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Confessions of a Cystic Acne Survivor

{This post is by one of my long time writers, and friend, Teresa Luong on her struggle with cystic acne and road to clear skin}

Best beauty products for cystic acne

Everyone wants that flawless, luminous, glowing skin, but for me it’s more than a desire; it’s an obsession.  Since nature’s cruel joke of puberty, I was cursed with the onset of hereditary cystic acne.  I had what looked like puss-filled boils all over my face, neck and body – and I mean all over.  These painful lumps were the cause of ridicule and childish torture for three years of my life. I would beg my parents to home-school me as to avoid having to face another day of my adolescent peers. Even though they made me go to school everyday, my loving parents spent hundreds of dollars on any product that claimed to help acne, but to no avail.  I found out I was allergic to benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in most strong acne medications, including ProActive, and that salicylic acid wasn’t strong enough for my breed of acne.  Finally, one of my many dermatologists came up with a solution, a new drug on the market called Acutane.  Not yet approved by the FDA, this drug claimed to prevent breakouts for up to 10 years.  Acutane is now known for some of its severe side effects, such as:

{Review + Giveaway} Proactiv+ 3-Step System

proactiv+ 3 step program

For the past month I’ve been trying out the Proactiv+ 3-Step System (and some of the ancillary products in the line) and I have to say I’m impressed! And it wasn’t at all what I expected. As a teenager I used the original 3 step formula and while it worked, I found it drying and it used to stain my bedding. The new products are completely revamped and something I would recommend for all ages — not just for teens, and not just for people with acne (although it’s a must try if you do!) but also with uneven skin texture and discoloration. (Which is what I struggle with). Sure, I get the occasional pimple here and their but overall since I consider myself someone who takes really great care of their skin I’m usually able to keep my breakouts at bay.

When I was sent the products I was told “Proactiv+ works so well you don’t need as much makeup anymore” — and they we’re right. I’m much more confident now about wearing less or no foundation when going out. I even had lunch with a fellow blogger on Monday and she asked about the products since she saw how I was documenting my progress on my instagram feed and when I said I wasn’t wearing any makeup, she was dumbfounded.

{Before: uneven skintone, enlarged pores…}


{After: Smoother complexion}


Now I will say, I’ve never exfoliated my skin as much as with this program and frankly when I started that made me very nervous. I was always taught exfoliate 1-2 times a week so to switch to a regimen that was 2 times a day seemed crazy! Although the amount of daily exfoliators on the market has been growing and the formulation and concentration greatly varies between a daily exfoliant and weekly version.

Except for a little dryness in my chin area after week 2, I didn’t have any issues. And even with that, I kept the exfoliation to more of my t-zone and used less of the product until the dryness went away. We hear about cellular turnover when you exfoliate and I definitely saw that first hand with my skin as I used this program. I do maintain though it’s important to know the boundaries of your skin. If you get red or dry take it down a notch or talk to one of their consultants to get the regimen right for you.

Here’s how it works: Step 1 is the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, which I LOVED using in the shower since it made my skin so smooth. For this you only need a little bit and make sure to use luke warm water, colder water doesn’t break down the ingredients as well and will make it more rough, where warmer water gives a smoother application. Step 2 is the Pore Targeting Treatment, which I would leave on for about 5 minutes before moving on to step 3; the multi-functional Complexion Perfecting Hydrator, which is a hydrating cream gel on the skin. The 3-Step system is amazingly priced at $29.95 monthly for a 30-Day System, and includes a 1oz travel size of the Skin Purifying Mask.

I only used the mask twice, once full face, and the second time on my t-zone since that’s where I’m the most oily and my enlarged pores are most evident. I would have used it weekly if I was on an alternate regimen, however since it’s an exfoliating mask and I was already exfoliating so much I was nervous to use it more often. For the days I had makeup on, I would use the Makeup Cleansing Wipes before the Proactiv+ 3-Step process since you want to have a clean face before exfoliating. The wipes did a good job on my face, however they weren’t as strong in my eye area (although it’s safe to use as an eye makeup remover). Moving forward, I may switch to an oil-based makeup remover since for my skin type I could use the extra hydration prior to exfoliating and it’s a gentle way to remove makeup.

I also used the Skin Revitalizing Solution, which I’m obsessed with! Originally I was intimidated by it. The package comes with a pack of 30 dry pads of which you pour the contents of the solution (which comes in what looks like a prescription jar) onto the pads and then are encouraged to use them within 30 days of applying the solution. These were great in the evening and melting all the dirt and dead skin and anything else right off my face. I also used them on my back where I tend to break out, especially around my bra line from working out.

The Emergency Blemish Relief and Mark Fading Pads were also in my Proactiv+ arsenal. I got a pimple in the middle of my cheek week 1 and the Emergency Blemish Relief along with the 3-step regimen took the bulk of it down overnight and within continued use over the next two days it was gone. The Mark Fading Pads come in individually packed towelettes and contain 2% of salicylic acid.

WIN IT! We’re giving away the Proactiv+ -Step System plus all the above products listed to one lucky winner!

I’ve recently joined Proactiv+ ambassador program where for the next 30 days I will be testing the newest version of the original 3-step system, which we all grew up either using or watching the commercial for.

{Me without makeup this morning!}


Overall, I like to think I have good skin – I take great care of it and with just a little foundation I can make it look flawless. The foundation is the key though since my skincare concerns are enlarged pores, brown spots and an uneven complexion (much of which is the result of damage I did in my teen years). With the reputation that Proactiv+ works so well you don’t need as much makeup anymore, I’m putting it to the test and so can you! We’re giving away a set of the core system that includes the breakthrough Proactiv+ 3-Step system by Drs. Katie Rodan & Kathy Fields, which includes the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator (step 1), Pore Targeting Treatment (step 2) and Complexion Perfecting Hydrator (step 3). Featuring more medicine and skincare benefits than the original; for every enhanced acne-fighting benefit in each step of Proactiv+, there is an equally powerful complexion-conscious skincare benefit, helping users fix their acne and let their skin flourish. If you can’t wait to try it, here’s a discount code for $20 off your next purchase! http://bit.ly/prettyconnectedProactiv

WIN IT! There are two ways to enter!

1. Follow @prettyconnected + @proactiv on twitter and tweet:  RT & Follow & + for your chance to win the NEW 3-step Proactiv+ System + http://shar.es/Veh0z

2. Follow @prettyconnected on Instagram and like the photo: http://instagram.com/p/ohrfQRNDnx

Be sure to follow along with me on my social channels, @prettyconnected as I share my progress with Proactiv+ and after using it for a month I’ll be recapping my experience and progress on my skin.

The Proactiv + 3-Step System is available for a $29.95 and is available at Proactiv.com or by calling 1-888-710-2161 {Disclaimer: Sponsored post. Opinions are my own. Winner will be picked on 6/15/2014. Age 18+ only and all state, local, and federal rules apply). – See more at: http://prettyconnected.com/2014/05/proactiv-3-step-system-giveaway/#sthash.OTNZRouL.dpuf


There are two ways to enter!

1. Follow @prettyconnected + @proactiv on twitter and tweet:  RT & Follow  &  to win the NEW 3-step Proactiv+ System + more! + http://shar.es/Mn1zm 

2. Follow @prettyconnected on Instagram and like the photo that matches the giveaway going live this week!

The Proactiv + 3-Step System ($29.95 for 30 day supply) and is available at Proactiv.com or by calling 1-888-710-2161.

{Disclaimer: Sponsored post, I participated in an ambassador program for the brand to test it out. Opinions are my own. Winner will be announced on 7/2/2014. Age 18+ only and all state, local, and federal rules apply).


Tria Introduces Blue Light Acne System

Acne sufferers take note; Tria has recently introduced their latest at-home innovation, the Tria Skin Perfecting Blue Light. Created to target and eliminate the very source of acne bacteria, it is clinically proven to deliver clear skin with fewer, milder acne breakouts in less then 2 weeks.

Considering there have been minimal medical advancements in the world of acne since the 70’s, there was much excitement in the early 2000 with the advancements of laser and blue light technology used in dermatologist offices. And now, more affordable at-home systems to mimic similar results are available in the comfort of your home.

I don’t suffer from breakouts; sure, I have the occasional pimple here and there but nothing that warrants serious action. However, I’m no stranger to the emotional and physical trauma for those who do. My sister suffered from terrible acne in High School and regular breakouts as an adult. Accutane, Retin-A, Proactive and a variety of over-the-counter products later, she’s had moderate success over the years, but the trouble with many of these products the prescription based products are side-effects, excessive skin dryness, flaking/pealing and harsh reactions. Not to mention many of them are not preventative or feasible for sensitive skin. That said, blue light is one area she hasn’t explored and a treatment form

Got Acne? Try Kairos

kairos acne care

With the amount of innovative products on the market, it seems that it was only a matter of time before the first hair care line would be developed to help treat acne.

Knowing that standard hair products could have a major impact on their patients skin, nurses, Catherine Parker and Doreen Campbell, developed Kairos — a full line of hair products formulated to help counteract these effects.

Some standard hair products contain acne-aggravating oils. This leads to the overproduction of oils which causes inflammation of new acne or exasperate existing breakouts. Kairos uses natural “safe” oils that don’t clog pores. In addition, several of their products are formulated with acne-fighting Salicylic Acid, a proven medication to help fight existing blemishes and prevent the recurrence of acne.

Here is Kairos’ three-fold approach to acne:

  • Eliminating acne-aggravating and pore-clogging ingredients
  • Treating breakouts by unclogging