I only recently learned that I do, in fact, have exceptionally sensitive skin. But instead of manifesting itself in the form of itching, burning, dryness, or redness-- I get acne. I get horrible acne. Everything from your run-of-the-mill whiteheads to big, painful cysts. Gross, eh?
For years, I tried a great variety of treatments-- just about anything you can name-- from those awful stingy pads, to Proactiv, to about a half dozen different prescription treatments (both oral and topical). I had the best results with the oral antibiotic, but I took it for so long that I began to develop a tolerance to it and it stopped working about a year ago. I went back to using Proactiv but had mixed results at best.
Being a northerner transplanted to Florida, I spend a lot of time sweating, and I attributed much of my increased acne woes to constantly being covered in that film you get when sweat dries on your face. You know what I'm talking about-- and don't you dare pretend that you don't.
It wasn't until this past August that I finally figured out the mysteries of my acne. I joined a site called Acne.org and it changed my life. Er... that's a bit dramatic... let's just say it changed my face! And it also changed my chest and my back.
From Acne.org, I started following the Dan Kern Regimen (or, DKR) for acne treatment and goshdarnit if it isn't the only thing I've tried that actually works consistently. I bought his whole line of products. They aren't, what you would call, "cheap". But they're worth it.
I currently get the Regimen Kit Plus mailed to me every 6 weeks. Since I started using the regimen, it now takes nearly two hours for me to get ready in the morning, which is a bummer. But applying each step of the regimen takes time because you have to do it so slowly and gently, and then each step must dry completely before applying the next one. That takes about 10-15 minutes per step:
- Wait 10 minutes
- Apply Benzoyl Peroxide
- Wait 15 minutes
- Apply moisturizer
- Wait 10-15 minutes
- Apply makeup
So that's 35-40 minutes just waiting for the stuff to dry.
BUT I have not had skin that looked this clear since well before puberty.
I'm now almost 8 months into the regimen and am completely clear. All of the side effects of using such a large amount of benzoyl peroxide have also cleared up.
I used to think that no amount of benzoyl peroxide could touch me. I'd been using it for years, in various forms. It's the active ingredient in Proactiv but is tough to find in drugstores. The amount used in the regimen causes ALL users to experience extreme flaking and peeling of the skin for weeks or months into the treatment. The skin around my mouth looked like the cracked ground of a desert. I was afraid to smile, laugh, yawn, or eat anything in public for fear of my skin cracking and flaking off. Needless to say, it was super gross and embarrassing. But after about three months, it finally began to subside.
What I learned from reading the articles on Acne.org is that acne isn't caused from dirt or grease on your skin. It's caused by irritation. Dirt and grease can clog pores, but those pores don't produce acne unless they are clogged AND irritated. So eliminating irritation is the key.
This means I have to be super careful about the products that I use on my skin. For the most part, I use the acne.org products, but I also need things like soap and a lotion to keep in my purse, etc. So I have to avoid products with Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Myristal Myristate and sunscreens with an Avobenzone base.
Which brings me back to Florida.
I like to be in the sun as much as the next gal, and Tommy and I spend a lot of our free time at the pool, which is great, except that the sunscreens I have been using are not compatible with the acne.org regimen.
The only SPF recommended by acne.org is Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer - Sensitive Skin. But this is really a daily moisturizer and not a beach-worthy sunscreen.
Dan (acne.org founder) offers this video as a guide to shopping for regimen compatible sunscreens:
So these are the things I am looking for in a sunscreen:
1.) Avobenzone free
2.) Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Myristal Myristate free
3.) SPF 30 (Any lower and I can't stay out all day-- any higher is just a scam)
4.) Water resistant (at least), but preferably waterproof
These are the products that, upon first inspection, meet those minimum requirements: