I truly believe that I wrecked some terrible havoc on my poor skin in high school when I tried to scrub it squeaky clean everyday with store-bought acne cleansers. I had mild blemishes that started at the beginning of puberty, but I helped to make them worse by obsessively washing my face several times a day with harsh, irritating chemicals.
Frustrated that nothing worked, I finally went to a dermatologist when I was just a few weeks shy of 18. I was prescribed Rentin-A and oral antibiotics. After using both as directed for several months, my acne had not improved but my skin was extra dry and with a constant burning sensation.
I decided to discontinue the use of the drugs and soon after my face turned into a war-zone like I never would have imagined. And oh, how unfair it seemed! All I had wanted to do was get rid of an the occasional small pimple and some nearly-invisible blackheads, and I ended up with cystic acne invading my face during the first months of my freshman year of college. What a way to set myself up for some good college memories!
Desperate to get rid of the monsters, I resorted to internet searches and started a lot of research. I read that certain diets could bring about beautiful, clear skin. Unfortunately, at that time I didn't have the will-power to eat the radical all-organic-raw-funky-food diets that I read about. So I settled for some Kiss My Face Citrus cleanser and a new resolution: stop obsessing about my face and give it a break!
For the next year, I washed my face in the evening with the cleanser and rinsed well. In the mornings I just took a clean, wet wash cloth and gently wiped the oil from my face. I followed with an organic brand of a facial sunscreen moisturizer. That's it. No soaps. No exfoiliating masks. No drugs. It took some time, but the huge zits went away and my face cleared up. I still had the occasional blemish due to my menstrual cycle and wacked-out hormones, but that's it.
Now, post-adolescence, acne has become one of my last concerns. My hormones have learned to behave somehow (finally!). I keep clear skin almost all of the time with only a regimin of water cleansing followed by organic olive oil as a moisturizer and a facial sunscreen when I go out.
Every person is different, and so is everyone's skin. But my long journey in this battle has made me sold on the idea that simple and natural is the best bet. If you haven't gone this route, it's always worth a try.