*Note: I am not a doctor, just a random internet person. This works great for me and might work great for you but don't take it as gospel.
*Note: This post is NOT sponsored nor gifted. This is a product that I have bought with my own money many over the course of the last 30 months.
You might recall that in the spring of 2016 I had a post go up in which I stated that I was really struggling with acne and asking for options. At the time I was going through a serious cystic acne outbreak and to be honest, it was really messing with. My lower face was completely covered with hard cysts that were extremely painful and would take months to fade away. I couldn't get my foundation to cover them very well and it made me deeply insecure to walk around. I know people scoff about stuff like that "just get over it, no one's looking at you" but when it comes to acne, that really is not true. I had remarks made to me that cut really deeply (by strangers, to my face and behind my back) and I've heard multiple people make fun of my two friends whom struggle with far more serious acne than I do. (I suppose I am lucky that it didn't really show up in photos but I didn't take a ton of close up photos and photos in wintertime lighting tend to soften everything.) It was awful.
I researched quite a few items trying to figure out someway to get rid of the acne. My sister was extremely sweet and gifted me a famous acne solutions set for Christmas, however it didn't really work with my skin. I tried multiple solutions recommended by the skincare subreddits and beauty blogs but ended up having some severe allergic reactions where my skin would start burning, break out in hives that would last for over a week and then having the top layer of my skin peel off. It was gross, let me tell you and didn't do much for my already-in-the-toilet esteem. Since then I've narrowed down the ingredient that I'm allergic to and unfortunately it's present in most skincare. However, Jergens, Vaseline moisturizer, Queen Helene Coco Butter(which is $2.50 for 32 oz, wow!) and most Clinique items do not use it.
My quest for soft, lovely, glow-within skin, or at least not covered in painful, red volcanos, was going nowhere until I almost started crying to the Clinique consultant at Ulta while looking for anything. It turned out she struggled with the same kind of cystic acne as I did and ran me through their acne skincare line. I was really skeptical because, they just want me to buy stuff, right? She walked me through each step however and then when I mentioned I didn't want to spend $100 plus, cut it down to the essential items she thought would help and gave me a 10 day sample to try before I bought. I went home, slathered the stuff and and...didn't expect anything. Nothing had worked so far and this probably wouldn't.At the end of the 10 days I went back and bought the Acne Senstive Soultions Acne foundation, the Acne SPF and the Acne Solutions Clinic Clearing Gel (for all skin types.) HOLY SHIT THAT STUFF WORKS. (Foundation was $27, SPF was $18 for the smaller tube and the larger bottle of the Gel was $26.)
I did not take pictures and now I wished I had because I saw a difference of small pimples within a few days and the cystic acne softened and faded away within the 10 day period, not leaving the angry red welts that would take months to fade. It actually worked when nothing else had made even a remote difference (aside from worse, lol) and I can't even express how amazing that felt. It sounds dumb but it really did change my outlook, my mood and how I saw myself when my face wasn't in pain and I felt like everyone was staring at it. I'd felt hopeless by the time I'd tried this and it is the one product that has made such a difference for me. Since then I've recommended the Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel to several friends and family and have given it as gifts and everyone has said the same thing , "HOLY SHIT THIS WORKS." (All with different skin types and a couple different acne types but mostly cystic acne.)
I've since then repurchased the foundation four times. I am currently using the Nars Sheer Glow Foundation which I like but not the price and have used the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer which I would NOT buy again, it's a little too thick for my tastes but as soon as I finish my Nars foundation I will go back to the Acne Solutions foundation. I like that it's a medium coverage that I can thin out, it lays nicely on top of crusty acne (gross but real talk) and it helps an outbreak chill out. The on that line also doesn't pull as yellow on me as other Clinique foundations do. (I realize Nars is known for pulling yellow but I wear Light 2, Mount Blanc and would wear Light 1 in the winter and find that it suits my cool undertones better. Go figure, skin is weird and water is wet.) I do like the price of the Clinique quite a bit more, $27 to $47, yikes and since I feel they preform about the same, I will rebuy the Clinique when I run out next.
The SPF I love and wear as a primer at times but to be honest, I usually gloop a bunch of store brand SPF50 on my face, let that sink in for a few mins in the morning before I put on my primer and/or foundation. It's nice to have and sometimes I'll wear just that as it is tinted but I don't think it's essential and I only buy it on sale.
The real winner for me that I have bought over and over again is the Clearing Gel. There's two size, a small for $18 and a large for $26 and I normally buy the small and even thought I am very liberal with my application of it all over my face, it still takes me two months to go through a small jar. The consultant did say to use a q-tip and lightly a thin layer to problem spot and that you can use a very thin layer under your morning makeup but I slather it on at night, take off in the morning and then apply a thin layer to spots before doing spf. It would probably take a normal person quite a bit longer to go through a bottle and best of all, it doesn't stain your towels like most acne products.
I wrote this post because this was such an amazing product for me. Acne sucks and it made me feel like I sucked and this was the one product that I felt changed everything around. I ran into a lot of bad advice and products that did not work or straight up hurt my skin and for everything I read about, the Clinique Acne Solutions Clearing Gel was the ONE product that I have never seen mentioned - not on subreddits, not in magazines, not on beauty blogs or suggested by derms. I mentioned I've talked about and gifted this product to friends and family and everyone has said that same thing, it works.
If you've tried everything, lol, nothing at all, this would be my first suggestion. Make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients, ask at your Ulta counter if you can try a take home sample (if you are lucky enough to have one, I know my town went for over 10 years between loosing our Gottschalks' makeup counter and getting and Ulta in so I know the feeling of a makeup wasteland) and see if it might work before purchasing. I don't believe in spending a ton of money in products because there's so much misinformation and misleading claims out there but from my humble experience, this is what has worked for me. I hope it can for you and even if it doesn't that you will be able to find something because we can all agree that for such a small thing, acne can have a profound impact on how you view yourself and how others view you. Good luck!
*Again , not sponsored. This made a huge difference in my life and my skin and because it is not a talked about product, I wanted to put it out there for anyone else.