I feel as if I've run a circular race. I went from carelessly using products regardless of ingredients to extreme crunchiness and now I'm back again, although my use is not careless, it's desperate. And it's working, so I'm no longer desperate, which is a good thing.
Anyway, the doctor (or rather nurse practitioner) gave me a sample of Duac Topical Gel (prescription only). It contains Benzoyl Peroxide and Clindamycin Phosphate, which apparently is antibacterial. Here is more info on the product itself. Go to acne.org or any website connected with the face for user reviews. It seems to be a polarizing product: either you love it or hate it. So far I'm on the love it side.
Now, I'm only using it as a spot treatment. My face was getting better; I had finally mastered the urge to try and fix it. My secret? Leaving concealer on all day (although I did wash my face after work because of all the dirt). That way it didn't look as bad. I'm also off almost all the vitamins I was taking; not because they weren't working but because I was trying to stop focusing on the issue. I think my real problem is stress (although I'm eagerly awaiting the blood test results) and spending so much time worrying was definitely not helping.
So, spot treatment. Very good. It is very drying, so moisturizing is an absolute must. I shudder at the thought of using it all over my face; it's hard enough keeping the small area I use it on moisturized. I wash my face with Cetaphil, use Witch Hazel as an astringent, apply the Duac (only at night, way too drying to use in the morning), apply my L'Oreal Revitalift cream, wait a bit, apply jojoba oil. Right before bed I apply jojoba oil again. In the morning I use Cetaphil and the Revitalift only.
From what I've read this is a short-term fix. For some people it continues to work, for others their skin adjusts and it doesn't work as well. Since my skin was never that bad (although I thought it was) and I think the underlying issue was stress this is ok with me. It will reduce stress levels. And once Damm is done with the never-ending cycle of school and has a job I think most of our remaining stress levels will die down. And I will no longer need harsh products. I can go back to being crunchy.