Proactiv: A story of love and loathing

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I cannot believe I'm about to admit this. In fact the second I say this my face is going to erupt in painful cystic acne once again and my dermatologist will be injecting Benzoyl peroxide directly into my pores. So here goes: I like Proactiv. No, I...I love Proactiv. And that noise you just heard was my brand new linens screaming in horror due to imminent bleaching.

The main ingredient in the standard Proactiv kit is Benzoyl peroxide which is an antibacterial ingredient found in many acne medications. It works as a peeling agent thus increasing skin turnover and clears out the ol' pores. It also moonlights as a bleaching agent. So sometimes it's used for good and other times it's used to turn your favorite black t-shirt a lovely reddish color.

And that is the first and foremost reason for disliking anything with Benzoyl peroxide*. I end up going through these phases with it; I know it works so I use it and then I look at what color my towels have become and I stop. Proactiv had other annoyances like the commercials and that I bought a set online and it automatically enrolled me in a kit per month thing that included a bonus $50 charge. And then there's the terrible customer service when you cancel because they cannot believe that someone would have the audacity to stop using something that Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs uses. Then there might be some annoyed sighing on their end.

But it works.

About a month ago I stopped using it for some reason - probably due to the eye rolling that I could feel through the phone - and tried some holistic, organic approach. An approach that caused my entire face to breakout in painful acne three days before I was to speak at a conference. I found an unopened set of Proactiv in my house and then did my own eyerolling and swearing under my breath while I used it and then carefully washed my hands and slept on sheets that had already done their time against the evils of bleach. Five days later the peeling and pain associated with terrible acne was gone. My face felt better and those stupid 'soothing botanicals' worked.

Who knew that attitude and a hatred of being a beauty product sales person were the secondary ingredients in getting healthy skin?! So I use it. I'm not happy about it because these are brand new gorgeous sheets and so at night I use a Salicylic acid lotion/wrinkle defense lotion. Because a) no bleaching and b) I like looking like I'm 14. And so far so good.

Of course all of this praise Proactiv, nonsense doesn't mean that I can resist the siren call of the Philosophy - my that's expensive and doesn't do anything but it's in front of my face - at Sephora. It also doesn't keep me from asking what skin care products others have found to loathe and love. So here I am, just a girl standing in front of the Internet asking it to tell me how it has such a lovely complexion.

*I implore you to remember to add some sort of sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) after moisturizing with a Benzoyl peroxide product as it increases skin sensitivity to sun rays. I know I sound like a commercial but every morning I do my normal face washing/toning/moisturizing and then use Bobbi Brown bronzing moisturizer with SPF 15 along with MAC studio foundation with SPF 15. That'll make SPF 30, right?

Heather B. also writes at No Pasa Nada. Underneath all of that makeup she has terrible skin. She's learned to hide it well.

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