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Dealing with acne is hard. As a teenager it’s tough. As an adult, it’s still tough. I don’t mean just dealing with it physically, but emotionally as well. If you suffered from significant acne, I’m sure you understand how it feels.
Sure, social media and the internet have made it easier for people to connect and talk about acne. It’s less taboo than it used to be. But it still doesn’t erase the fact that acne can be very damaging to one’s self-confidence inside and out. It doesn’t change the fact that people can be judgemental and insensitive when it comes to acne.
My Struggles With Acne Over the Years
I’ve dealt with acne for over 15 years. I started breaking out around age 16, and I still deal with acne as an adult. My acne was more severe than that of those around me so I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, being antisocial, and just feeling unattractive.
Over the years, I felt like acne held me back in many aspects of my life. I would decline to hang out with friends if I had a bad breakout and make up some lame excuse about needing to study. If my friend wanted me to talk to a guy, I let him think I wasn’t interested because I didn’t want to show my face. I never let my roommates see me without makeup on, even when I went to sleep.
Planning my days around my skin became the norm. I would plan time to go to the bathroom between classes to blot my oily face and reapply concealer. I wouldn’t go out with my friends last minute because that meant I didn’t have time to go home, wash my face, and spend an hour reapplying concealer. Honestly, my friends probably thought I was a weirdo because I didn’t tell them my behavior was a result of my acne. None of them had as terrible skin as I did, so I didn’t think they could relate. I just tried to be as happy as I could, but deep down I felt depressed about my situation.
Trying to Get Rid of My Acne
My acne was probably at its worst in college. I would get large, painful nodules that would last for weeks and my skin was extremely oily. Because my skin is prone to hyperpigmentation, I got dark spots or scars that would last for several months. Sometimes the nodules would form on my nose, leaving me with big red bumps that made me feel like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s pretty hard to hide that! I would cake on so much foundation to hide my bumps that my face always looked like a ghost in flash photos. I hated taking pictures for this reason.
I obsessively read makeup forums to try and find concealer and foundation that wouldn’t make me break out more. I spent all I could afford on all sorts of remedies, but nothing really worked. Because I didn’t have much money, fancy in-office laser treatments, injections, or peels were out of the question. Doctors prescribed me creams and antibiotic pills but that didn’t help either. I felt hopeless.
Side note: If you’d like to check out some great moisturizers for oily and acne-prone skin, check out my post here.
Finally, in my mid-20s, I saw a dermatologist who put me on Accutane. I was surprised because I thought Accutane was only reserved for people with really severe cystic acne. Accutane also scared me because it’s such a strong medication. My derm assured me that I’d only take a low dose to minimize the chance of side effects and that she would monitor me for any adverse effects.
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Getting My Confidence Back
My skin cleared up phenomenally after taking Accutane for a few months. My skin looked almost perfect. For the first time since I was 16, I was able to leave the house without makeup on. I can’t tell you how amazing that felt.
After stopping Accutane, my skin remained clear for a few years. I had so much appreciation for my clear skin. I felt a confidence that I never had before. I could look people in the eyes again when we talked. I didn’t have to be embarrassed by someone lecturing me about not eating greasy food because they thought it would break me out. Putting on makeup only took a few minutes now! My life changed significantly for the better.
Bonding Over Acne
I met my now fiance sometime after I took Accutane and my skin was still clear. After we started dating for a little while, my acne started to return. I confessed to my fiance that my acne used to be a lot worse.
As it turned out, he struggled a lot with acne at a younger age too. We talked about how we were made fun of, how people around us didn’t understand our situation, and how our experiences shaped us as people. This really brought us closer together and helped us relate to each other more deeply.
He’d joke, “You probably wouldn’t be dating me if it weren’t for my acne! If I didn’t have acne at a younger age, I would probably be overly confident and you’d think I was cocky!” He had a point. He is one of the nicest, most humble people I’ve met. I know he attributes some of his wonderful personality traits to having acne at a young age, and I believe it.
If it weren’t for acne, we wouldn’t be the people we are today. And if we weren’t the people we are today, we may never have gotten together!
How Acne Made Me a Better Person
I think having acne at an early age really taught me to be grounded and down to earth. Though it took me a while to build my self-confidence back up, I am still thankful for the experience. I learned to be humble about my looks and how to accept compliments with humility. I figured out how to feel confident inside even when I don’t feel so confident outside. I learned not to get caught up in looks and to appreciate someone’s true inner beauty.
I also feel a sense of empathy when I see someone else struggling with acne, especially a younger person because I know how deeply that can affect someone at that age. If I can, I try to engage them and be extra friendly towards them. Or even try to give them a compliment. Hopefully, they don’t feel as negatively about their acne as I did. I just hope that one day they will be a better person for it.
So yes, I can say having acne has definitely taught me a few life lessons. I try to remember that no matter who you meet, each person has their own struggles. Even if it’s not obvious on the surface. So be kind to each other and try to be understanding when someone is having a bad day!
Have you dealt with bad acne or other skin conditions? How did it affect you as a person, and what did you learn from your experience? I would love to hear your stories! Leave a comment or contact me!