Monday, May 9, 2011

My Adult Acne Story

"When did I become one of those girls with dozens of beauty products, none of which are expendable? It used to be a touch of mascara, dab of Coppertone, zip, bam, boom, out the door." – Rory Gilmore
I had that exact thought yesterday after I got home from Shoppers Drug Mart. A lovely young woman helped me colour-match a new foundation because I'm actually too tan to wear the one I normally do. SHOCKING, I know. She also set me up with some sweet bronzer for my collar bone area because it was either that or, in her words "get more sun". Thanks?
She quickly redeemed any lost points by loading me up with free makeup swag. When I got home, I realized my makeup now explodes out of two kits – and that doesn't include what I have stashed under the sink. This is probably a normal state for many women; I, however, never wore makeup until basically my first year of university, because of my acne.
I've had severe bacterial/cystic acne for most of my life. Think of the worst zit you've ever had: bright red, giant and painful. That's what I had all the time. From the time I was ten until I graduated university, I never had a single clear skin day. Not one. I've gone through every type of treatment – birth control pills, any and every brand sold over the counter, prescription face washes and creams, wacky home remedies, antibiotics, Proactive, and finally, after putting it off for more than a year, a round of Accutane (Isotretinoin).
You know those low-quality commercials on during day time TV that advertise law firms looking for patients who have taken X drug and experienced Y side effects? Accutane is now featured in one. The scary list of potential side effects include kidney and liver damage (for which you're monitored with blood tests every two weeks while on the drug), increased risk of suicide and severe fetal defects – serious enough that by law, a woman must be on birth control pills to be prescribed this medication. I know what you're thinking – why didn't I take this sooner?
The side effects I did experience were severe drying of the skin, lips and eyes. I'm not talking about oh, my skin's a bit dry today. I mean I had a day moisturizer and a heavy duty night one, and if I missed applying either, my skin would start to slough off in hours. I had eye drops and lip balm with me at all times. I also couldn't spend much time outside, because you are at risk for severe sunburns. Isotretinoin basically changes your skin's make up, so I ended up a lot paler than when I started, and I don't tan as easily as I once did.
Rather than really clear up my acne, Accutane changed it - specifically, what parts of my face were the worst. Overall, it did get better, but it did not cure my skin condition. I am lucky enough that now, at 24, I seem to have found a combination that works for me (BECAUSE I KNOW YOU'RE INTERESTED):
·         Keracnyl by Ducray facewash
·         Active Moist moisturizer by Dermalogica
·         CoverFX water-based foundation (NaturalFX)
·         Skin prep scrub (about three times a week) by Dermalogica
Diet reduced in refined carbs/gluten/lactose
Everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for you. For some, a course of Accutane may be entirely worth it – and I can't really say for sure it wasn't for me. After all, who knows if my skin prior to Accutane would have reacted the same way as my post-Accutane skin to this regimen?
What I wish I had known back then is this:
·         Your diet matters
·         You need to use products faithfully for at least four weeks before seeing true results
·         Consistency matters – don't skip washing or moisturizing ever, if you can help it
·         The right make up can not only give the appearance of nicer skin, it can actually help maintain and create nicer skin.
·         Bad skin needs moisturizer too.
·         Stop wearing that stupid hat. You don't look as cool as you think you do.
But since I can't go back in time, I'll settle for being here, playing with my free, pretty make up.

1 comment:

  1. Your courage and sincerity in writing about this shows some pretty profound inner strength. Thanks for sharing :)

    I myself have struggled with losing my hair for years. I used to wear a hat like ALL THE TIME, and even though I shave my head, I would quietly bristle every time someone would describe me as "the bald guy."

    Ironically enough, while I thought this trait really made me unattractive (do you know how many online dating profiles say "no bald guys plz thx"?) I actually met ALL of my long term partners since shaving my head.

    Which is all to say that the right person isn't really going to care what you look like. I know that can be hard to believe, but it's true.

    Great post!