My Acne Journey
I used to hate my skin. And I hated all the insecurities I had that came along with my terrible skin. I got acne very young; at the tender age of 10. And I honestly don’t even remember how or when it all started. I just remember one day I had clear brown skin, the next it was covered in nasty puss-filled bumps that lasted for years and years on end. I remember my mom telling me over and over again that I will “grow out of it” but I never did. The acne was persistent no matter what I did to my face.
If I washed it: acne.
If I didn’t wash it: still acne.
I was at least fortunate enough to not have body acne but I still wanted this crap off my face! All through 5th grade and all throughout middle school, I tried so many things to help get rid of my acne but nothing worked. And the terrible scarring and hyperpigmentation that was left on my face was worse than the acne itself in my opinion.
I quickly found out that I had oily skin. I could wash my face in the morning at 8 a.m., and come 12 noon my face would be shining like a brand new penny. My face secreted oils like an oil slick and if I’m not careful with my routine, it still does so today. I also have really large pores (perks of having oily skin).
When I got into high school, I started using Proactiv. It was a nice brand that worked…..as long as I continued to use it. The moment I stopped, my acne came back with a vengeance; worse than before. The bumps were so much bigger and extremely painful. I’m talking bumps so big the skin would start to peel around the bump due to the skin stretching so much and so quickly.
But Proactiv was expensive and my parents couldn’t afford to continue to buy it for me on the regular. Looking back on it, it’s a good thing I stopped, because I wanted to have healthy, clear skin. Not skin that was dependent on a product filled with chemicals and medication.
After Proactiv I started using the Noxzema cleansing cream (back when it had the old packaging) but it did absolutely nothing for my skin. It was just cooling to the face and that’s it. But my mother used to use it religiously and she always received endless compliments on her skin so that’s why I started using it. But when the jar ran out, I never asked for it again. I also used Neutrogena and their multiple acne-fighting lines.
The blue line worked the best for me. I used the scrub and the toner daily. It helped….until I ran out and had to wait until my parents could buy me more. As a substitute, I would just use soap. Dove bar soap, Neutrogena bar soap, or any other soap I could find in the house. But that was a mistake too as my acne came right back. Not as angry and painful as with Proactiv but still back…on my face…where I didn’t want it to be. I was embarrassed and never wanted to show my face.
After a while, my mother went ahead and took me to a dermatologist because she was just as confused as I was about my skin. By this time, I had gone through my puberty; I wasn’t getting any taller and it had been years since I first got my period. Why wasn’t I “growing out of it” like she said I would?
I don’t remember much of my dermatologist visits. I can’t even tell you what the doctor looked like; that’s how boring and unhelpful they were. But I do remember them saying much of the same thing my mother thought: that it’s just because of puberty. But little did they know, that I was done with all that. I hit puberty early. I was 5’5”, had gotten my period, and a face filled with pimples by the time I turned 10.
I was 5’8” by age 12. And my boobs, hips, and butt had done all the developing they were ever going to do as they are still nonexistent in my current adult age. My voice has also not really changed much either as people still think I look and sound like I am years younger than what I am (when I was 16, my own dentist asked if I was 11. When I was 23, I was asked by a sales girl if I was 15, and when I was 24, a senior at a high school I was working at asked me if I was a new girl in her class).
Don’t get me wrong, I love looking young. I just didn’t know I looked that young to other people.
Anyways, the dermatologist prescribed me pills (that did nothing), a face cream (that did nothing), and a special soap (that stung my skin and bleached all my face towels and the collar of my shirts). Once my chin started to peel and burn due to the soap, I stopped using it.
I battled with acne and scarring for the rest of high school. It sucked. I stayed away from cameras (which is why I don’t have many pictures to show), I remained insecure, and I have been told to my face that my face is “too bumpy”, and I heard the whispers that I could be cute or prettier if only my face was clear. I was even embarrassed to ask people I knew with clear skin what they used because asking would only draw attention to my damaged face.
Since I rarely took pictures, here are some pictures I have of when my face was at it’s “best” and I felt comfortable enough to take some selfies.
My face didn’t begin to clear up until I got to college and changed my diet. I ran track in college and as a way to change my lifestyle so I could be a good runner, I started eating cleaner. I cut out soda, candy, chocolate, and tons of junk food. I drank more water, I was getting my exercise since I was a part of an athletics team, and I was getting plenty of sleep (although not sleeping well had never been a problem for me).
I also started using products with less harsh ingredients in my hair and on my face. And guess what? I started to see a difference! But in the acne only. I was still left with layers upon layers of hyperpigmentation due to the years and years of acne.
The hyperpigmentation was so bad that even when it did start to clear up and my cheeks became clearer, all I had to do was blow out my cheeks (like a blowfish) to see that the pigmentation was still there and was deep under my layers of skin. It took years for that to go away but I began to see the biggest difference when I started using natural products (or at least mostly natural).
I started a routine of washing my face with African black soap, witch hazel as a toner (I like using the Thayer’s brand with rose water and NO alcohol), and then I would moisturize with either a very light calming lotion with honey and coriander. Occasionally I would switch it up and try a new facial cleanser or face mask but only as long as it was meant to be gentle, or had all natural or mostly natural ingredients.
I felt brand new and shiny, and dare I say, pretty lol.
After this already long journey, 2015 was the year I discovered Korean skincare. The myriad of products and skincare routines based out of Korea were intriguing and at this point, I was willing to try anything for my skin. The first Korean product I tried was a green tea sheet mask from Tony Moly. I LOVED IT!
I went on to try other products from Korean brands; I read lots of skincare blogs that reviewed Korean skin products, and I watched countless YouTubers that talked about Korean skincare products as well. I moved into using solely Korean products and never looked back.
2015 to 2017 were the years my skin were the absolute clearest it had ever been and I was feeling a new confidence that I had never felt before about the way I looked.
In 2017, my skin was looking like this:
But then….2018 hit and something happened. I was back on the struggle bus looking like my skin had never been clear in the first place. I have no idea what broke me out again after finally having clear skin for going on three years. To this day, I can’t tell you what broke me out so badly. I hadn’t really changed my diet. I was still drinking lots of water. And even though I stopped exercising as much as I used to, I would still get up and do active things from time to time. So, what was going on with my skin??
I had huge cystic bumps, small whiteheads, and the large puss filled bumps that would leave the skin open and raw after they burst. And of course, I had to deal with all the hyperpigmentation afterwards.
After doing lots of research on oily skin, nutrition, vitamins, etc., I was able to clear my skin up again. I will be writing another post on what I believe cleared my acne this time around. My skin took a long time to heal but here are my progress pics from 2018 to 2020.
Needless to say, I have developed quite a passion (maybe an obsession) for skincare and taking care of my skin. Whether it be for acne fighting, anti-aging, and hydration for oily skin types, I 100% listen to my skin and body. If my skin doesn’t like something, I stop using it immediately. Even if I can’t find another use for the product and end up wasting my money, I still listen to my skin. We only get one skin, one body. We must love it and take care of it ^_^
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading! 🙂