Have you ever suffered from acne? Not the regular one but cystic acne, that causes huge scarring on your face. Anyone who has ever suffered from acne knows that it can have severe effects on your body image and self-esteem. I first started breaking out when I was 16, an age where we develop our social behavior skills and our need for social acceptance is highest. Media and people around us teach us the most exacting, often artificial, standards of physical appearance and peer pressure to conform to these standards is enormous in many cultures (especially American culture).
Acne and body image issues:
I was mere a child, in her early teenage years, where we build our character and self-esteem. My acne took a huge toll on my self esteem and self worth. I felt like I was being socially rejected, I was ashamed of my face, I felt “Ugly” because I didn’t have flawless skin like other girls my age. There was no one to tell me that it was okay, my acne wasn’t my fault. As time passed I dwelled deeper and deeper into despair, to the point, where I developed an eating disorder. I found my solace in food, I used to eat a lot, binge on food. After the binging episode was over, I used to leave me feeling worse, because now I was “Ugly and fat”.
Is wearing makeup a solution?
I hope it was a teenage/puberty thing and everything will go back to normal once this “Phase” was over. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t end with puberty, I suffered from acne till I was 24. When I was 18 and my acne didn’t go away, I started wearing heavy makeup to cover up the zit, pimples and scars. I was coating my face with layers and layers of concealer and foundation and setting powders. Every time there was new make up product that claimed to be for acne prone skin, I would run to get it. I was spending all of allowance money for makeup (that’s roughly $2500 a year). I was still getting picked on a lot in high school. Make up did not help. Every time I used to come home and wash my face, I ended up feeling worse, because it made me see my flaws with 3x intensity. After the mask of makeup was removed, I could see my acne, scars, blemishes, discoloration and I felt hideous.
Young adult phase:
Then I came into college, still hoping the acne would clear out on it’s own, it didn’t. I stopped wearing makeup, but limited my social interaction to just college. I stopped going out, I wasn’t able to make friends, or meaningful connections with people, my eating disorder was still there. Social anxiety was on it’s peak, every time I saw people laughing or smiling, I felt paranoid, that they were probably making fun of me. I got a job at a local restaurant as a manager where I was asked to manage just the kitchen and other staff. They didn’t asked me specifically, but the message was very clear, I wasn’t supposed to go in front of customers.
The dermatologist and acne treatment:
During October of 2016, my sister visited me and she saw my behavioral changes, my binging habits, the weight I had gained and she was smart enough to connect the dots. She took me to a dermatologist; I was told that my skin produced excess sebum, way above the normal levels, and that is why I was always breaking out. He put me on Istotretinoin 40 mg per day. I was on iso for 6 months before my face completely cleared out.
During the acne treatment:
Now istretenoin is like a magic drug for acne, but it makes your skin dry as a sand paper, I was putting on so much moisturizer and yet my skin was the sahara dessert. I tried all kinds of natural oils, expensive moisturizers, nothing worked. Isotretinoin also makes you skin extremely sensitive to sun, even exposure for small amounts of time can cause sun burns. I went to my dermatologist to talk about the issue and he recommended a skin care regime.
Skin Serums and skin care routine:
My dermatologist recommended hyaluronic acid serum and vitamic C serum, a face wash. My acne medication sure helped me with the outbreaks and formation of new zits, but it was the skin serums that helped me with the texture of my skin, pores, dryness and acne scars.
The clear skin:
It has been almost 4 years I’m off isotretinoin, and no one can tell that I once suffered from that kind of bad acne. After getting off my acne meds, my skin care regime stayed with me. My skin serums were like my most prized/valued possession. I never stopped using them and I won’t say that my skin is flawless, I mean I can see some pores and a small blemish here and there but overall I’m at a point where I can confidently go out without wearing make up.
I’m not afraid to show people my bare face, now when people laugh I don’t automatically assume that they’re laughing at me, I’m scared of getting judged for my skin. Every time I see custom serum boxes of my hyaluronic acid and vitamin c serum, I feel joy, satisfaction and most of all gratitude, these products saved my life.
Almost 60 million Americans suffer from acne, and in turn with body image and mental health issues. I want to tell you what no one told me, your acne doesn’t define you, more than your skin. Your acne is not your fault, and it will go away. Please don’t let your acne get the best of you. With proper treatment and skincare you can fight this problem, and will came out triumphed.