Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Adventures in Acne Treatment

I hate zits. I used to get them all the time, but then I found the miracle of Panoxyl 5% bars, which appeared to be benzoyl peroxide mixed into a bar of soap that you use on your face. What I loved about Panoxyl was its refusal to do anything outside of destroying the zits on your face. There were no lame moisturizers or lotions or anything else that would make your face feel not dried out. No, Panoxyl was all like, "We are going to dry every bit of moisture and oil out of your face until the zits shrivel up and die. Don't go out in the sun, but if you do, rest assured that the zits will be fried right off of your face, and the sunburn will heal in time." Yes, it was quite the product.

Then it was cruelly taken off the market. I should have been forewarned of this development, as I got an email at work saying that the pharmacy would be unable to get it anymore, but I took that to mean the hospital pharmacy wasn't going to restock, not that the product was disappearing from existence. Had I realized that, rest assured I would have started hoarding bars like Elaine Benes with the Today Sponges.

Today, after fighting a losing battle against the zits for a couple weeks, I decided it was time to go shopping for a new acne face wash. Into Walgreens I walk, looking mostly disgusting since I had just finished mowing the lawn and was about to take a shower when I realized I needed the zit soap. The massive, sensory overload inducing Skin Care aisle assaults my eyes as soon as I walk in. Judging its size, prominent position in the store, and the fact that it has its own checkout counter, I imagine the skin care department is responsible for at least 75% of Walgreen's sales. This imagining is confirmed, as my slight pause in the skin care aisle elicits an immediate "Are you looking for something in particular?" from the sales girl behind the special skin care checkout area. She must have thought I was lost, which would make sense, as approximately 90% of skin care products have some form of female model on the label. Instead, I immediately answer "Acne soap!" and she goes to the end of the aisle and says "All of our products are right in this section. Is there a certain kind you prefer?"

"Well," I say, "Panoxyl worked wonders for me, but it's off the market now," and begin shaking my fist at the sky. Seriously. I actually did that.

"Yeah, I've heard a lot of complaints about that, actually." I look at her, and she has nary any sort of blemish, zit, pimple, blackhead, facial scar, anything. I begin to doubt her expertise on acne products, but press on. Eventually, after she gives favorable reviews on Clearasil's Daily Face Wash, I buy it, despite two reservations, which I voice:

1. The active ingredient is salicylic acid, which I find to be less effective.
2. It says 2%, which is clearly 3% less than the 5% I had with Panoxyl. I don't care that the active ingredients are different; I need my percentages to match up.

During my purchase, I notice my friendly sales associate's actual title is "Senior Beauty Adviser," despite the fact that she looked all of 23, maybe. This means she either really knows her skin care, and has thus maintained the look of a 23ish person despite having 25 hard years' experience at the skin care grind, or, like me, she was given a job title that will require some explanation on any future resumes. Yes, unbeknownst to most, I am actually a Senior Rehab Therapist at the hospital, despite being the youngest and least tenured member of the department. I assume it's the latter rather than the former, and thus feel reassured that I'm buying acne soap from someone who, like me, is obviously a straight-shooter with upper management potential.

As for the actual product, it smells strongly of menthol and burns like a mother if it gets in your eyes, which is a problem since I tend to get zits on the side of my nose. My face doesn't feel completely dried out, so I'm not sold on the effectiveness, but only time will tell in that regard. Most importantly, my Senior Beauty Adviser has assured me that if I am not 100% satisfied with my new zit soap regimen, I may return it for a full refund. That's the kind of quality customer service that gets you Seniority status straight out of high school, for sure.

I'll keep everyone posted on the results, as this is obviously the hard-hitting investigative consumer reporting you come to this blog for.


Nick said...

Why don't you try one of the creams that has benzoyl peroxide in it? Like this stuff:


I know it's not soap, but at least there's less lame marketing on the package than most skin products.

liz said...

Anyone else have the Dinosaur Neil episode of The Tick in their head now?

"I have this piece of living dinosaur tissue in a solution of salicylic acid"

Andy said...

Nick, the creams don't seem to work as well for me, or at least as quickly. I use them for spot use during particularly bad outbreaks.

Liz, I think technically Dinosaur Neil kept it in a solution of acetylsalicylic acid. But the important thing is that the pharmacist who filled the giant aspirin prescription once sold a cough drop the size of a quarter as well.

Also, since I read this comment, I've had random lines from The Tick in my head all day. "Rented a lot of dusters today; what kind of flower was it?" keeps coming back.

And the face wash is garbage so far. Outbreaks are getting worse, although I don't think I can adquately judge the effectiveness after one day.