My Acne Story

Inspired by a recent xoJane post, I decided to write about my own acne struggle.

I distinctly remember grade 9 picture day. I woke up with an angry red zit right between my eyebrows. Everyone chuckled and made random racist Indian/bindi jokes. I eventually did live down that day, only to have that same zit happen again on grade 10 picture day! What were the odds?

Quite good odds actually – I had horrible horrible acne ever since I turned 14 years old. My skin was an oily, sensitive, angry and broken out mess. On top of everything I was insecure about as a teenager, this was definitely the topper. I broke out on my face, my neck, my back. I washed, toned, exfoliated, moisturized, didn’t moisturize. Nightly, I applied topical treatments like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil. In short, I tried every suggestion thrown my way and nothing made much of a difference. I remember reading in Seventeen magazine a sentence that summarized my acne experience precisely: it was never a matter of if I’d break out, it was a matter of how much I’d break out.

My skin looked like a warzone. Enlarged pores. Cystic acne. Large zits. Tons of whiteheads. Blackheads galore. I even ended up with some boxcar and icepick zits.

During this time, everyone had a solution for me. From “stop touching your face” to “eat better foods”. From “stop wearing so much foundation” to “wash your face twice a day”. Sensible advice from people who meant well but didn’t really understand. I tried all that and even stuff most people probably didn’t even know about.

When I was in my sophomore year in university, my brother got me a set of Proactiv skincare products. Surprisingly, it actually helped! For the first time in years, my skin was actually improving! But Proactiv was expensive and the cost of getting a set mailed every three months was getting too much. I went off Proactiv because it was so expensive. I hoped that it helped my skin get over the hump and I was well on my way to an acne-free adult life. Nope. Proactiv’s active ingredient was benzoyl peroxide so I tried applying Clean and Clear Persa-Gel10 nightly again. It only mildly helped, but my skin began breaking out again soon after.

My real breakthrough came when my doctor put me on birth control pills. Finally, my skin started really clearing up. I still got pimples. I never got clear skin, but I definitely had few pimples and zits. And no more cystic acne. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Once in a while, some people even complimented my skin and I actually believed them. It was nice to not have people comment on my skin.

Last year, I got off the pill and again I foolishly hoped my skin had gotten over its acne phase. Again, my skin began breaking out again.

As readers of my blog know, my skin finally started turning around after I started using the Clarisonic Mia. It still hasn’t cleared up my skin 100% – I never expected it to. I still break out – a lot on my cheeks and jawline. Not as much across my forehead and nose like when I was younger. But my skin has improved – and this time without adding hormones to my body.

Early this month, I switched from using Philosophy Purity Made Simple as my face wash to Cetaphil. Partly because it’s so much cheaper. Partly because I’ve heard so many good things about it. Mostly because it’s cheaper.

Hopefully, I’ve got this acne thing under control and hopefully one day I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

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6 comments
  1. I went off the pill a few years back and I struggle with going back on it just for its benefits!!! I have super oily skin–it’s seriously such an oil slick by 10am that you can sop it up. I finally found the miracle cream (clinique), but they discontinued it so I had to stock up. I probably have a year or two left, but I have no clue what I will do afterwards. I am continuously dumping tons of money looking for that miracle solution. I don’t have acne, but my skin is pretty blotchy. I found the Grapefruit Clean and Clear to be amazing! Try it if you haven’t, and it’s cheap.

    • M, it’s like you and I have identical beauty issues. Seriously. We need to get together and exchange tips on what has worked and what hasnt. Now I’m curious what this miracle cream is by Clinique and how come I haven’t heard of it. Also is the grapefruit clean and clear a cleanser or moisturizer?

      • Just looked and it’s the pink Neutrogena, not clean and clear, grapefruit! I am a huge fan! doesn’t irritate at all. And yeah, Clinique made an amazing (and cheap) pore product which they sadly discontinued. And I am up for meeting up/girl time!! We need to find a weekend?

  2. At this moment, I have a dark scar from the zit I popped last week right on my forehead. Lol. AND I’m on birth control. I find that I break out on my T-zone a week before my period. Then I’m good for 3 weeks. Whoever told us our acne troubles will end when we grow up is a big fat liar!

    • Yes! I break out all over my jaw line when I’m PMSing. It’s the worst because by the time everything is healed and fading, it’s four weeks later and I’m breaking out there all over again.Boo

  3. I’ve had acne since I was 14. I was so tired of it I did the Accutane thing. It worked but it left me with a crappy complexion that I still sort of have now. Even after that I still got acne but not as bad but still not good. When I was 31, I decided to clean up my diet(paleo) and sleep better just for the sake of being healthy and it’s the only thing that has improved my acne for the long term. They say that there is no food and acne connection but I believe there is.

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