody in their twenties. I’m well-preserved. But what 41 year old woman wants to have the skin of a teenage boy just entering puberty? NO THANK YOU!!!!!

PS: I want to add, that this most recent time on Accutane, BEFORE I went on it, I had all my hormones checked to see if that was the cause. My hormone levels were completely normal. So that’s when doc and I started me on the Accutane.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I had acne and blackheads from my teens on. It wasn’t a huge amount but not occasional either. This was in the 1960’s when there were few dermatologists and few treatments. I was the oldest in a big family so doctors were not an option anyway. I washed with Phisohex and very very hot water. Not good. Also tried Dial soap and Lave soap. Made it worse. I think I finally stopped going overboard with washing and used Basis or Neutrogena soap or Noxema. That helped most.
Now I’m in my mind 60’s and only get rare breakouts. I use Paula’s Choice products when needed and otherwise gentle products. I’m meticulous in washing my face and moisturizing. Skin is much improved with rare breakouts.

Sheb Avatar

I developed cystic acne when I was 14. As my brother had also suffered severe acne, my parents were pretty quick to take me to the doctor, although it did take a while to settle on effective treatments. Minomycin and Retin-A eventually worked. Two decades later, I still have quite a bit of acne scarring from this time period.

I continued to suffer from mild to moderate acne for years after and doctors tried me on Spironolactone, Androcur and the Pill. Turns out the Pill (Diane) was the golden ticket and now I rarely get a zit.

cassie Avatar

Estelle (a type of contraceptive pill) mixed with Ren’s ClearCalm3 Moisturizer = perfect skin for the first time in my adult life. I also use a proper routine for my skin morning and night now, but it was the above that I saw major real results.

Trish Avatar

Benzamycin prescribed by my dermatologist for acne that appeared in my 30’s- Ugh! It took a couple months to work then – WOW- absolutely crystal clear skin. Stopped eating all dairy and no citrus. And never again used fabric softener on my bed sheets. (It’s a petroleum product I was told).

Maeron Avatar

I still have acne, and it suck, but I’m living. I had standard acne on my face as a pre-teen, but got prescriptions from the doctor that cleared them up. I had horrible acne on the back and chest areas. What minimized that was making sure to change the bedsheets every week and exfoliating. Also bangs. Prepare to take care of your bangs and forehead if you decide to get bangs. I got bangs and boy, was there a lot of acne. Thankfully my acne is much more minimal than in my teen days.

Nicole Avatar

I had pretty bad acne as a young adult, enough so to use Accutane. It was rough road, but very helpful. After the birth of my daughter, the acne came back. But, Accutane is not give to women in their “child-bearing” years. So, I started birth control pills for the control of acne. This cleared my acne. But, here is the bad thing about BC for acne. BC pills mimic the release of hormone that your body has when it is pregnant. One common thing in pregnancy is melasma. So, I now have hyper-pigmentation despite religious sunblock wearing and vitamin C usage. I quit my BC this past summer (after 10 years) and now I have noticed some breakouts again along my chin-classic hormonal. I’m almost 40! Seriously! I have started a topical and oral medication from the dermatologist just recently. The frustrating thing is she said to give it three months to start working! I read the comments regarding diet. Dairy and hormones makes sense. I think I will try to cut that down. But, cheese is huge in my diet as I can only eat soft things. Going to be hard!

Sarah D Avatar

That’s actually not true regarding the “child-bearing” years. I was on Accutane in my very early twenties and again in my mid-thirties. I just had to make sure I was using 2 forms of contraception. For my husband and me it was the IUD and condoms. And they do have the iPledge program here in the United States that makes you jump through a lot of hoops. You have to have monthly pregnancy tests, including one a month before you start Accutane and one after you’ve been off of the medication a month. So I don’t know if you live elsewhere and that really is the rule. But here in America, Accutane is still given to women during their “child-bearing” years. THANK GOD!!!!

Nicole Avatar

That makes sense. I guess it could have been my dermatologist did not feel I needed Accutane. Honestly, I don’t feel the acne I get now warrants treatment with Accutane. Its not cystic. I guess I should have said that. But, some people may read everyone talking about Accutane and not realize that it is a serious drug.

Áine Avatar

I haven’t dealt with much acne in terms of whiteheads except for the occasional stubborn hormonal ones, rather than those when something doesn’t agree with my skin I develop a lot of milia (small, hard, white cysts) and clogged pores without redness or swelling, and a blackhead or two if it really upset my skin. Chemical exfoliants are a must for me, using them regularly usually keeps it under control.
I’m lucky that when I went on birth control for hormonal migraines it also got rid of the hormonal whiteheads, because it turns out I’m allergic to benzoyl peroxide. Like, full-blown rash, hives, swollen eyelids. Anyone else? No one else in the family has an allergic reaction to it, which struck me as really odd.

Kris Ong Avatar

I started having acne all around my jawline and chin 6 mths ago and its homonal acne which the doctor says I have to wait it out. Meanwhile, I see good results from jessner peel every 3 months and maintain it with differin and clindagel. However, i am very fair and so even if I never pick at my skin, the acne left behind many red scars. Any advice for that?

Laura Avatar

Topical vitamin C. The highest strength your skin can tolerate. You will probably need to do some research on the different products available. And then test them on you. Also if you can tolerate Retin A, (even the lowest strength), it can help many skin issues including red marks left from blemishes.

Erica Avatar

I suffered from severe acne from pre adolescence throughout adulthood. Being prescribed Differin in my young adulthood in addition to being on birth control helped reduced my acne immensely. 20 years later I have a rare pimple or two. I’ve used Tazorac for the last decade. Prescription acne medication, clean eating and diligent, consistent skin care improved the quality of my life.

Ti Avatar

Retinol! I only overcame my acne in February of this year, so it still feels weird to speak of it as past tense. But, once I started using a retinol serum in February, I stopped breaking out completely and only get the occasional zit. I also think weaning myself off of any skin care products that contain fragrance and known irritants like lavender has made a big difference.

Peggy Southall Avatar

I was plagued by acne for years. Although I went to a dermatologist for monthly treatments and took antibiotics as prescribed. Maybe that stopped the acne from getting worse, but it never got rid of it.
Accutane did. It was the only thing that worked. I took it for several months on two different occasions when I was in my 20s. (I am now 55.)

About ten years later, I started getting deep pore cleansing facials once a month and it has made a huge difference in how my acne-scarred skin looks and feels! It has been my experience that estheticians trained in eastern Europe are more effective in treating congested skin (i.e. extractions) than those trained in the United States. I think if this had been an option when I was a teenager, I might have arrested acne a lot sooner without the need of a powerful drug like Accutane.

Maggie Avatar

Ugh, I am dealing with acne right now due to a new skincare product that did not agree with me. I use Paula’s choice BHA 9 first all over acne prone areas and wait til after it dries. Then directly on pimples (even cystic one’s) I dot clinique acne solutions emergency gel-lotion (5% benzoyl peroxide). After that dries, I dot on Peter Thomas Roth Acne Spot and Area Treatment directly on cystic acne (but not on white heads BC this is better for raising cystic acne to the surface). Bear in mind that these products are NOT gentle and shouldn’t be used together unless you know your skin is tolerant of these. But if your skin is tolerant, you’ll find that pimples are reduced in size and that the Peter Thomas Roth is great for cystic acne.

michelle maffia Avatar

This a subject hits home. I am 45 (46 in 2 weeks, yeah?) I have dealt with this since I was 12, and am only slightly less oily now. My skin is only “normal” if its below zero for at least 5 days! The perfect combo of products, secret weapons, and tips and tricks is still elusive. My comment to others is more learned lessons than product driven. Keep your hands off your face, change pillowcases every other day(scoff after you try this…I await apologies ), when you can, wear as little face makeup as possible, and always “remove” your makeup before cleanser. My only current product recommendation is for cystic acne. It is the Renee Rouleau Anti Cyst Treatment. It works on those painful monsters under, around jaw and around chin. To those who plagued by this … you’re not alone. Micheala is right, your skin doesn’t define you. But as someone who’s has great skin days and bad, it can be trying. Looks from strangers. I even had a nurse ask me at a urgent aid who was taking my vitals look me up and down and say, “So what is going on with your skin, what’s ALL that?” I’m here sister cause I think I have the flu. not auditioning for Mean Girls 2! Wow I went on a little longer than I thought, guess I still need to works some things through!

Bibi Avatar

I suffered with acne around my chin & jawline, & even on my back throughout my teens. Tried every lotion & potion (prescrition & non prescription) which only seemed to dry out my skin & worsen my acne.
When I tried oral contraceptives at the age of 21 all my acne woes completely disappeared. I’ve had beautiful skin ever since.

Connie Avatar

I’ve had mild cystic acne for over 10 years and only recently went to a dermatologist. I’ve gone to a physician before who prescribed me antibiotics but I think I neglected taking it consistently back then.
All these years my parents told me it would go away eventually or if I eat less inflammatory foods (same advice that a Chinese dermatologist gave me, who gave me anti-inflammatory medicine), but it never got rid of acne. I’ve been taking Accticlate (antibiotics) along with a benzoyl peroxide acne spot treatment in conjunction with CeraVe cream to keep my skincare simple. It seems to be working (I am about 6 weeks in) but I’ll see if I break out again in the next month, since my skin usually flares up and calms down every 2-3 weeks.

Candice Avatar

I was on Accutane around 17-18 years old which completely changed my skin. It stayed effortlessly clear for about 10 years, without needing any special skincare routine to address acne but it has now come back… I’ve been using a salacylic acid toner and Paula’s Choice BHA 2% gel and it has done great for my skin – I find breakouts rare and reasonable right now.

Alisha Avatar

I’m replying a little late as I’m catching up on reading, but Christine’s prescriptions are very typical and usually very effective; however, once I got into my early 20s my acne changed. It became more cystic and much more painful and it seemed like nothing was helping. I know it is controversial but I took a generic for accutane as accutane had already been pulled off the market by its manufacturer. My skin was so oily that in the middle of winter it felt normal and not dry when I was on it. It has since gotten rid of 75% of my acne. I do take 50 mg of spironolactone twice a day which suppresses aldosterone which causes my hormonal acne. I do find that if I were to go off my birth control or change it to the pill instead of an IUD it doesn’t flare up as much. I would suggest not using any products with alcohol and consulting beautypedia on paulaschoice.com for reviews on products. For a toner I use the 2% Bha and then a retinol or rx tretinoin micro product depending on the day. I also have a product called aczone that is also rx and can be expensive but is gentle and very effective. If you are going to you benzoyl peroxide don’t use it with tretinoin as it makes it ineffective and initially I wouldn’t go higher than 2.5% or 5% because studies have shown it is just as effective as 10% but not as drying. Also, it isn’t 100% necessary to use a medicated face wash because those can be drying and since they only are on your face a few seconds you aren’t really getting any benefit from ingredients so you are better off using something like CeraVe foaming cleanser which will also take your makeup off and is cruelty free. The paper has coupons sometimes too. They have a hydrating version that is just as good for dry skin and if you think you really need something medicated they have the SA or Salicylic Acid version. Just don’t do Neutrogena oil free acne wash like I did for all those years drying out my skin – and my dermatologist recommended!

Sarah Avatar

I have been since I was 10 when I hit puberty (fun times for a fifth grader, let me say). I went for about a year and a half doing nothing but cleansing every day with something gentle. It dried out my skin so bad–it actually flaked off. Then I moved from Southern California to the weirdly extreme hot/cold weather of Salt Lake, Utah and my skin did a 180! I became oily beyond belief and my acne problem zones switched around. Then I entered high school and new stress hormones gave me blackheads (new) and cystic acne (new and also terrifying to me). I’ve changed my skin care from summer to winter for more moisture a bunch of times but the acne has yet to change. And it’s been about 7 years.

That’s when I started using Paula’s Choice products–2% Salycilic Acid in the morning and 8% Glycolic Acid at night with intense moisturizing after each one. I also got one of those blemish extracting tools for blackheads and whiteheads and let me tell you–it’s my savior. It takes care of individual blemishes so much easier (and with less pain) than my previous needle uses. It hasn’t fixed everything but I get fewer breakouts overall and my blemishes heal faster now that my skin isn’t so…uh…tortured.

Basically I’m eternally suffering from young adult acne but the ways I treat it keep it less aggressive and treat it before it gets too bad. So it does get better!

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