Operation : ACNE + SCARS. Status : CONQUERED.

Hi All. Please remember that ::

  •  I tried to express my opinion and share my experience. I am not any healthcare professional, so please do not replace any medical advice with the information in this post.
  • The Remedies / Treatments that work for one may not work for another. So, always PATCH TEST every acne remedy that you wish to try. Please Do Not Skip This Part.
  • The pictures are included just to provide an informative and interesting read. They are taken from other sites, UNLESS watermarked chocolate & cyanide.
  • Below the pictures I provided the links to the sites where I have extensively read the Pros & Cons. The sites contain valuable Information, Reviews & Results by those who tried them. Please read them BEFORE you wish to go ahead and try the remedies.
  • I am helpless about preaching excessively about precautions. Do not want anybody worsen their existing condition.

Thanks.

 My background :: Female / Late 20

Well. Hope I am not alone in my pursuit of a flawless skin. I suffered from mild to moderate pimples over my oily skin since age 12. As I grew older, I had more and more of them and out of helplessness I resorted to popping them which left behind deep scars and black spots. My chin never scarred with the picking. Only left black spots behind. The acne I had were not Nodules or Cysts but Zits-like, some were more prominent and deep. Except for my oily T-zone, my face was loaded with pimples and spots. Heavily affected were my cheeks and chin. Forehead always had a huge bump or two. 

They say pimples eventually stop after a certain age. Eventually?! Ha. I wanted to end the karma I had with my pimples as soon as I could.

Used products by almost all  famous brands without much results. There was little awareness about Sun protection and sunscreen back then, and so my exposure to the Sun added to the darkening of the skin. I do not remember having comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) either as they were not much heard of and so I categorized all shapes and sizes of bumps on my face as Acne. Looking at the mirror was least enjoyable.

I did not notice nor cared what others thought of or reacted to my skin as I was all absorbed by my own self-consciousness,  judging and bothering myself enough than anyone else. Psychology.

 FIRST SUCCESSFUL REMEDY THAT WORKED ::

2002.  I was living with that face till my late teens when I tried an ayurvedic treatment for pimples. The HONEY + CINNAMON mask. This was the first home remedy I used. It still scares me to death just thinking that I could still be living with pimpled face into my 20′s, had I not come across this thing.

honey_cinnamon

This worked for me. Applied a thick paste of Honey+Cinnamon powder all over my face.  I would keep it on all night and wash it off next morning. I am not exaggerating  but in just about 2 WEEKS no trace of any bump on my face. Darker spots faded and lighter spots just vanished. My chin was free from any mark. I had pimple free skin with a smooth texture, but the scars on cheeks were still there. Everybody around me got something to say and ask about my skin. For the first time I experienced the joy of advising.

Now, what was left on my face were the marks and scars :: the result of my picking and popping . Also, it was now I started noticing open pores and comedones. 

I switched on to blemish fading creams. Absolutely no results. I occasionally would get a bump or two, but not bothersome. But, I’d still pick on them and they’d leave marks and scars. A vicious cycle.

I continued with some home remedies for marks , but I was tired of waiting forever to see a remarkable difference. I continued purchasing every new product in the market in hopes of a blemish free skin.

 FAST FORWARD ::  INTERNET . INFORMATION EVERYWHERE.

This is when I started online pursuit of  acne remedies.

2009 . I tried ASPIRIN + HONEY mask for pores after some research online. 

Please do your research about the ill-effects of Aspirin on continuous use, even as a face mask. Side effects and warnings given HERE, but please do more of your own research.

Aspirin is a derivative of Salicylic Acid. It apparently broke out few people, but overall reviews were positive. Eager to try it out, purchased a dozen pills. I never patch tested anything ever before as my skin never had any irritation to ANY product and I was super confident my skin is game for anything. This one begged to differ. Broke me out overnight. Big pimples. Shock. Regret.  Now I have to deal with them AGAIN.

Lesson learnt :: ALWAYS PATCH TEST.

Thank God I have my Honey+Cinnamon mask to rely on. Applied it all over my face.Within a minute, face started itching badly. Washed it off immediately. HORROR OF HORRORS! Face was red with goosebumps-like rash all over.

PANIC. PANIC. PANIC. Splashed ice-cold water on face for a while. Rash was beginning to wear off . Face was still red and warm. I got my face back in an hour. But, I was still in utter shock. WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED ??? Assumed it has something to do with Cinnamon, bought a fresh stock and applied on a test patch. Allergy persisted. Then switched honey. Allergy persisted. Gave a few days rest and tried again. SAD SIGH! Ditched it for good. I later found out that I developed allergy to Cinnamon. Great !

I then started applying papaya pulp and leaving it overnight. Breakout cleared in a month, leaving behind more marks and scars. Papaya pulp is supposed to fade marks and blemishes, so continued the application. I could see very little difference in the marks but my overall complexion was beginning to even out. It was good,but I will worry about my complexion later.

Months later, researched online and went ahead with RICE WATER rinse. Supposed to clear blemishes and enhance complexion.

1 month into it. It did nothing at all. It was too mild for all the marks I had so decided to give it up. Begun moderate maintenance of skin with fruit and veggie face masks and commercial packs and creams. No much progress.

Early 2011. Further online research for oily skin and acne remedies. Came upon COCONUT WATER therapy for oily skin.

WOW! I MEAN WOW! Less oily face just after 3-4 days of coconut water consumption and application on face. Had coconut water from one, sometimes two, coconut(s) every morning on empty stomach and dabbed some on my face the entire summer. Helped skin a lot, fresh and glowing face in particular. Finally, Normal skin after ages of dealing with Oily skin. This is a permanent remedy for those with Oily Skin. Ditch oil-control creams and have coconut water daily for atleast a month.  Cannot stress this enough.

Mid 2011. Online research on LEMON JUICE ON SKIN for pores and marks.

Patch test successful. I’d wash my face and cut a wedge of lemon and rub it on entire face every night and wash off next morning. Stung bad for the first 3-4 days. Can be applied straight or diluted if stinging is severe. Worked out WONDERFULLY. I then realized that all these years my pores had some junk in them so they appeared dirty. ONLY Lemon juice cleaned the junk out of the pores so now they appear CLEAN. Complexion a tad light. Marks were beginning to fade. Fresh and bright face. 

I had to get rid of the scars and open pores. Lemon juice was cleaning the pores and evening out the complexion, but the pores were still visible. I wanted to continue with Lemon juice and religious online quest till I find something better and faster cure for the scars.

PLEASE STAY OUT OF THE SUN BY ALL MEANS as skin is sensitive and prone to pigmentation after lemon juice application. The warnings are already given in the sites.

Sunscreen + Umbrella + Scarf are my skin’s best friends from now, for the rest of my life.

Early 2012. I tried BAKING SODA for exfoliation.

It broke me out mildly at my test spot by the evening. By the next morning, they were a size bigger. Discontinued and carried on with the Lemon juice. Breakout cleared soon. Further research online for curing the damn pores and scars.

Weeks Later The OCM ::

I used Olive oil and Castor oil. Ditched it after 3 days of use. Reason? Laziness. Nothing else.

BIG STEP :: CHEMICAL PEELS.

When I first begun started searching online about scar treatments, I came across Chemical peel treatments every where I read, but the word “Chemical” did not appeal to me. Acid on Face?!  SHIVER. I dug up articles online. What I was reading was sounding sophisticated and the images of skin peeling off the face made my jaw drop. And all of the pre and post care … back then, I could neither fit it in my daily schedule nor was I prepared to handle the process. 

So, NOW, backed up with my previous research, I am searching places where I could get one. If this does not work, my last resort will be the Laser, or worse, going under the knife. I. Will. Not. Give. Up.

Ok, now many beauty parlors and skin clinics in my city were doing peels but the customer reviews were horrific. Very few of them were satisfied with the results and for rest of them their condition was aggravated. I paused for sometime and asked myself, Is it worth it?  I did not want to hurry and be ill-prepared for what is to come. I again did the mother of all researches for 2 months. Latest Info, the images, the reviews, the dos and don’ts, the whys and hows. Pages and pages of success stories with horror tales as well. 

Valuable information :: Since ASPIRIN mask broke me out, I should stay away from Salicylic peels and also Combination peels which had Salicylic Acid in them.

So, knocked the dermatologist’s door. The doc assessed my skin told me I had boxcar and ice-pick scarring combo and gave me options ::  micro-dermabrasion or derma-rolling or laser or chemical peels. I told him I know quite a bit about chemical peels and I wanted an opinion, he okayed. He suggested a series of Glycolic peels after 2 weeks of priming. He said TCA is the last resort and the maximum strength of TCA allowed at his clinic is 15%. I was sent home with Retino A-0.05% , anti-biotic pills, sunscreen gel and Vitamin-E moisturizer.

Retino-A (RA) to be applied at night and moisturizer and sunscreen throughout the day, to be followed everyday. All applications on face has to be stopped 3-5 days before the peel.

2 weeks later, got Glycolic peel 10% done. It did sting. Face was on fire during neutralisation. It was just Glycolic 10%! Was scared to UP the % . Sent home with soap-free cleanser and post-treatement care instructions. Glycolic 10% was mild exfoliation. Face felt fresh and had a visible glow for a couple of days.

Was priming my face for 2nd Glycolic peel when I developed a serious desire to do it myself on my own. I came across blogs after blogs about at-home-peels in my earlier search. makeupatristschoice(MUAC) and skinobsession and platinumskincare were much talked about . Sadly, no at-home-peels in my country and shipping isn’t reliable either. After days of serious research and thinking, finally ordered MUAC TCA 30 Adjustable Kit from their website and got it shipped to my friend’s address in the USA. Excellent shipping. I got 5$ off on the kit with a coupon code I found HERE. Companies offers discount on your first purchase anyways. The ridiculously best thing was that it costed me less than my single Glycolic peel.

My friend in the USA arranged someone who would bring the kit along when they would visit home in a month. Meanwhile, religiously priming my skin and continuing with online research, when  I tripped on something ……

VINEGAR + LEMON JUICE CLEANSE for acne, scars and open pores.

I had one month before my kit arrives, so without any delay I started the Vinegar+Lemon Juice regimen. Following a successful patch test, I applied diluted WHITE Vinegar on face and sipped water mixed with Lemon Juice throughout the day ie., for every glass of water add 1 spoon lemon juice. Could not take lemon water throughout the day. So lemon water sips is every other day till I finally DISCONTINUED. Meanwhile, White Vinegar is working wonders. Start with  1:5 ratio of Vinegar to Water and then adjust the levels slowly till u reach 1:1. Pores appear shrunk. Marks much lighter. All this in just 3 weeks!  Even more effective than lemon juice on face. I got “Frosting” with White Vinegar. It was not a deep frosting, but it stung and some areas would turn white for a minute or so. So now I know what people mean when they get frosting with chemical peels. 1 part vinegar to 1 part water was good. Mild bumps when I tried applying Vinegar WITHOUT diluting. Nothing serious though. Bumps healed in 2 days. Continued diluting thereafter. Vinegar dried out the marks and they would flake off in 2-3 days. I tried not to pick them myself. Any new wannabe pimples, I would dab some Vinegar and they would be flat the next morning. Begun alternating nights with Vinegar and Retino-A for almost a month. I assumed it was enough priming for the upcoming peel. I am very sure that if I continued with Vinegar, it would take a year or two to get an  agreeably clear skin without any chemical peel. But, I already made up my mind for a chemical peel.

Please avoid outdoors without proper skin protection for the rest of your life. Lemon Juice , Retino-A and Vinegar is no joke.  ALSO, do not rub, scrub or scratch your face much. ALWAYS blot dry.

Also, Not a good idea to wax treated skin. Waxing after using powerful exfoliating product like a Chemical peel or even less intense products like Lemon Juice, Retino-A or Vinegar will hurt the skin BAD and might /will cause injury to top layer of the skin. So, prefer shaving or threading or plucking instead.

A month later :: The D-DAY :: I picked my MUAC TCA 30% ADJUSTABLE KIT. Lovely Kit. Detailed instructions. Sample of Blemish Buster Astringent included in the kit.  Time for some snaps … of the kit!

Stopped all applications on face for 4 days prior to the peel. Usually work out hardcore, but it is not recommended to sweat during the peeling and healing. So, on a break from workouts too.

DAY 1 : Sitting pretty and trying to open the TCA bottle, a drop leaked from the cap and fell straight on my thigh.  %$#$?&^*&^%?{&%$ …… DAMN! It torched my thigh. The spot turned pure white in 10 seconds. I was half dead with the pain. A DROP OF 30% TCA IT WAS!  I was fantasizing that someday the TCA 30% would be on my FACE. NOT ANY MORE. I would do a series of mild peels forever. TCA 30% is way too much TRAUMA to induce to my face. A lesson in disguise ! All the horror stories and pictures of peel tragedies were crossing my mind. They must have been through hell with the pain. Felt very sorry for them. It took more than 2 hrs for me to get myself to carry on with the scheduled patch test.

Ready for PATCH TEST :: 15% TCA peel. I have already experienced the sting of Lemon juice and Vinegar whose primary compound is … ACETIC ACID(5%). 15% TCA will definitely sting and I told myself I will dilute the solution if I feel uncomfortable.

  • Washed face with my soap-free cleanser. Then washed again with MUAC Green Tea cleanser.
  • Diluted part TCA with part sterile water to reduce it to 15% according to the directions. Applied 2 streaks using Q-tip on the deep scars on the right cheek. Q-tip application was very convenient. Took almost 10 seconds to frost . Stung alot. It felt like my skin was shooting steam . I could tolerate the pain only if done sections or spot treatments. I cannot do a full face peel of 15% TCA in a single take. Carried on and spread it on area roughly size of a square centimeter.
  • Left it on barely for a minute and then neutralized. A minute or two later, washed my face again with Green Tea Cleanser .

Skin was back to normal in an hour. The frosting and redness were gone but the spot was still warm. My thigh was still screaming in pain though! 

FINALLY! I gave myself a TCA peel. Staring at the few remaining drops of the diluted TCA which would go wasted. Wanted to extend the patch test to another area. Thought for a while. Decided not to give in to temptation. Less is more for a first-timer. I remember the warnings. And so it went down the sink. I wanted to treat the rest of the skin only after the test spot completely finishes peeling, just to be relieved that everything went well .

I did not apply any anti-bacterial cream. Could not get one without prescription. Applied Vit-E moisturizer and then hit the sack.

DAY 2 –  Morning :   The test spot was tight and turned couple shades darker. I would poke a little and experience the wrinkly effect. Washed face with Green Tea Cleanser first thing in the morning. The spot on my thigh turned quite dark, itched a little and was very sensitive to touch.

By Evening:  Test patch turned another shade darker and more stiff. HAPPY. Couldn’t wait for the sheet-peeling to start. By the look of it, I was certain it would not merely flake. Clipped my nails to keep myself off from picking the skin .Washing my face 2-3 times a day with warm water. I was certainly not moisturizing it enough, but  hydrating from within with lots of juices and water. Hoped it helps with the peeling. The patch on thigh looked dark and crusted but did not bother anymore. SURPRISED . I am still NEVER doing 30% on my face.

Washed face with Green Tea Cleanser and applied moisturizer before going to bed.

DAY 3 –  Morning :: No visible signs of peeling yet. By afternoon the ends begun to crack and I was tempted to meddle with it. Washed face with warm water and rubbed in lot of moisturizer and now skin was hanging in sheets . WOW! I picked on the dead skin and what was beneath it was slightly reddish skin very sensitive to touch. So put on some sunscreen and moisturizer . Redness was gone in an hour. 2-3 tiny breakouts, which I was sure, would heal if left alone. Complete peeling by evening. Nothing drastic happened. Put on some moisturizer. The next day would be the actual procedure on the other pores-scars-marks filled cheek.

I did not record my experiences in pictures consistently as I had absolutely no intention to blog about all of this back then. I took random pics for my personal file keeping. Needless to say, I am gonna keep track of my progress from now on. 

I’ve been doing single-layer 15% peel a month. I would dab the Q-tip on deep scars couple times more, but technically a 2nd layer peel has not been performed yet. Only the patch test took 3 days to peel. My actual peels take 5 days to 1 week and it would still flake a little till another week.

After I finish peeling, my scars and pores appear LARGER! I panicked at first. BUT, only after a couple of days the scars shrink and the actual result of the peel was visible. ??? Well I tried hard but failed to find the link, but I did read online where a dermatologist affirmed my experience and explained that the fresh revealed skin takes time to adjust and the actual result will be seen after a month of the peeling and not to panic if it appears that the peel did not work.

So , do not expect immediate-drastic-life changing results. I fantasized atleast 25% improvement in my skin after applying my first peel. It did not happen and YES, I was disappointed thinking it will not work for me , but I did not want to give up. It took me 2 peels to notice and celebrate the improvement in my condition. Now my skin is couple of peels old and my scars are definitely getting better. You will definitely see results, but largely depending on how your skin reacts and what percentage of the acid it can SAFELY accept. I expected my skin to react favorably to 30% TCA but it did not, judging by the accident during patch test. Maybe the skin on my face and thigh is different. BUT NO THANKS. I will not experiment. So I am on 10%-15% TCA and it will take around a dozen peels, or even more, to get my desired Dream Skin. So, do not get discouraged or desperate. The scars are several layers deep and to actually reach the root-layer of the scar, like it or not, WILL take a good couple of peels. It is very important to be practical and accept the fact and carry on with the procedure.

So, please keep in mind ::

Though it is absolutely safe to do at-home chemical peels with required caution, it is always BEST to get atleast the first (few) peel(s) done at the Doc’s office. Your skin will be analysed and your health issues, if any, will be considered and suitable priming will be suggested. The doc may suggest you other cost-effective and milder options that may work for you.

When you finally decide to get a chemical peel by yourself after you research from various sources,

  • Decide on the source of your purchase. Where is the peel coming from?  Always best to purchase directly from the company website instead of eyeing large discounts on online retail websites . The company websites also offer discounts. This is not about saving some $$$. One may end up paying more to repair the damages caused, in case of spurious acid abuse on the skin.   
  • Respect your skin and the acid.  Start at lower strengths initially. This is not a contest. DO NOT SKIP THE PATCH TEST. DO NOT PANIC. DO NOT RUSH
  • You are responsible for your safety if you decide to do it yourself. Approach every peel as your first and proceed with caution. Prefer being alone during application. You need to be careful right from application to neutralization.
  • Spacing the peels is very vitalDo not get carried away after your start seeing results and get too comfortable with the acid. Peels should be spaced  weeks or months apart based on their strength.
  • It is always safe and best to apply in sections / spots rather than do a full-face peel. 
  • Setting reasonable expectation is very important. Do not expect turn-around results and be disappointed. The skin was not damaged overnight and cannot be fixed overnight either.
  • Finally, store it carefully away from others reach. 

Now, at hindsight, when my skin reacted adversely to some products, maybe it was the result of initial purging. But the overnight purging freaked me out and I could not get myself to carry on with the product. Also, I was never consistent with the acne creams. If I did not find any result within a week or month, it went straight into the trash. Who knows, if I had continued with some of them I might have seen results.

I do not know if I was too bold or too foolish to experiment so many products, both natural and chemical, on my face, but I proceeded with utmost caution backing up with as much information I can gather. Especially after the Aspirin-mask failure, I was particular about patch testing. But hey, this is how you learn in life right. You falter a bit, you stray a bit , learn from  mistakes, see what works for you and you are on your feet again. I am happy that along the way I discovered some amazing products which worked fantastic on my skin and improve my skin condition.

My Current Bedtime Regimen ::

I came across THIS and since then using honey as part of my regular skin care.

  • Wash face with cleanser.
  • Massage with honey and washing it off after 10 mins.
  • Apply diluted White Vinegar (1 Vinegar : 2 Water). Let it dry.
  • Apply RA and leave it overnight.

Maybe its a bit too much, but I did not see any adverse reaction so now I am following this 3 times a week. Visible glow. Visible difference in complexion. I just feel fresh. 1 week before the peel I stop applying Vinegar and RA as too much exfoliation before a chemical peel will increase the burning during its application.

PHEW! Thus ends my thesis. I put my best efforts to make it as elaborative and informative as possible. I just cannot write anything in short. Thank you for your time. Will post more pics, this time right from Day 1 till complete peeling.

Good day.