Battle of the Breakouts

June 12, 2008 at 6:34 am 2 comments

This is a repeat post from a few months back, with some minor revisions…

Back in 1986, some of my high school friends and a few band geeks organized an event called the “Battle of the Bands.” The idea isn’t original, but their music certainly was. One of them even videotaped it and published it on YouTube! ( They all had visions of becoming the next Neil Young.

The memories of that teen scene bring me to the current topic. While the bands had their battles, I battled with bouts of acne as a teenager. I tried everything: antibiotics, Retin- A, benzoyl peroxide products like Clearasil, Noxema, cleaning pads like Stridex, and the lists goes on. All with varied results, I hated Retin-A.

I also loved to tan. I used baby oil and aluminum foil while laying out. Sunscreen? Are you kidding me!? I spent most of my babysitting money on trips to the tanning beds.

Now, as a mature, knowledgeable adult, I don’t tan anymore and religiously use sunscreen. However, due to hormones, stress and sun damage, I still battle with break outs!

Since a year ago, when I finally said ENOUGH, I set out on a quest for a real break out solution. I have been seeing a Dermatologist regularly. I use daily sunscreen & avoid the sun when possible. And, I invest in highly-recommended skincare lines and cosmetics.  My skin is making progress.  Slow, but real progress.

What I recommend?  
  1. Consider Retin-A again, Renova and/or Generic Tretinoin Cream (it is an emollient and is much less harsh than what I tried as a teenager). I have read that every person over 30 can benefit from using Retin-A. That is unless you are pregnant or nursing…
  2. Benzaclin Cream:  Px topical cream with both antibiotic and drying/healing properties. Good stuff for keeping zits at bay or spot treating an existing blemish.
  3. Monthly Glycolic Peels: expensive procedure, but easy to do. There is no downtime and, over several peels, this procedure will improve your skin cell turnover rate, improve clarity, even tone, lighten pigmentation, etc.


  • Excellent Skincare Lines:  Caudalie, Suki, Cosmedicine, Kate Somerville, Philosophy… On a budget?  Cetaphil Lotion is a great cleanser.  Organic is nice to consider as well.  I try to avoid any cleansers that are harsh or that strip my skin.  Squeaky clean is not a good thing.
  • Exfoliate: Lots out there, but I love Suki’s Lemongrass Cleanser, yummy lemon smell and both a scrub and a cleanser.  This leaves my skin feeling soft and refreshed.  Be careful not to use facial scrubs on areas that are inflammed or currently breaking out.  Scrubs will only aggravate your breakouts.
  • Facial Peels.  Removes dead skin and increases cell turnover rate.
  1. Fruit Enzyme Peels.  One of my favorite fruit enzyme peels is from called, “Natural Pumpkin and 5% Multi Fruit Complex Peel.” Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes one a week and follow with a soothing lotion.
  2. Another fantastic but not cheap peel is from Murad.  Murad’s Intensive Resurfacing Peel ($164 and used for 12 weeks) is the closest product that I have tried that is somewhat like a low concentration gylcolic peel that you would receive at a Dermatologists office.  Little bamboo beads, glycolic and salicylic acid provide a wonderul exfoliation.  The little plastic dispensers are infuriating and wasteful, but the product is great.  Both of these peels offer a good alternative to the Glycolic Peel from a Dermatologist and are a lot less expensive.

Everyone has a different skin journey to travel.  My heart goes out to those who suffer from acne.  Please feel free to share any of your solutions or favorite skincare products. 

As music legend Neil Young sings,“Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World!”

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. realworldmartha  |  September 24, 2007 at 3:25 am

    For small breakout issues there is toothpaste. Just rub a little white paste on the breakout and it will go away very quickly.

  • 2. jen38  |  September 24, 2007 at 3:47 am

    Thanks for the tip, I have heard this before, and recently read something about toothpaste on zits in a book called, “Confessions of a Beauty Editor” by Linda Wells an Editor from Allure Magazine. She isn’t a big fan of the method, but like you, several people swear by it! What brand do you use? Linda recommends crushing an asprin and combining with some water into a paste (which contains a high amount of salicylic acid), and then dabbing it onto the pimple. Anything is worth a try, and nice hearing from you! Jen


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