Does your chin look like a tomato?
Does it hurt to smile or talk? Do you shed a tear when you look in the mirror? Have you still not figured out how the Instagram makeup artists can conceal even the biggest cyst with green concealer stuff?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions then you probably have hormonal acne. And if you’re like me, you may have had it now for a long time. Here you are, reading this blog post. It’s probably midnight and you’re sitting on your bed waiting for your concoction of pimple creams and gels and masks to dry. And you’re googling because somehow if you can find that one article that you haven’t read with that one remedy you haven’t heard of, it gives you something new to try–some new found hope. This isn’t a new remedy, but maybe it’s a new perspective.
I hate watching videos on “HOW TO CURE HORMONAL ACNE- FOR GOOD!” and the person in the video describes their acne as a pimple or two around their period. Like, no. That’s not the hormonal acne we know. I’m talking about a plague of red death on the lower half of your face and maybe even jawline and neck. A plague that just will not go away no matter what witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, Aczone, Differin, Benzoyl Peroxide, salicylic acid you put on that sh*t.
That’s the boat I am in.
My acne history until now:
So when I was in high school, I had a few pimples, nothing really cystic. White heads and black heads that popped up in annoying places like on the end of my nose (hello rudolph) and in the middle of my forehead. Annoying? Sure, but easy enough to deal with. I popped some Clindasol on them and I was fine.
Then I went to university. Anyone who’s been to any kind of post-secondary knows that it’s a stressful time, not to mention a huge time of change in both women and men’s lives. A lot of people meet the loves of their lives in post-secondary, they figure out what they actually want to do with their lives (even if it’s at the very end of your expensive time in university) and they change physically and mentally in ways you don’t understand until you experience it.
University was stressful, and my skin understood that all too well.
I managed to get though my first semester of university with a couple of pimples here and there. And then something happened inside my body. My hormones were like, “Okay team, let’s f**k her skin up bad.” And that’s what happened. I went from not really understanding the struggles of acne, to drowning in these struggles.
And like any good researcher, I went to the internet.
What the internet was telling me to do:
The internet said that the logical steps in the treatment of acne are firstly topical treatments. So I went to the doctor and he gave me Clindasol. Made hardly any difference. So I went back, I was then given Differin. Dried my skin out terribly, but then I read reviews saying, “Duh, wait for your skin to adjust.” My skin never did, even after 6 months.
So I went back again, I was given Aczone. No change in the acne, but Aczone had zero negative side effects for me, so no complaints there.
I also tried Acne.org’s “The Regimen” with no success and lots of dead flaky skin that was literally melting off my face everywhere in my house to show for it.
Yeah, thats a good image…
The next step in acne treatment according to the net, since topical treatments clearly weren’t my thing, is antibiotics. I was prescribed antibiotics–tetracycline to be exact. They work while you’re on them, but as soon as you finish your 8 weeks, a couple of weeks later it was a whole new kind of hell. The acne was back and back with a vengeance.
My acne was like, “You tried to kill me. Not cool man, not cool.” I just made my skin really mad.
Then finally, the internet says BIRTH CONTROL. This seems pretty straight forward.. If your acne is on the lower half of your face and you have a woman’s hormonal system and cycle, it’s probably caused by your hormones. So logically, birth control to regulate your hormones seems like the perfect solution.
Birth control has helped me for sure. I was the happiest pimple face you’ve ever seen when I was finally prescribed Birth Control for acne. It has helped more than anything else I have ever tried. But is it perfect or even great? No. I was on Diane 35 for 2 years from the age of 19-21. At first it was terrible but my acne was so terrible it was just a little slap in the face, not a big slap. Then after about 6 months things were going well. I was back to having less than 5 pimples on my lower half of my face for about 3 weeks of the month. Then it kind of just stopped working. The flood of 20-30 red, large, pulsing cysts came rushing back.
So I went back to the doctor AGAIN. He switched me to LoLo. This is relatively new, about 3 months now so I’ll update on this more as the months go on, but I am now a 22 year old with hormonal acne that has literally become part of my identity.
Some days I feel like I am the girl with hormonal acne, this is my face, accept it, take it in. And then some days I can’t even look in the mirror.
It’s a constant battle between the two.
But what actually helps acne?
The number one thing that helps is: NOT stressing or thinking about the acne on your face. You’re like… OH GREAT HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?!
This is about a) not attacking your self esteem and self love by doing the things you know make you feel ugly or self conscious. And b) not attacking your skin with products and acids and lasers and tweezers and fingers and pimple poppers.
How do you not attack yourself?
- I do not go out without a little bit of concealer or foundation on when I have really terrible acne. If makeup is not your thing, that’s totally fine, it’s just one of the things that make me feel a little more normal. I don’t overthink that people are starring at my acne if I have a little bit of concealer on, so it saves me that stress. Just choose a makeup that isn’t going to make things worse. I use Arbonne foundation.
- I do not intentionally spend longer than I need to in front of a mirror. I do not look at my acne in mirrors. I look at my pretty eyes, my bomb eye lashes, my fab hair. The things that I like about my face.
- I do not spend my nights watching youtube videos on how to cure acne that really only made me feel hopeless and angry.
- I remind myself that the same hormones that are causing this are actually a really fundamental part of who I am and give me power.
- I find good lighting that doesn’t highlight the shadows left by my bumps when I take selfies because yes, that’s important. And yes, you are allowed to like the way you look enough to have 50 pictures in a row on your camera roll of just your face.
- I google pictures of other people with acne. This one sounds straight up weird but here’s the psychology behind this. By looking at pictures of other people with acne it helps me not feel so alone. I see that there are millions of people all across the world who are dealing with what I am dealing with and in many cases, have it worse than I do.
And that’s the thing, acne can be an isolating thing.
It is so tempting when you wake up with a cyst the size of the peach from James and the Giant Peach to be like… Yeah, I’m not leaving my house today. But leave, really, go, leave. Because if you don’t your acne wins in ruining your day and ruining your life.
And how do you not attack your skin?
It is so tempting to put everything on God’s green earth on your skin to MAKE IT STOP! But don’t. Stick to one or two really good things.
I have tried what seems like everything. Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, The Regimen, Oxy Clear, Cetaphil, Cerave, the list could go on and on. But these always dried me up and didn’t contribute to the healing process of the skin. By all means, try everything because then you know what you hate.
But maybe you can learn from all my failed attempts.
My current skincare routine:
I wash my face with Arbonne Clear Future Cleanser. Then I use Arbonne Clear Future Acne Treatment pads. These are great as a toner too for removing extra makeup. And then I go in with my Arbonne Intensive Spot Treatment, (for those big mother f**ckers that won’t leave) wait for that to dry, and finish that baby up with some Arbonne Mattifying Treatment Lotion. This moisturizer gives me a nice matte look which also helps mask appearance of bumps and all around oiliness. Also great for the makeup lovers reading this who like a matte look.
The great thing about Arbonne products compared to products you can find at Walmart is the PH balance. Your skin sits at a natural PH of 5.5 and all Arbonne products do too. This is CRUCIAL when you have acne, because you don’t want one single more irritant to dry and confuse your skin.
I do this routine twice a day. Morning and night. No more, no less, ever. Consistency is key.
Believe it or not, but this simple routine has helped my skin calm down more than anything my doctor prescribed and more than birth control can womanhandle. By not attacking my skin with harsh products, it also allows my acne to heal faster and better.
Do I have scars? Sure I do. Do I still have acne? You bet I do. But it all helps. And you know if you have acne, you’ll do just about anything to help.
So what helps you? What are your tools for not stressing about your hormonal acne? What acne secrets do you have?