I had clear, porcelain, glowing skin during those memorable teenage years when many adolescents suffer from acne flare-ups and cystic pimples. I never even used skincare products — not a drop. I remember how lucky I felt to not have to suffer through the emotional stress and embarrassment of having a face covered in craters, redness, hyperpigmentation, and dry, flaky skin . . . until it happened to me.
Around the time I attended college, I started noticing small breakouts along my entire jawline. I had no idea why. I wasn't doing anything different than I had been doing my whole life. And ironically, the more I took care of my skin, the more acne I got. I was embarrassed and depressed. Naturally, I ran to the local pharmacy and purchased some products recommended by my acne-prone friends, but with no results. If anything, my skin looked and felt worse. That's when I got serious and made an appointment with a dermatologist, who put me on topical and oral medications to treat my acne, which turned out to be hormonal due to the fact I had stopped taking birth control.
As Debra Wattenberg, MD, explained, "Hormonal acne tends to develop post-teenage years, and it is commonly distributed along the jawline, neck, and cheeks. It often presents with cysts that are caused by fluctuations in hormones . . . specifically increases in androgens like testosterone."
"Irregular menses, discontinuation of birth control pills, and menopause can all cause hormonal acne," she continued. "Treatment often requires oral medication because the cysts which develop from hormonal acne are deep and hard to treat. I commonly recommend antibiotics, birth control pills, and anti-androgens like Spironolactone."
Unfortunately, that's not the happy ending I would have liked. Although my acne was slowly clearing up, it had left behind terrible scars, known as hyperpigmentation and discoloration in the skin. Hyperpigmentation and scarring are caused from excessive picking at areas of irritation, picking pimples the wrong way, and picking away at pimples as they are healing.
I struggled to find the solution to correct my damaged skin. I tried all the top picks for scarring, but none worked. I was left feeling hopeless that my skin would ever be the same.
After months of research on vitamin C, turmeric, retinoids, and product testing, I finally found my skincare saviors. These three have worked their magic to completely clear my hyperpigmentation, scarring, and redness. This product combination is a skincare miracle worker like one I have never experienced before:
- Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash ($38)
- Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($34)
- Skin & Lab Red Serum ($35)
Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash is formulated with two percent salicylic acid, which helps eliminate the breakout cycle while removing excess oil, makeup, and bacteria. It soothes and conditions the skin with allantoin and pro vitamin B5, leaving it thoroughly clean and residue-free!
"Salicylic acid helps to destroy the attachments between skin cells," Dr. Wattenberg explained. "It destroys the desmosome and therefore allows exfoliation of the skin and helps to unclog pores. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps to destroy free radicals. It decreases inflammation from acne and helps to reduce redness and scarring. It also can help to reduce pigmentation. Rose is used to hydrate the skin; it's an emollient and it has some anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the chance for discoloration."
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum is packed with ingredients to brighten and antioxidants to reverse surface damage. I mix it with the superfood-rich Skin & Lab Red Serum (a Korean-beauty staple), and my skin looks and feels better than it did in 2008. Wattenberg explained, "These products work to exfoliate the skin, thereby increasing cell turnover, preventing pigmentation, erythema, and scarring. The anti-inflammatory effects of the vitamin C prevent the erythema. Salicylic acid can dissolve the keratin plug that causes a blackhead. It dissolves oil and dead skin cells, making pores look smaller. It also decreases oil production because it's lipophilic and has the ability to penetrate the pore, destroy the oil, and unclog the pore."
I wish I could tell you that the road to finding the products that work best for your skin ailments is quick and easy, pain-free, and at times not emotionally draining. Luckily, you're one step closer to trying something that your skin and soul will thank you for; trust me!