My Skin Story with Acne
A journey to finally getting along with acne in teenage years.
November 19, 2019
On Instagram, I get a lot of DM's talking about how brave or how self-confident I am, but I wasn't always like this. It all began when I developed my first pimple at the ripe age of eight. I thought that I had an allergy to that strawberry candy, you know the kind that every older person seems to have lying in their living room? My mother decided to buy me a small bag, and I would sneak downstairs and eat all of them before dinnertime.

One day, I noticed that I had three small red dots on my chin. I remember running downstairs and crying out to my mom. In my head, I thought, "I'm allergic to strawberries!" As an avid consumer of all things strawberry, this was my worst nightmare. However, as the weeks went by and more of these little dots started to form, some getting bigger and even developing puss. My mom finally knew what was going on; I was getting pimples, and puberty was right around the corner.

Having acne in primary school never really bothered me because everyone was too focused on crayons and simple math to care about how other people looked. It wasn't until I got to middle school that it hit me: having acne was seen as a terrible, disgusting thing. I had just transferred to a new school, I had no friends, and I was constantly teased for having acne. People would call me "pizza-face" or say that I was dirty, and in every argument that I found myself in, people would always bring up the fact that I had acne. By the end of eighth grade, the acne comments subsided, and I had a decent little friend group, plus everyone was getting older, so having acne was more common.

The problem wasn't necessarily the comments that I was receiving from other people or lack thereof. It was more so how I viewed myself. Growing up around the same time that social media was beginning to form, I started to become more critical of my appearance. There was nothing wrong with my physical appearance, but every time I would look in a mirror, the first thing that I saw was my acne. That meant that every time I went outside, I was always aware of it. I could never really have fun without thinking, "I bet this person is looking at my acne," or "I look horrible, my skin looks horrible."
    When I started high school, I tried my best to make my acne less noticeable. I would wear long weaves or braids that covered my cheeks and take selfies with my hands covering my face. When walking or taking public transportation, I would walk with my head down, or wear big sunglasses to cover my face because it made me feel hidden.

    Even with my acne, people would tell me all of the time how beautiful I was, and men would still try to talk to me, and I'll admit, those things made me feel great about myself, but when I went home, I wasn't around those people anymore. I was stuck with how I viewed myself, and in my eyes, I was ugly.

    So how did I overcome these feelings? Well, when I was fourteen, my cousin worked at a dermatologist's office. That year for Christmas, she brought me a bar of soap and told me to try using it on my face. It was called Vanicream. The soap itself was made for sensitive skin; it was fragrance-free and very light. I would use the soap every day, and after a few weeks, my skin started to get a little better. It wasn't super clear or anything, but I noticed that the number of breakouts that I had started decreasing.

    I used Vanicream for two years until for some reason, it stopped working on its own. I was back to square one, and my acne was getting worse and worse. I was sixteen, I had just been dumped, and I was also struggling with anxiety and depression. I tried countless other products, from Neutrogena to Clinique, nothing worked. Some products even made my skin worse. I hated myself. I would cry myself to sleep almost every night, and the saltiness of my tears would burn the open sores on my face.

    In July of 2018, I started using the birth control pill for my acne. My face cleared up, but the side effects of the birth control were too unbearable to continue so, my doctor put me on antibiotics. After taking the antibiotics for three months, my skin had completely cleared up, and I was finally happy about the way that I looked. I was finally able to talk selfies without my hands on my face, and I could walk with pure confidence, and my head held high.

    On my seventeenth birthday, I noticed that my acne was slowly starting to come back. I was devastated. After a few months, my clear skin progress had fully reversed itself back to square one— again. All the hope that I had was lost.

    After doing some research, I found this clay mask called "Aztec Indian Healing Clay." I reluctantly decided to use it, and to my surprise, it started working. My night routine consisted of: using a facial spin brush to clean my skin with Vanicream and using apple cider vinegar as a toner. I would then use the clay mask every other night. My skin improved, not nearly as fast as it did with the antibiotics, but I saw a massive difference in the way my skin looked. The clay mask was very drying, which was good for me because I have very oily skin.

    In July of this year, I noticed that my skin started to get worse (what is this, like the third time?) For some reason, even with my newly found routine, my skin started breaking out more. As you can see, this was a common theme in my life. I was so depressed and tired of trying products only for them to work for a few months and then stop. I ended up temporarily deleting my Instagram account because I found that every time I would log on, I was constantly comparing myself to girls with clear skin, and it made me even more depressed.

    After a while, I finally decided to own my acne because I realized that it would probably never go away, and I was tired of it owning me. That summer, I made it my goal to have the same level of confidence that I had when I had clear skin, and it worked. So I made my Instagram account, troubledskin, in early mid-July.

    I wanted to create a space for myself to post selfies without feeling judged by society's beauty standards. I also wanted to be an example for other people struggling with acne and show that you can be beautiful and confident even with acne. Before starting my account, I had never realized that there was an entire community out here for people with acne. The constant messages and comments that I receive from people in the community continue to make my day, and I love helping as many people as I can as well.

    In early August of this year, I decided to give the antibiotics another shot. This time, it wasn't out of self-hate. I went to a specialist for another reason, and she ended up giving me an entire acne routine to follow as well as antibiotics to take. I took antibiotics for two weeks, and I currently use all Differin products, as well as a prescription skin gel.

    My skin cleared up as expected, and so far, my skin as remained pretty clear. I still break out on occasion, and I have to deal with hyperpigmentation, but I am at the point where I don't care. I love the way that I look, and for the first time in years, I feel beautiful even with acne and my acne scars.

    Acne fighter. Resilient. Passionate. Motivating. @troubledskin

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