5 things that have worked in clearing up my cystic acne, and 5 things that didn't

i've suffered from pretty severe cystic acne from age 15 to 23 and I've been able to clear most of it up within a year of realising where the issue lay. in those years, I spent so much money on dermatologists and trying to fix me and have been left with a really terrible self perception but things are much better now and I wanna share that.
  1. Cutting dairy from my diet
    It took a lot of convincing, but I decided to give this a go and went cold turkey (no milk, yogurt, cream cheese, cheese of any sort or ice cream or other dairy products with lactose) and within two or three months I saw a huge different and I stuck with it and it's made a massive difference now. Only downside is that I went long enough without dairy that I'm now lactose intolerant and feel miserable AND break out when I consume any dairy.
  2. Benzoyl peroxide, 10% (I live in Asia and the easiest thing to get my hands on is Oxy cover, costs about $6-7 a tube and lasts me a few months)
    I have tried all kinds of salicylic acid creams from both drugstores and dermatologists and have always made my way back to Oxy. You gotta admit that dermatologist's prescriptions are just not financially sustainable, but drugstore products are. And sometimes they're less harsh. oxy cover is great because it mostly does blend into your skin so I feel less awkward sitting around at home with cream on my cheeks
  3. All the face masks (or Fuller's earth in particular)
    So while the oxy does tend to dry out the zits, it dries out your skin too so I find that complementing that with moisturising masks when my face feels too dry, or a good mud mask when it needs some.exfoliation really helps. In the last few months I've mostly been rotating between Himalayas Neem Facepack, Himalayas Kesar Facepack(that's saffron infused),Queen Helene's Mint Julep clay mask, and the Orange&Bergamot detox and Strawberry&Yarrow clarifying masks by Formula 10.0.6.
  4. A big source of stress - college
    I don't know man, I didn't have a good time at college or high school and it clearly wrecked havoc on my skin. This is something I realise on hindsight, of course. I took a semester off to work, and my skin cleared up. I went back, the skin got worse. Now I'm back at work and my skin is much better again. I love my workplace and enjoy my work. Which is a huge difference from college and it is obvious to me. I am lucky to have found a job I love :D
  5. Keeping to a very minimal makeup routine. My everyday routine is Himalayas Neem Face wash, Cetaphil moisturising cream (not the lotion, my skin is dry as hell), either Maybelline's BB Cream or L'Oreal True Match Foundation, Revlon powder (or Mario Badescu's sulphur powder for breakout days) Eyeliner and Lipstick.
    At the worst of my acne, I was using a really heavy foundation that I felt didn't break me out further for sure, but got real cakey and patchy after a few hours in the tropical humidity of Singapore. Then I decided BB Cream was a better way to go and it has spf50 so packs a punch. But I think I've found something that works for me and only takes me ten minutes, or fifteen, tops.
  6. You don't have to give up coffee...unless it is your trigger
    Everyone kept telling me to stay away from coffee because it breaks you out. At 15 or even 17, I never drank coffee anyway.By the time I got to college, I started enjoying my coffee and got lattes. Giving up dairy changed that so now I have my coffee black most of the time. Sometimes with soy milk. Coffee is great and makes me happy and i definitely know that it doesn't break me out so I'm gonna enjoy my one cup a day. i deserve it.
  7. Fancy ass dermatologist prescriptions
    I spent so much money over years on trying fancy creams and washes and sunscreen. I refused to go on Accurate because I was already in a bad place and didn't need medication making things worse. None of this stuff worked for me (adapalene and retinol creams) and we just felt really cheated by it all. My dermatologist kept trying to sell me microdermabrasion and AHA/BHA peels...and I had no money for that.
  8. Giving up all kinds of food - heaty foods, chocolate, sugar, gluten - if it could be an allergen I tried giving it up. And it was pointless.
    i deprived myself for so long of food I became scared of food and it was not a good place to be. I was eating fairly healthily the whole while but made to feel like I was making terrible decisions and that wasn't nice. It doesn't have to be. Sure, try cutting things out to see if it helps, but don't go overboard. You will start fainting all over the place if you don't eat enough and feel like an even bigger bother to people. Food is great, enjoy it.
  9. Losing weight
    I also had people telling me I could lose some weight and be healthier and my skin would be less of a mess. I've always been curvy, but also fit as hell. My weight has never had anything to do with my acne but people will try to tell you all kinds of things and you believe it as a teenager because if adults you trust say so, it must be true. I highly doubt one's acne is caused or affected by one's weight.
  10. Telling me that you'll grow out of it
    Some people will try to convince you its something you will grow out of. But they had like two spots as a teenager or something probably. I still have acne scars that I hate so much, but hey, the skin's flat now and the scars are fading slowly but surely. I still get zits, they're not as massive and painful as cystic bumps, but it still sucks on occasion. I don't think you really grow out of it, but you grow with it. Everything becomes a comparison - well today isn't as bad as last month, etc.