I’ve been inspired lately to write this article on my fight against acne after watching this video (watch it), where a model shows us how to hide her terrible acne with concealor. I’m not being mean, her acne was terrible and in fact, anyone would agree with me that acne of any kind is terrible. Congratulations to her now because that video was filmed back in 2010 and after a whole lot of effort in trying to solve the problem, she’s finally on her way to clear skin! I also got inspired by this blog entry on Temptalia, where a guy called John shares his side of the story in his battle against – you guessed it – acne.
It all started when I was in junior college, when I was about 17. Puberty isn’t friendly to everyone. My skin started being really oily and the worst part about being in such a school in Singapore is that students don’t exactly wear makeup. So everything you have on your face gets blasted to the whole world. The guy you’ve got a crush on? Dang! Hide your face when he gets close.
I suffered from huge cystic acne and also more normal, less serious ones. When I had breakouts, which would be once a month (coinciding with my periods), I would get about five new cystic acne bumps coming out at once, on top of what I already had on my face. It was an accumulation of gross, pus-filled zits every week and they never really got better till months later. Imagine all that redness, yellowness, extreme shine even when lessons had not started in the mornings, and countless scarring. I wish I had some pictures to show you but I don’t have any where you can see my complexion at the time – I never took close up shots. I was too insecure all the time. I would rather stay home than head out with friends and on some days when the problem was worse, I really just wished I could stay in bed all day and not face the world. It was depressing and I didn’t know what to do.
After talking to some friends, I found out that the cleanser I was using wasn’t suited for me. Well well, who knew cleansers had such an effect on your skin? A friend recommended me Clinique’s 3-Step Skin Care and it worked really well. It definitely helped with the oil control and I felt that my skin was thoroughly cleansed each time. When you’ve got overly hyper pores like that, cleansing is really the biggest problem because you don’t want buildup on the skin’s surface. But the acne kept coming back after some time. I then went to the National Skin Center in Singapore and consulted a couple of dermatologists. I got started on oral medication like antibiotics and I was also given topical creams. That helped quite a bit as well but it didn’t completely clear my skin. It seemed like I was going to have to suffer forever and I actually wanted to be a dermatologist like John so that I could solve my own problem in the future. But that would require time, so I went to a private dermatologist and was prescribed more skin care products. That resulted in major, significant improvements and I finally felt a glimmer of hope.
Yet my biggest problem was still there. I still had terribly oily skin and it was not helping my condition. Anyone who’s gone through what I had would know. In any case, it’s also common sense. Acne is caused by the buildup of excess sebum and dead skin cells. So, even though I had all these gels and creams to help me reduce it, I was still not at the root of the problem: my overactive glands. Finally, in late 2009, I decided to try going on birth control pills. It worked like magic. My skin wasn’t oily anymore and after some months, my face finally cleared. I still remained on the topical gels for a bit but now, they’ve all run out and I no longer see a need for them! Hooray!
For all those who are desperately searching, there are products out there that do help with acne and complexion issues. I’ve learnt these along the way and so I would like to share them here because these were what worked for me. However, do take note that these items are only available through a prescription so please do see a doctor or a dermatologist who is legally able to prescribe them to you. These products can be dangerous or have serious side effects which can differ from person to person and may not be suitable for pregnant women, so do seek professional advice.
1) Differin. I know I’ve recently posted an entry about how Differin was making my skin terrible and all but the truth is, I used to actually respond well to it until I was prescribed to try out something else by a dermatologist. It was ever since I tried on this “something else” that my skin is now hypersensitive and Differin (or Adapalene) no longer works for me. But seriously, for those of you who are having acne problems and would like to try a strong, potent gel, Differin could be a good option to reduce those serious bumps in a relatively short time.
2) Retinol. This ingredient can come in a variety of names, like Retin-A or Tretinoin. It’s a great ingredient that helps to exfoliate. It can make your skin dry and flaky but you just have to reduce the dosage. It can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight but for the benefits, like preventing wrinkles and whiteheads (which are what develop into acne if left untreated), it could be worth it.
3) Dalacin T. This can come in various forms like a gel, solution or cream, and also has alternative names like Clindamycin. It works by killing the bacteria that causes acne. For a long time, I used this and it worked without giving me any noticeable side effects. I apply this only on new acne spots. Granted, I don’t think that this product is as strong as Differin but I have to give it credit for preventing my acne from worsening.
There are other ingredients n skin care products that do help as well, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicyclic acid, to name a few. However, if you find that these don’t work for you, you might want to consider seeing a professional to get more one-on-one treatment. There are many skin care brands out there that cater to acne but personally, I don’t quite fancy the idea of trying them out. First of all, they’re not cheap. Second of all, they don’t work for everybody who use them. Thirdly, the doctor doesn’t even know me or has never even diagnosed me, so how can I be so sure that the products will definitely help? Perhaps they have proven effective with his/her patients but I’m not one of them. I prefer prescribed topical creams because I get what I ask for and they don’t contain all the miscellaneous and unnecessary ingredients that some skin care companies add in their products, which sometimes could either aggravate the situation or do nothing to help at all.
At the moment, my skin is finally doing fine but now and then I have to keep check on it. Birth control pills may be a good option for the time being but when the time comes for me to want to have kids, I’ll definitely have to look for an alternative. Oh hormones, what trouble are you!
Image credits: LandMarkGroupMe