Tried it, didn't work. Next.

Have you experimented with Benzoyl Peroxide? Attempted an acne diet? Explored options like Spironolactone or Minocycline? Maybe even ventured into Isotretinoin territory? The list of 'acne cures' goes on, and the varying success rates have led to a sizable 'didn't work for me, so I'll dismiss it entirely' sentiment within the acne community. Why is that?

This marks the fourth and final instalment of our acne formation chain series (feeling lost? Check our previous posts). In summary, acne evolves through a series of interconnected events, influenced by genetics, lifestyle, diet, and the environment. This chain reaction results in blocked pores, bacterial imbalance, and inflammation—a cascade we term the acne forming chain.

The efficacy of different products hinges on where they intervene in this chain and what specific aspects they target. Most products address one or two parts of the acne forming chain.

Take antibiotics like Doxycycline, for instance. They combat bacteria to rectify bacterial imbalance and curb inflammation, consequently alleviating acne. However, antibiotics don't prevent pore blockage, making the skin susceptible to bacterial breeding when treatment ceases. Moreover, antibiotics have the unfortunate tendency to disrupt the overall microbiome balance, a factor that can independently contribute to acne.

Isotretinoins such as Roaccutane and Claravis primarily target sebaceous glands, reducing sebum production and the likelihood of blocked pores. Yet, they don't interrupt the broader acne cycle. Post-treatment, genetic and lifestyle factors may persist, potentially leading to acne recurrence. Clinical observations suggest that the long-term success rate of accutane isn't as high as claimed by some manufacturers, with relapse rates ranging from 10 to 60%.

The effectiveness of a product is intimately tied to your unique acne chain and the particular dominoes it sets in motion. Identifying these dominoes can be challenging. Rather than haphazardly trying various treatments, a more effective approach is to manage each stage of the acne formation chain consistently over time.

Consider where each product fits in the chain—do you genuinely need them, or are you doubling up? Adopt a minimal skincare routine to identify triggers, reduce the risk of skin barrier damage, and reintroduce products selectively once your skin improves.

Consistency is key. Many fall into the 'it didn't work for me' camp due to a lack of patience. Products require time to yield results. Active ingredients work on the skin's inner layers, where new cells are generated, a process that takes about 28 days for adults and up to 60 days for some. Instant results promised by certain products often involve temporary effects on outer, dead skin layers.

Products influencing hormones, such as dietary changes, supplements, or probiotics, demand even more time—between three and six months. As a general rule, changes closer to the beginning of the acne chain take longer to manifest.

Tracking your progress with weekly photos can help you gauge the effectiveness of your acne treatment. Remember, change in the realm of skincare is a marathon, not a sprint. While genes ultimately have the final say over time, vigilant choices can interrupt each part of the chain until your genes align and acne gradually fades away. The proverb 'change comes when you take control' holds true, and while acne may feel like a marathon, there is indeed a finish line.

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