The face was still looking bad, though, so I decided to use what I had learned from reading "crunchy" blogs and added tea tree oil, baking soda, jojoba oil and honey (yep) to my arsenal. Here's the routine:
#1 Wash face with Burt's Bees facial cleanser.
#2 Make a baking soda paste and apply it to problem areas. Let it sit for five minutes.
#3 Wash off baking soda, use Burt's Bees acne toner all over face.
#4 Apply tea tree oil to problem areas. Let dry.
#5 Apply Burt's Bees moisturizer during the day and jojoba oil at night.
#6 Spot apply honey to face at night. Cover with band aid and leave overnight.
It's working. My face looks better, and the honey/baking soda/tea tree oil is actually working with the cystic acne (I've never had anything reduce/prevent them before). It's a bit time consuming but definitely worth it considering the extreme angst I was in.
I also looked more closely at my diet, which had suffered a bit. I'm trying to clean it up and that seems to help as well. I haven't identified any "trigger" foods but cutting down a bit on carbs (I'm still eating between 150-200 grams) and keeping my protein intake high seems to help. I'm also taking supplements that are supposed to help with skin issues: vitex, cod liver oil, and zinc in my regular multivitamin.
So there you are. When I went online I couldn't find many stories of honey washing failure so I figured I needed to write one, so people know they aren't alone and have an idea of how to fix the problem.