My ridiculous acne: what helped, what didn’t, what it’s like now

I used to have miserable acne, and still do have breakouts, usually during my breakdown points of the school year. I wish I had some before pictures to show you to contrast with how my skin is now, but I have very few pictures of myself from 5th to 11th grade because I was so embarrassed of my acne, and the internet does not need to get its hands on that! 

In brief, what didn’t help:

  • ProActive. It helped for awhile until it completely dried out and destroyed my combination skin!
  • Stress. This is a no-brainer, I think. Stress aggravates hormonal acne like nothing else.
  • Puberty, periods, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Again, all of the above messed (and continue to mess) with my hormones. 
  • Neutrogena, Clean and Clear, and every other super drying drugstore acne product out there.
  • Seeing my family doctor. I would get put on antibiotics that would help for a bit, but the acne would come back immediately after I ended the prescription. She also insisted all I needed to use was Dove soap, and bless her heart for trying, but that wreaked havoc on my skin. 
  • Not moisturizing! I thought that because my skin was so oily, that I didn’t need to moisturize. In reality, my skin was beyond dehydrated from all of the acne treatments and was overproducing oil to try and compensate.

What did help:

  • Getting ahold of my stress levels as best as I could. Once I started journaling, seeing a counsellor, getting massages at the spa I work at, walking more, and cutting out negative commitments in my life, I was much less stressed. 
  • Staying hydrated. People always flip flop back and forth between saying water helps and water does nothing. For me, my whole body feels like crap when I don’t get enough water. Drinking a decent amount of water each day helped.
  • Changing my pillow cases every week or two. I used to neeevvverrrrr change my bed sheets and pillow cases because I hated doing laundry and I didn’t know how to adult. Now I do my best to change my pillow cases every week, so I’m rubbing my face in fewer germs and less drool each night. 
  • Aloe Vera! I religiously used aloe vera for a few months and it helped immensely. I would wash my face, dab on some liquid aloe vera (that I think was actually meant for smoothies but yolo) and then wash it off after a few minutes in the shower. 
  • Hydrating my skin. Hydrating my skin has so much to balance out oil production. My skin used to feel like an oil slick, yet somehow itchy underneath the oil slick. That itchy discomfort for me is a sign that I need more hydration. My favourite moisturizers for my combo skin are Moisturizing Factors + HA by The Ordinary and Tatcha’s Water Cream. They’re hefty enough to deliver what I need but don’t feel creamy, oily, or heavy.
  • Getting older. I’m fairly sure growing up and growing out of it helped a bit too. 
  • Controlling what touches my face. I broke my habits of touching my face to some degree, and started sanitizing items like my phone and glasses, which often touch my face, a lot more. 
  • Gel cleansers, gentle toners, and serums. The Ordinary’s Niacinamide (dear god I hope I spelled that right) and Touche’s Oxygen Serum are still my go to’s.

Currently my skin is in a place where I am happy with it. It doesn’t physically hurt, like my acne used to, and I feel confident. I do have a lot of acne scarring and deep blackheads, and that’s what I’m hoping to treat next, as well as keeping the breakouts away during school year stress. I just watched Gothamista’s new video on the impact of green tea and spearmint tea on androgens and hormonal acne, so I’m going to try and make tea a more regular occurrence! I’m still doing my own little research on reducing acne scarring. It sounds like there are many products out there, as well as the option of microdermabrasion, so I’m sure I’ll find something that works for me. 

How have y’all coped with acne, or embraced your acne? Any tips for acne scars? 

Cheers ❤️

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