My Skin Diary: 30 Days on 2 Prescribed Topical Gels


Wow. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this post and opening up every single skin issue I have to the outside world. BUT – that’s what blogging is all about, right? Sharing your observations and finding people who might be going through the same situation. If in any way this can help someone find the strength and perseverance to beat adult acne, THEN KNOW I AM CHEERING YOU ON. And if this helps encourage you to finally make that dermatologist appointment, I’m extremely excited for you.

Where to begin. So basically, here’s a general timeline of my skin and its conditions:

Teenager: no issues at all. I had typical breakouts any teenager has and my skin would go through phases but never anything that made me feel uncomfortable to walk outside without foundation covering me up.

Ages 20-23: same dealio. No big issues and very manageable. My skin has always been combination and never 100% clear but for the most part I would live my day to day life not worried about skin issues AT ALL.

Enter 24-25: adult cystic acne – out of nowhere. HOW FUN. I struggle with huge under-the-skin blemishes that are painful and rarely come to a “head,” for lack of better wording. My problem areas are my chin and jawline, and most recently the higher part of my cheekbones. It. Is. Miserable. As you can imagine.

And yes, I had been planning a dermatologist trip, but I wanted to test some products trial-and-error before I made that jump to spend money on a professional opinion. Plus, my mind kept telling me, “This is a phase, your skin will clear up. You are planning a wedding and have a new job, you’re just stressed!

So I tried incorporating a toner, a new organic skincare line, coming up with a regimen of weekly exfoliation and face masks. Nothing was working. In fact, month after month it was just getting worse.

This cycle has been going on for roughly a year where my acne slowly began to take control of my feelings, emotions, and self-esteem. Honestly, I’ve had enough of this shit and decided I’d speak to my doctor before seeing a dermatologist (in case she could refer me to someone in the area).


My primary care doctor prescribed to me two topical gels:

  1. tretinoin – to use nightly
  2. clindamycin – to use daily in the morning


And then I went on to do my research. For starters, both were hella expen$ive and I was not about to drop a couple hundred on facial gels that would probably last me a month. I wrote into my doctor’s office and they managed to get me a lower strength of tretinoin and a different brand of clindamycin and it lowered the cost for me #blessed
In the first week of using clindamycin daily and tretinoin every other night:

I feel as if I’m purging – and for the love of all that is good in the world I HOPE I’m purging. lol. It’s pretty shitty, but my blemishes are now popping up in places I don’t typically get them (apples of my cheeks, in between my eyebrows). They’re not super dramatic and I could manage covering them up, but I’m definitely noticing an increase in pimples in random spots.

Something positive I’ve noticed, no new blemishes in my TRUE problem areas (chin and jawline). I’m hoping this skin is healing. I also have very soft skin every morning I wash it, as if the top layer of my skin has been exfoliated to reveal smooth skin underneath.

Changes in scarring/pigmentation: none

Second week of using clindamycin daily and tretinoin every other night:

This was the week my skin started to peel. It was a strange sensation as I smoothed moisturizer over my skin after applying tretinoin (and yes, I let it dry for 20 mins first) and my skin started to pill like a sweater shedding its threads lmao. I felt like a lizard shedding its skin. From there I tried my best to pat my moisturizers/oils into my skin for better absorption and this way I wasn’t peeling skin as badly.

I took a “1 week” progress photo of my skin and can tell a noticeable difference of the redness/irritation of current acne/scarring I had. It is looking much less irritated and stressed. My skin looks a bit healthy as if it is healing.

Still no issues with the shitty hormonal acne under my jawline – which was my main issuee. Hallelujah.

Changes in scarring/pigmentation: none

Third week of using clindamycin daily and tretinoin every other night:

This week has been the BEST as far as the shape of my skin. I have been extremely happy with the way it seems to be healing. I can maybe notice the faintest fading of scarring, but nothing noticeable to anyone else I’m sure. I am still dealing with peeling every night I apply the tretinoin (and to combat this I am still patting moisturizers and oils).

The most incredible miracle is waking up every day and not having a NEW BLEMISH on my chin/jaw. What a world it’s been to not feel bumpy under my chin. I feel a lot more confident and even made a trip to the coffee shop sans makeup – hey, this is big for me.

The only downside to this week is the fact I got my period *sigh* and had one medium sized cystic bump on my jawline. Literally.. small-medium sized. The easiest blemish to deal with. Typically around my time of the month I’d be covered in hormonal breakouts along my jaw/cheeks. I’d also like to mention the 1-2 pimples I did get went away within a day and a half and didn’t linger like acne monsters typically do.

Changes in scarring/pigmentation: maybe some faint fading

One month of clindamycin daily and tretinoin every other night:

HO-LY. GUACAMOLE. I’m so glad I took photos to document my skin at the start vs 30 days in. The difference is dramatic. I am not confident enough to show before and after yet, so if it continues to improve the way it has been, be on the lookout for a 2-3 month update and some photos of proof. I showed a few close friends of mine the before and after pics, and here is the consensus:

  • noticeable difference in the diminishing of existing blemishes
  • my skin looks much less inflamed and irritated
  • certain areas of skin are almost completely rid of acne

I am EXTREMELY happy with where my skin is currently at. I do still deal with the occasional cystic blemish, but no where near the amount I was dealing with. It is so nice to only have to cover scarring and not large, painful bumps.

My skin still peels, so I will see if that continues to improve through the next 2-3 months. I’ve read it can take several months to truly transform your skin as well as rid of the peeling. I do plan to start using it nightly, but wanted to introduce my skin to it before I went HAM on the topical accutane, if you catch my drift lol


So that’s that! I hope this is helpful to anyone out there – and please comment below if you’ve experienced anything similar. Would you like to see before/after photos and an updated post 2-3 months into using the gels? Lmk and I will keep documenting my improvement.

Until next time!

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14 thoughts on “My Skin Diary: 30 Days on 2 Prescribed Topical Gels

  1. Love this post! I would definitely like to see a 2-3 month update with before and after pics! It’ll be cool for us to see and you to see as well! 🍁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had cystic acne when I was a teenager and very negligent parents, so never really saw a dermatologist. That left a lot of scars and dilated pores.
    I could recommend two products: Glow Tonic (by Pixi, I think it’s sold at Target) and The Ordinary’s Niacinamine + Zinc serum. The serum really does wonders and it’s just a few bucks. The Glow tonic takes a few weeks to show amazing results.
    You should also probably check with your dermatologist if you can combine these products with your gels. I hope that helps 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KATE I LOVE YOU!!! I just got rid of my glow tonic (loved it!!!) only because it’s a little too strong to use with my tretinoin – which is already heavily exfoliating my skin. I will surely ask the derm about it. Secondly, I have yet to find a serum! What kind of magic is the serum aimed to work?


      1. They also have a Rose Tonic which is much softer than the GT. Check out The Ordinary’s website for what you need. It’s so affordable


  3. Thanks for sharing this! And your journey one month on the gels.

    Are you needed to continue this for as long as you can though? Or could you stop and they wouldn’t come back?
    I agree with Kate on The Ordinary’s niacinamide and zinc suggestion. It works!!! I even have a review on it showing my scars fading drastically if you’d like to check it out!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hey girly! thanks for commenting 🙂
      the idea is that these gels will keep my acne at bay, but to me it’s not a realistic long-term solution. I have an appointment set up with a dermatologist to discuss accutane, considering that takes five months of suffering (dry, peeling skin) and then you’re done and your acne is supposed to be cleared *forever* they say haha
      for me, these gels have been a godsend because I’m trying to clear my skin for my wedding! if I stopped using them idk if my acne would resurface but I have a feeling it would (considering it was hormonal cystic acne in the first place)
      I am TOTALLY going and checking out your niacinamide zinc review!!! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see! I actually went through accutane and it worked for me. I went on a high dosage but long intervals. Like twice a week to once a week then once every two weeks.

        If I’m to give a suggestion, please ask your dermatologist if you could take accutane that way. I took the normal amount of time for one cycle (about 1 year~) and I still benefited from it!

        Taking it every day can be very harmful to your body. The only side effect I had during my journey was basically dry lips.

        Whereas my skin was normal! Ah now it’s back to combination oily 😭 but I’ve got lesser huge pimples and I’m fine with small pimples!

        Liked by 1 person

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