How I finally cleared up my skin after 15 years of cystic acne

A rare non-running selfie of the elusive Bri

I didn’t really want to talk about this on the blog since this topic isn’t really related to running, lifting weights or doing yoga. Although it’s related to eating healthy, it’s a bit more personal than I usually like to get. But I thought since it’s about self-care and mental health I may as well share my story. Plus, if it helps someone else struggling with the same issues, even better.

My battle with bad skin
I’ve had bad skin since I turned 15. Almost everyone has bad skin at that age, but mine was particularly bad. Not only did I get acne, but also cold sores (on my chin and nose, never on my lips) and eczema. Birth control pills never helped, and neither did dermatologist-prescribed retin A creams and other steroids. I’ve been to the best dermatologists in Victoria, tried Proactiv (which completely dried up my skin in a bad way) and took antibiotics. The only thing I haven’t tried was Accutane, because I’ve heard horror stories about how bad it can be for your liver and what it can do to your skin if you take the wrong dosage.

I’ve been dealing with problem skin for my entire teenage and adult life, finding relief only occasionally for a few days after a tropical vacation (my skin tends to improve after a week in the sun sans makeup and stress). And as anyone who suffers from bad skin will know, it’s pretty psychologically damaging to have problem skin. Not only does it hurt (cystic acne and cold sores), but you also feel so self conscious of your face. It takes me twice as long as most people to get ready in the morning because I apply make up like I’m creating a work of art or something. Because of that, I’m often late, which causes even more stress.

There would also be times I’d avoid social situations all together because I was feeling so self-conscious about my skin. And when I did feel confident enough to go out, I’d avoid going anywhere near a window or outside in natural light.

Those who know me in person and see me on a day-to-day basis always say it’s not that bad — but that’s because I do a pretty good job of covering it up. Only my close girlfriends, parents and boyfriend have seen me without make-up and at my worst. Obviously I don’t have “before” photos to share, because I could never bring myself to take a photo sans make-up during a particularly bad break out. But my skin looked similar to this beautiful soul’s skin, who was brave enough to show the world what she looked like without make-up: (more…)