My daily routine used to be much simpler than it is now. In the past, I would simply wake up, slather on some moisturizer and sunscreen, then walk out the door. But recently I’ve switched to feeling the need to put on foundation before heading to a workout class.
I never thought that I would be dealing with “adult acne” in my early 20s, given that I made it through middle school and high school with a crystal clear complexion. At first it wasn’t too bad. I would get deep rooted pimples around the time of my menstrual cycle and tried my best not to pick at my face in order to let my skin clear up naturally. But soon my skincare routine became more of a full blown makeup routine with layers of concealer and foundation. It felt like my life transformed overnight. The usual compliments about my “perfectly clear skin” changed to become based more on my personality or my outfit. The one thing I had taken so much pride in was now completely gone.
I did what most people do and headed straight for the dermatologist. I was first prescribed Epiduo Forte, then another topical treatment that both ended up failing. The unsolicited advice I received from well-intentioned friends and family telling me I just needed to “de-stress” or buy this particular brand of face wash only added to my frustrations. It felt like I was trying every product on the shelf, every tip & trick to get clear skin, but nothing was working. In fact, it was only getting worse.
I tried to clear up my skin internally through food as well. My meals consisted of whole, unprocessed foods and I would drink a gallon of water a day on top of maintaining a consistent workout routine. I didn’t realize how big of a toll it took on my self-confidence until I saw a picture of myself taken during the height of my acne struggles. My smile felt forced, appearing “off” from how it genuinely was. My facial expressions revealed how low I was feeling due to the dip in my self-esteem. I kept seeking verbal affirmation from others that my acne wasn’t noticeable in order to get some relief.
After feeling like I plateaued with my acne medications, I went back to the dermatologist and got prescribed topicals and spironolactone which gave me hope after scouring Google and reading success stories of people who had experience with the medication. Soon, my watch history on YouTube was filled with videos of others who had dealt with acne. Videos titled “My journey with acne” and “How spironolactone cleared my skin” flooded my recommended page. For the first time, I felt like someone finally understood what I was going through. Listening to hundreds of girls describing their experiences sounded like they were narrating my own internal thoughts.
I decided to adopt a more positive attitude towards my skin and physical appearance. Instead of starting my mornings with negative self-talk, I switched to expressing gratitude for the ability to see a dermatologist and get the treatments I needed. I reminded myself that my acne did not define me or my beauty.
For now, I’m still learning to accept the scarring on my face. I’ve also come to realize that people’s first thoughts when they see me are not centered on my acne but rather my personality and energy. Confidence comes in waves and some days are much better than others, but everyday is a learning experience and a new chance to get better at loving myself, with or without my makeup.