The struggles of living with acne

The emotional toll acne can take and how to dampen it

Courtesy+of+Lush+Cosmetics+North+America%27s+official+Facebook+page

Courtesy of Lush Cosmetics North America's official Facebook page

By Rionagh Douglas, Collegian Correspondent

I’ve been struggling with acne badly for three years now, since I was 18. It has become a big part of my life, and to some extent, I can’t imagine not having acne. I had spots as a teenager, annoying breakouts, yet it wasn’t until I hit adulthood that my acne took a turn for the worse. My lifestyle hadn’t changed. I seemed to just wake up one day with it, and over the weeks it progressed for the worse. It was most prominent around my jawline and chin, partly on my cheeks, but never on my forehead. I would come to realise that it was hormonal acne that was the culprit.

Since I was about 12 years old, I’ve been obsessed with skincare and so I thought I’d have it under control. But after weeks, months and years of trying and failing with products, I knew it was a bigger problem than just my lifestyle and what I put on my face. Having no results with products is undoubtedly draining, and it is no lie that acne can take an emotional toll on you.

When it comes to possible acne solutions, I’ve tried them all. For a while, Google presented itself to be my best friend for my endless questions regarding “how to cure acne.” I watched YouTube videos, read articles, scoured websites and absorbed everything there was to possibly know about acne. Some experiments I tried from the internet were using apple cider vinegar and water as a toner and using nothing but cold creams to take my makeup off. The apple cider vinegar and water toner had no effect on my acne and only ended up irritating my skin further and the cold creams, which was the “natural” remedy everyone swore by, had no lasting results for me either.

One thing that I learned about acne is that it comes from excess oil clogging your pores, and in an effort to counteract this, I stopped using moisturiser. This was a mistake though, as in stripping your skin of oils, your face will most likely end up producing more oil – most people with acne actually have dehydrated skin. When I learned this, I went on a shopping trip, loading up on face oils and serums. Again, this didn’t work, but it did make my skin softer and more full of life.

I’ve also had many trips to the doctors and tried various prescriptions pills. Birth control is also a popular choice for people struggling with their acne as a result of hormonal imbalance, but this is a choice which should be discussed.

With my experience, I have found methods that haven’t so much cured my acne, but that have helped prevent excess breakouts. Sleep is incredibly important for your body’s healing process, and for me personally, I have found a strong correlation between a bad night’s sleep and new spots. Taking your makeup off is also essential. Keeping face makeup on overnight will clog your pores, and this in turn, will also cause new spots to form. Also, be aware of your diet. Certain intolerances to food, such as dairy or gluten, can show up through the form of acne. As for face masks, I have found that clay face masks, in particular the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask, helps to dry out my spots and heal them quicker. I know it seems tempting but loading too many products onto your skin will most likely just irritate it. Stick to a simple skincare routine that works for you.

In terms of products that help acne, it is hard to say, as products react differently for everyone. A cleanser that saved someone’s skin might trigger acne for the next person. A cleanser that I found to be extremely gentle and work for many of my friends’ skin is the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser. This comes equipped with a muslin cloth, which you soak in hot water to remove the cleanser, and I find my skin is never irritated when using it. LUSH cleansers are a popular favorite as well, due to their natural ingredients and friendliness toward sensitive skin. Again, my skin has never opposed them. I use the Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub once a week, and I find this helps to reduce redness and heal my spots much quicker too.

Acne is hard to navigate, and it is a different experience for everyone. If you are finding you’ve experimented with hundreds of products that just aren’t working, then it is worth heading to your doctor. Understanding what may be triggering it and finding an appropriate solution will really help. Acne is so common, yet it can seem at times that you’re the only one facing this struggle. It is something that I think about every single day, and it is easy to envy those who roll out of bed and don’t stare at their skin in a mirror and despair. However, acne doesn’t define you, your personality or your intelligence. It can be painful and emotionally draining, but it won’t stop you from achieving anything you set your mind to. Of course, I will say embrace it, but I know that is easier said than done. If wearing makeup and covering up your acne helps you to feel more confident, that’s great. You shouldn’t feel ashamed in having acne or in covering it up. But remember, no one cares about your spots as much as you, everyone’s probably too busy worrying about themselves.

Rionagh Douglas can be reached at [email protected]