Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Keeping Pimples Away

In my teens, I was blessed to not have problems with acne beyond the occasional pimple. In my twenties, I've not been so lucky. I've spent the past few years trying to keep away the demons on my face. I've seen a dermatologist for prescriptions, tried every product I could get my hands on, all to no avail. The most success I've seen is with using the combination of products recommended by Paula Begoun.

In a nutshell, what Paula advises (and what others have recreated in overpriced products like Proactiv, et al) is that you use a gentle cleanser, a chemical exfoliant (BHA or AHA), and a disinfectant (Benzoyl Peroxide) on your face twice daily. Click Paula's link above to read more about this process and the research and science behind it.

You can buy products like these in a kit, some of which contain these ingredients in the cleanser, professing to save you time but what you're really doing is washing those ingredients away so they do nothing for you. Paula sells kits, and I've bought them, but they really aren't any better than the cheaper drugstore versions. I read ingredient lists like a maniac to achieve the same goal. Here are some of my current faves, though I switch products with the same basic ingredients from time to time.

I've already posted about Basis being my favorite cleanser. Cetaphil is also good if you have dry skin. There are many others out there and you can read on Paula's site about how to find the good ones.

Chemical Exfoliant (put on after cleansing and drying):
I have used both BHAs and AHAs but currently favor the latter. Right now I like the Alpha Hydrox brand AHA Souffle, a 12% AHA cream. It's perfect for my somewhat sensitive skin, though I wish it didn't come in tub form, which is less hygienic. I've found this locally at Wal-Mart*...sometimes I order it online. It always come with a mail-in rebate which is nice. You use a small amount and put it all over except for the eye area.

Disinfectant (allow exfoliant to dry before putting this on):
I use the Equate brand Acne Treatment Cream that says 10% Benzoyl Peroxide on the tube. It's $1.84 at Wal-Mart*. It will bleach your clothes/towels if you don't wait for it to completely dry before touching things to your face. Make sure you apply it to your entire face and not just to blemish areas. This prevents pimples from forming if you use it this way, which is why I like buying a big tube for $1.84.

Because you're using some powerful stuff on your face, it's gonna get dry even if it's normally oily, so I recommend using a light moisturizer with these products. I only use the moisturizer once a day (morning) and I apply it after all of the above products are on my face and it's dry. Anything that is oil-free and has SPF-15 (without added ingredients like retinols) work for me. I like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 30, Purpose Moisturizer with SPF 15 (unscented), and Clean and Clear Morning Glow Moisturizer with SPF 15.

Notice I am a stickler for sun protection. If you look at all the sexy ladies in the world that are older (Michelle Phillips, Julianne Moore, Demi Moore) they are all PALE. Pale is sexy, Paris Hilton is not. Embrace it.

When I use these products religiously morning and night, my face stays clear and radiant. Sometimes I get lazy though, and I find myself breaking out like a mother. This *really* works if you find the products that work for your skin and stick to them. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

*Disclaimer: I hate Wal-Mart...but there are a handful of products that I can only find there, so I time my trips accordingly. I am a hardcore Target girl because Wal-Mart makes my blood boil.

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