The following video is a great overview of holistic skin care: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhtIyEO011I
I'm trying to cheat and do the minimum necessary, as I don't plan to be vegan.
Acne is caused by many factors, including stress.
Acne may be caused by oxidation of sebum 2 3 4. Maybe the harsh cleansers cause the sebum to oxidate? Even pollution has been implicated. A higher pH for the skin was associated with acne. Consider that harsh cleansers are defined by a high pH.
So let me think in terms of basic chemistry. Oxidation is defined as the loss of electrons. An alkaline cleanser has an overabundance of electrons compared to neutral water? Not necessarily. You would think an alkaline cleanser, having an overabundance of electrons, would actually reduce the sebum rather than oxidize it. But there is not a one-to-one correlation between the ph scale and oxidation-reduction reactions. The research claims that acne is caused by sebum oxidation, but the cause doesn't seem to be known. Squalene is the component of sebum that causes blockage upon oxidizing. There is a hypothesis that in people without acne, antioxidants, mainly vitamin E, are sufficient in the sebum to keep the squalene from oxidizing. Read more from this researcher.
Acne prone skin also lacking linoleic acid: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2936775
Someone else looking up research: https://www.acne.org/messageboard/topic/314390-acne-prone-skinsebum-deficient-in-linoleic-acid-possible-topical-solution
Bacteria are a normal part of your skin. There is one hypothesis, that says the bacteria cause a problem, when, in the process of “cleaning” your skin, you remove the acid mantle. The acid mantle is a protective barrier, and having removed it by aggressive cleaning, bacteria can enter the hair follicle and sebaceous glands. Here the bacteria can cause inflammation and produce by-products that leads to blockage of the follicle which leads to acne.
I stopped having acne on my back and shoulders, when I stopped using soap in those areas. I only use soap under the arms and the groin area. And I still have been using soap on my face and my scalp (bald). So now I only have acne, or keratosis pilaris, or whatever it is, on my scalp. My face feels disgusting if I don't use soap. I like how clean my face feels, but I've read on some sites that the “squeeky clean” feeling I like is equal to having destroyed my protective acid mantle. Other sites say the acid mantle recovers within a short time after using an alkaline soap, but I'm going to assume that stripping the acid mantle has unwanted end effects.
Update: I got used to not using soap on my face. Just washing with water is enough. Below I'll keep some options you may like to try.
Proponents of stripping the acid mantle is the other end of the spectrum. Exfoliation, chemical peels, and everything possible to prevent clogging of the pores. They also support a three step process that involves a cleaner, a toner, and a moisturizer (capitalism rejoice). The toner can be used to re-acidify the skin. The moisturizer to replenish the protective barrier that was lost in the first step. This may work for some people. I've just used the first two steps, not really liking moisturizer, and it definitely doesn't work for me.
I was considering using a soap alternative. There is a Quora suggestion to use “besan or gram flour mixed with curd/lemon” which I guess means besan with curdled milk. However, I would like something I don't have to prepare. Something “ph balanced” to match the skin's ph of around 5.5? How about apple cider vinegar with some flour? At this site someone used apple cider vinegar with oatmeal, and she stores the extra in the fridge. I'd want at least a week supply! My wanting convenience is leading me towards Amazon.
Alternatively, I can try using any water based moisturizing cream like a soap. I think these water based creams are called oil-water emulsions. So I rub the emulsion on my face, and the oil in the creme mixes with the oil on my face, creating a new emulsion with the two oils. I then wash off that emulsion with water (oils mix together, and the resulting oil emulsion washes off). This is just a guess, based on my experience of using moisturizing creme to wash off dirty mechanic's hands. It's less drying on the hands than soap, but surprisingly more drying than not having gotten your hands dirty in the first place.
There is, of course, the oil cleansing method. You will not want to do this in the shower, or you will leave the bath tub oily. It's common sense that this does not happen in the shower, but lifetime habits can be hard to think around. In the shower or at the sink, you only rinse with water. Afterwards when your skin dries, you massage the oil about your face, and wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Sites describing the oil cleansing method, often mention using a comfortably-hot rag to hold against your face once you've applied the oil, that will help the oil penetrate, but that's too much work for me. My way involves even less time, especially compared to the marketed three: cleanser, toner, moisturizer. Also, you are only using one product: oil. There are many types of oils. I settled on hemp oil because it is non-comedogenic 12 (These two sources provide no references to research, so use them with a grain of salt2. Grain of salt meaning.)
I'm going to ease into the oil cleansing method a little at a time because I think a sudden transition can cause a breakout. It may take up to and over a month for the skin to normalize from a sudden transition. So I'm going to extend the transition time. I have been using home-made acne pads, similar to stridex or oxy. I keep the pads in a bath of witch-hazel, apple cider vinegar, and salicylic acid (yes, you can buy salicylic acid in powder on the internet) ACV+WH+SA. Maybe I'll end up using this exclusively instead of the cleansing oil. Maybe it would be fun to try some bentonite clay or dead sea mud masks, but I don't know what these things do to the acid mantle. I'm trying to simplify, after all. It's hard not to want to do something to take care of your acne.
Do not use standard laundry detergent. Not only does it add toxins to your clothes that transfer to your skin, it leaves a residue that builds up over time. I have been using only “washing soda” (I've only found the arm and hammer brand), plus a small amount of laundry detergent (labelled “for sensitive skin” “free of dyes and fragrance”). An approximate ratio of 5 parts washing soda to 1 part laundry detergent. I use a shout brand stain remover to treat stains before washing (or if I find a stain that didn't come out in the wash). Stain removers have enzymes to clean other types of stains not covered by washing soda.
There are many DIY recipes for making laundry detergent, and they are overly complicated. I don't have scientific proof. I read this one post by Edward and followed his advice:
“ I’ve read over your post with interest, however can I offer my humble opinion. I think you have several unnecessary ingredients here that are actually doing the same thing, which you can see when you consider what they break down to once they are put in water. Let me illustrate. Firstly, the sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, NaHCO3, is just producing a single protonated form of the carbonate ion CO3 which is just acting as a buffer to the alkalinity and counteracting the effect of the washing soda, Na2CO3, which when it hits the water will also form HCO3 by increasing the pH. So unless you really need the pH to be neutral (if you are washing extremely delicate fabrics), you are actually reducing the efficacy of your other washing soda ingredient. However, with that removed you are still doubling up on ingredients here because when you add the sodium percarbonate (oxyclean, 2Na2CO3.3H2O2) to the water it decomposes into hydrogen peroxide (oxygen bleach) and washing soda (Na2CO3), so you could leave out the borax (source of oxygen bleach and water softener) and washing soda (anion to lower pH and water softener) since sodium percarbonate decomposes to produce both. Alternately, you could leave out sodium percarbonate and washing soda and use borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O) alone to produce oxygen bleach, lower the pH with the [B4O5(OH)4]2- ion and act as a water softener. Thirdly, you could leave out both the percarbonate and borax and use washing soda (Na2CO3) to get a high pH and soften water if you didn’t want oxygen bleach, or use half the washing soda and half of ONE OF the borax OR percarbonate to get a smaller oxygen bleach effect. It seems to me all you really need is one of these three combined with the actual soap (zota or fels) to get the effect you want, obviously using more to ensure that you still end up with the same effect. Hope this might help anyone tweak their mix to make it simpler. ”
One thing I haven't considered, upon reading Edward's post more closely, is that washing soda raises the pH, while Borax lowers it. I imagine some stains would come out better in an acidic environment, while others would come out better in a basic environment? I don't know. I chose washing soda to use on all my clothes without worrying about the oxygen bleach in the other two products. I thought “bleach, oh no!”. I just looked up oxygen bleach: “Oxygen bleach is known as “color-safe” or “all fabric” bleach, since it does not degrade most fabric or strip most color if used correctly, though you must still test colorfastness before using.”1
There are sites that have sprung up that say DIY laundry detergent creates a buildup of dirt that you may not notice right away. They show picture examples of how dirty the water looks when they use regular laundry detergent on supposedly clean DIY laundry. For example, sheets that have been in service and washed in DIY laundry detergent repeatedly for a year. In this example, the sheets are first washed in the DIY laundry detergent, and then washed with regular store-bought laundry detergent like Tide brand. During the wash, the water looks dirty even though the sheets should be clean. I think these sites overlook the fact that they are using shaved bar soap as one of the ingredients, that may not rinse off quickly, and requires and extra rinse cycle. That they fail to think of this idea makes me suspicious of their motives: maybe these sites are backed by the manufacturers of laundry detergent. Tide costs a lot more per load than DIY. As mentioned above, my DIY is not 100% DIY, since I use plain washing soda with a little bit of store bought laundry detergent. I believe only the bar soap shavings would be hard to rinse off, not the washing soda. Another reason for a build-up occurring on laundry, is that you are using too much soap, regardless of the type. To test if this might be the case, after washing your laundry as you normally do, run the washer again without adding any soap, and halting the wash before the first rinse to see if the water looks murky. On the other hand, maybe the buildup is actually from dirt that cannot be cleaned by the DIY laundry detergent. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as living without dirt or bacteria, so if it looks clean, that's good enough. You can still wash with regular washing detergent once in a while, and enjoy the benefit of using less chemicals most of the time.
I have finally found a good description of what I have. It's called “milia”, which I think is folliculitis characterized by keratinized plugs (like hard little grains of sand) with little to no inflammation/redness:
I thought maybe if I stop being aggressive on my skin, and only use water, that my skin would return to its blemish-free natural balance, but it seems that the natural state of my skin is with milia.
I've used accutane in the past, so perhaps I changed the natural state? Accutane affects epigenetics, or the expression of DNA. Maintaining the acid mantle is important, but I can only conclude I need the exfoliation to reduce the formation of keratin plugs.
I wish one of the many dermatologists I've seen could have identified the milia as such. The answers I've gotten from them have been across the board and incorrect, probably because I tear off those hard little bumps whenever I feel one. This leads to my scalp looking like I have chicken pox.
So in order to keep milia from forming, I need to exfoliate? How to exfoliate, yet keep the supposed beneficial acid mantle?
I chose to use waffle weave pads as my source for exfoliation. Since it causes micro-abrasions that can become infected, the pads are doused in a mild antiseptic astringent (water, witch hazel, ACV, salicylic acid). The other abrasions are macro-abrasions from me scraping off the most pronounced bumps, ones that are begging to break through the skin. With the less aggressive picking, my scalp is looking relatively healthy, with milia still present, but the rate of infected spots under control.
I wash with warm water twice a day. I wash my hands with soap, and fully rinse them first. Then I use my hands to wash my entire head with plain warm water. This keeps some of my natural oils so I don't overdry, without stripping it all off.
If there is inflammation of the milia, it is at night. Sleep seems to be good for acne? There appears to be a relation between fatigue and inflammation. I can cause damage by picking at them at night when they are inflamed. Picking at them when they are *not* inflamed feels more like exfoliation than surgery. Basically I am trying to remove the keratinized plug.
I had always used soap for shaving. I didn't really want to use anything else, for the sake of simplicity. One of my roommates let me try his shaving cream: Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel, and although it is “artificial”, it seem gentle. It's non-messy and convenient. As an aftershave (again, to prevent infection) I use the waffle weave pads with the mild astringent.
I didn't give the oils or some of the other products a full try. If my skin is off balance in a direction that causes the milia, then what do I need to apply that would reduce keratinization?
Update: I'm going to try aloe vera. The aloe plant naturally has salicyclic acid 1. I'm dropping the witch hazel and apple cider vinegar.
20180707: I've been traveling and forgot to pack oil. So I have been using, exclusively, the witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and salicylic acid (ACV+WH+SA) pads. The pads are too drying for my skin, so I'm trying to figure out something else. The witch hazel I'm using has 14% alcohol, but perhaps even the use of an alcohol free witch hazel may be too harsh, since it is still an astringent 1. I may just go full paleo and use only water. That would be the simplest solution. I can wash my face and head with water as much as I please. For shaving, face cream or even hair conditioner as a lubricant seems to work best. I will use the pads as an aftershave. From my experience, aftershave is very necessary, even if it is drying. The shaving tears up the acid mantle, so a disinfectant/astringent is called for, followed by adding a layer of oil on the newly unprotected skin. My original plan to use both the pads and the oil as moisturizer could still work, like it did for her. Aha, I didn't pack oil, but I packed a vitamin C serum which I will start using pronto!
20180721: My skin is finally recovering from the drying effects of using only the pads 2-3 times a day. I've been following usage of pads with a vitamin C serum I got in Feb 2015 (probably expired enough to where it's not as effective as it could be). Ingredients list:
Organic Herbal Infusion, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (botanical acid), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Carbomer, (2s)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin.
I'm not thrilled that it has Phenoxyethanol, but it has preserved the product.
I haven't been able to find any serum without Phenoxyethanol. In a 1998 study, phenoxyethanol caused an allergic reaction in 2% of the population. But even if it doesn't cause an allergic reaction, does it get absorbed past the skin barrier? 123 The 3rd study from 2011 states: “ The systemic impact of the high absorption rate of 2-phenoxyethanol and a potential toxicological risk have to be investigated in further studies or should lead to conclusion to avoid 2-phenoxyethanol in disinfectants used for topical treatment of the investigated species. ” 2-phenoxyethanol is just the chemical nomenclature of phenoxyethanol. The hemp oil I have is probably expired too, though less than a year old (doesn't smell bad, but probably not the freshest). Even if it was fresh, psychologically, I'm having a hard time putting oil on my skin, so I opted for the serum above instead. I got to sample a product called “Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream”, and it feels good and the ingredients are good, but it's too pricey. After I'm done with the serum, I'm going to switch to a new bottle of hemp oil. 20180727: Interesting take from a skin care products store about not needing a toner / astringent. Interesting take from a skin care products store about not using soap, and using cleansing oil and toner instead. I can't give up using toner just yet, as I am using it as an antiseptic. My psychology is that if it stings, it's good. My skin is slowly getting better, with only one new deep pimple of small diameter, and the remaining scars that will fade in a few weeks. If I get a major breakout I will be very disappointed, but I think I won't. I'm becoming a believer in moisturizing. I always hated putting gunk on my face, but my opinion is shifting. Moisturizing now has new meanings for me: 1) putting a covering over your skin so your own sebum isn't exposed to air, reducing oxidation, and 2) using a moisturizing product with antioxidants, for the same purpose of reducing oxidation (if only I could find such product that didn't have a preservative in it's ingredients). Well, the solution for 2) is that many oils have antioxidants23 in them, naturally. So the cleansing oil method is both cleanser and moisturizer with antioxidants. Some toner may be good if your skin somehow has an off-balance pH? I'm still convinced I need something toner/astringent/antispectic after shaving. I'll be using hemp oil again. In looking up hemp oil, do not confuse it with CBD cannabidoil, which is also high in antioxidants: “ Although all of the antioxidants attenuated glutamate toxicity, cannabidiol was significantly more protective than either a-tocopherol (vit e) or ascorbate (vit c) ”. The antioxidant percentage of hemp oil is highly variable based on the genotype. 20180808: I had a major breakout in using the oil instead of serum. Yesterday I started mixing a drop or two of tea tree oil into the teaspoon of hemp oil in the cup of my hand. The acne is deep, so it will take a couple of weeks to heal. I will continue with the two oils, hoping it works in the long run. 20180812: OMG it's bad. I turned to the net to research. Things I found out looking up “acne breakout vs purging”. If I get acne in a new area, it's not purging. The skin cycle takes 6-8 weeks before it finally sheds off in the outer layer, so what I see now may not be the result of what I just started using. Acne turnover during a purge is much faster than a new breakout. But here's one thing I read, which raises a red flag for me: “ Purging only occurs when using products that increase skin cell turnover. ” Does using oil increase cell turnover? Products that increase cell turnover are exfoliants like salicylic acid or retinol. However, if an oil contains antioxidants then it can also increase cell turnover (based on my reading of advertising-like web pages for rose hip oil… in fact, I'm not providing links because most of what I'm stating may not be accurate). In any case, to to get a clearer answer, I'm going to stick with the hemp oil for a bit longer, and see if things get better. The advice is to stick with a product for at least a month, but I don't know if I can hold out that long! Is it any wonder people never figure out what product helps if they have to stick through getting worse before getting better. I don't like the idea of purging, and if I hadn't heard it from so many different sources, I would be really skeptical. I would next try grapeseed oil or argan oil 1. I have peppermint essential oil, which I'll use when I run out of tea trea oil. Also, escalating the flare could be caused by me irritating the skin, because the more acne I get, the more I am picking at it and then scrubbing(!) it with the ACV+WH+SA and reapplying the oil. It's hard for me to let things be, especially under the amount of stress I am going through. I've only been able to stop picking momentarily, or because I'm too busy to do so. I thought that if there wasn't anything to pick at, then I'd stop picking, so I just needed to find the cure. Which is true! The times I've had clear skin I enjoyed running my fingers over the smooth skin and feeling satisfaction that it was clear. Sometimes it was just randomly clear. I think there is no cure and I'll always have a slight amount of acne. I can't be hard on myself, but it's really the best decision to stop picking if I can. 20180813: I'm diluting the ACV+WH+SA with water to 50%. I need to be more gentle to my skin. Started using peppermint essential oil, one drop per 5 drops of hemp oil. It feels wonderful: tingly.
20180818: Still looks a mess, but it isn't swollen all over the place, just in one or two spots. I read on one non-scientific website that peppermint oil is good at reducing swelling, so maybe that's part of it. There were new spots though. While skin turnover takes 6-8 weeks, I think formation of pimples can happen a lot faster, and this guy does too. A lot of people on the acne.org forum swear that acne occurs a lot faster after eating something or changinng regimes or taking a break from a regime. One guy will get a pimple after shaving, within a day, just like I do. So the range is anywhere from 8 hours to 8 weeks of effect to an incident.
I could say the serum I was initially using is more helpful than the hemp oil, but there are other variables, including that the outer skin I have now was the inner skin when I wasn't using any moisturizer.
Maybe I've been having more dairy recently, or however long ago it takes for acne to form from it.
Maybe I haven't been as good at timing my fiber supplement recently, such that I've had insulin spikes.
I'm going to quit milk for a couple of months (to reduce dairy intake), while keeping the current regime. 20180820: Started using argan oil I bought from whole foods, because the hemp oil was feeling tacky upon application (one sign that oil is rancid). When it arrived in the mail, it was on a hot summer day. The bottle was hot, so it could have gone rancid all the sooner. 20180823: My skin is still a total mess. I think the essential oils I've been using, namely tea tree oil and peppermint, are actually pretty harsh on the skin. So I'm back to just trying to be gentle to my skin, and I'm messing up by using the essential oils. I like the feel of the cooling effect of peppermint, but I think overall it's irritating my skin. All the more reason to simplify. I read lavender essential oil may be a good option, but, I want to simplify. 20180828: Skin is starting to heal faster in the old outbreak region, I believe from dropping the essential oils, but I am also getting new outbreaks with swelling. What I notice when I'm using the harsh products is that my open acne develops flaky coverings that I peel off. The coverings are like a bunch of dead skin cells that have hardened. I imagined it's the effect of a chemical peel on an open wound, so I'm going to dilute the ACV+WH+SA to 20%, and not use the essential oil. Again, I'm going for being gentle to my skin. Honestly, it's embarassing that I've been so hard headed, but I want to be open and honest in case it helps others. I have ordered “ToLB Ultimate Wrinkle Serum - Nighttime - Vitamin C - Retinol - MSM - Hyaluronic Acid - Salicylic Acid - Niacinamide”. It has artificial preservatives, but I am growing impatient with the oils. Though I'm still curious about grapeseed oil. I wonder if some oil manufacturers are behind all the non-scientific web pages (and even some scientific research), that I've been reading. 20180830: The old outbreak region is looking bad again, the one that was starting to heal. I need to lose my habit of picking at acne, fast. I've not been able to stop, ever. I do it without thinking, and I just do it. I hoped to find a cure, because, I don't pick at acne in the rare times that it's not there! I'm not alone in this problem. A google search turns up a lot of stories, including this one: https://greatist.com/live/skin-picking-what-it-took-for-me-to-stop. I found the following advice here: “When you’re feeling the urge to pick, check in with yourself to examine the thoughts and feelings that are driving that urge. Is it anxiety? Stress? Boredom? Try to identify the underlying reason behind your picking habit, then consider how to address the root problem.” For me that would be a little different on each occasion. Part of it, perhaps, is that we have a natural inclination for grooming, much like chimpanzees groom each other. I notice that applying oil loosens the acne scabs, which in turn ends up with me scrubbing them off, even though the scabs may serve a good purpose. So it's not that the oil is bad for my skin so much that it's aiding in me picking at the acne? Perhaps that's why the serum was working better for me, because the main ingredient was aloe vera, which is known for its wound healing properties. I failed to notice that the ToLB serum doesn't have aloe vera (my mistake). 20180902: Most spots are healing, with only 1 new big zit, maybe a few small ones and 3 old flat swollen areas. I started using the ToLB on 20180831 and have applied it 3 times, but I will slow down to twice a week because the directions state that it is a strong product that shouldn't be used daily. <del>I stopped using the ACV+WH+SA pads.
I continue using only argan oil, but will run out soon (note to self: 1oz/30ml lasts 2-4 weeks). I will be shopping for aloe vera gel.
20180906: I have 3 swollen painful zits, but they aren't new, and they aren't huge, and the rest looks awful too, but it's all small spots that are fading away. Too soon to tell, but I think it's working. “It” being the ToLB serum, and the continued more seldom use of the acne pads, and the argan oil, which I will use up as of tomorrow. I haven't slowed down on the picking, but my skin is hopefully getting better anyway. It's too soon to tell: I will know in about a week's time. Keep in mind, I am no longer drinking milk in my home, so that could be a factor, but I still have dairy, and I still have a milkshake once in a while.
I got 3 new products, which I think are going to be awesome: aloe vera gel, grapeseed oil, and vitamin C serum. The vitamin C serum has aloe as the second ingredient after water (different brand, but comparable to the expired one I started off with at the beginning of this log). I'm not going to be using all of them at the same time, but I think they will all be quite good for my skin. For some reason I feel optimistic, which is great considering how depressed I've been feeling lately. I hope I can be optimistic towards other things which I have a hard time being optimistic about. I may just use water and the vitamin C serum by itself. Or if I just want to use the vitamin C serum once a day, I can also re-moisturize with oil or aloe vera later in the day, including after using the acne pads. I wanted to try both the aloe vera and the grapeseed oil as moisturizers; I couldn't decide so I got both. Maybe one will work better for my skin than the other, and I won't know unless I try, or maybe both will work great.
20180909: My skin is doing a lot better. I think the aloe helps tremendously with the acne “wounds”. The swelling is under control. Also I'm hoping the serums keep new acne from forming. Don't have enough experience to know for sure. I'm going to keep using the serums and the aloe. I like the grapeseed oil better than any of the other oils, as it feels lighter, but it's still messy the way an oil is, and seems to cause the acne scabs to soften and swelling to take place.
20180912: Yeah, the aloe vera is awesome. Reduced swelling equals less picking. I've had new acne pimples, whose clogged-pore dome I promptly tear off. With the aloe vera, the resulting hole is much less inflamed, and much less likely to form a new dome to tear off again. However, it's not fool-proof. Yesterday I went for a run, and I showered beforehand (I like to sweat starting with a clean body, so sometimes I shower beforehand). My skin was dry, and I didn't put aloe on it, because I was going to run. After running, I had a pint of chocolate milk, because that's what I most wanted from whole foods. I didn't shower, and treated my skin with the ToLB serum without washing my face before going to sleep. In the morning I was a mess. Still better than before aloe, but quite a setback. Some takeaway thoughts:
1) Always moisturize: I have it in my head that I don't want to block my sweat glands, but that may not be correct at all.
2) Don't drink milk, I don't need another variable at this point.
3) Rinse off sweat and nyc grime with water after running.
4) I am very skeptical about acne taking 4-8 weeks in forming. Maybe some attributes can start at that point, but overnight influences do happen. I don't have science to back it up, but I'm going to go by this. 20180916: Same amount of acne going on, but they don't get as huge with the aloe vera, so I look more normal. Still using the serums and the aloe, and sometimes the “20% ACV+WH+SA 80% H20” pads. I have a lot less dried-out and thick flakes of skin, I believe because the acne pads aren't so severe when watered down. I use the ToLB retinol serum (ultimate, nighttime) twice a week, and the vitamin C serum on the other evenings. I wonder what things will be like in 2 weeks: the acne is still bad, but at least the wounds aren't gigantic. 20180918: Acne is swelling up again, despite the aloe vera. Have the bacteria developed an immunity? Am I just having a reaction to something I don't know? This is really frustrating. I'm not precise in making the ACV+WH+SA+H20 mixture, so maybe this last batch was a little strong? I diluted it plenty today. 20180924: Aloe vera still reduces swelling, excluding certain bad days like the last log entry. The acne wounds end up being less in diameter. However, I have as many eruptions as ever and it still looks bad. I am going to cut out the salicylic acid from the pads, and use only ACV+WH+H20. I've been using the serums infrequently but plan to continue their use. At least they are not super huge diameter red spots. 20181001: Skin is still the same. I should just throw in the towel. Continue with ACV+WH+H2O pads, with the exception that after shaving (once every 3-4 days), this solution isn't strong enough to disinfect. This conclusion because I broke out badly once after using the diluted mixture. Also continue with the aloe vera. Also with the serums once every other day on average. 20181007: Skin is still the same. Will continue same as last entry, except I won't use the “ultimate age defying serum” because it is damaging to the open wounds. It looks like I've managed to make my skin better but the problem still remains. My hope for a solution is almost gone. I haven't been using the Vit C serum very often, so I will now commence to use it every other day.