I once heard that hormonal acne tends to pick up when you hit your mid-20s. I don't know whether or not that’s actually true, but it is exactly what happened to me. Until I turned 26, I never struggled with regular breakouts. Understandably, I freaked out. It felt like there was always at least one zit healing or forming on my chin.
My friends told me it wasn’t bad (and it wasn’t), but for me, it just wasn’t normal. That was enough for me to bring it up during an appointment with my dermatologist in January. She got the gist and prescribed me an acne treatment called Aczone. It's basically changed my life. Since that appointment, I've only had one pimple on my chin.
Aczone is a topical clear gel that you apply to acne-affected areas once a day. It utilizes the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory active ingredient dapzone to heal and manage the breakouts.
According to Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a board-certified New York City-based dermatologist, it's popularly used because it treats deeper, red pimples and blackheads and whiteheads. I was dealing with a mix of both. As soon as one of my deep (and quite large!) cystic zits finally healed, they would be replaced by an inflamed whitehead that was impossible to cover up with concealer.
"The reason why it’s such a popular medication is that, unlike other topical acne formulations, it does not cause dryness or irritation of the skin, and the lightweight gel can easily be used within a skincare routine as a standalone active ingredient or in combination with other acne medications," she told me. It can be used by anyone over the age of 12 who is dealing with mild to moderate acne, but it should be avoided by anyone who's pregnant.
"Since acne is an inflammatory condition of the pilosebaceous unit (hair follicle and oil glands), inhibiting and suppressing the effects of one of the most important immune cells, called “neutrophils,” dampens inflammation early on," explains Dr. Levin. "The antimicrobial activity has shown reduction in Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria which has a role in acne."
I use Aczone every single morning. First I cleanse with micellar water, and then apply a pea-sized amount of the gel to my jawline. The last step is an application of my Avene moisturizer. Since you're supposed to use Aczone just once daily, I substitute in the drugstore acne treatment Differin at night. I personally saw results from this routine in a little over two weeks, but Dr. Levin says the best results are typically assessed after eight to 12 weeks of use.
RELATED VIDEO: 4 Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin
In addition to the very obvious bonus of only having dealt with one zit in three months, the gel worked its magic without drying out my skin. I was in the clear without any flakes or redness, a departure from the side effects of my DIY, at-home acne treatments, which consisted of cocktailing a ton of harsh, drying over-the-counter products.
While this worked for me, I can't guarantee that everyone will see the same results. The most frustrating thing about acne is that there are so many different causes. Because so many factors are at play, not everyone responds the same way to acne treatments.
So whether you're frustrated with your own failed attempts at handling the situation, or your current treatment isn't working, it's worth bringing Aczone up to your dermatologist to see if it's a fit for you and your skin. Because it's a prescription-based treatment, you'll need their okay on it anyway before giving it a go.