My name is Kaye. I’m 31 years old. Do you see that picture above? That was taken yesterday. Did I mention I am 31? I have been battling with acne on and off for 14 years. My biggest fear, is that I will be 80 years old and still suffering from bad skin. The truth is, underneath all the makeup, I’ve been hiding 14 years of struggles.
I firmly believe that my acne is tied to two equally important things: internal factors and external factors. I’ve learnt to listen to my body over the years, taking note of what triggers it. Obviously taking care of my skin (external), paves the path to a better complexion. Unfortunately for me though, it seems the internal factors steer this pimply-ship far beyond the reach of diet and healthy lifestyle choices. These things help a little, but alone, are never enough.
The sad reality is without some form of aggressive (or expensive) treatment to compliment my routine, my skin is never clear. I’ve become a slave to chemicals and manufactured products and I’m so tired of it.
I wanted to share my story purely for those who are in the same boat. The pimple-boat. Sometimes it’s nice to see and hear it from others and know you are not alone. Because when you suffer from acne, it doesn’t just affect how you look – it becomes your whole life.
Below: a carefully ‘filtered’ version of the truth.
I am oily/combo. I’ve always had broken capillaries, which have worsened over the years of harsh skin treatments. You may have read about my pigmentation. I’ve also tried just about everything known to man: Natural/organic, anti-acne, normal, sensitive, oily/combo, scrubs, masks, peels, diets, pills, environmental changes, twirling around in one spot and even nothing at all (including no makeup).
1995 – 1999 (13 to 17 yo)
Ahhh, if only I could turn back the clock to this point in time. My skin was clear and blemish free for my entire high school years. While everyone else was hitting their awkward pimple phase, I didn’t even know what ‘skincare’ meant. The concept of cleansing, toning and protecting my skin was unknown to me.
My mother was adamant about taking care of her skin. But I wasn’t even remotely interested. I remember being asked at the time by an older friend, what I did for my skin to keep it so clear? Truthfully I didn’t know how to answer that because, well, I didn’t do anything.
2000 – ONWARDS (18 yo+)
Now it was my turn. Hello pimples, nice to finally see you. And by that I’m kidding. Everyone I knew was over their teenage acne and moving on to bigger and better things. Me, I had only just begun. And my confidence plummeted. I was ashamed of how I looked.
I started to use the Clinique three-step system, then bounced around trying different brands. All the while my acne came and went, regardless of what I tried. This was the point in my life I figured out supermarket products just weren’t making the cut. Around the year 2000, product choices weren’t as generous as they are now.
Serious breakouts also meant the beginning of my issues with scarring. Yes, we were all warned not to squeeze pimples but I didn’t listen. So I was left with uneven, blotchy skin. Lucky for me I was all grown up now and earnt my own money – I started buying makeup to cover it all up. After that, I only ever felt confident with a face full of makeup.
SOMEWHERE IN MY MID 20′s
I was still suffering from recurrent acne. I couldn’t believe I was dealing with terrible skin! It was so crushing. I felt like I was the only mid 20-year-old with horrible skin in the whole world. Around this time I also noticed the Proactiv commercials, ordered it, and for the first time in years my skin became clear and beautiful! It felt so good to feel like my skin was acting its age. Oooh happy days!!
The down side was, I truly hated using Proactiv. The cleanser was so abrasive and rough I actually dreaded washing my face morning and night. It was the absolute opposite of relaxing. The smell of the toner was awful to me. And of course the treatment cream/gel felt uncomfortable to apply. It dried my skin terribly, but I stuck with it. Because it was the only thing that worked.
As much as I hated Proactiv, I do wish I’d discovered it sooner. But by the time it worked wonders for me, I’d already damaged my skin by aggressively popping my pimples (gross), years before.
2007 (25 yo)
One day, I had the genius idea to get microdermabrasion to finally fix all the acne scarring. At my consultation I was persuaded into substituting microdermabrasion for gentler enzyme peel treatments and a new skincare regimen, “because Proactiv is TERRIBLE for you”.
I dropped $740 (no joke) that day on Danne Montague King products without breaking a sweat. And that wasn’t including the treatments which were ongoing and expensive. I wanted nice skin, damn it! I felt like I deserved it after all these years. All I wanted was to look like everyone else. Was that too much to ask?
The great news was it worked like a charm. Beautiful skin was mine once again and all was right in the world. Hazaah! That lasted about 6 months until I started to feel awful for having spent so much $$$ on my skin. I could see a breaking point coming – there was no way I could afford to keep up with these products. And there was no way I could secretly use Proactiv and keep my appointments, the beautician would know!
So I went back to Proactiv and stopped my appointments.
2010 (28 yo)
This is where my quest took a very bad turn. Proactiv eventually stopped working for me. I was desperate, so I turned to the contraceptive pill – Dianne – to clear it up. And wonderfully so, my skin looked amazing again! I was beyond happy, I can’t even describe to you how great it felt. No matter how I treated my skin, what I ate, what products I used, nothing would happen – no breakouts! Thank you god.
Little did I know that one quick switch of pill brand from Dianne to something else, would lead to me discovering I am predisposed to develop blood clots (‘for reasons yet unknown’, according to my hemo). The pill was not the catalyst, but played its part none the less: I landed myself in hospital with an extensive blood clot (DVT) in one leg and bilateral pulmonary embolisms’ (PE) in my lungs. Whew, fun times.
What followed was two years of blood thinners, stress and severe panic attacks. The toll it took on my skin was nothing like I had ever experienced, and I had nothing to fix it. Taking the pill was out of the question and Proactiv sucked at this point. From top to bottom my face felt like a Helen Keller novel. My self esteem hit rock bottom. I was broken on the inside and out: blood clots and ugly skin.
2012 – PRESENT (30 yo+)
My last-ditch effort was prescription acne treatments. I turned down the option for oral antibiotics and went with topical instead. I tried Clindatech (didn’t mind this, it worked really well), and another I wasn’t a fan of. The downside to these was the limited shelf life. After three months, they weren’t usable anymore. It was a quick high of perfect skin, followed by a low of returning back to breakouts.
And let’s face it, these treatments had taken their own toll on my skin after all these years. I felt like I was forced to choose between adult acne, and over-treated skin. It was a no-win.
Fast forward to the present and where am I? Well, as you can see I’m at a bit of a stale mate with my skin. But I haven’t given up, despite all this. I still believe there is something I can do, I just have to find the magic key.
In recent years I’ve really taken a ‘inside-out’ approach, and tried to correct my diet and acne triggers before they appear. Proactive, not reactive. It’s been hit and miss but I won’t give up. I have to keep trying. Who knows, maybe by the time I am 80 it won’t matter anymore ;)
Thank you, for reading my story.