An end (I think) to my 20-year battle with acne 

My breakouts reappeared with a vengeance just after I turned 30. It was time for a new strategy.

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Blue light therapy: Tria
Tria’s Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light, $199


The backstory:
I first started breaking out in my early teens. After trying nearly every acne product available at the drugstore to no avail, I ordered Pro-Activ. To my surprise, the three-step topical treatment worked. It kept me pretty clear until my early twenties when cystic acne hit and I would wake up with painful mountains under my skin. Then, when I turned 28, my face magically cleared up, almost overnight, and I thought I was finally acne-free. Unfortunately, both types of acne reappeared with a vengeance just after I turned 30. I begrudgingly resigned myself to the fact that I am someone who will always battle acne and have to use makeup to hide the blemishes, redness and scars.

The test drive:
But then I decided to try blue light therapy, which I first heard about  a few years ago. The treatment works by using a device to emit a non-UV blue light (similar to the acne-fighting treatment you would received at a dermatologist office) to kill acne-causing bacteria in your pores. The device doesn’t cause excessive irritation or dryness to the skin like some prescription-strength topical treatments.

The review:
Following the instructions, I washed my face, and pressed the device (which is about the size of a cellphone) directly against my skin. It is pressure-sensitive, so it only emits light when it’s in contact with your skin—preventing you from accidentally shining it in your eyes. (My husband walked into the room as I was in the middle of my first treatment and said it looked like I was being abducted by aliens thanks to the blue glow.) The device gets fairly warm during use, so it’s best to keep moving it around your face. One cycle lasts five minutes, and I find this long enough to do my whole face if I don’t have a lot of breakouts. If my skin is bad, I do two treatments—five minutes on each side of my face. Following the sessions, my skin feels a bit tight and sensitive, but my moisturizer quickly soothes it.

The results:
After a few days, I noticed a big difference. Even my husband commented (unprompted) on how much the redness had disappeared. Within a week, whiteheads were almost gone. By week four, I was almost completely blemish free. I noticed that the texture of my skin was smoother, my scars were less visible and I had less breakouts. I still get the occasional flare-up—especially around my menstrual cycle—but a quick spot-treatment zap is all it takes to banish those blemishes.

More:
A Grown-up Guide to Acne
The best natural acne treatments to add to your beauty arsenal
Chemical peels: What you need to know