my acne journey
Cue the feelings of insecurity and vulnerability-this entire post is going to be an acne journal. I know in the grand scheme of life, struggles with acne seem to be considered superficial and vain. It can't be that bad, right? It's literally just pimples. But, for me, and for the millions of other people who struggle with the pain, mentality, and insecurities that come with acne, it is so much more than that. As acne persists and becomes more noticeable to you, it slowly gains control of your life. It consumes your thoughts and emotions; everything will eventually be centered around the struggles of acne.
Before I start writing out my true emotions, I want to give a full disclaimer and apologize if I make this seem like a bigger deal than it is. I know life is full of disappointment and loss, and I am in no way, shape, or form trying to diminish anyone's feelings. I understand there are harder things to face in life than something like acne; I just wanted to come on here and talk about my struggles because I ultimately created this platform with intentions of being honest, transparent and raw. I hope you can take something away from my honesty and my authenticity; it takes a lot to speak publicly about your insecurities or fractured self image, but at the end of the day, we are all human. I hope you all know that I am aware that life is a lot harder than a mere struggle with acne and blemish control. I just wanted to share these thoughts because I value authenticity, and if I am having a problem with something, I want to bring light to it. Thank you for your understanding.
With acne, the first thing I do every morning is head to the bathroom and pick and prod at what new "friends" popped up overnight. I can't get ready for a night with my friends and put on makeup without it feeling caked on and having skin that looks dried out and dead. There have been times where I have actually felt totally insecure in front of people that love me most, like my family and boyfriend. Acne is an emotional and physical battle that can take a long time to recover from. It is painful and can suck out every last bit of confidence from any individual that suffers from it. I understand that my acne may not be as bad as what others have had to deal with, but I want to point out that everyone's feelings are valid. I wholeheartedly validate the feelings that stem from acne, because I know what it feels like; no matter how severe or how small your acne problems may be, you have the right to feel insecure and self conscious, if need be.
My journey looks much different from other journeys that people might have had with acne. I felt that being honest and talking about my feelings could help some other people out there. My heart goes out to anyone who is currently on an acne journey of their own. If you have never struggled with acne, the feelings I describe might seem overdramatic and "extra." But for those that have faced acne head on, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I know every human being has their own insecurities and feelings of self doubt. Acne has happened to be one of the biggest ones for me, and I just really want to make it more of a normal thing. Growing up in this day and age is difficult because we spend countless hours every day on social media platforms, comparing our daily lives to those who have it all together. I know I probably speak for a ton of people when I say that I follow lifestyle accounts and fitness channels to help me "stay fit in quarantine" or inform me on how to "get clear skin in just one week." However, the reality of these things is just not true. You can't do exercises to target love handles or buy one product, use it for 3 days and wake up with poreless, baby soft skin. The truth is this:
These personal goals that we desire for ourselves- clear skin, a flatter stomach, more toned arms, etc.- won't come without time, patience, persistence, and dedication to the process.
I have learned this the hard way! I have probably tried over 10 skin care regimens. Proactive? Yep. Curology? Been there. Paula's Choice? Yes sir. Exposed Skincare? I've done 'em all. I've even tried smaller, lesser known brands that claimed to be vegan and all natural but literally killed my skin's texture. It wasn't until quarantine started that I noticed a continuous cycle.
You see, I had never once been to a dermatologist because I just self diagnosed myself with seasonal acne- it was never bad, but would flare up during really hot or really cold months, or extremely stressful times. Once a new breakout would come in, I would assume that the regimen I was on wasn't working. *I have no idea who told her this, but young Ashley felt like acne regimens cured acne. So if one didn't work, she'd try another one.* News flash Ash- your skin doesn't like harsh chemicals, so putting more on is just going to upset it.
Once quarantine started, I was in the worst state of acne that I feel I had ever been in. I decided that enough was enough and I was going to treat this once and for all. I called my physician, asked for a referral to a dermatologist, and set up a phone appointment with my new dermatologist. I was a little bummed that I couldn't go in and see her (thanks COVID,) but I uploaded pictures of my skin anyways and had a consultation done. After my dermatologist reviewed my pictures, she prescribed me 3 medications. The most important? Rein-A.
This past Monday marked the start of my 5th week using Retin-A, which is a brand of tretinoin cream. I was prescribed the 0.025% strength, and I have been applying this to my face every night. I went through the dreaded purge stage, which is basically a fancier way to say "your skin freaks out and gets a whole lot worse before it gets better." The purge stage of this medication had its own mental obstacles and challenges, but it seems like my skin is heading towards the tail end of the purge, which makes me so so happy.
I know my skin is far from perfect. I have scars, active flare ups, and breakouts yet to come. But one thing that my journey with acne has taught me is patience. I have learned both patience with myself and patience with the process. I have learned that I must be persistent and dedicated to something , like Retin-A, in order to see the results I desire. I used to beat myself up at night as I scrolled through Instagram and saw girls with clear, poreless skin and wondered why my face was so bumpy, painful, and red. I have tried to stop comparing myself to people I see on social media, because I have no idea what insecurities or challenges they deal with every day. My insecurities are my own, and comparing myself to others only harms my own self image. I know this battle with self love and appreciation is far from over, but every day, I make more and more progress, and that is worth celebrating. I used to be jealous of girls with clear skin. I have slowly shifted to a mindset that allows me to admire other girls beauty without diminishing my own. I used to cover up every flaw with makeup. Now, I embrace the flaws God gave me, give them some extra love in the mornings, and give myself grace.
We are all human. We are all innately beautiful.
Although we all struggle, we are all worthy of love from others.
We are worthy of love from ourselves.
This entire post was all over the place, but I just needed to get those feelings out, and I thought this would be the perfect place to let those go. When I started my journey with Retin-A, I relied on several blogs and YouTube accounts to gain knowledge about the medication and to teach myself tips and how-to's. If this post can serve as another one of those for guys and girls struggling with acne, then I will have done exactly what I wanted to do.
I wanted to give huge thanks to Sarah Perkins, who runs several platforms centered around skincare and acne on YouTube and Instagram. Sarah has provided me with so much guidance and support on my journey and I am so thankful for her!
To anyone who may be struggling with acne or other aspects of self-deprecation- I want you to know that your insecurities are not to be diminished; they are not to be seen as invalid or vain. You are worthy of confidence and self love. Find the path to self acceptance and work towards the finish line. I know it is hard and lengthy, but the reward will be so worth it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you know me personally, you know that I have struggled with the mental battle that comes with acne for far too long. If you are reading this because you came across it and you too are struggling with acne, please feel free to reach out and DM me; I have met so many girls through the "acne world" on Instagram, YouTube, and other blogs. Thank you for being patient with me as I identify my true calling and purpose on this platform. I hope you all find a new way to love yourself and accept your every imperfection. Friendly reminder: your body is beautiful in any shape, size, color, or state they come in.