Next to fat-shaming and slut-shaming, we have skin-shaming. Pimples and acne scars are just…well, spots, but sometimes they also act as an invitation for criticism from the people around you.
My acne-shaming story started out like this: A friend and I were doodling in between classes and one of the girls in her picture had spots all over her face. To my horror, my friend said that the girl with the spots was me. From that moment on, it was just an endless cycle of unsolicited remarks:
"You would look pretty if only you didn't have pimples."
"Are you sure you're taking care of your skin? Have you tried using…"
"Wow, you look so different in person. Do you edit your pimples in pictures?"
"Guys would line up for you if you would just lose all your scars."
How I wished those well-meaning friends and relatives knew that having bad skin isn't an actual lifestyle choice. The impact of those acne-ridden years still runs deep. I still get anxious each time a bump starts to form, and going out with zero makeup still makes me cringe. Throughout high school and college, I had to remind myself that pimples and acne scars aren't forever.
How does one make it through those rough and painful times?
For a vast majority, having great skin is a lot of work. It's not an effortless thing to have unlike what those #wokeuplikethis campaigns make it out to be. I only started to see results when I consistently had a facial and a powerpeel treatment every two weeks for around four years. I had painful acne and my scars were deep and cratered so I needed all the help I could get. As soon as my breakouts lessened, I worked on having my scars lightened. Depending on how deep they are, you could get rid of them with a serum, regular exfoliation or with an intensive laser such as Fraxel. Of course, you will need guidance from your derma for your acne-busting program.
Next, you will need to figure out a good skin care routine for yourself. At first my derma prescribed products for me, and they were okay, and sure, my acne is gone, but my skin felt terribly dry from the medication. You see, these prescriptions aren't a one size fits all thing. Just know that not all acne is created equal, and you can actually outgrow your skin care routine. Figure out what kind of skin and breakouts you have, but before you experiment, let your derma help you figure out if you have any allergies or sensitivities to certain products. It's also very important to be diligent with your routine. For years, I was never too tired nor too drunk to take off my makeup and proceed with my routine. So yes, don't you ever get lazy with skin care.
While your skin is still healing, feel free to experiment with makeup and to cover up your blemishes. I understand that nothing is as alienating as that no-makeup makeup trend—knowing that your skin is far from looking perfect or fresh. Then again, the market is filled with top-notch makeup/skin care products that can create the illusion of having perfect skin, as well as makeup techniques that you could utilize to mimic microscopic pores. Remember: Makeup is a godsend. There is nothing wrong with feeling confident with a made-up face. If you're more comfortable with going bare-faced, then more power to you.
Everything you thought you knew about makeup aggravating your acne is wrong! That is…unless your skin is hypersensitive, then by all means you should search for the product that works for you. Breakouts are caused by improper and insufficient cleansing of the skin. At the end of the day, always double or even triple cleanse your skin—just to be sure.
To thoroughly remove makeup:
1. Start with an oil-based makeup remover.
2. Wash your face with your regular cleanser.
3. Lastly, get rid of all the excess makeup and product with a toner, micellar water or makeup remover wipes. This sounds really extra, but you need to be zealous about zit prevention.
Lastly, be unrelenting in your pursuit for a clearer complexion. Seriously, it took me years to get my skin to where it is now. I don't have perfect skin (if there is such a thing), but it's in the best shape it has ever been. As much as I wanted to believe in those infomercials that promise clear skin in a few months, it just wasn't realistic. Healing was hard for me, because all my scars tend to be hyper-pigmented. These days, my family and friends can hardly believe their eyes if I show them a side-by-side photo of me then versus now. It's actually a combination of skin care, expensive treatments, proper diet, and antibiotics that fixed all my acne worries. This is a cheesy line, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway: Trust in the [skin care] process. Beauty takes time and effort. Much like weight loss, there's no shortcut to having great skin.
At the end of the day, you shouldn't stress too much about your blemishes. Perfect skin is akin to the perfect body—there is no such thing as "perfect." Those spots on your face don't actually define you as a person nor is it a life sentence. Always keep your head held high—zits or no zits. As long as you know you're doing your best to take care of your health as well as your skin, you should have nothing worry about. Nothing lasts forever…not even zits.