We try it!

We Try It: Regimen

Let’s talk about zits! No, really, everyone gets them and it’s nothing to be ashamed of (that’s right, I’m employing the gently, soothing voice of your mother). I’ve struggled off and on with acne since I was 15 (so for over seven years) and I’ve tried Retina, doxycycline (oral antibiotics), Proactiv, benzoyl peroxide, witch hazel, tea tree oil, vitamin E (which is better suited to dealing with post-acne red marks, á la Luci’s post), the Zeno (huuuuuge waste of money, guys), salicylic acid, Yaz birth control pills and loads of other over-the-counter washes and rinses and creams that I don’t even remember.

The product: The regimen consists of a gentle, un-medicated face wash, a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide gel (BP), and a light lotion. It is the only thing that has completely eradicated my acne. I know that everyone’s skin is different, but if you’ve been dealing with acne for awhile and are not seeing results, I’d urge you to give this a try. I wish I had started it sooner, but it always seemed so gimmicky to me (heh, this coming from the person who spent $100.00 on a Zeno) that I assumed it would not work.

My experience: I started the regimen, which was “invented” by founder Dan Kern, in December, 2009. My acne had been very on-and-off for some time, but I think the combination of hormonal birth control pills (they do alleviate acne for some, but can worsen it for others) and stress from living with my in-laws contributed to what was basically the most heinous break-out of all time. On any given day, I had between 10 and 20 active pimples, including at least one or two of the deep, painful, red kind (gross, but I’m just trying to keep it real).

The regimen was frustrating at first, because it takes a long time to apply, morning and night. After washing your face, you let it dry completely (which usually takes 5-10 minutes), apply the BP, which then must dry for another 15 minutes, then finish up with the lotion. BP is extremely drying, which is why Kern advises that you start with a small amount once a day, then work up to applying a quarter-sized amount twice a day.

For about two weeks, my face was painfully dry, red, flaky, itchy, and there was no change in my acne. Over the next two weeks, the dryness was alleviated, but still no progress, acne-wise. Starting around week 5, I began noticing a very slight decrease in pimples overall. This continued until week 8, after which my breakouts subsided to one or two small pimples a week.

Now, eleven months later, I generally get a pimple once every two weeks, if that. I couldn’t be happier, because acne blows.

Downsides: my skin is still dry, though not to the extent it was when I first started the regimen. I’ve had to ramp up the amount of moisturizer I use and get a humidifier. It stinks, but I’d rather deal with dry skin than acne, personally. Also, this summer I began to wonder if maybe I’d outgrown acne completely. I stopped using  BP except for once every other day. Within a few weeks, my breakouts returned and I had to go back to using the regimen twice a day.

Cost: I started out buying the full package (cleanser, BP, lotion) on Amazon ($75.58 for the 3-month supply). It’s pricey, but if you have acne, it’s probably not much more than what you spend on other treatments. Now I use Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, BP, Laura Geller Moisture Compound with SPF 30 (for day), and Cetaphil Gentle Moisturizing Cream (for night). This way I keep my costs down and incorporate sunscreen. While the large BP costs $36.83 on its own, it lasts the full three months, if not longer.

Will It Work For You: I don’t know. I’m not a dermatologist, but my understanding is that, if consistently applied, BP oxidizes the skin, and acne-causing bacteria cannot develop in an oxidized environment. This would make sense given my experience, which was that the BP gradually eradicated my acne, and that Proactiv (which contains a different concentration of BP applied in smaller amounts) is the product that came closest to clearing me up before I started the regimen.

I think the most important factor influencing whether or not the regimen will clear up your acne is how patient and consistent you are. As I mentioned above, the first month or so on the regimen is not fun. Your skin will likely look worse before it looks better. That said, I’m very glad I stuck with it and that it’s continued to work for nearly a year.

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