When it comes to women’s health, acne is right up there. Due to continuous hormone changes women are more likely to have adult acne than men. This month, guest blogger Sophie tells her story of living with acne.
From the age of 11 I have been at war with acne, from waking up with the usual teen/hormonal spots to the painful (physically and mentally) acne cysts, my skin has been fighting with me for almost 2 decades and at 29 I thought I would be done by now. But still – It always happens the same way – I wake up and I have an important appointment/date/ meeting, whatever it is, and I look in the mirror and there it (or in my most common experience they) is – two Mount Vesuvius red, raised bumps.
What Is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.
For me it started with a prescription roll on acid. This progressed onto a mild antibiotic, then a stronger antibiotic and face cream that dried out my skin so much it looked like I bathed in chlorine. Then came the birth control pills that also work for acne (they did for a few weeks then acne fought back). Yasmin, Dianette, then more antibiotics and dermatologists visits which ended with:
‘your skin doesn’t look bad enough for Roaccutane but I’ll prescribe a kidney stone tablet that has seen positive results in acne too’.
And so, it goes on. This is not including everything I’ve tried off the shelf at Boots; from your basic freederm gel and clean and clear face wash (those were the days!) to acids, aha’s, retinol, (though that is a miracle worker for everything), vitamin c, niacinamide, collagen, tonics to those promising sheet masks containing all you need for glowing, spot free skin. The ever-expensive list goes on.
Who Does It Affect?
I’m not alone, heck even celebrities have opened up about adult acne, hello Cardi B and Matilda! Cardi B asked Twitter to help solve her adult acne (cosmopolitan.com) The Undoing actress Matilda De Angelis posted an inspiring acne selfie (cosmopolitan.com) which does go a long way in inspiring me and I imagine many others. However, when you are stuck in a world of medicated treatment and aggressive skin it can be a very lonely place. To be honest its damn right embarrassing, my skin feels like its stuck in 2006 whilst I head for the big 3-0.
What Is The Cure?
It took me many years to try and find the answer to this question and I still don’t truly know; I have those days where I don’t feel like leaving the house because my skin has erupted. An upside to lockdown has been that it’s allowed me to go out feeling less self conscious, my face masks covering a multitude of sins.
In fact if lockdown taught me anything its to try and be ok(ish) in my own skin. Because those hours of staring at yourself on zoom will do 1 of 3 things:
1) Get you comfortable with no makeup days and in a position to try a better skincare routine
2) Have you desperately wearing more makeup
3) Completely hating your pimple filled skin to the point of claiming your camera isn’t working so you can sit there with your best profile picture on.
I have moved between all 3 groups this past year.
If like me you suffer from acne, then liking yourself rather than bullying yourself for something that is completely out of your control, will go a long way to better the quality of your situation.
I used to think that acne meant being dirty, being less than and undeserving of anything good. Your face, its what you present to the world and if that looks different, wrong or unclean then it can be so detrimental to who you are as a person. As a teen I felt helpless and most certainly I felt judged. And yet there is a bright side to my story. I don’t feel that way now and acne is not who I am, it’s just something I co-exist and it is making its visits much less frequently.
When it comes to women’s health, the judgment against acne is no longer what it was, but even so I’ve realised I can’t live my life for the sake of other people’s judgments. The small minded people don’t matter. I can leave the house without makeup on and feel good in myself because it may not be perfect skin, its well loved and valued skin. That is something 11-year-old me would be proud of.
Be kind to the skin you’re in,