I'm not a writer, but I've been meaning to tell my story for a long time now, I hope maybe someone can relate to it and maybe find something helpful..even a little by it.
I'm a 20-year-old girl from Canada, attending university here. I have three sisters, all of whom take after my mother; I was always a 'daddy's girl' however, and he was my role model. The other three all resemble my mother, and I my father. The few traits that I did get from my mother were all the ones she hoped not to pass on ...The one trait that BY FAR has given me the most grief was adult acne. My dear mother has struggled with adult acne since (I believe) her early 20's and is still fighting the battle at nearly 50 years old. My three sisters with their lovely clear skin make me so jelous. They all wash their faces with water, maybe moisturise if they feel like it ..and that's the extent of their skin care routine. I, however, have spent probably around 2-3 thousand dollars on skin care products over the past several years and devoted my late teen years to finding a cure for my skin.
It was around the end of grade 11 I think that I first started to break out. Just tiny occasional pimples on the apples of my cheeks, probably from blush, nothing unusual for a highschool girl. I'd wash my face at night and in the morning and that was that. No moisturizer, no toner, no treatments, nothing. In grade 12 I was captain of the cheer team, loving life, social butterfly, couldn't have been happier. And then my little eleven year old boston terrier baby got sick. He was absolutely the love of my life, the vet said he was dying; I would hold him at night and cry and cry and cry. My beloved grandparents who had been married since they were teenagers suddenly went through a terrible split-up and messy divorce. I'd had to quit my job of 2 years for my role as cheer captain and was having a lot of difficulty getting another. It was the beginning of my chronic nightmares; night after night of restless sleep left me exhausted every morning and I started skipping class. I had no idea what to do for university in the fall, I had no money, etc etc etc. Stressful.
That was when my skin began to change. Nodules, cysts, whiteheads, you name it. It hurt to talk, it hurt to make facial expressions, it hurt to look in the mirror and see the rapid changes that were happening to my skin. Face, back, shoulders, chest.
The summer passed and things got a little better. I attended the university where my daddy taught at. But every day that passed brought new trauma to my poor skin. I apologize for not having photos of that time; I avoided cameras and never thought to record my skins condition until it began to improve. At this point I had tried hundreds of different skin care products (cleansers/moisturizers/toners/salicylic acid treatments/BP treatments/glycolic acid treatments/oil cleansing methods/holistic treatments/strict diets/supplements/natural this,that and the other thing/facial steaming/peels/masks/oil pulling/tanning beds/laser/YOU NAME IT I TRIED IT). I'd take three hours to get ready in the morning. One hour cleansing/extracting my skin, one hour for foundation/concealer/desperately trying to disguise the lumps, one hour for everything else. By the time I was done I'd be too self concious to leave my dorm room and I basically never went to class. Needless to say I failed my frosh year. I decided to take the next year off to devote the time needed to heal my skin so I could go back into public again without wanting to hide.
I want to stress something here...everyone's skin is different. All you can do is DO YOUR RESEARCH on everything before it goes on your skin. Educate yourself. Doctors and dermatologists can help, but doctors aren't trained much in acne, and dermatologists need to know how to treat a million different skin issues, they don't 'specialize' in acne specifically. You're going to have to learn little things on your own to help treat your skin...step by step. Learn what works for you, and what doesn't. You are unique, so your skin isn't going to be exactly the same as anyone elses. (I don't mean don't ask for professional advice, my doctor has given me three prescriptions to try, as has my dermatologist. Most of them helped reduce my overall count of acne spots.)
This is my UPDATED list of what I use.
Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo (birth control) - Did a 1.5 year course. greatly reduced acne in my back, shoulders, chest, and jawline after 6 months
I then switched to the regular dose Ortho Tri Cyclen - Not as effective for some reason. Acne started to return, also constant nausea. Planning to switch back.
Benzoyl Peroxide - I used Dan's BP, but it doesn't go well under my makeup, so I only used it at night. I eventually switched back to my HG benzoyl peroxide treatment called Oxy Acne Vanishing Treatment (Little white bottles with black caps and red lettering) Contains 5% Benzoyl peroxide.
Clean&Clear Make-up Dissolving Foaming Cleanser - removes make-up very well, feels gentle on skin. Also works as a wonderful cleanser, even if you don't wear makeup.
Retin-A Micro 0.04% - I'm just starting my third month of this. My skin broke out quite a bit on this, in random places. It's really reduced my hyperpigmentation, and my acne is slowly lessening everywhere except my forehead which is REALLY bad, oddly enough, it's usually the clearest part of my face. In the last little while I've been using BP on my forehead to try to help it out, and to spot treat pimples, but my skin is too sensitive to coat my face in this like I did before I started on Retin-A Micro.
I use Nivea Oil Free Moisturizing Day Cream for oily/combination skin (it's super hydrating)
And mix it with random other types of moisturisers, most contain oil (I know everyone always says don't use oil-based moisturisers, but they seem to work best with my skin. Heavy oil-free ones like cetaphil and cerave make me breakout to high heaven. I run the other way. )
And starting tomorrow...I'm finally going on Accutane !!!! Hopefully someday I won't need all this anymore, and I'll be able to go off birth control.....keep your fingers crossed for me on my NEW journey (which I'll be blogging about every week or two.) (If you want to read about my reasons for taking Accutane - on the advice of my dermatologist - check out my blog posts on my Accutane journey. )
Colorstay foundation for oily skin in Sand Beige
Maybelline dream matte powder in light. (discontinued. Omg.)
NYC bronzer in 720 Sunny
I'll post a few photos below of my journey;
The first photo is a few weeks into my birth control/benzoyl peroxide combination treatment that I started during my first year at university.
The last shows a few months later the dramatic improvement that occured; they only show one cheek but the acne covered the rest of my face and upper body pretty evenly.
I'm now very happy to say that I'm heading back into university to redo my first year. I have a new little boston terrier puppy, I have a wonderful job that I love very much, I also have a wonderful boyfriend who is attending the same university. I wear SOO much less makeup now, and instead of 3 hours to get ready it takes closer to half an hour. So grateful that I live in a time where these products are available, and that I could afford them. Looking forward to the school year and a new start to my education. I'll be starting a nursing program the following fall, which I never could have done without the confidence clear skin has given me. I don't know if anyone will ever read this but if you did, apologies for the length; thank-you for your time. Best of wishes on your own journey.<3