Emotionally Scarred: An Acne Story
"You have a perfect complexion."
It's a compliment I receive frequently. Each time, I question whether or not to confess, "I'm wearing foundation. It's because I suffer from mild acne." I know that I'm not wearing it for them to compliment me. I wear it for myself. I like having the ability to forget it's there. Some days, there isn't much. Others, there isn't any. At times, when I tell my mom, "I have to go finish my makeup," she'll respond, "I thought you had" because my face looks fine. I can't help it, though. I don't feel right without some concealer and a thin layer of foundation before leaving the house.
Do you suffer from acne?
Things Not to Say to Someone with Acne
"I had acne when I was a teenager."
I'm happy for you. You experienced some typical teenaged years. I, on the other hand, never outgrew this "puberty on my face" phase. In fact, it's probably going to be with me until the day I die, and it won't matter how many times you or anyone else tries to sound like an expert because you had a "phase" of acne that will never return because mine will.
"Stop eating sugar/chocolate. Eat more healthy."
Which university did you earn your medical degree from? Do you mind prescribing me a medication that actually gets rid of this crap for good? Oh, that's right, you aren't a doctor. In fact, you don't know anything about how acne works; otherwise, you'd know that it isn't as simple as "stop eating (this) and/or (that)." Oh, and did you know that if you stopped eating delicious sugary snacks you would lower your cholesterol and live longer and all that stuff? I doubt you'll do it just for that sake, though. Maybe, it's because you'd like to enjoy your life. Well, I'd like to enjoy chocolate and sugar, rather than avoid it, even if it does bother my skin. Lastly, when did I ask for your advice?
"Wash your face more."
Thank you! I had no idea that dirt and oil could cause acne! I feel so stupid! Washing my face more than twice a day is certainly not a cliche for an acne sufferer. I am sure no one has ever attempted that. I didn't used to wash my face three times a day when I was a teenager. I am so glad you let me know, now. Who knew that going to the dermatologist was a waste of time and money when all I needed was some good old soap and water?
"It's your makeup."
Oh my Gods, you're right! It must be the makeup! I certainly didn't have acne before I began wearing makeup. I mean, I know that when I was about thirteen, I used to be very anti-makeup. I used to be a big old snob, in my head, about the other teenaged girls wearing makeup. Then, I realized I could use it to cover my acne. Also, I realize I may only wear makeup for about eight hours a day, and the rest of the time I don't, but obviously that's enough time to severely impact my skin. I'm sure that if I just stopped wearing it altogether I would magically stop getting acne. And don't get me started on the ingredients in makeup. We all know I'm too stupid to know how to select makeup for my skin type to avoid more breakouts.
"Don't touch your face."
An Ulta makeup consultant once tried to advise me not to sleep with my hands under my face. She suspected that this was why I have acne. Well, I have never and would never do that. Again, those without degrees in dermatology really shouldn't attempt to prescribe cures for acne. It's ridiculously common for those without acne to politely suggest those of us with it to "stop touching our faces." Believe it or not, most of us don't because we know not to, but it doesn't end our condition, does it? That is because it's usually internal, not external.
Have you heard of Accutane/Isotretinoin
I was on several prescription topical treatments over many years until being put on Accutane a.k.a Isotretinion. For those unfamiliar with the prescription, it is an extreme route; though, mostly successful. Due to the birth defects associated with the drug, I had to agree to either abstain from sexual activity, something I couldn't predict at the time when I would begin engaging in anyway, or go on the pill; therefore, I chose to go on the pill. In addition, I had to agree to pregnancy tests. Had I ended up beginning to have sex during this time of my life, I still don't think it would have bothered me. Of course, it was quite amusing to have to do it as a virgin, repeatedly. I'd like to note that birth control helps some people with acne, but has had no impact on mine. Aside from the potential birth defects for those patients able to get pregnant, it can cause long-term depression, too. Loads of fun, right?
- Acne | American Academy of Dermatology
Learn more about Acne at aad.org
Many YouTubers suffer from acne and make videos about it. One of my favorite makeup YouTubers is Taylor a.k.a. thataylaa. She not only has makeup tutorials on covering acne and scarring, but clearing her own acne through products and lifestyle changes. A simple and frequently mentioned lifestyle change I have read and heard is drinking water. She mentions water in her video "How I Got Rid of Cystic Acne." Personally, during the times I have had colds, I drink more water and tea to get over the cold faster, and find that my acne suddenly clears up, drastically; therefore, I have to agree that drinking more water is one of those small things we acne sufferers can try, at the very least. It may not clear it, entirely, but it could noticeably reduce it.
In This Together
I realize plenty of other people have and/or have had worse acne than I have, but it affects us all the same. It diminishes our self-confidence, it causes anxiety, and leaves us hopeless and depressed, until we have a solution. That is, if we find a solution for our specific type(s). Like any condition, it is specific to our bodies. Sometimes, it is caused by our hormones and/or our genes. It isn't just for teenagers, and the sooner society stops expecting everyone to look a certain way, the sooner we can all stop being anxious and depressed about not being perfect, and the sooner we can focus on loving ourselves for exactly who we are. We are not ugly. We are beautiful.
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