Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spotlight on Anti-Acne Products

Oooh, boy. I said anti-acne and I know that perked up some people's ears. You know when sometimes people get asked what they most wish for in the world and they say something vague and wonderful like "world peace"? You just know that the second or even the first thing some actually want to say is: "TO ELIMINATE THAT MOTHERFUCKING BANE OF EXISTENCE A.K.A. ACNE."

Or, at least, I would. ;)

I struggled with teen acne as soon as puberty hit. Luckily they were mostly little bumps that got zapped quickly with drugstore cures, though they did re-emerge rather persistently and consistently. But from ages 19 to 22, I was actually blessed with a period of respite and had the best skin of my life since being a freshly scrubbed toddler. Then disaster hit. I went through a super stressful season due to circumstances beyond my control and literally broke out in hives all over my body. My face became a war zone and I actually cried when I looked in the mirror because the reflection was so horrifying. I don't know why I never went to a dermatologist, but I was raised in a household that rarely consulted outside help when things went badly. Our troubles were our own. I chalked it up to stress and figured the phase would pass eventually.

It did, but my face was never to be the same again. Acne scarring began and I would struggle on and off with my skin for the rest of my life. I visited one dermatologist a few years ago but she was such a terrible bitch that I became completely turned off from seeking consultation or outside help. (I will reconsider going to a different derm someday but first I need a new family doctor!)

I've mentioned before that my skin tends to calm down in the winter and turn "normal" while it's terribly oily and acne-prone in the warmer seasons. True again this year. As soon as winter thawed out, I broke out again. But that was in April when I was barely sleeping due to an onslaught of papers and finals, so my hygiene, diet and health just weren't at their best. Add to that the warmer air and increase in sweat and oil production, I had to face that age-old battle once more.

I acquired a few new treatments since my last inventory. I tossed out the things that didn't work or expired and explored a few new products. As discussed not too long ago, there was one product I deemed a fail. Today I showcase the ones that work to some degree or another.

Aveda Outer Peace - The picture is of a moisturizer only but I had the entire collection at one point or another. This lotion is at the end of its life and I will bid it a fond fairwell. If you're looking for an anti-acne routine that will be gentle but effective, this is it. Unfortunately the individual items are horrifyingly expensive for such a simple-looking packaging and concept. I believe this lotion is about CAD$63. I bought it last summer and literally turned on my heels and left the Aveda store upon hearing the price but ended up going back for it the following day. The bad news for Canadians is that you cannot order from Aveda online, but a nice salesperson at the Aveda store will be able to make samples for you. I had originally bought the cleanser and spot treatment, found them effective and wanted to try out the lotion without committing to a full bottle at first. I'm debating whether to purchase the whole kit once more, since my skin has calmed down a bit. I'm fairly sure that I'll end up repurchasing this line when I do break out again. For more information, hit the Aveda website here.

Murad Acne Spot Treatment - After the failure of B. Kamins spot treatment, I decided to get this one since it was getting pretty decent reviews. I'm not saying that it's a miracle-worker or anything, but redness and swelling were much reduced after applying this overnight and I'm happy with it. It's available for about $20 at Sephora or select Shoppers Drug Mart.

Murad Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel - This is my favourite new discovery. Honestly, for oily and acne-prone skin like mine, I do believe exfoliation is your best friend. We just can't exfoliate enough. After removing makeup, using an anti-acne cleanser, massaging the face thoroughly (with a scrub, wash cloth or extensively with your fingers), and toning, I applied this all over my face before bed, and woke up to a clearer and more radiant face. I didn't wear a night cream or any sort of moisturizer on top, except for eye cream and a little bit of lotion around my mouth where my skin tends to be a bit dry. This gel won't treat acne spots on its own, which is why I got the spot treatment above, but the combination works pretty well to treat spots and the entire face.

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4 (aka toner for oily skin) - Exfoliation being a super important step, I just can't skip toner at night. I think this particular toner works just as well as any other toner that I've tried, but it's the one that I happen to be working through at the moment. You probably don't need to worry about it if you don't wear foundation or heavy makeup, but for those who do, it really helps to ensure that every trace of makeup is removed from your face prior to applying treatments. I think that considering every other thing I put on my face is anti-acne, this being a regular toner helps not to dry out the face too much while it still performs well and does what it's supposed to do.

DDF Blemish Foaming Cleanser - As much as I love my Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel, I had to switch over to this when I broke out. This is a travel size version I picked up from a makeup swap and I'm really glad that I picked this. DDF products tend to be rather harsh, but this cleanser works well in conjunction with all the products I went through above. I'm nearly finished with this mini size now and might pick up the full size if I encounter further issues throughout the season.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes - Tea tree as an acne cure is something that requires further personal investigation from me, but after reading Caitlin's great post on her success with tea tree oil, I decided to pick this up during a Body Shop sale. I was planning on lounging in the sun with sunscreen slathered all over me before night class and thought this would be great for a faux-cleanse before heading indoors for the rest of the evening. Well, it has surged up top above any other cleansing wipes I have ever used. There is a slight tingling sensation on the skin to let you know that something is happening or working. I can ignore the medicinal smell because my face felt super clean without feeling dry afterwards. I am going to stock up on these babies during the next sale!

I have a few more products in reserve but haven't tested yet. Because the ones I featured today have done a terrific job to help me in the last two months, I don't feel the need to pull them out at the moment.

Other things I do to combat acne is to chemically exfoliate weekly with the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel and physically exfoliate twice a week with a homemade lemon-sugar scrub. I also have plans to acquire the Clarisonic at some point in the near future, but until then, these remedies suffice. And as painful as this last fact is, I have reduced my cheese intake for the season. I freaking love cheese. Soft, hard, stinky, creamy - I love them all. I finally had to admit that consuming a block of brie at midnight during some of those study sessions did not help the acne issue.

Do you struggle with acne? And if you do, what solutions have you sought and what worked best for you?


  1. I'm sorry you had such a struggle with acne. Have you ever tried Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel? It's expensive, but a little goes a long way. It keeps my pores from getting congested.

  2. I can't, yet can, believe the price of that Aveda It's hard not to go back for it when it's working for you but I feel like that is an insane amount of $ to charge. I have been testing the Paula's Choice line, including her CLEAR products, for the last little while. I'll be reviewing them soon. In the meantime, I loved this and found some new things I'd like to try including those Tea Tree wipes :)

  3. @Zuzu's Petals - No, but I think PTR is next in the line of brands to try. I've heard great things! I'll definitely keep that product in mind, thank you. :)

    @Tracy D - I know! It's always such a shock every time I see how expensive Aveda is. I can't wait for your review!

  4. Great post! Your skin sounds very similar to mine and I've had pretty good results with the Peter Thomas Roth gel which Zuzu mentioned too. There are quite a few different products from the range which seem to work really well actually. The oil free moisturiser is nice and the buffing beads are also great. I agree with you on exfoliation too, my skin looks and feels so much better when it's properly exfoliated!

  5. Another vote for PTR! Fabulous. Maybe I'll grab some samples to test out soon. Thanks, Nat!

  6. I feel for you Liz. I haven't had bad acne, but my daughter has so I know what it's like. Even though I said it's a bit overrated, the Clarisonic is really good for skin like yours. It helped a lot. She also uses the ROC PURIF-AC cleanser and exfoliating toner. And at night, a prescription acne topical treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide.

  7. God, you're lucky. I don't know why I'm being so stubborn about not paying for a Clarisonic, but my Shoppers Optimum points are inching up to the max so I'm determined to not pay any more than I have to! Good luck to your daughter!

  8. The Clarisonic has helped me a lot as well, but still struggling! There are a lot of cheaper dupes for the Clarisonic. I think Olay makes one that is supposed to be just as good.

  9. Thanks! I've heard of that Olay one. Not sure if I've seen it in the stores, though... I always skip over Olay for some reason. Will check it out!

  10. The first bit of this made me so sad! I'm so sorry you have such trouble with this issue, but I'm so glad you saw some good results with the tea tree oil product! If you still have really stubborn spots, I'd say give the straight stuff a go. It might knock those suckers out!

  11. Thanks, Caitlin. I don't have stubborn spots so much as new spots that erupt out of nowhere. It's been pretty good the past few weeks so hopefully I won't need anything more than the current products. Anti-acne products are the one thing I DON'T want to shop for!

  12. These are AWESOME suggestions. I'm a big fan of the tea tree oil myself. I've never used those cool looking wipes, but I will use a tea tree oil based toner when things start getting out of whack (the smell kinda gets to me to use it all the time) (the smell also gets to my boyfriend who will literally move to the other end of the couch after I've done this). What can I say though, it works!

  13. Haha @ your boyfriend! Men are such babies. :D Hmm... a tea tree oil based toner sounds exactly like something I need!


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