Occupation: Aesthetician, founder of Porespective skin clinic and products
The Acne Trigger: Going off birth control
What Finally Worked: Changing her diet, never picking, and finding a product cocktail that worked "In high school, I always had one 'monster' zit that I’m sure was caused by hormones. But then when I was 17, I started taking birth-control pills and didn’t have many problems until I got off of them when I was in my early 20s. Then, my face completely exploded! I started seeing a dermatologist for weekly cortisone injections and chemical peels, but it never really settled down, so I immediately got back on birth-control pills and it cleared up again pretty soon. "In my mid-30s, my husband and I wanted to try to have a baby, so I discontinued my birth-control pills after taking them almost non-stop for 15 years, and my face exploded again. So here I was, selling an acne drug to dermatologists [Chasen was then a pharmaceutical rep for acne products], and showing up for sales calls with a face full of acne. The dermatologists who were my clients all had their suggestions on how to get me clear, from Retin-A to oral antibiotics, but nothing really worked and I didn’t want to go on Accutane. I had spent years reading medical journals and clinical studies, and working with some of the best doctors in the country, but nobody could get me clear. That’s when I enrolled in an esthetics program, received my license, and opened an acne clinic in Texas. "The first two years of practicing, I was creating a small sample size of my own clinical study, just like the ones I had read about in medical journals. I started using different products through trial and error, first on myself and then on my clients.
The dermatologists who were my clients all had their suggestions on how to get me clear...but nothing really worked.
Occupation: Aesthetician and founder of Ziip Beauty
The Acne Trigger: Monthly hormonal changes
What Finally Worked: Vitamin A supplements, exfoliating toners, and electrical-current treatments "I went through my teenage years with only the occasional breakout, but when I hit my early 20s I started to get bimonthly cystic breakouts. They were so obscene. I would often tell others I had spiders in my house because they were giant boils that never came to a head. Of course, I picked and scarred myself, often trying to purge them. I tried antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, and cortisone shots; I tried countless products and diets, but I [began to] truly believe it was a hormonal problem. Every ovulation and every period, I still deal with acne, even in my late 30s. "By far the hardest thing in my life is still dealing with acne. I worry, Why didn’t I treat it early enough to stop the cysts? If I do break out, I'm too ashamed to go anywhere. I'm afraid I'll look like a hypocrite. Sadly, cystic acne is a tidal wave that cannot be fought off once the swell has formed. You have to strike the second you start to feel an inkling of a breakout brewing. If I'm not diligent, I break out like clockwork.
Of course, I picked and scarred myself...
Occupation: Aesthetician at Kate Somerville in Los Angeles
What Finally Worked: Blue LED-light therapy and a consistent diet "Growing up, I always had very clear skin — I didn’t have any issues or breakouts until I hit my late 20s. I got full adult-onset acne when I was 28. It was really hard; I was fresh out of beauty school and then new at Kate Somerville. "I remember there was a woman who came in for a cystic-acne facial when I started, and when she saw me she asked, 'How can you be treating my skin for acne when your skin looks like that?' It was brutal; I was shocked and embarrassed but then I got mad as hell. It kind of ignited a passion in me to help people clear their skin — and never make anybody feel bad about it. "The pattern I see in women in their 20s is a big hormonal change — and I think that’s what happened to me. I had the acne for four to six months before I found a treatment that worked. When I was in beauty school, I tried a prepackaged three-step acne routine and it backfired. Not only did it dry my skin out, making my breakouts worse, but on top of that I was allergic. It was horrible. Then I tried facials, and then drugstore acne products, but nothing helped. Nothing worked until I started getting blue-light treatments.
When she saw me, she asked, 'How can you be treating my skin for acne when your skin looks like that?'