What to Try When You Think You’ve Tried Everything
Acne, especially severe or cystic acne, is nothing if not persistent. It’s a problem that starts deep at the cellular level and can be aggravated by many factors. To control and conquer acne, people try all kinds of treatments and tricks. And many, despite all their best efforts, lament that clearing acne feels like a losing battle.
A quick scroll through the Reddit Acne group reveals story after agonizing story of people who are discouraged and distraught over their struggles with acne. Nearly all of them include the phrase, “I’ve tried everything.”
These kinds of stories are heartbreaking to us because we know that it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right treatment, these can become stories of power instead of pain.
Here’s what to try when you think you’ve tried everything.
The Right Products
We know. That sounds way too simplistic, but it’s amazing the amount of wrong that people get up to when driven by desperation—using comedogenic products (hello, coconut oil), moisturizing when they should be drying (more on that later), using baking soda, applying lemon juice to the skin; all pore-clogging, harsh, pH-destroying, irritating, unhelpful, saboteurs of clear skin.
Four main ingredients are the heart of any successful acne treatment. If your products don’t contain some combination of these, you’re using the wrong ones.
- Benzoyl Peroxide kills acne bacteria and clears pores
- Mandelic Acid targets acne, age spots, discoloration and wrinkles
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (especially mandelic and glycolic) clear cellular debris and oil to unclog pores and allow better absorption of corrective serums
- Retinoids (Vitamin A) accelerate cell turnover, unclog pores, peel out impactions, and reduce oiliness
A Consistent, Four-Step Regimen
Finding the right products is the first step, using them in a consistent regimen is how to make them work. You need a cleanser, a toner, a serum, and an SPF. In a synergistic Vivant regimen, each step enhances the benefits of the next, so don’t skimp or skip.
Vivant cleansers support a healthy barrier, clear away pore-clogging oil, dirt and dead skin cells, and allow the toner to do its work. Vivant toners remove all traces of cellular debris, dirt, and product residue to enhance the absorption of serums. Vivant serums produce cellular repair and regeneration to retexture your skin. Vivant’s Day Treatment Lotion SPF 15 guards against UV damage that can increase inflammation and worsen acne scarring.
Give your regimen time to work. A pimple takes thirty days to form and come to the surface, so thirty days is the minimum amount of time you should give your products before evaluating your results. If you expect to see a dramatic change within a few days, you will be disappointed. During the first thirty days using Vivant products, you will see some flaking and other small changes as your skin acclimates, and anything that has been brewing under the skin gets pulled to the surface cleared away. Within four to six weeks, the signs of acclimation will disappear, but the benefits will continue to grow.
Pay Attention to Underlying Causes
Inflammation at the cellular level creates oxidative stress in the sebum follicle leading to a buildup of dead skin cells, which clog pores. The impaction traps acne bacteria and creates more inflammation, and the whole cycle stays in perpetual motion. Reducing inflammation is essential to controlling acne. What causes the cellular inflammation? Things like stress, poor diet especially excess sugar, UV damage, harmful chemicals, smoking, harsh treatments. To reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, pay attention to both internal and external factors.
Effective acne treatment kills bacteria and causes peeling down inside the pore. The process is inherently and necessarily drying. It will cause flaking while the skin acclimates to the treatment and the impactions clear. The active flaking phase is the active clearing phase. Adding moisture at this stage interferes with the process of peeling the impactions. It also inhibits the action of your products by blocking them from being absorbed into the skin. Depending on the type of moisture, i.e., something too heavy or occlusive, it may clog pores and lead to further impactions. Unless you have dry skin, which is uncommon with moderate to severe acne, you should be using little to no moisturizer during active acne treatment.
Rather than adding a moisturizer, you can make adjustments to your products. For instance, Mandelic 3-In-1 Wash is a gentler alternative to the BP 3% Acne Wash, but it is still highly effective in treating acne. Mandelic acid suppresses acne-causing bacteria and is a particularly good option for dark skin tones that are more prone to hyperpigmentation.
Don’t Over Treat
One Redditor mentioned that he washes his face three times a day and still his acne doesn’t subside. Please don’t wash your face three times a day. If you wash too frequently or over exfoliate, you may irritate your skin and worsen acne (see underlying causes). In this case, you should dial back the use of your products to every other day. Stop any physical exfoliation like scrubs while you repair your skin barrier with some healing ingredients like those found in Totaloe Calming and Hydrating Gel, which is a non-comedogenic, non-greasy hydrator and healer.
See an Aesthetician or Dermatologist
An aesthetician can boost your results with professional treatments including facials, extractions and peels. Vivant’s medium-depth ProPeel® (available only from a skin care professional) is a way to take your acne treatment to the next level. It removes the top layers of skin to more rapidly regenerate healthy new skin resulting in smoother texture and a reduction in the appearance of scars.
If your acne is severe, a dermatologist can prescribe medication to help.
Don’t Give Up
Our co-founder, Dr. James Fulton had cystic acne all through his teens and twenties. Nothing existed that would clear it. Sulfur drying lotions, tetracycline antibiotics, ultraviolet light burning, freezing with dry ice, painful extractions, or x-ray treatments—Dr. Fulton tried everything. His quest for a solution led to his career as a scientist, dermatologist, acneologist, gold standard formulator, and, ultimately, the Vivant line of products.
Many of the real-life success stories on our website started with the words, “I’ve tried everything.” See how they turned out.