Archive for the 'Acne' Category



I was going through some old pictures today and I realized my acne really has gotten a lot better. I’m overall pretty pleased with my appearance (on most days) but my acne has been my nemesis for years. I’ve been battling with my face since Junior year of high school when it really started to take off. My first memorable flareup coincided with a new hairstyle so I thought maybe where my hair fell on my face made the acne show up. I swore off bangs and face-framing layers in an attempt to prevent my hair from touching my face. Luckily, I’ve always left the house with at least one hair-tie around  my wrist so my hair usually gets put back in a pony anyway, eliminating the need for any nice hairstyle all together. My complete lack of fashion and hairstyling skills is a topic for another day.

Much to my disappointment, my hair was not the cause of my acne. So my next plan of attack was face washes. Tons. Of. Face washes. I’ve probably tried every kind of product available. Generic vs name brand. Cleansers vs exfoliaters. Salicylic vs Benzoyl. You get the picture. My favorite one was Clean&Clear Oxygenating Fizzing Cleanser. Brought to the market around the summer of 2006. It didn’t completely clear up my face, but it definitely kept the flare-ups at bay. I loved it so much I asked for it for Christmas that year and Santa brought me 2 bottles. Sadly, once my bottles ran dry, I could no longer find it on the shelves. I’m pretty sure Clean&Clear replaced it with the Morning Burst line. If anyone sees my long-lost-acne-fighting-friend in the store, please let me know. And the oxygenating scrub does not work the same.

So there I was, standing in the facial cleanser aisle, deciding what my next weapon should be. This day was probably the start of my really bad habit of buying too many face washes. A habit that I think I have passed on to my younger brother. A habit that has also transcended into Shampoo. I’m trying to cut back on both. Right now I have 3 bottles of face wash (and two moisturizers) and 4 bottles of shampoo/conditioner in my shower along with 2 bottles of shampoo/conditioner waiting for when one runs out. Significant improvement considering I threw away 10 bottles of expired face wash last year. When I go to the store, I have to stay clear of the face product aisle because I will more than likely see something new, something on sale, or just something that smells good and I’ll have to get it.

Since I felt like my acne wasn’t getting better, it was just saying the same. I decided I wanted to see a dermatologist. That was weird. He spent 5 minutes touching my face and looking down my shirt and asking if I had any moles or searching for bacne or something. Then he prescribed two things. One was something with Benzoyl peroxide and the other was Differin gel. The idea was I would use the Differin in the morning and the Benzoyl one at night. I used it how I was supposed to for a while but it wasn’t really helping either. And the Benzoyl peroxide bleached my pillowcases. Bye-bye prescriptions!

Around this time, I started college. That’s when the battle really started to heat up. By this time I was so used to not spending a lot of time looking at my face, I had no idea how bad it was until I looked at those pictures I was telling you about earlier. I stuck with the face wash thing for a while and found a new favorite. I don’t remember the name anymore, but it came with a night/day thing and made your face feel so refreshed after using it. They probably don’t carry it anymore either.

I was in the dark about my face situation until I came home one time and I was wrestling with my brother and he said something like “I don’t want to touch your face because it’s bumpy”. Bumpy? That’s what every girl dreams of hearing about her face! I decided to check it out. and Ew. It really WAS bumpy. I wanted to go see another doctor. Wouldn’t you know it! My primary doctor had just got some credentials to prescribe face stuff or laser treatment or something. He waltzed in the door and asked how I was doing. When I replied I was good, he took my face in his hands and shook my head and said “you are not good”. That’s right. HE took MY face in HIS hands and HE shook MY head. Ever since then, I dread seeing my doctor. He looked at my face with a bright light under a microscope and he prescribed me something else. Something that had to be refrigerated. It didn’t work either and it bleached my other pillowcases AND a new Gators shirt. You think I would have learned by this time.

The next idea was to go the herbal route. I think this was more of a spur of the moment kind of thing and it wasn’t very thought out or well executed. My mom and I went down to the herbal store and talked to a sales associate who explained the best way to fight acne was to do it from the inside out. He went down the line and picked up vitamins and syrups and supplements and like fools, we purchased them all. The vitamins were easy enough to use. I took 3 different ones a day along with my regular face washing routine. However, there are still herbal things that I never opened because, well, they kind of grossed me out a little. My apologies to my mom, but the acne won that fight.

As time went on, the war seemed to be winding down and you could actually see where the enemies had fallen. They left nice little pockmarks all over my cheeks. My next step was logically peels that claimed to reduce the appearance of scars, Mederma, and Bio-oil. Bio-oil helped with the redness and the peels helped clean my face, but nothing was really getting rid of the scars. I was about to give up on my 6 year fight when my mom told me she met a new plastic surgeon that was giving out free consultations. It took a little convincing but I figured I would give it a shot. It was free after all.

The doctor was very nice and explained my condition to me very thoroughly. He said I had two things going on. One I can’t remember the name but it was basically the redness on my cheeks, nose, and chin. The other was “ice-pick acne”. He started with the ice-pick acne and said the only treatment was surgery. He said I would be under anesthesia and he would take a scalpel and cut down the middle of the scar and then stitch it back together. He also didn’t recommend it because I had way too many and instead of having acne scars, I would just have surgery scars. He said, “I would say go for it if you only had one, but you have eleven, twelve, thirteen, fifteen on your one cheek alone.” He said I could try the chemical peels but they take off a thin layer of skin and there is a chance of more redness and more scaring. I was fine with this prognosis. Ice-pick acne makes me sound more BA. Like all good doctors are taught, he followed with the good news. The redness could be treated with a simple cream! A skin bleaching cream applied to the affected area once daily. However, once I stopped using the cream, the redness would come back. He wrote me a script and I got it filled. Now, whenever I apply the cream, I think Michael Jackson, RIP.

So that’s where I stand now. I’m using my face washes and moisturizers consistently and then apply my skin bleaching cream at night. I try to keep from touching my face as much as possible and I avoid haircuts that leave strands in my face. I drink plenty of water and try to keep my stress at a minimum. Birth control really does help keep the monthly breakouts at bay and makeup does wonder for evening out my complexion. I refrained from using makeup before because I didn’t want to do anything to anger the acne. I’m still not so good with the make-up application but I’ve started using it regularly. Sometimes I wonder if my appearance is going to prevent me from getting a job so I try my best to make my face look as good as it can when I go on interviews. No amount of makeup can hide the ice-pick scars though, but at least the redness isn’t there to draw your eyes right to them.

Evolution of Acne

Started out innocent enough…

I didn’t have a digital camera in high school so I don’t have a picture of the first flare up. This is from the beginning of freshman year of college.

This was around finals time. Starting to deploy more men.

And then sometime after this is when it started to get out of control. It’s hard to say if it was because I didn’t follow through on my regiments, it was a hormonal thing, or just a coincidence. Chicken or egg.

You can really see it in those pictures. I think there’s even some ice pick acne scars showing up in the third one. Not really sure on the dates with these pictures but they were all taken at some point between January 2006 and August 2008.

I guess at some point between graduating and starting grad school, my acne decided to take a break. I still felt it was a BIG problem though just because it had been for so long. And I may be vain.

This was me Fall semester 2009.

This was me today. Not really a fair comparison because the lighting is different. I still have some red but at least the bumpies are gone.


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