The Acne Chronicles

I have the “fortune” of being one of the few adult women, or only woman, amongst my former school and work-place friends, to have  acne-prone skin.  The one or two individuals, who don’t experience perfectly clear skin, get the occasional small, flesh-toned, or red bump, but these are infrequent.  That means, I have the great fortune of trying to explain to friends and co-workers why I break out so often.  Some of these folks barely wash their face once a day with soap, never having experienced a blemish in their life.  Many just do not understand that it’s not a problem that can be fixed with the snap of your fingers.  If you are acne-prone, it means that you will likely be struggling to keep your skin clear for the rest of your life.  Even when I have my periods of clear skin, I still have to actively treat my skin to keep it that way.  It is round the clock surveillance and anti-acne bombardment.

Some people get a very specific type of facial acne.  I have the great luck of being prone to ALL of them.  You name it, I have had it.  Not only do I get ALL kinds of facial acne, I have multiple triggers.  Excess oil, irritation, certain ingredients, stress, weight gain, lack of sleep, anger, bad diet, and hormonal shifts all give me acne.

This is where you learn that skin is the largest organ in human beings.  Skin actively reflects the health of your body and mind.  Normal, clear skin is actually incredibly resistant to fluctations that would disturb its equilibrium.  Acne-prone skin, on the otherhand, is incredibly sensitive and reactive.  I have to walk an emotional, physical and nutritional tightrope to keep it even.  But you can’t always keep things balanced, no matter how hard you try.  Sometimes, you have to work 12 hour days for several weeks at a time, where you don’t sleep 8 hours and can’t exercise.  Nine months ago, I was averaging five hours of sleep, while working 6 to 7 days a week.  Sometimes, you are in an unhealthy office environment.  It happens.  You can be as positive as you want, and try to let it roll of your shoulder, but the negativity will affect you eventually.

Since I have experienced acne since I was in the 7th grade, I have two decades worth of experience combatting the “life stages” of acne on my skin.  I know the difference between “adolescent” acne and “college” acne.  I know the difference between “I need to chill out” acne, and “dammit what that hell is going on with my hormones” acne (the worst and hardest to get rid of).

On the flipside, I am also incredibly fortunate, despite being so acne-prone, because I do not scar.  Once I get rid of the blemish, and the hyperpigmentation mark, my skin is perfectly clear, scarless.  Every couple of weeks, I can maintain clear skin for a few weeks at a time, and no one would be the wiser, that I had ever had an acne problem.  The few scars I have are self-inflicted from extreme anti-acne methods that were downright unsafe for me to have done.  They serve as miniscule reminders.  The other benefit to being so oily is that I have nary a wrinkle.  People easily confuse me for being in my mid-twenties.

Despite, my extreme diligence with anti-acne methods, I actually have mellowed out.  When I was a teen I couldn’t bear to have anyone, anywhere near my face when it was broken out.  Now, I am just like, “whatever, I broke out, let me slap on some concealer, and let them get over it, because I am over it and go about my day.”  But this does not mean that it does not cloud my day because it does, it is an annoyance, that time and experience have dulled.  It’s not like I am all gung ho about meeting new people when my skin is especially broken out.

On the otherhand, I have become the skincare guru amongst my friends, family and co-workers.  I have literally tried hundreds of skincare products for all the stages of my skin.  Fortunately, I enjoy the handling of this “tribulation” as I sleuth my way to the cause and to the best products for handling.

All in all, things could be worse.  I get a kick knowing I can out recommend any Sephora, or beauty counter, consultant for most major and boutique brands, and go toe-to-toe with skilled aestheticians.   A true kick indeed.



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