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Struggling with Acne in a Foreign Country

February 24, 2017

By: Maryam

In the winter of 2014, I embarked on a journey of a lifetime. My mother hadn’t seen my grandmother in over 30 years. We took a trip across the world to see her, in Afghanistan. I vowed to myself that I would take this opportunity visiting rural Lash-Kar-Gah, Afghanistan, (where I was even forbidden to show my face in public!) to simply tear the band-aid off, and abandon my makeup ritual in the hopes that my acne inflamed skin would drink up the break and build itself back to normal.

Boy, was I wrong! I’m not sure if my skin developed a dependence on makeup? Perhaps it was the dust in the air? Perhaps it was a lack of a proper faucet and clean, hot water? Maybe a lack of soap to wash my hands? Or was it the stress of all of the above? One thing for sure was that, without makeup, I was breaking out more than ever. I was living in dire, third world circumstances to visit my grandmother and I had given up much of what I take for granted. However, I splashed my face every morning with barely damp hands, applied sunscreen, and still, felt my skin grow worse throughout the days.

It was especially bad because of the Afghans around me, accustomed to this lifestyle, had perfect skin. They pointed out my marks and asked why? They suggested old remedies. I couldn’t make them understand that my acne wouldn’t change even though I had western resources they hadn’t even dreamt of. I thought my skin and I were doomed.

What I realize now back in my homeland Canada, was that I probably had a dependence on makeup. So in my case, even though it seemed counter-intuitive, wearing makeup probably wasn’t as bad as not wearing makeup. You see, makeup can act somewhat as a barrier against dust and against your skin creating more oil to fill up your pores. I have worn makeup for years and it seems as though my body takes it for granted, and has been trained not to create more oil than necessary because of makeup coating my skin. The foundation acts as a preventative for many pimples, though unfortunately not as a cure.

I think a better way to stop wearing makeup is to do so gradually so that it doesn’t come as such a shock to your skin. That way, when the day comes when you decide to bare all and sport a fully nude face, your skin won’t need to create excess oil to make up for the foundation and concealer you’re lacking. Be easy on your skin! Even though you might find yourself on vacation, it definitely still has a mind of its own.

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