As I sit here beginning to reflect on my life with acne, I feel sad and defeated realizing just how long it’s been. I was twelve when I first started getting acne. It was then that I started covering it up with heavy makeup. It’s crazy to think that I have been hiding my face for over a decade now (I’m 27). Crazy isn’t the right word, actually. To be honest, it’s downright depressing. For most of my life, I have wanted so bad to take the veil off, to let my face feel the freshness of the wind and experience the freedom of not needing to hide a part of myself.
Unfortunately, when I have let my face be free of foundation in the past, I have been criticized. When I started my first job when I was fourteen, my manager took it upon himself to purchase me a box of Proactive. I knew he was trying to help, but it only made me feel self-conscious and defective. I went home and cried and never went back. At a different job a year later, I upset a customer and he referred to me in his complaint as the ‘girl with the skin problems’. Regardless that I knew he was upset and confused, it further chipped away at my self-esteem and dignity.
I felt increasingly helpless to change my situation. My mother, who was an esthetician, did everything she could to help, namely, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and extractions, but these were harsh for my sensitive skin. I remember crying when I tried the chemical peel. I felt like I needed to keep it on even though it was severely burning me. I was desperate.
Since nothing she did seemed to help, my mother took me to the doctor and the doctor prescribed me tetracycline. This worked for a while, but at the time, I was fifteen years old, and I struggled with the responsibility of taking a pill consistently. As a result, I never experienced the full benefits. So, we went to the last resort – Accutane. It is scary to me now knowing how harsh this medicine is for the body and knowing that I took it when I was young and developing. But I did it. I felt I had no choice because it was bad enough going through all the normal struggles of being a teenager, let alone having to do it with a face full of acne. I hoped that Accutane would be the solution I was craving.
I went through several months of treatment and experienced some of the embarrassing and difficult side effects of the medication, including peeling lips, mood swings, and depression. I hoped that it would all be worth it in the end. Luckily, it seemed to be. My skin became clearer than ever. I finally was able to take my makeup off for the first time in years. I felt confident, without the need to hide. I had clear skin for a couple of years with only minor breakouts. But eventually, these minor breakouts became major.