Not a fun post to write, but a necessary one! I hope that by writing about my previous experiences with various skincare that I’ll be able to help someone out. Trust me when I say that my skin has gone through a lot! From Accutane to topical creams to the “Caveman Regimen”, I’ve tried everything. This is my skin story on the history of my skin and it’s current temperament. ?
For as long as I can remember, my teenage years were terrible in terms of my skin. It all started when I started “taking care” of my face as a pre-teen which consisted of rubbing the shit out of my face with St. Ives Apricot Scrub because I thought it would help with my acne. (Looking back, I’m thinking WTF?) In middle school, I started taking regular care of my face and being much more gentle with my skincare regimen. I remember coming home so flustered and concerned about my breakouts and oily face (serious oil slick city!) that my mom took me to the department store to use fancier products recommended by others. I used the Shiseido Pureness line and it worked nicely for a while, keeping my face more matte while also teaching me to care for myself.
Then came high school… The ultimate rebellion from my skin. I was depressed often and was extremely sensitive about how I looked. Tired of testing out cleanser after cleanser and treatment after treatment… (AcneFree, Proactiv, Clearasil, Spectro, OXY… you name it!) When 10% benzoyl peroxide doesn’t help your breakouts, you finally turn to professional help: prescription medication. It started out with mild topicals… clindamycin and erythromycin. But those didn’t help at all… just dried out the skin and made me breakout even more. After that, then I was prescribed tetracycline. But when the prescription for that didn’t seem to help (both alone and combined with topicals!!)… I was prescribed a topical retinoid. Retin-A helped with my scars, but didn’t seem to really help with my active breakouts. That’s when I turned to the nuclear bomb of acne treatments: Accutane.
Looking back, if I was in that same situation today, I’m not sure that I would have taken that same route. I strongly, strongly recommend that you do your full research on any kind of drug/medication that you use. It’s extremely important that you are educated on whatever product or drug you use on your body as some medications have extreme side effects. In the end of it all, I went on not one but two courses of Accutane. My acne was hella severe… Painful cysts underneath my chin and jawline, I was embarrassed about my appearance and it even sometimes hurt to speak. Isotretinoin (the medical name for Accutane) was the most intensive medications I have ever taken in my life and was scary at times. I was only 16 at the time and wanted a clear complexion more than anything. Fun tidbit for ya if you’re curious: I had an acne.org account back in the day. It didn’t last long, but I can definitely tell how excited I was to start eradicating those pimples and I feel so bad for younger me. Fast forward to the experiences that I remember from isotretinoin, the sides of my lips were so dry that they actually ended up splitting. It was extremely painful and I had used massive amounts of Carmex to help me get through the day. I also remember the many trips to the doctor where I had to get blood drawn. There were so many trips to the clinic throughout my treatment that I actually wasn’t as afraid of getting my blood drawn anymore and could actually watch the vial.. thinking about it now creeps me out.
I think about a year after that first treatment of Accutane, my cysts came back in full force and I went on a second course (it was shorter than the first though!). After the treatments, I was finally free from acne but still had tons of scars left over. Honestly speaking, I didn’t even mind. The years prior to taking Accutane were a breeze as compared to high school. In my first year of university, I had started eating more junk and getting into bad habits of sleeping late or skipping washing my face (which by the way, the “Caveman Regimen” did not work for me!). I don’t think I have any pictures of me when my skin was at its worst because I was extremely depressed at the time. For reference though, the 2 past pictures here are very mild!
In present day, I have the best skin I’ve probably ever had since I was a child. I get the occasional breakout but still have oily skin and enlarged pores. Minor marionette lines? Must be all the smiling. I also have minor acne scarring (indented scars) as well as minor hyperpigmentation (discolouration) and redness. I’m very pleased with my skin as it’s come a long way… but still has room for improvement!