Adult Acne Sucks
I’m so jealous of people who wash their faces with soap in the morning and keep it pushing. Do they even know how blessed and highly favored they are? Do they understand the struggles of the naturally ugly? Okay, that last sentence wasn’t fair. You can be ugly with or without acne and beautiful without the blessings of newborn skin.
Let’s take it back. I was on my way to the 7th grade, the first day of middle school. I got my hair done, my new outfits, shoes, and school supplies. I was anxiously awaiting a new frontier. I was somewhat cute and started to look at boys in a new way. I managed to snag a boy who also thought I looked like something and he wasn’t terrible to look at. His name was Johnathan. We talked for a bit and his parents even let me come over for a supervised date. It was a cute moment.
A week or so later my nose started to get pimples and blackheads. WTF???!!!!! Okay, don’t panic. I told my mom my dilemma and she takes me to People’s Drug (now CVS) to get Noxema. So I apply this white cream on my face which is giving me a medicinal cool tingly sensation. I’m thinking the feeling is going to solve all my problems….. it doesn’t. To make matters worse my psycho mother decides its time to start squeezing the bumps on my nose because if she doesn’t I will have craters on my face like Craig Mack (homage to Flavor in Your Ear).
Aside from the pain of my acne being forcefully squeezed (she put me in a wrestling move and told me to man up), I now have dark brown/black acne scars on my face. Maybe I could try to pass them off as freckles? I go to school the next day and my new boyfriend doesn’t speak. I’m self-conscious all day worrying that I look like the Wicked Witch of the West as I’m trying to speak confidently in myself. He likes me for me, right? Maybe he’s just busy. The next day after no conversation with my new boyfriend I get approached by two little tween bitches. One of them, a girl named Patricia says “Jonathan says he doesn’t want to be with you anymore”. How fucking wack was that? You don’t even have the guts to tell me to my face and I’m still stuck with this bullshit? I’m now physically and emotionally scarred but middle school life goes on.
After trying topical means of clearing my skin and getting abused by the unlicensed pro wrestling Dr. Pimple Popper crazy bitch that is my mom, I ended up with more pimples and more scars and scabs. During a routine visit with the family doctor, I bring up my issues with acne. The doctor prescribes me a big bottle of antibiotics (doxycycline I think). I start taking it with no noticeable results. I thought my acne was so terrible at the time (it really wasn’t). At some point, I’m able to live with the minor breakouts and keep it pushing. I had a few boyfriends, got on birth control and I am probably somewhere in my teens (15-16). Now, this acne consisted of minor blackheads around the nose area, an occasional pimple or two, and whiteheads below my lip. I get to the point of comfortably squeezing my own pimples and using products ranging from Noxema, straight alcohol, and toothpaste.
One day in my later teens (16-17) a Proactiv commercial comes on. I can’t remember how much it was but I know I was tempted to order it. We grew up pretty poor and we weren’t accustomed to ordering things from the TV, it just didn’t seem like a black thing to do. Eventually, they started to sell overpriced proactive kits in the mall and I bought one. It worked, it really worked! I was faced with the problem of not being able to order this miracle kit for a subscription and not being able to pay $60 a month at the mall. I decided to replicate the active ingredients. I bought Clean and Clear benzoyl peroxide cleanser, Clean and Clear astringent, and their oil-free moisturizer with salicylic acid. I understood the concept of keeping up with my regimen day and night. I also bought over the counter benzoyl peroxide 10% to spot treat my acne. I used Porcelana skin lightening cream for my dark spots and my skin wasn’t perfect but also by no means terrible.
A decade goes by and I’m not stressing about my skin. I’m nearing closer to my 30’s without care. Then I get pregnant. What the hell did I get pregnant for? I’m 28 and blown up like a watermelon and for the first time in my life, I have pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and CYSTIC PIMPLES! Have you ever had a cystic pimple? Do you know what its like to see a little normal pimple grow to a big angry knot with white and red on the outside? You try to pop that angry son of a bitch and nothing comes out but dripping blood. It laughs at your squeezing and swells up in defiance to linger on your face for two more weeks. If you’re super fortunate you get the large beautiful scar and sometimes it leaves craters in your face like Lawrence Fishburn.
While pregnant I didn’t have as many options for treating this bullshit but I tried my old trusty regimen. I think I may have even gone as far as buying Proactive. My acne was as resistant and persistent as ghetto roaches with store-bought Raid. After the birth of my son, I decided to take matters into the hands of professionals. My mother-in-law treated me to a spa day including a facial. The esthetician carefully steamed and extracted my acne explaining her process and why when she does it the skin shouldn’t scar as opposed to me doing it myself or worse Stone Cold Steve Mama forcefully squeezing puss to her satisfaction. She recommended her overpriced, glass jarred, oil free skin care regimen. I spent $300 a visit thinking this was going to solve my problem. It didn’t.
I started investing in expensive makeup that wasn’t even my skin color. Mac hadn’t yet come to the realization with all their 40 colors that my shade of brown wasn’t as red or ashy. I wasted $80 on two bottles to mix to get my skin tone. While complaining about my struggle, my best friend said “why don’t you just go to a dermatologist and deal with the underlying issue?”. Duh bitch, Why the fuck am I spending $300 for an esthetician and $80 for foundation when I can go to a skin doctor?
So I did it. Why it took me that long I have no idea. Do black people go to dermatologists? Maybe there’s some underlying black excuse I really don’t know. So I go to this Asian dermatologist and he sees my skin. He doesn’t bother asking about my skin care regimen, he doesn’t ask about my skin type, but he recommends Acutane. Fuckkkkk no! I know a girl who took Accutane and suffered from rectal bleeding, there’s no way I’m taking that! He says “no one is trying to hurt you, we just want to help”. I gracefully decline and he writes me a prescription for retinol for night and benzoyl peroxide for day. No advice for cleanser or moisturizer and he sends me on my way. I start the topical medication. Is there a little change? I’m hopeful but it seems to be a placebo effect. I go back to the dermatologist in a month. He sees my skin and says nope not working well enough. He changes my prescription to Epiduo, its a topical medication that combines Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide which is an oxymoron to me because I thought that you shouldn’t mix retinol and benzoyl peroxide at the same time. But what do I know, I have adult Cystic pimples.
I try Epiduo for a month. I still have cystic acne on my cheeks but I notice a decline in white heads around my mouth area and chin. “Not good enough,” my dermatologist says. He offers me Accutane again, and I again I said hell no. So this visit he writes me a prescription for 100mg of Minocycline an antibiotic. He refills my Epiduo prescription. I started taking the Minocycline and applying the cream twice daily. The first week I don’t notice an improvement in my skin but I notice that the pill makes me feel a little nauseous and light-headed. I ignore the symptoms and keep taking the pills. Two weeks in I see no new pimples, three weeks in my white heads are gone, one month in perfect skin. My skin has never been this clear in my life since I was 10 years old. I’m super fucking happy. I don’t have to wear makeup anymore! I start getting compliments on my skin. I tell everyone my success story and tell people to go get some minocycline.
My prescription is over and my skin is manageable. I still use topical medications and notice only the smallest of breakouts but I have a new issue. The continuous use of antibiotics starts causing me to have reoccurring yeast infections (WTF!!?). This will be a story for another day ladies and gentlemen. My skin goes through ups and downs and I battle the feeling of should I take the antibiotics and be pretty and not have a comfortable vagina and never be able to have sex? Or should I not take the antibiotics and wear a paper bag in the bedroom? I opt to not take the antibiotics because a girls gotta try to get some right?
I started working in the beauty field. My dermatologist has run out of every possible topical solution so I decided to try to take it into my own hands (my dumb ass). I try everything, I mean everything prestige cosmetics can offer. I tried Strivectin, Dermalogica, Origins, Proactiv (which was the worse), Peter Thomas Roth, Tula, Murad, I even tried a Neutrogena lighted acne mask. None of it worked, it got worse and better worse and worse better. How can I sell cosmetics when my face looked like the back of Nestle Crunch Bar covered in foundation? I order Curology which helped for 2 months, I cut out dairy, I started taking supplements like Plexus, L Lysene, Zinc, and Vitamin A. Nothing was truly working. I gave up.
I went back to my dermatologist and said my skin sucks, I want to get on Accutane. I thought I could just get it that day. I was painfully wrong. First I had to sign an agreement that I understood that Accutane could be harmful and cause birth defects in unborn children. I had to vow that I would use 2 forms of birth control, furnish proof that I was on birth control, and that my husband also agreed to use contraception. I then had to take blood and urine tests to prove that I was not pregnant several times for a month. Then I had to take an online questionnaire stating that I knew how to take Accutane, I wouldn’t get pregnant, and if I did get pregnant that I wouldn’t sue. After going through all this and paying for doctor visits, testing, and lab results I finally got my prescription for Accutane. Would you know that when that prescription hit the pharmacy my health insurance company refused to pay it? The pharmacist called me and told me that the prescription costs hundreds of dollars out of pocket. The doctor and pharmacist went as far as furnishing proof that they had attempted all other methods to treat my acne and this was the only other option. Blue Cross Blue Shield gave zero fucks. They weren’t paying for Accutane. I think I cried that day. I think I cried real waterfall tears. Not to mention I was on the hook for my insurance company for $300 for the testing and appointments for a drug that wasn’t covered.
I prayed to God, literally prayed for peace and a solution to my acne. I drank lots of water, took antibiotics, watched YouTube videos, and kept on trucking. One day I decided to go to a Black Dermatologist. Why does this matter? Sometimes in life, you need to get help from someone who looks more like you so that they may understand your struggles a little more. Dr. Neal looked at my skin, very much like the Asian dermatologist he didn’t ask me my skin care regimen or skin type. He just took notes. He then tells me that he’s going to prescribe me Adapelene in which I reply “I’ve already tried that!”. He says “not this strength and not this way. Give it a try and we’ll revisit in a month”. He also prescribed Azelaic acid foam, Sulfur cleanser, and hydroquinone 4% for dark spots. He recommended that I start my regimen once at night until I get used to it. I listened and tried my new regimen. By one month on our follow up visit I noticed improvement but not perfection. He asked if the retinol irritated my face, this man had no idea that I had tried everything aside from setting my face on fire with gasoline and nothing bothered me now. He then said, “If it’s not too irritating try applying your regimen twice a day”. I did, and I’ve been doing it for about a year now. My skin is not perfect but it is light years away from where it was. I can walk around with no makeup and get compliments on my nice, beautiful skin. Oh if they only knew!
2018 Using Curology
2018 Neutrogena Light Mask
Bare Skin 2020