How do I fix acne leftovers?
July 27, 2012 6:29 AM   Subscribe

I have leftover acne redness from 15 or so years ago, and I've finally decided to do something about it. The goal is to make my skin more even-toned and healthier-looking. What methods and/or products - preferably available over-the-counter - would you suggest? Pics of some of the offending areas on my face here, here, and here.
posted by st starseed to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Google turmeric face mask.
posted by discopolo at 6:31 AM on July 27, 2012

A colleague's daughter starting buying over-the-counter retinoid-containing scar creams when she launched her Hollywood acting career. Not sure if she's getting any auditions, but her skin has never been better.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:36 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

My dermatologist prescribed Finacea for my old acne scars, which is a 15% azelaic acid cream, and it's been pretty effective for me. You can get a 20% cream from Amazon.

When I'm feeling spendy, I use this Philosophy peel, which immediately makes my skin look better, but so far hasn't had significant long-lasting effects.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:37 AM on July 27, 2012

It's not available over the counter in the US, but Sulfacetamide lotion made a huge difference in my acne-related redness.
posted by telegraph at 6:38 AM on July 27, 2012

I fried my skin pretty seriously by using benzoyl peroxide for years. Eucerin anti-redness products have helped me a lot. The products for daytime actually have a green tint to balance out the red.

That said, once you start buying specialized skin products over the counter, you are not necessarily going to be saving a lot over prescription products. If you have rosacea-- not that i have any idea, from looking at your pictures-- I think there are specific things targeted for that.
posted by BibiRose at 6:59 AM on July 27, 2012

I had a few small scars on my face - so a different situation from yours, but possibly related enough that it's worth sharing - and started religiously rubbing Bio-Oil into them, and they really did fade, with the more recent ones disappearing completely. You can get Bio-Oil over the counter in drugstores in the US - I bought mine at a CVS.

Around the same time I also started using a Clarisonic Mia sonic brush to clean my face, so I don't know for sure whether the Bio-Oil or the Mia or some combination was what made my scars go away. I suspect that the Bio-Oil was the bigger contributor but that making a more deliberate effort to keep my face clean also helped. The Mia is expensive, but there is a similar product you can get at a drugstore for a lot less, the Neutrogena Wave.

Do you have a consistent routine for cleaning and moisturizing your face right now? If not, I would guess that starting or improving on that routine, no matter what products you end up using, will help a lot. If you want to make the redness go away entirely, or if you already have a solid routine and nothing is happening, you probably want to see a dermatologist who can help you choose the best products/treatments for the fastest results. But otherwise, just being diligent about a routine will probably be more important than the specific products you end up choosing.
posted by jessypie at 7:29 AM on July 27, 2012

I don't have much redness, but I did have one red scar and generally congested-looking skin, and another MeFite told me about Makeup Artist's Choice peels. I bought two of them and LOVE LOVE LOVE the results. I just bought a third, and I'm using one of their serums too.

They have a number of different kinds, in varying degrees of gentleness. I do the 30% glycolic and the Radiance Peel once a week each with zero irritation. It took just two weeks for the stubborn red scar to heal-- not just the visible part, but the bump that was underneath is now gone too. Seriously, these are very very gentle. I just bought the 55% Lactic Acid one because it has excellent reviews too. I bought the smaller kits of each and will probably get 20-25 peels out of each bottle. I also use the Gly-Uronic Serum daily and it's made an obvious improvement too (the tiniest sample size has lasted me two months). I'm 36 and three times in the last few weeks I've been mistaken for 27-28 (one person thought I was actually lying about my age).

Here are before-and-afters that show how the products work against moderate to severe redness and scarring. Here are the Makeup Alley reviews of all of their products (this is useful to learn about what one might work best for your skin. It might seem scary and intimidating, but it really truly shouldn't be). The TCA peel is the one with the best results but also the only one with real downtime; I'm going to try it over Christmas break when I can hide in my house.

Also seconding jessypie on the Clarisonic Mia.

MeMail me if you have any questions!
posted by mireille at 7:36 AM on July 27, 2012 [22 favorites]

posted by Quincy at 8:19 AM on July 27, 2012

I believe acne redness/post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation consists of darker distinct spots, not a smooth red blush over a larger area like your pictures show. What you have doesn't look like scarring to me, which is what post-acne treatments are geared toward.

You may be dealing with something different (like Rosacea) which would call for a different treatment. I would be careful--perhaps see a dermatologist for an evaluation or at least read up on and look at pictures of other skin issues that can cause redness like yours.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:37 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your pics are blocked at my work, so I'll just say what's working for me. I tried several different spot-lighteners and most did next to nothing. Then I got a sample of Stri-Vectin Get Even Brightening Serum from Sephora, and holy cow, that stuff has made a huge difference. I'm not even halfway through my first bottle of it and my spots have greatly improved. I started out using it only once a day because my skin flaked and peeled a bit at first (it's an exfoliator), but now I use it morning and night without incident. Then about a month ago I got a Clarisonic Mia and my skin has never looked better. So for me, that one-two punch of the Stri-Vectin and Mia is really doing wonders and I highly recommend both.
posted by Fuego at 10:34 AM on July 27, 2012

I urge you to see a dermatologist about your skin before you start trying anything. What you think your redness is or is not may not be the case at all. It is very difficult for us non-dermatologists to distinguish between normal post-acne redness, acne rosacea, and redness from other causes, like yeast infections (sounds gross, but is very common, especially in the summer humidity).

In the meantime: Try using castile soap. This is soap that is basically just oils. Dr. Bronners or Kiss My Face are two brands to try. They come in different "flavors" and so long as you try something really mild, you will be in good shape--avoid the peppermint, for instance, as it tends to irritate skin. You can get these products at pharmacies, Target, and grocery stores.

I would also suggest that you use a very mild moisturizer with a sunscreen in it. First, you wash your face with your hands/fingers only, and then use the mild moisturizer (Cetaphil, or Eucerin, are good).

Keep notes if you notice something causes you to "flare up." If you can make a correlation, write it down. Food, drink, stress, activity, sun, wind, exercise, spicy stuff, etc. can all be triggers to rosacea. Any information you can bring to an appointment will be helpful for the dermatologist. Does the redness come and go by season? Does anyone else in your family have anything like this?
posted by FergieBelle at 11:05 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've got similar redness that was diagnosed as a mild form of rosacea. Intense pulsed light (IPL) laser treatments have worked wonders. I'd definitely agree with others that seeing a dermatologist is the best way to go in your case just to make sure you're treating the right thing.
posted by sciencemandan at 12:28 PM on July 27, 2012

+1 dermatologist, one who works with lasers. I had spectacular results. It wasn't the cheapest thing to do, but, when one tallies up the cost of all the minimally effective, maintenance needed, creams &c, it was a very wise bit of spending.

(I am also a fan of at-home peels; I like -- quick shipping, good packaging, good prices, good products)

Another advantage of seeing a dermatologist is you will likely get products suggested that are cheap. Every time I have seen one I have been steered toward very basic, not-advertised, drugstore stuff, and occasionally things like olive oil. (If I found one recommending from a line they sold out of their office I would run, but that hasn't happened.)
posted by kmennie at 4:13 AM on July 28, 2012

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