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An Acne Success Story Spanning 2 Decades

I am Anu ( @anu79 ), the blog editor at the Cafe’ blog of Beautykafe, bringing you this story. Call it a success story or a journey, its not important. What matters is that you believe in your gut feeling and learn to take charge of your health. Afterall nobody knows you better than yourself.

I got in touch with Sonal for letting me do a guest post on Acne Mantra and she agreed. Thank you so much for that Sonal or AM as you are popularly known.

I wanted to share my own battle with acne, so there I was staring at a blank Word document, without a clue on how to start….! Seemed like a huge writer’s block or something as real writers call it. Or could it probably mean that it has been a really long time since I last slept with all the acne research spinning in my brain?

Yes, so most certainly the second case it was! And gosh… am I surprised, shocked, ecstatic to realize that now !! It has actually been a couple of years I have not gone online and frantically looked for some help to get rid of the pestering zits on my oily, acne-prone, pitted wonder called skin, mostly facial skin. And yeah..there we go…the constipation in my head is relieved now. I know what exactly to tell you guys.

Now I am in my late 30s (well actually just the beginning of the late-ness ;-)), working as a blog editor and a mom of 2 kids. Life is as stressful as it can get for a work from home mom with relatives all around. Thank God I have one less thing to stress over at this stage and that is my old friend acne or pimples.

First signs

My acne has accompanied me from the age of 15 when I was in SSC. The big board exams were enough to worry about already, so I didn’t take acne seriously, neither did my mom. I don’t think that generation worried so much about pimples and stuff. Good for them in a way!

I didn’t care much about my ‘always there’ white heads and pimples too, but just kept religiously scratching and popping them because I thought they would be insulted and go away at some point. Sarcasm aside, I really had no idea what I was doing, until a year later I started to notice deep pitted scars where I had buried those pimples.

That was the time when I was actually alarmed. I could make the zits lay flat by abusing them, but could I just punch my cheeks from inside to make the dented skin pop out like it was before? Wasn’t possible!

Then my older sis took me to the doctor, not a dermatologist, but just a female General Physician. She was wise enough to realize that I was mostly suffering from hormonal acne, but couldn’t help much. Just prescribed an antibiotic, told me to stop picking and apply a sulfur lotion on any new born acne.  It was  a temporary relief nevertheless.

After that time, I don’t remember much about how exactly I was taken to different doctors and what they advised, but I know I went through a hell lot of products, steroid antibiotics and pharma grade cosmetics.

The experiments

I whipped up all sorts of homemade recipes for masks, and face washes people would tell me. I remember my favourite one being at that time was Dr. Urjita Jain’s sandalwood powder mask and steaming my face with neem-boiled water.

Steaming was not such a good idea at that time when I was already so oily, going through teenage hormone problems and not knowing that the open pores need to be closed somehow either with cold water, ice or a toner.

Alas! past is past! Then came the power of household internet and like most of us I was enlightened to know that there is much more to acne than just face packs and steroids. I became very attached to my miserable dial-up connection because it was my torch that showed me the light in the dark and actually helped me to take charge of my situation.

It was somewhere around 2001, I assessed myself what kind of acne I had. Turned out I mainly had the acne caused by extremely oily skin, somewhat genetic and somewhat hormonal.

Why, why, why I asked thousands times to God, I had to have the oily skin?!! But lose no heart my oily friends out there, we tend to get wrinkles pretty late in life. After your 30s you will thank your oily skin, IF you have been alert enough to know how to deal with it in your acne-prone age.

But guess what I started doing, to challenge the oiliness. I started to starve it of hydration by choosing drying face washes, not applying any skin care product at all except the spot treatments on active pimples, kept the clay face masks on for even an hour sometimes.

Probably the bigger mistake than picking on the acne. My dehydrated skin somehow became even oilier and acne didn’t budge at all, while the area around my eyes and mouth felt dry and stretched. Wondered why !

Then came the discovery that even oily skin needs moisture. Oil is not as same as the water content beneath the skin. By stripping off the natural oil, I was only pushing my skin into producing more of its own oil to protect whatever moisture it could hold on to and that in turn was causing more acne, not to mention some dry patches.

I couldn’t have described my skin properly at that time, it was acting so erratic. I felt totally out of sync with my body.

During 1995-2004, I rarely had a stretch of time when my skin was totally clear. Never actually, if pimples weren’t there, whiteheads and blackheads were there.

A breakthrough

In 2004 I had my first child and things seemed to have changed for the better, with the raised progesterone during pregnancy, and all the post-natal pampering. I had decently clear skin for a year, probably due to nursing my daughter.

Remember moms-to-be, B-feeding your child is one of the things you can do to help your skin behave. The number of hormones acting during BF time, mainly progesterone, conspire in the favour of your skin, keeping it supple and healthy.

After that I think I had wisened up enough to know what is good and bad for my skin. I knew what approach to take when researching something. I started looking up more for Why rather than How or What.

Now I will quickly get down to business and tell you my successful concoction of acne remedies.

The takeaways

3 things always work on my active acne:

  1. Dr. Reddy’s 12% Salicylix SF ointment –  I swear by this thing to heal up my blooming acne almost overnight. It does work as a spot treatment for me, but I had just made it a habbit to use it as a mask for 5-10 minutes every alternate day to prevent future break outs. 12% may be too strong for some. Start with 6% and go up only if need be. But a coat of this thing, always, always gets rid of my whiteheads. Only con is that it feels too darn sticky and oily while it is on. (Salicylix SF 6)
  2. Clindamycin – My second favourite is Erytop Lotion which is basically Clindamycin Phosphate. It is an antibiotic to be used on affected area. It works pretty well for me too, if the protruding pimple is small and the surrounding area does not look that inflamed. My go-to product if I am not in a hurry to zap that zit immediately. Quite gentle on skin too, compared to Salicylix.
  3. Biotique BioClove Anti-Blemish Face Mask – This one might come as a surprise that I use this product meant for blemishes, on my active acne. But I always say, that Biotique should market it as an anti-acne product. It is not the best remedy for inflamed, puss-filled, cystic acne, but quite good for small pops and bumps. I apply it as a mask and not as a spot treatment. It makes my face instantly smooth, bump-free and completely gets rid of black and white heads. I can’t vouch for its anti-blemish properties, but it seems like a potent stuff, so may be worth a shot to lighten the blemishes. Must use regularly for that and would take a long time , I suppose.
  4. Then of course  a lot of dietary changes, using sunscreen and 4 sessions of chemical peels have helped me get rid of some scarring, that it is not that visible in photos. But they are there. I might consider dermaroller if scars deepen due to decreased collagen with my age.

There it is, all of my acne story. It’s not that I am 100% acne-free now, but I don’t mind 1 or 2 ‘Period’ical pimples during sensitive days of the month, which now I know how to deal with.

I always have above three products in my vanity  but thankfully rarely have to use them. I will take this deal anytime, looking back at what I had the pleasure of going through in my 20s.

So 30s is the new 20s for me. Hope all you acne-fighters take home something from my experience. Good luck to you all.

Editor’s note: Salicylix SF6 and SF12 are strong salicylic acid ointments, used normally for cracked heels and calluses on the feet. It may be tolerated by exceptionally robust skin, but applied in globs can burn holes in your face. Be careful before rushing to buy it. A lower percetange (1%) product is Sebonac Gel designed for use on the face.

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