Please believe me when I say this was not a fun post to write. I’ve drafted it and erased, drafted it and erased, more times than I can count. It’s not fun to admit you were struggling with something as embarrasing as acne, much less when you’re about to turn 30. But it caused me so much stress, so much shame, that I felt it was only right to share my lessons learned after the fact. That’s not to say my skin is porcelain perfection now, but it’s nothing compared to what it was six months ago. Let’s go back in time for the full story:
In late Spring last year, we had just returned back to San Antonio from Cancun. All my life, I’ve had the occasional breakout here and there, moreso when I’m on my period or not taking care of myself properly. Nothing major, nothing to freak out about, but I wasn’t immune to skin issues. So when I tried out a few new skin products and had a mild breakout, I didn’t think anything of it. Surely it would pass in a couple days, nothing to fret over. When it didn’t clear up immediately, I chalked it up to my period about to start, or the stress of moving back to the States. When a month had gone by and the acne was still hanging around, I really started to get concerned.
Here’s where I made my first mistake: I started to nuke my skin with every harsh over-the-counter scrub and mask I could find. I would give each one just a couple days to produce a miracle cure, and if I didn’t see miraculous results I switched products again. This only served to further aggravate my skin and cause the breakouts to get worse. I should note at this point that the breakouts were only on my chin, either side of my mouth to be exact. Based on extensive research (also known as Pinterest), this region is most commonly associated with hormonal imbalances. But slowly but surely they started to spread to my forehead, and even the occasional pimple would pop up on my cheeks of all places. This, I assumed, was from constantly messing with my face. Yet even when I stopped, the chin breakouts remained. Not what you want when you’re supposed to be a beauty blogger trying out new products every other day.
I cut out coffee, I cut out junk food, I got more sleep, I exercised more, and yet the acne persisted. I loathed being in public for events, and I couldn’t believe I was dealing with worse skin than I EVER dealt with in high school. I could have washed my face in acid when I was sixteen and you wouldn’t have seen so much as a blemish. After about three months of a consistent breakout, I decided to get serious about getting this plague under control.
Here’s what I learned to finally start seeing results:
1. I cleared things up from the inside out.
The tricky thing about hormonal breakouts is there’s no easy fix. You can’t magically wash your face and have the zits disappear, because it’s an internal war being waged. And hormones aren’t a simple thing to adjust. It’s incredibly easy to get your hormones out of whack, and it’s incredibly complicated to get them back in line. As I discovered. 🙂 But at a Neiman Marcus event, the Bobbi Brown consultant doing my makeup mentioned a solution when I confessed I was self-conscious about my acne. It’s called Skin Accumax by Jane Iredale, and I ordered it on Amazon before she had even finished my makeover.
To quote the Amazon description, “Skin Accumax contains a synergistic combination of vitamins and plant nutrients which address the underlying factors of non-cystic acne. As it works from the inside, not only your face but the skin all over your body will reveal its natural radiance. Scientists have blended a very specific combination of vitamins with a special phytonutrient identified in cruciferous vegetables. This precise concentration of active ingredients has a powerful effect on the health of the body. Skin Accumax has no wheat or gluten containing ingredients. It has no added yeast, dairy products, artificial flavorings or coloring.”
So just two pills, once a day with my breakfast, and I immediately saw my skin calm down. It helped balance my internal systems so my skin could settle the heck down and stop the cycle of acne. And although it was still six to eight weeks before I saw the greatest transformation, I had learned from my initial rapid succession of products to just give it time. And it worked!
2. I got smart with my medication.
When you’re 29, a mom of two, and a generally busy person, you feel silly trying to make time for a dermatologist appointment. I didn’t want to spend the money or energy to find someone to see in person when this felt like such a ridiculous issue. I kept putting off professional help thinking this would clear with drugstore products, until I discovered Curology. Call me a sucker, but that Facebook ad was PERFECTLY timed. Sitting in my car at the gym, I snapped five pictures of my face, listed out my symptoms, and I was connected with a licensed dermatologist within hours. She listened to my preferences, and created a prescription medication just for me. Coupled with a more powerful acne treatment, she suggested using a gentle cleanser as the only addition to my routine. Two products? Professional advice? Count. Me. In.
I fell in love with the Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser she recommended. I realize some may scoff at the “naturals” title, but it was soothing to my skin and did it’s job without inflaming my skin. I only had to use the Curology medication at night, right before bed, and that was it! The product was shipped right to my doorstep and I could consult with my dermatologist to adjust my routine at any time.
At this point I was seeing the other areas of my face (my nose, forehead, and cheeks) look better than even BEFORE I got into this mess. My chin, however, was gradually improving with the addition of Curology to my arsenal.
3. I switched to makeup that made things better, not worse.
The tough part about acne is it’s cyclical nature, especially when you’re not willing to walk out into public looking like a pizza face. You scrub your pores clean in the morning, and then you pile on makeup to cover up the acne. Which clogs said pores. And completely defeats the purpose. As I said, I wasn’t willing to go bare-faced for fear of scaring small children, so I went on the hunt for a makeup that would do double duty: cover and clear. Surprisingly, this wasn’t an easy task. But eventually I landed on the BareMinerals Blemish Remedy line. Specifically, I’ve grown to love the Mattifying Prep Gel, the Powder Foundation in Clearly Silk, and the Concealer in Light.
Each of these products is specially formulated with Aspen Bark, Tea Tree Oil and a special Peptide Complex to help promote clearer, healthier-looking skin. So you don’t have to feel guilty about covering up the breakout anymore. And that was a game changer for me. Once I could heal my skin while feeling confident enough to go out in public, I felt I could relax and trust the process from there on out. Which led to the nail in the coffin:
4. I stopped stressing.
I’m not going to lie, I chuckled when I typed that. I didn’t necessarily stop stressing ALTOGETHER, but I did make adjustments in my life to stress LESS. We came to be with Orlando in Israel, I started saying no to more and more client work, and I did my best to worry about the acne less. Mind over matter, my friends, because I think this was the final blow to my nightmare. Once I targeted the areas of my life that need improvement, my hormones and my stress levels balanced out, and my skin did too.
Now, I am certainly not entirely in the clear now. But I am to the point where I’m not having any major issues anymore. My biggest concern now is the dark marks and scarring from where I picked at the same spot over and over again. They are fading, slowly but surely, but I’m still nervous permanent damage has been done. Couple that with the fear of introducing a strange product lest I start a new breakout, and I’m trying to come to terms with how to handle that. You can bet, though, that if I figure it out I’ll write about it! After all, the cat’s out of the bag now! 😉
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P.P.S. I am not being compensated by any of the brands mentioned in this post. I just really, truly love them!