I want to talk about a sensitive subject. I want to share my story and have a general rant about something I have learnt to dealt with that many others can relate to.
On the 23rd of July 2014, this was the state of my skin. I had taken these pictures hoping that I would see some progress in the future but, I had never really thought about it until I found them on my computer a few weeks ago and decided to do a comparison. Looking at these pictures side by side makes me feel speechless.
Yes, my skin wasn’t terrible in the first place but I was 15/16 at the time and it depressed me and meant my confidence was at an all time low. I wouldn’t do anything without makeup on or even have a lazy day in fear of someone seeing my face the way it was. The spots I had were mainly whiteheads that didn’t want to shift. The majority of my acne was on the lower half of my face with the few pimples in between my brows. As helpful as it would have been, the quality of these photos means that the damage isn’t clear. My skin was red and irritant and pretty much impossible to cover. Saying that, my friends who have seen this photo don’t recall my skin ever looking this bad. I think that proves something. I think it shows you that no matter how bad you think your skin is, or anything else about you for that matter, the people who love and appreciate you will not notice it. Looking at the current photos I feel such a sense of accomplishment. Yes, the scars are visible. Yes, they take forever to fade. Yes, I still look terribly flared up in the mornings. But, that is absolutely nothing compared to the original photos.
Acne is okay. It’s okay to have little buddies all over your face. We need to accept that it’s okay because under makeup and a showy personality we all have insecurities and flaws. I have accepted that I am flawed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy about it but I know there is little I can do to change all of those things that make me uncomfortable. Sure, you can take small steps but nothing happens over night. Dealing with acne or any skin problem is not a quick or particularly easy process. Everyone’s skin is different. Your acne could be stress related, a result of your diet or lifestyle choices or hereditary. It could be a reaction to a product, teenage changes or medically stimulated. Either way, you need to accept that it will take time.
I cannot tell you how to clear your acne but I can tell you what I did. Remember everyone is different when it comes to things like this. Firstly, get some sun. It doesn’t work for everyone but my holiday last summer definitely improved the way my skin looked. I’m not suggesting you book up a holiday in the hope of some skin miracle but after two weeks in Spanish sun, my skin was cleaner and looked a lot more radiant. This also certainly does not mean you should bake your face in mid-day heat especially without suncream/screen/block. The hours of 11-2 are very dangerous for the skin in hot countries and if your body is not used to it, there is dangers of burning and various skin conditions. Be safe.
Secondly, talk to your doctor. If you’re seriously worried about your acne, your doctor should help you. I knew from the beginning that I did not want to go on medication if there was another option especially seeing as I had to take medication anyway but again this is up to you. I was instead prescribed a soloution called ‘Zineryt’. This was the real beginning of my skin clearance. ‘Zineryt’ contains two medicines, erythromycin and zinc acetate. The erythromycin stops the growth of bacteria associated with acne whilst zinc helps with healing. I applied this twice a day and after about a week I had begun to see results. After a month the change was more drastic. I kept using this for a few months until my skin settled down a little.
After this, I tried adding few non-medicated acne products but, I was sensible. If you try too hard and use too much you’ll probably complicate things. Simple advice here. Don’t overload your skin with products. They’ll most likely counteract each other and clog your pores more. It’s just likely to stimulate bacteria growth and create more spots. However, I kept it as simple as possible. Literally. I used ‘Simple Kind To Skin Protecting Light Moisturiser’ because it is natural and has few chemicals. I also tried a few ‘Freederm’ products and I saw effective results with the products in a short time period. However, I have not repurchased as I am now more aware of overloading my face with chemicals. I kept to my old faithful ‘Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit’ range because it smells incredible and does the job without being too harsh on the skin. Trying to keep it simple suddenly turned to expensive and I fell in love with ‘La Roche-Possay Effaclar Duo’ which literally was a miracle product. It seemed to help more with scaring than any other product I’d tried. (I am onto repurchasing this as I type). More recently though, I am attached to ‘Garnier Pure 3in1 Wash Scrub & Mask’ as it is impressively clarifying and mattifying. I think I use this nearly everyday and get through a tube so easily. I am in no way suggesting you try all or any of these products especially not all at the same time. Read blogs, read reviews, visit specialist websites, find what works for you.
As I said, currently I’m just keeping it simple and am using less damaging products. I’ve started using ‘Zineryt’ again to see if it helps my scarring and still use tea tree oil everyday. I’m also trialing ‘Lush Grease Lightning’ and ‘The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Serum’ but in moderation and both products are pretty great. I won’t stop trying products no matter how bad I know it is. Make sure you give your skin time to adjust before you throw away a half full bottle of product that ‘doesn’t work’. Just don’t create more problems in the long run. Don’t squeeze a spot, don’t plaster it in toothpaste, stop touching it, don’t pick at it. I drink more water now too, that definitely helps. I also have quite a few makeup less days to give my skin a break and now that I feel more content with my face, I’ve even realised I don’t need to go to school or be around my friends with a face full of makeup. I enjoy using and experimenting with makeup, I like the idea of enhancing beauty. But, I’ve stopped hiding behind it.
In all honesty and I can say this with absolute certainty, acne does not make you a bad person. Some have it worse than others, sure. I still find myself muttering under my breath when a friend complains about the odd spot however, you need to remember that everyone’s skin is different. Looking at the change and pictures, I am more confident. I still get the occasional breakout (binge eating and too much makeup) and the predictable hormonal spots in the least subtle of places but that’s all expected. You need to stop caring about something so simple. I know it will eventually get better and there is always simple ways to cover/heal it. Make yourself feel good. So what if all these disgusting bumps pop up on your face? They just want to be part of the action and awesomeness of you. Embrace it. It’s normal, it’s totally normal. It’s a unique part of you. Do not be embarrassed to pop to the shops bare faced or to spend the day makeup free. It might get gradually better but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to ruin your life. I’m happy and proud at how far I’ve come. I have further to go and a lot of scarring to fade but in the end your skin is just your skin. It doesn’t matter if it’s acne, scars, birth marks, eczema, freckles, blemishes or anything else you consider irregular. That’s who you are. And your skin does not define you.