As a late bloomer, I only started having real acne concerns late into high school. I’ve vividly remembered that first red puss-filled breakout on my right cheek, like none I’d ever had before.
Acne on my right cheek has been my primary skin concern since. Additionally, I can remember a handful of days in the years between then and now that the skin on my right cheek was without acne and dark spots.
The growing frustration with my acne led me down the well-trodden path of trying all the products to target teens and then graduating to everything that would supposedly help. I never quite felt justified in seeing a dermatologist at this point because while I hated my skin, I’d often get comments saying it wasn’t that bad, followed by unsolicited advice to try this or that.
Going To See A Dermatologist
Fast forward, after years of trying all the this and that’s, I’d finally decided it was time to see a dermatologist. After a consultation and a good look at my skin, the derm prescribed the popular acne treatment I know had helped many people on the internet and some of my friends, Accutane.
He gave me the instructions and sent me to take blood samples from which he’d ascertain whether or not to reduce or increase the dosage. Off I went, diligently taking my medication. Those who’ve been on either acnetane or Accutane may be familiar with how unpleasantly dehydrating the side effects are.
However, a few weeks in, the dry, cracking lips and the skin purge were proving to be worth it, or at least there were the first signs that something good was coming. And then, my refills ran out, and the good doc said he’d like to follow up and review my dosage before fully establishing how many more months I’d have to be on the treatment.
But we were on lockdown the day before my appointment. Thinking that I was going to see a healthcare professional, I figured there would be no issue. I masked up and took all precautions, and went to the derm’s office, where the receptionist told me that doc wouldn’t be in indefinitely.
I had questions, but I understood. The beginning of the lockdown was a time of uncertainty and anxiety. Even the atmosphere at the dermatologist’s office was an unfamiliar, heightened awareness of everyone and everything. Lest I digress, with my skin only just coming to the end of its purge, what was I going to do now?
As the lockdown progressed, more people online became increasingly interested in skincare, which only made my concerns worse. Against my better judgment, I hopped onto several hype trains in skincare gadgets and products. Things that buzz, spin, roll while promising significant results and not to mention the layers serums.
Despite my best and frankly most desperate efforts, the progress I had made with the Accutane was dwindling. This year, it got to the point where said “best efforts” resulted in my sensitized skin; redness, rashes, etc.
Nearly three months ago, I decided to pull it all back and start from one. Now my skincare regimen consists of four products, a cleanser, moisturizer, a retinol serum that I’ve recently introduced to help with the dark marks. Last but not least is that SPF.
I can now say that my skin is the happiest it’s been in a long time, and I’ve learned an invaluable lesson in listening to your body, then finding what works for you. I also realized the unreasonable pressure I had internalized.
Even though I could theoretically understand that acne was a normal part of life, the scope that we often have the conversation around adult acne often has an undertone that you’re doing something wrong if your skin isn’t clear. “Are you drinking, water, changing your pillowcases, sticking to a routine, eating right?” This almost suggests that acne is in actual fact not normal, and that a few lifestyle adjustments will fix everything.
However, I learned that, the best results come when you’re operating from love because then you work with your body instead of on or against it.