Acne is a funny old thing. It just sort of happens and there isn’t much you can do about it. Okay, okay, there are different types of creams and oral medications, but what happens when you’ve tried all of them and each time it has failed?
My own skin journey has been tough, but you start to realise how it resembles the story of others. I began noticing spots around the time I was 13, but I dismissed the odd yellow puss filled bump as being a teenager. As I got to 15, I realised my spots weren’t like my friends spots, they were bumpy and sore, and I found covering them with make-up difficult to do.
When I turned 16 I had had enough. I began using Benzyl Peroxide, a medicated cream that kills bacteria on the face and helps to shed and remove dead skin blocking pores. My skin never got on with this and it never worked, even though I used it for years enduring dry skin and my acne getting worse. The only cream that worked which included Benzyl Peroxide was a brand that has been discontinued. I had clear skin throughout using it. I really, quite stupidly, thought my skin had cleared up for good.
I really, quite stupidly, thought my skin had cleared up for good
The day I stopped using Benzyl Peroxide my skin erupted and I had the worst acne of my life. I got put onto Isotretinoin, a strong medication given via the dermatology department in a hospital. It is a controversial drug, and it was my third time on it. Each time it cleared my skin, and I was on top of the world. But after a year, without fail, I would start noticing acne again, little by little each month.
I am now at the point in my life where most of my acne is concentrated around that time of the month. Hormones make my skin go out of control, and there is no skincare routine that will stop the mad breakouts. Sometimes I feel so alone with this issue, especially as an adult, but I have to remember that a large portion of us are going through the same thing.
I’ve realised that my skin will never be clear, and this lockdown has shown me that all make-up does is mask it – to a degree – and that my acne is apart of who I am. I’ve met a partner who literally does not care whether my skin is doing well or if I’m having a bad day with it. It also doesn’t actually define my existence. My sister once said something similar to me, and it goes through my head when I’m feeling my worst.
Medicated creams and tablets are old news for me now. Some people have brilliant success with them, but unfortunately, I have not. I could just sit here and feel sorry for myself, but actually understanding that perfect skin isn’t necessarily clear skin, is somewhat empowering.
If there is one thing I want you to take from this, it’s that just because you have acne, it doesn’t mean you will never have your own definition of what ‘perfect’ skin is. For me, having spots will most likely always be a thing, but it does not mean you’re on a road to clear skin. Clear skin is rare, and most of the time it is Photoshopped. So go on, embrace your natural beauty!
Model photography by Sharon McCutcheon