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Change Your Skin’s Forecast With New Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Line

Johnny Nash would disapprove but my new remix to his classic ditty goes, “I can see clearly now/My acne’s gone.” See, for a minute there, while in the midst of an epic battle (we’re talking The Iliad-style saga) with a particularly insidious breakout, my thoughts became so scrambled that I did everything my better judgment told me not to: applying spot treatment three to five times a day, exfoliating daily, smearing on purifying masks galore, and rubbing the affected area with astringent pads. As a result, the area became even more inflamed — not to mention beet red (which is beyond hard to conceal when you have fair skin) and flakier than alligator scales. See what happens when acne strikes? Even the most sensible beauty expert turns into a desperate maniac.

As someone with a pretty unblemished history of clear skin (lame pun intended), I’ve been horrified to find that, as I’ve entered my 30s, I’ve started to struggle with acne — not necessarily full-on episodes that affect my entire face (knock on wood) but localized breakouts, clusters of pimples in rather inconvenient locations (like my chin). As for the cause, I’ve been told these breakouts are the result of a combination of stress, hormonal changes (yet another wonderful side effect of entering your 30s, it seems), and my unwise decision to wax my chin after seeing all of two stray hairs that could’ve easily been plucked away (the waxing apparently led to some ingrown hairs and clogged pores). Whatever the root cause, I haven’t been amused by the recent turn of events.

Last week, in fact, I was suffering from such a bad breakout on my chin and along my jawline that I was walking around my own house covering my face with a scarf so that my boyfriend wouldn’t stare at my blemishes (and yes, I realize how ridiculous and over-the-top that is!). Venturing outside became a source of anxiety since no amount of concealer or foundation could effectively camouflage that catastrophe. And, in a typically overly theatrical manner, I was joking about my need to hybernate for the sake of humanity, lest my appearance assault any onlooker’s innocent eyeballs. But, after several days elapsed and I saw no improvement, I finally threw my hands up in the air, walked into a Sephora, explained my situation to a salesperson, and waited for her product recommendations.

Because I have dry skin and I haven’t historically suffered from acne, she suggested that I steer clear of more heavy-duty treatments that might overdry my skin. When you pick an abrasive, potentially dehydrating product, your skin cells go into overrive, producing more oil as a defense mechanism and, by doing so, exacerbating the problem and proliferating breakouts, expanding the size of the pimple colony. My challenge, then, was finding a product that wasn’t necessarily targeted to women with oily and acne-prone skin, one that would tackle any existing breakout but which I could retire once my skin returned to a state of normalcy.

The Sephora rep recommended I try the new Sephora.com($38 at Sephora.com), which includes four products — the Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Cleanser, the Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment & Moisturizer, the Clear Days Ahead Overnight Repair Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Pads, and the Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment — since none of the products include benzoyl peroxide (which can dry out the skin and reduce its elasticity long term).

Still, I was hesitant to buy an entire kit when I knew I wouldn’t use some of the products — particularly the cleanser since I’m pretty devoted to a handful of cleansers that includes Caudalie’s Instant Foaming Cleanser, L’Occitane’s Immortelle Brightening Cleansing Foam, Arcona’s Kiwi Cream Bar, and Korres’ Milk Proteins Cream Cleanser.

After talking to another sales rep, I discovered that the key products for me would be the  Sephora.com ($39 at Sephora.com) and the Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Overnight Repair Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Pads ($39 at Sephora.com). She assured me that, within three days of using these products, my breakout would clear up (as you know, it typically takes about 7 days for this to happen). Being that I have the patience of a toddler, I was sold. And so I bought both items and followed the directions carefully, crossing my fingers that they would prove as effective as I had been told. That same night, I started my treatment by cleansing my face as usual, smoothing one of the moist Clear Days Ahead Overnight Repair Salicylic Acid  Treatment Pads over my face, focusing on the affected areas, and then I followed with my serum (Lancôme’s Visionnaire) and my night cream (L’Occitane’s Immortelle Precious Night Cream).

Because I’m a skeptic (and because my life can sometimes feel like it’s governed by Murphy’s Law), I didn’t expect to see much of a difference when I awoke the next morning. To my surprise, when I glanced in the mirror, the transformation was remarkable. Already, the redness had been reduced dramatically, as had the swelling, so that my zits looked much smaller. I then washed my face like I do every morning and followed up with the Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment & Moisturizer as I’d been directed. To my surprise, the moisturizer didn’t dry out my skin or cause any irritation — in fact, it worked in tandem with the pads to soothe my skin.

Sure enough, within three to four days of using these two products, my breakout was gone. Needless to say, I felt like going back to Sephora and bear hugging all the women who showed me the light!

So what makes these products so effective?

Well, the Sephora.com ($39 at Sephora.com)  features a gentle but effective antimicrobial formula that attacks acne-causing bacteria, while salicylic acid (in a 1% concentration) and oligopeptide-10 keep skin clear. A combination of jojoba oil and sunflower seed oil hydrate skin and protect it from free radical damage, while dimethicone allows the moisturizer to glide easily onto the skin so that it never feels too thick or clumpy.

The Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Overnight Repair Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Pads ($39 at Sephora.com), meanwhile, are moist oval-shaped pads that contain: a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid, which works as a topical exfoliant, thereby preventing pores from getting clogged; glycolic acid, which helps to even skin tone, thereby eliminating any acne spots and discoloration; mandelic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that helps minimize the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration, and enlarged pores; orange peel extract, which contains vitamin C to brighten skin; and lentil seed extract, which is believed to boost collagen production, contributing to firmer and more revitalized skin. Each jar contains 60 pads.

Neither of these products is abrasive in any way so, even if you have sensitive skin, you can rely on them to eliminate any breakouts in a jiffy.

Thanks to these Philosophy wonders, I can see (and be seen) clearly now.

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