It’s annoying, and at one point or another, we’ve all dealt with it.
But then there are those of us who never get a break.
I’m 23-years-old and still find myself breaking out like a 13-year-old… and while I feel like I’ve finally managed to come to terms with my skin and just how it is, there are times when it takes its toll on my self-esteem. And unfortunately, sometimes there is no amount of concealer or foundation that can hide the mountains that so proudly display themselves on my face.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to learning to cope with your acne. There are all sorts of different ways to try and tackle it physically and a lot of determination when it comes to being intentional with positive self-talk. Truthfully, it took a lot of confidence for me to post the picture I did, even though it’s over 3-years-old – but it’s a good reminder to see how far I’ve come and to see just how much good health and proper treatment can make a difference when it comes to my skin.
Now, keep in mind I am not a dermatologist (-: The treatment tips I have posted below are merely observations I have made from trying to treat my combination skin and make my own acne better.
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TIPS ON TREATING CHRONIC ACNE
Odds are, if you have chronic acne, you’re going to require more than over-the-counter solutions. Since I started seeing my dermatologist my sophomore year of high school, I started off with some prescription topical creams and antibiotics to get rid of the whiteheads and more superficial imperfections. Later on, though, I’ve focused more on hormone suppressing medications as most of my acne these days consists of cystic pimples. Medications really don’t provide perfect solutions, but they’re good for gaining a little bit more control once a doctor has helped identify the possible cause.
Medicated Cleansers, Moisturizers and Spot Treatments
If you struggle with acne you’re probably familiar with the medicated skincare options on the shelves at the store. There are two main types: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Both are intended to reduce inflammation, but only benzoyl peroxide is designed to help fight against bacteria (acne.com). However, the way your skin actually responds will vary. I personally prefer benzoyl peroxide based cleansers and salicylic acid for my moisturizers and spot treatments (salicylic acid tends to shrink existing pimples faster, in my experience). Disclaimer: benzoyl peroxide has tendencies to bleach fabric!
Diet: Avoiding Toxins, Sugar, and Caffeine
Contrary to prior belief, grease and chocolate don’t really cause acne. However, while I’m not a medical professional nor a research scientist, I have noticed that when I eat processed and fast foods, my acne rages. It might not be because of the grease, but I genuinely think there are so many chemicals and toxins packed into our foods that they end up altering our skin. I could be wrong, but I’ve noticed too much of a correlation between my diet and my skin to not believe that processed foods don’t have some impact.
My breakouts get significantly worse when I consume lots of sugars and coffee. My skin was certainly clearest when I cut most of my sugar and caffeine out of my diet for a while – but after getting Arlyn and being up with him at all hours of the night when I first brought him home, my coffee addiction flared back up, and so did my acne. And don’t even get me started on how bad my breakouts are when there’s lots of sugar around the house. I get cystic acne all over my cheekbones, forehead, and nose whenever my diet includes excess refined sugars.
Because what doesn’t water fix, honestly? Obviously it’s good to stay hydrated, one of the reasons being that it helps flush out toxins and keep our skin hydrated!
Just about everyone hears about biotin and its benefits for hair, skin and nails – but in my experience, biotin made me break out more. Instead, I use a collagen protein powder. It’s super versatile and keeps my skin feeling happy and healthy. It hasn’t necessarily helped my acne, but I’ve noticed a significant difference in the texture of my skin without breaking out anymore than normal like I did while taking biotin!
FINDING CONFIDENCE WITH ACNE
Your Own Worst Critic
Something I’ve had to come to terms with is the fact that no one notices my acne quite as much as I do. Naturally, that doesn’t really help if you get stuck comparing yourself to all those around you who have seemingly perfect skin. But in my experience, people don’t hold it against you quite like you hold it against yourself. Once you can make peace with that, it gets easier to put your mind at ease about what others are thinking of you.
Everyone’s Got Something
It’s easy to compare yourself to everyone else and feel like everyone else’s skin is perfect and flawless and yada yada yada… but everyone’s got something. No one’s skin is absolutely perfect (even though I know it feels that way when you feel like everything about yours is absolutely imperfect).
This one probably sounds counterproductive because covering up generally means you’re feeling insecure. But as a girl, I like to wear makeup on a day-to-day basis… especially when it’s a special occasion – I want to try and make sure I look as nice as I can, and that means covering up those pesky pimples. The thing is, you can come to terms with your acne and find confidence despite it and still want to cover up and look nice.
I know I hit a wall when it came to my makeup – I felt like I could never cover up properly and I always felt like a mess even when I put so much effort into my makeup. At that point, I turned to YouTube to find beauty bloggers that struggled with the same issue and learned how to target my makeup application towards covering acne. ThaTaylaa has been my absolute favorite, and not just for figuring out how to cover up my acne – she’s hilarious and is incredibly skilled with makeup in general. Plus she does a segment called 15 Days of Foundation which is great for discovering new foundations. Her opinions are always incredibly honest and I value her reviews on the products!
This point is kind of the flip side to my last one, but another way to gain confidence with your skin is to try and avoid wearing makeup for a while. During my last semester of school, I worked an internship that I had to be at by 6:00 AM 3 days out of the week – eventually, I stopped caring about how I looked and would go most of my days without wearing makeup. I was a little uncomfortable at first, but the more I did it, the less I started to care. Giving my skin a break from makeup also helped my face clear up, which would make it even easier to accept myself without the concealer.
Just remember that everyone’s skin is different – the things that effect my skin might not be the same things that effect yours.
Ultimately, I believe your overall health has to do a lot with your skin – staying hydrated and having a good diet can and will have an impact on your skin, and even taking control of your mental health and stress plays a role, too.
Whenever you let yourself get bogged down and discouraged about the way you look, your self-esteem pays the price – and that’s totally normal; we’re all human. But if we let our self-esteem plummet, we’re going to start seeing a lot more anxiety, depression, and other toxic ways of thinking take over our minds, and that can be dangerous for our health as well.
Find peace whichever way you see fit – your body’s imperfections do not define you! And just remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Below is my before and after – my skin showed significant improvement long before this “after” picture was taken, but this is just to show where I started versus where I am now.