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My Journey with Cystic Acne

Updated: Mar 7

In this post, I'm going to tell a little about my story with acne, what got me to where I am today, products that have helped, and habits that have helped.


First of all, cystic acne is something to leave alone. DO NOT try to pop them. Most of the time, they will not come to a head, and squeezing will make them even more swollen and inflamed.


I am going to be honest; I did go on an antibiotic to help combat my acne, but only for 3 months, to get it to a spot where I could treat it topically.


DON'T STOP READING.


I believe that sometimes acne can get so out of control that the bacteria continues to spread no matter what we do topically. Going on medicine has always helped me get to a spot where I can treat my acne topically. I went to my Dermatologist and went on Minocycline.


I have had cystic acne since high school. I have gone to a dermatologist off and on throughout this journey and every time, they say "The only way this will never come back is if you go on Accutane." I have a personal boundary that I will never go on Accutane because of the adverse side effects and also because sometimes it doesn't work! I know that my body responds to minocycline well. I have no side effects and it gets my acne under control. So I tell my dermatologist this and they have always been willing to prescribe me it. I have always been able to get it under control with this method.


My acne is very hormonal. After I still birthed our first baby, Noah, my acne got bad. I didn't go on any medicine at this point because I was trying to get pregnant. It got bad again in 2020. This was a time when I went on Minocycline because it was so bad I couldn't get it under control. My face was in so much pain, I just needed some relief. Since then, I've been able to keep it under control with my diet and topical products.


cystic acne breakout

July 2016 - right after losing Noah. My face was in so much pain. Putting makeup on just made it look worse.


healing cystic acne breakout

Dec. 2020 - when I started Minocycline. Painful, swollen, and not getting better with facials/topical treatments.


I think what's important to remember is that everyone has breakouts. Some are worse than others. I know that I will break out before my period. I know if I'm eating lots of sugar and dairy, I'll break out. If I'm stressed, hello breakout! Our skin shows a lot, so I try my best to keep it under control. I still live and believe a lot in a healthy balance.


Products/Brands that I've used and didn't work:


Tula The Cult Classic Cleanser - I used up an entire large bottle, it made me have a lot of little tiny pimples that never popped on my forehead.


Rodan & Fields - acne system... it has pore-clogging ingredients and it only worked for a time.


Products and Habits for Clear Skin


First and foremost, I always check my product's ingredients at Acne Clinic NYC. I have learned that EVEN IF a product or brand says it is non-comedogenic it still COULD BE comedogenic. This was crazy to me. But, here I am, still checking every single product I put on my face.


Skincare Regimen:


I wash my face morning and night with Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid Cleanser.


If I wear makeup, I double cleanse at night. First, I wash off my makeup with Cereve Moisturing Wash, then I cleanse with Skinfix Acne+.


I dry my face with a clean washcloth.


If I wear makeup I follow up my wash with Peach Slices, Acne Exfoliating Toner. I also use this if I work out in the yard all day and have lots of dirt, sweat, and grime in my pores.


I always follow my wash in the morning with Know Beauty's Green Tea Moisturizer (this is now discontinued, once I find a new moisturizer/SPF I'll update the post).


If my skin is feeling inflamed and/or about once a week, I will use this Ice Massage all over my face. This brings down swelling and shrinks my cysts. Even if I am not breaking out, I believe it helps prevent future breakouts.


About once a week, I use this Mask or this Mask by Tula. I usually do this when I am sitting in a bath.


Another thing I do once or twice a week (because it feels so good) is the Solawave wand.


For spot treatment, I use Tula's Go Away Acne Spot Treatment. This is the ONLY Benzol Peroxide I use on my face. And I am very careful to only put it on my acne and not rub it around the acne. This is the only spot treatment I've found that actually calms the breakout and doesn't overly dry out the blemish. I don't use it all the time, so I'm sure if it was used every day, it would dry out the blemish quite a bit.


Diet:


Every night, about an hour before bed, I take a Probiotic. Gut health is HUGE and is a big trigger for acne. Going along with gut health, I do not eat dairy and I do not eat peanut butter. I switched out my peanut butter for almond butter.


I also drink tea. It's an almost nightly ritual. I usually go for a chamomile tea. If I want something sweet I'll drink chamomile tea. Peppermint, ginger turmeric, and chamomile are my favorites and they all are good for your skin.



Makeup:


For the longest time, I thought primers did nothing. That is until I found IT Cosmetics Primer. This has Salicylic Acid in it and I think it goes to work on my acne even with a full face of makeup on. It also helps my powder foundation go on smoother and more evenly.


Bare Minerals Matte Loose Powder. Whoever said that you can't get full coverage with a powder foundation is seriously mistaken. I get full coverage and if one of my cysts is acting out, I have the best coverup to combat that. It's important to use the matte version of the powder foundation, as the original has acne-causing ingredients.


For concealer, I use Estée Lauder Double Wear Concealer. I use it under my eyes and on dark spots or acne that is red. Usually, I can cover almost everything with just the Bare Minerals Matte Powder Foundation.


I use a darker shade in the Bare Minerals Matte Loose Powder for bronzer.


For blush, I use Bare Minerals Bounce Blush.


For Setting Powder, I use Nars Reflecting Powder. I bake the setting powder before I do my eye makeup, fill in my brows, etc. Then I blend it all in.


I use All Nighter Setting Spray for setting spray (remember, I have oily skin). This is a holy grail for me. I've used it for years and I love it!


dark spots from acne

March 2021 - skin is healing but scarring and dark spots remain (after 3 months on Minocycline)


a clear face after doing cystic acne treatments

July 2021 - The lighting was good, so I took a progress pic. Being tan always makes things look better, but as you can see from March, my scarring is better and I have a cystic pimple healing on my chin.


dark spots from cystic acne

Feb 2023 - I got my hair cut and colored... this is the middle of winter, no tan, you can see the dark spots from former acne blemishes. But no swelling and no painful blemishes.


cystic acne conqueror

July 2023 - I'm tan and just finished my monthly cycle. I have one blemish healing.


Tricks:


Keeping your skin guessing is a huge trick I have learned. Your skin gets used to skincare the more it's used so I've found that if I give my skin a break or switch my routine at night my skin does better. I use the same products but don't have such a serious schedule with it. I just go with what I think my skin needs.


I will either do a double cleanse or I will just wash with my SkinFix or I will just wash with Cereve. Sometimes I will just use the toner afterwards or I'll use the toner and the retinol. Other times I will only use the spot treatment or the toner and the spot treatment.


As always, reminding myself that what's on the inside matters more than what's on the outside helps my confidence when I have a mountain range on my chin. I also try to remind myself that I see my acne as way worse than others will see it. Dealing with acne of any kind is a blow to your confidence but I've learned to still be confident and hold my head high even with a large cyst on my face. It's only temporary, it will go away. All the people I will see in the time being that I have a huge zit will not think any less of me.


So go, be CONFIDENT in the skin you are in. You are beautiful... inside and out. 🤍



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This is a really neat post! Thank you so much for sharing your insight!

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