The Skin-Ny

THE SKIN SAGA CONTINUES. So : I started Retin-A Micro at the end of January, and applied it religiously every single night. And hooooo, boy, the flaaaakes. Did it clear up my skin? Ehhhhh, -ish. Honestly, I feel like it wasn’t quite as effective on the acne front as azelaic acid is for me. Did it give me improvements in skin texture and “clarity”? Probably a little, but it was a subtle difference, not a “holy crap why didn’t I start this ten years ago” effect. Admittedly, also over the last few months, I’ve had some accidental self-inflicted setbacks :

Occasional use of this ^^ jerk at my bf’s place resulted in irritation and small surface breakouts. Once I realized it was having Dire Effects, of course I ceased use, and saw improvement again. Yay! But I was also still frequently having a lot of little whiteheads pop up on my jawline overnight much of the time. Wtf? Maybe my breakouts are partially fungal acne! (Spend any amount of time on Reddit’s SkincareAddiction sub and you’ll encounter LOTS of “fungal acne?” posts.) So without doing any actual research, because I am a doofus, I went on Amazon and searched for “topical antifungal” and threw a tube of this in my cart :

Clotrimazole is effective against a lot of epidermal fungal infections — even ringworm and athlete’s foot! — but according to the reading I did later, it’s NOT the most effective OTC treatment for malassezia, the microorganism often responsible for fungal acne. Ketoconazole generally has a higher efficacy against the subspecies of malassezia responsible for fungal acne — so in retrospect, I probably would’ve been better off trying something like these chlorhexidine / ketoconazole wipes. (Zinc pyrithione can also be somewhat effective, but I’d long ago tried a ZP soap and got irritated angry skin and no apparent decrease in breakout action, so I wasn’t inclined to repeat that experiment.) Anyway, I tried applying this stuff (during the day) for about a week or so, and I didn’t really see any improvement — so either it was ineffective for me, or I simply don’t have fungal acne going on. What I DID unknowingly have was another self-inflicted bit o’ sabotage. What’s my #1 acne nemesis? All together now : CYCLOMETHICONE! And hey guess what’s in this hairspray?

WHY YES, it does contain cyclomethicone. As does its more hardcore “Mega Hold” cousin! Which I had quite liked! :D I’d been spraying this stuff on the sides of my face for weeks! :D Once I stopped using it, again, skin improvement! But alas, I was getting really annoyed with the Retin-A Micro flakies. So a while back, I switched to using the retinoid four nights a week, and reverted to using my 20% azelaic acid cream on Mon / Wed / Fri nights. Again, improvement! But still, maybe once a week I’d wake up with this :

So then I tried using the Retin-A just TWO nights a week …. but still, even if I didn’t have Dire Face Shag, I’d have surface dryness and thin-peelies that would only show themselves after I put on makeup. I tried attacking them with scrubs, gommage peels, abrasive exfoliators, my peshtemal, masking tape and duct tape (I know, I knoooow, but I was annoyed and desperate), PC Glyaluronic serum, Nip + Fab glycolic fix pads, and heavier moisturizers and oils. But still, the surface peelies and dryness persisted. And y’all, I am OVER IT.

So for the time being, I’m quitting the Retin-A Micro, after a mere four months of use. I was so eager to get on this bandwagon, as Retin-A is frequently touted as “the gold standard” for both acne and for anti-aging benefits — and at almost-46, I’ve got both breakouts and a lot of burgeoning fine lines around my eye area that I’d be delighted to zap. But for me, the annoyance with the unconquerable dryness just isn’t worth it right now. I might return to using it a few nights a week just around my eye areas to (hopefully) help stop those little wrinkles from getting worse, but for now, I am DONE with having my whole face look like the late stages of a healing sunburn appx 40% of the time. Since I went back to using only azelaic acid every night, (about a week and a half or so ago), yeah, I’ve had one or two cysts I might not’ve had on Retin-A, but my skin is overall clearer, it’s smoother, and I’m no longer wasting time and product via putting on makeup, seeing ONE TRILLION FLAKES, and feeling compelled to wash/scrub my face and start all over again.

PROBABLY UNNECESSARY CONCLUSION / PSA / TL;DR : 1) if your current acne regimen isn’t 100% cutting it, it IS maybe worthwhile to try a topical antifungal — they’re pretty cheap and an easy way to either address the issue or eliminate it as a possibility. 2) Ugh, read the ingredients for EVERYTHING that gets on or near your face if there’s stuff that dependably give you breakouts. INCLUDING HAIR SPRAY or other styling products, grrr. 3) Sometimes “the best thing” maybe isn’t the best thing for you? I might revisit retinoids at some point, but right now I need a break from the aggravation. :/

How’s your own Skin Adventure going? Tried something that everyone else seems to love and found it Not Worth The Trouble? TELL ME (so that I don’t feel so bad about quitting this shit). <3