An open letter about my acne

Dear Acne,

You didn’t defeat me. You never defined me. You do not have the power; not anymore.

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I’m not going to tell you about some miracle acne treatment, or how to treat your breakouts, or how to get your old skin back, because that’s not what a realist does.

I’m going to tell you my thoughts, feelings, and my journey with acne.

I never thought I was the type of person to get chronic acne. Why did I think you had to be a type of person to struggle with problematic skin? Was this karma for thinking that? Was my subconscious punishing me?

These are the things that would race through my brain every time I looked into the mirror and stared at my own face, the only face I’ll ever have, with disgust and hatred. Those were the thoughts I would have as I sat in front of the mirror, color correcting and concealing each and every red, round insecurity that looked every person I’d meet in the eyes. Or so I thought.

I’ve been confident my entire life. For the most part, I like what I see in the mirror. And that is a beautiful thing. I will never be the kind of person to step down on myself. I despise the phrases “why can’t I be her?” and “why cant I look like that?” with such a raging passion. I cannot surround myself with those kind of people. While I understand that it’s not as easy as it sounds to be happy with who you are and what you look like, for those who are insecure, I just cannot relate. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I dont think people like me should be ashamed of thinking that way. I don’t think that means we shouldn’t still get praised and I don’t think that means we don’t need to hear compliments or to feel uplifted by others. I simply think it is a healthier, happier way to live. Loving yourself. Loving the mirror.

For the year or so that I battled with my acne, all of that disappeared.

It started when I switched up my birth control medication. I had been on the same pill for a few years, and felt that I needed to change my dosage and prescription. My breakouts began all over my cheeks and jaw bone. Occasionally on my forehead and chin. Working for a beauty care company wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to do at the time, either. I had to consult with people about their skin problems and make suggestions of products to use based on my expertise knowledge. How come I could give all this advice but couldn’t even keep my own shit together?

I tried switching my skincare routine numerous times. I explored outside of my classic and beloved LUSH skin care products, which pained me deeply, but that’s just how bad I wanted to fix my face. I even spent about a month on a dairy free diet, as I read that could be the number one cause to acne. I sacrificed what seemed like so many of my own lifestyle choices, just to give acne the upper hand. And nothing really worked. I refused to see a dermatologist. I don’t care about what they have to say about my skin, really. And I’m usually not like that with doctors of any kind. But dermatologists are there to tell you all you’re doing wrong, reiterate everything you’ve already read on the internet, and then charge you a cringe-worthy price for some commercial skin care routine made up from shit fake chemicals that torture your skin. I was not submitting to that.

So I managed. My last resort was switching up my birth control; once, twice, and then again. Unfortunately this is sometimes the price us ladies pay for birth control. Literally and figuratively.

As a former makeup artist, glam queen and beauty specialist, I hated the fact that I dealt with acne. It felt so foreign to me, like I wasn’t the same version of myself because I was hiding behind my face of scars and bumps and redness. To outsiders, it may not seem so bad, and if you’ve never had to deal with problematic acne then you won’t understand how deep and real this is.

The truth is, acne never owned me. My acne never made me prejudged or looked over. My acne never made me stop smiling. My acne never took away who I am. But my acne did get the best of me. It kept me inside on Friday nights instead of going out because I felt like even under my makeup, my breakouts couldn’t hide. My acne kept me from having sleepovers or going overnight with anyone, because I’d have to take my makeup off. My acne made it impossible to feel confident in sweatpants and a t-shirt at the grocery store. My acne made me hide behind my square frame glasses as I pretended that they covered more of my face than they actually did, and I’d wear them just to make myself feel more secure. My acne made me uncomfortable. My acne made me vulnerable. My acne took me away from me. That is not the kind of person I am.

Today, my acne still exists, in form of scars and bumps and marks as a daily reminder of what I went through. I will never have smooth, perfect silky skin. I will still be less confident with no makeup on. But most importantly, I will love what I’m seeing in the mirror. And those who love me, will still love what they see too.

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