As women age, there are a number of physical changes that are inevitable. Wrinkles form around our eyes from laughing too much; lines develop near our mouths from smiling too hard; hints of silver begin to grace our luscious locks, and our tatas might not be as perky as they once were.
While all of these are signs of ageing (gracefully) and totally acceptable IMO, one change that I was not ready or prepared for was adult acne. Isn’t acne supposed to be some awkward phase we all went through in high school and thankfully grew out of in our late teens and early 20’s? Apparently not. And apparently for me, my acne decided to return in full force and it’s safe to say, it’s was ready for vengeance.
What started out as the odd zit every now and then around my time of the month quickly evolved into a painful and embarrassing roller coaster of emotions that often left me so self-conscious I wouldn’t leave my condo without a full face of makeup. Some days it was so bad, I wouldn’t leave my house at all.
At first, I took the return of my acne as my body’s way of punishing me for my the abuse I put it through during my university days. You know, the late nights; falling asleep with my makeup on after a night out; stressing over exams; not following a proper skincare routine; indulging in too many cocktails, and snacking on late-night pizza a few too many times. But really, that wasn’t the case.
You see, as a teenager, I was pretty lucky when it came to my skin. I would get a few blemishes during my time of the month, almost like clockwork but they were never something to lose sleep over. They were never a big deal. I would treat them with Tea Tree Oil, cover them with concealer and go on with my day. But once I turned 25, you could say my luck with my skin came to an end.
To my misfortune, I wasn’t just dealing with the same acne I experienced during high school. I was waking up to large, painful, underground cystic blemishes that not only hurt to touch, but they were also impossible to cover up and left dark red reminders on what used to be my clear skin. So yes, my luck definitely had run out.
At first, it didn’t bother me. I would treat each blemish as I normally would. But then my acne became progressively worse. Rather than waking up with the odd underground pimple, I was getting multiple along my hair and jawline and down my neck. I became embarrassed by my skin and would put layers upon layers of makeup on, trying to hide my scars and painful blemishes.
My doctor suggested eliminating dairy from my diet because I could have been dealing with hormonal acne. But after three months of no dairy, there was still no change. I began to hate looking in the mirror because all I saw was my acne. I stopped uploading photos with me in them onto social media and often skipped out on plans if my skin was having a particularly bad day.
But a few months ago, I reached my breaking point after I washed off my makeup and saw how bad my skin had become. As I felt my tears flood down my cheeks, I realized I had spent most of the past year hiding behind my acne, letting it take control of me. I’m in the prime of my life; I’m healthy, have a roof over my head, food to eat… if having adult acne is the worst of my worries then I clearly have things pretty good. It was that moment when I decided I wasn’t going to let a blemish or a scar stop me from living my life ever again.
It me! Living my best life.
I stopped stressing over every pimple; I let my skin breathe and stopped wearing makeup to hide my insecurities and above all, I started to live like my old self again. It was during this process that I started to feel a sense of calm. I started to feel better in my skin, blemishes and all.
Once I started to care less about my skin and worry so much about what other people thought, my skin actually started to clear up. I was finally able to step outside brimming with confidence, eager to pose for photos with friends. On the days when I do have a blemish, I no longer compare my skin to those around me, I just accept it and move on with my day. If my adult acne has taught me anything, it’s that when you can openly accept your flaws, you can truly feel confident and secure in your own skin.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ainsley Smith)