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Inspired by a recent xoJane post, I decided to write about my own acne struggle.

I distinctly remember grade 9 picture day. I woke up with an angry red zit right between my eyebrows. Everyone chuckled and made random racist Indian/bindi jokes. I eventually did live down that day, only to have that same zit happen again on grade 10 picture day! What were the odds?

Quite good odds actually – I had horrible horrible acne ever since I turned 14 years old. My skin was an oily, sensitive, angry and broken out mess. On top of everything I was insecure about as a teenager, this was definitely the topper. I broke out on my face, my neck, my back. I washed, toned, exfoliated, moisturized, didn’t moisturize. Nightly, I applied topical treatments like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil. In short, I tried every suggestion thrown my way and nothing made much of a difference. I remember reading in Seventeen magazine a sentence that summarized my acne experience precisely: it was never a matter of if I’d break out, it was a matter of how much I’d break out.

My skin looked like a warzone. Enlarged pores. Cystic acne. Large zits. Tons of whiteheads. Blackheads galore. I even ended up with some boxcar and icepick zits.

During this time, everyone had a solution for me. From “stop touching your face” to “eat better foods”. From “stop wearing so much foundation” to “wash your face twice a day”. Sensible advice from people who meant well but didn’t really understand. I tried all that and even stuff most people probably didn’t even know about.

When I was in my sophomore year in university, my brother got me a set of Proactiv skincare products. Surprisingly, it actually helped! For the first time in years, my skin was actually improving! But Proactiv was expensive and the cost of getting a set mailed every three months was getting too much. I went off Proactiv because it was so expensive. I hoped that it helped my skin get over the hump and I was well on my way to an acne-free adult life. Nope. Proactiv’s active ingredient was benzoyl peroxide so I tried applying Clean and Clear Persa-Gel10 nightly again. It only mildly helped, but my skin began breaking out again soon after.

My real breakthrough came when my doctor put me on birth control pills. Finally, my skin started really clearing up. I still got pimples. I never got clear skin, but I definitely had few pimples and zits. And no more cystic acne. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Once in a while, some people even complimented my skin and I actually believed them. It was nice to not have people comment on my skin.

Last year, I got off the pill and again I foolishly hoped my skin had gotten over its acne phase. Again, my skin began breaking out again.

As readers of my blog know, my skin finally started turning around after I started using the Clarisonic Mia. It still hasn’t cleared up my skin 100% – I never expected it to. I still break out – a lot on my cheeks and jawline. Not as much across my forehead and nose like when I was younger. But my skin has improved – and this time without adding hormones to my body.

Early this month, I switched from using Philosophy Purity Made Simple as my face wash to Cetaphil. Partly because it’s so much cheaper. Partly because I’ve heard so many good things about it. Mostly because it’s cheaper.

Hopefully, I’ve got this acne thing under control and hopefully one day I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

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Me with no makeup on! Still zit-tastic! But to a lesser degree.

I know, I know. It’s been so long since my last update regarding the Clarisonic Mia and you’re all chomping at the bit for it.

So far, it’s been great. Here’s how my skin looks now, three months in:

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Right side of my face, no makeup

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Left side of my face, no makeup

As you may be able to see, I’ve still got giant pores and still get acne. But it’s noticeably less severe. My skin’s cleared up 70%-80% since I started using the Mia. This means that while I still get acne, it’s usually just two or three zits rather than clusters of them. I’ve also noticed from looking at these pictures that the redness has gone away too which is great. Hopefully soon there won’t be any at all?

I was using the Mia twice daily up until a couple weeks ago when I switched it to once daily. I usually use it in the evenings when I get home from work and want to take off all the makeup and oil and other gross stuff from the day. I’ve also changed out the brush head from the one that comes with it (Sensitive) to the Deep Pore brush head for acne-prone skin. To be honest, I don’t notice any difference. It feels the same and my skin looks the same. Who knows if it actually does anything?

With my skin clearing up, I’m wearing less foundation which is awesome in the summer when it feels like it’s melting off. This is how I’m most comfortable to be honest; I prefer the no-foundation look for everyday. Speaking of foundation, I’ve also switched out my foundation from the YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat illuminating foundation to Chanel’s Vitalumiere Aqua Skin Perfecting Makeup as per my coworker’s recommendation. (Same girl that recommended I start using the Clarisonic in the first place.)

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Preview of my feelings regarding this foundation

I’m not 100% sure but I think the YSL was making my skin breakout? I say this because after not using the foundation for a few weeks and my skin improving, I decided to put some on for a few hours. After washing it off my face later than evening, I noticed my skin was irritated and some major zits were forming – unusual because my skin was behaving so well up until then. I’m certain there’s a correlation between the two. To be safe, I’ve stopped using the YSL for now. We’ll see if I return to it.

So now, my biggest skin concern is all the acne scarring I’ve got left over. I’ve got lotsa dark spots on my cheeks and a couple sprinkled across my forehead. I’m thinking about checking out Clinique’s Even Better line as I’ve only heard good things. But I bristle at the cost. I’m also thinking about what to do about the texture too.

Left side of my face, no foundation or concealer.

Left side of my face, no foundation or concealer.

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Right side of my face, no foundation or concealer.

While waiting to leave for Harrison Hot Springs for the May long weekend, I figured I’d update y’all on how my skin’s been doing. Yes, I am wearing makeup in the two above photos. But it’s only eye makeup and lipstick. No foundation, concealer, etc. I’ve been regularly using the Clarisonic Mia for almost a month. My coworker who recommended I use the Clarisonic in the first place notices a big difference in my skin. But I don’t seem to notice as much. Or maybe I was hoping for a more drastic improvement?

Pros:

  • Definite improvement in my skin’s texture. It’s not as bumpy and definitely more even. To the point where I can feel confident going without foundation again.
  • I’m not longer breaking out on my forehead and it’s not as much on my temples or chin anymore.
  • Most of the spots are acne scars from past zits. While ugly, at least they’re not current zits?

Cons:

  • Yup, still getting zits and pimples on my cheeks. Not as many as before – definitely not as many of those red painful under-the-skin ones, but I still get breakouts. These days, it’s more like whiteheads.
  • Enlarged pores, check. I think this is genetic though as my mom’s pores are also huge.
  • Redness is still there. It occurs to me though that the rotating brush may be slightly irritating to my skin?

At this point, I’m going to continue using the Clarisonic Mia twice daily. There is an improvement and I want to see how much my skin can improve with regular continued use.

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Left side of my face, no makeup

So I’m a week into using the Clarisonic Mia. I use it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night in the shower. I’m using it in conjunction with my usual cleanser – Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple and then following up with bareMinerals bareVitamins Skin Rev-er Upper in the morning and/or Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer. Here’s the verdict so far:

Cons:

  • I still get pimples and zits.
  • My pores are still enlarged which I think is hereditary anyway so I’m not overly concerned.
  • Redness, check. Still got that.

Pros:

  • The pimples & zits I still get are smaller and definitely not the painful, below-the-surface ones anymore.
  • They also go away faster.
  • I haven’t bothered with a facial scrub since using the Mia as it seems to do a great job exfoliating anyway.

Since using the Mia, I’ve also become a lot more aware of what else may be causing my breakouts, and I’m trying to be more vigilant about it. Things like changing my pillowcase & face towel more often. Touching my face less. And being better about washing my makeup brushes.

 

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Right side of my face, no makeup

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Last Christmas (I gave you my heart…), my sister in law gave me a Clarisonic Mia cleansing brush. While I definitely appreciated the gift, I just didn’t really feel like using it. But when my coworker told me last week about how she knew a girl who used it and saw amazing and quick results I was intrigued. So I dug it out of my bathroom cabinet and gave it a whirl for the first time today.

My skin has been gross ever since I got off birth control pills last year. It is oily and sensitive. It reacts to everything, even temperature and seasonal changes. And my cheeks breakout, yet they’ve got dry patches. Ugh. I’ve been wearing more and more foundation – something I used to never wear at all. So hopefully, this will be the answer to my prayers? We’ll see… Anyway, here’s where my skin currently is at:

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Left side of my face, no makeup

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Right side of my face, no makeup

As you can see, zits, pimples, enlarged pores and redness everywhere. It ain’t a pretty picture. I feel bad for my husband who has to wake up to this every morning. Yikes!

Immediately after using the Mia in the shower, I have a couple thoughts:
-I like that it’s timed to shut off after 1 minute. It helps me realize how little time I spend rubbing my cleanser into my face.
-My skin feel smoother – I guess the rotating brush also serves to exfoliate? Makes sense.
-My moisturizer seems to be sinking in better, but that may just be my imagination wanting to believe that the Mia will be making a big difference to my complexion.

PS: Finally got at my stache with a pair of tweezers. Ah, the peace of mind that comes with a hair free upper lip.