Adult acne…two words I never thought I would be speaking about personally. But it happened and oh boy was I not prepared for it. It has been nearly a 7-year battle, but I am feeling confident about the progress I’ve made and want to share that with you all. As you may know, I believe there is something so liberating about sharing your personal experiences…you provide this unique opportunity for others to gain insights, practical tidbits, encouragement and more.
Before we delve into this story, I need to say this and please hear me….everyone’s skin is different! What worked for me, may not work best for you. You may need to modify/adjust/edit, because you are different and that is COOL. More than anything, I want my personal story to encourage you to keep working through your adult acne journey and finding a regimen that works for YOU!
Ok, here we go.
2013: The Beginning
It was shortly after Jason and I got married that I began to have some small breakouts on the jawline area of the right-hand side of my face. I was also experiencing some breakouts on my back too. In the beginning of this breakout phase, I attributed it to the new life transition…getting married, moving and getting settled somewhere new. However, after a year into marriage, that small acne had not subsided and I wasn’t sure what to do. In terms of skincare, I was always a “less-is-more kinda gal.” At the time I used Vaseline to remove my makeup, cleansing, and a simple moisturizer…very simple products. Despite my very simple regimen, I’ve always been concerned about my skin…when something was abnormal, I always jumped on getting an appointment to the dermatologist. I started that in college when I experienced scarring from some pimples and wanted to get that under control.
So after some time had passed, I looked into finding a dermatologist in Parkersburg, WV. I found one, made an appointment and went in for my first visit. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember her saying that I was experiencing acne because I had too much testosterone in my body and it was trying to get out…hence the acne. In my head, I was like, “Great, having adult parties with my husband is causing acne…how hopeful.” She prescribed me some pills by mouth…don’t even remember what they were. I took the pills for a good while, but never felt confident with that solution because it felt more like a bandaid…I wanted to get to the root cause.
My sister-in-law was experiencing some acne at the same time and developing a more natural regimen for herself that specifically targeted acne. One of the items in her arsenal was a homemade green tea soup bar. As you might imagine, I was hooked. And honestly, this was my first introduction to a more clean beauty approach.
2016: The Move
A lot has happened during my time in Parkersburg. I got a new job, quit the job because I was majorly unhappy, decided not to go back to NYU, applied to SCAD and completed my Masters online. A lot! While I was focused on my acne, I had a lot of other things happening that took higher priority over that obsession. During those 3 years, I did stop taking the pills by mouth, as it didn’t feel like a solution…I didn’t want to be taking something for the rest of my life that wasn’t working. Also, I didn’t feel valued or heard at the dermo office…another reason I quit taking the pills. However, I was still using the green tea soap. haha. In 2016 we moved to Columbus, immediately following my graduation from SCAD. Because of this new transition, I had time to focus on my skin once again and it was during this time that I took interest in beauty products. Our bathroom was overflowing, as I was being gifted products regularly from brands, plus all the crap I was buying. Once we got settled in Columbus, I looked to find a new dermo. Found one and she prescribed me some topicals and a benzoyl peroxide body wash for my back. At this point, I had a lot of scarring and was wearing a full face of makeup on the daily, because I felt pretty insecure about the black spots.
I had some success with this dermo. The scarring was going away and the breakouts felt more manageable, because I knew I got rid of the scars after. But again, that’s not a solution. Another bandaid. I saw that doctor for 2 visits before I got transitioned to her PA for one appointment and things just went downhill from there. I wasn’t jazzed about not being able to see my doctor and the office was crazy far away from my home and I couldn’t order the body wash, which was an in-house product, by phone…I would have to try there. Blah. No time for all that.
I canceled my follow up appointment and called it quits with that office. I felt like a patient and not a person…if that makes sense. It was in 2018 that my acne started destroying me! The breakouts were happening more and more frequently and were incredibly painful; like sore to the touch and I was wearing a full face of makeup regularly. By this time, I had a bathroom overflowing with products, a regimen that was all over the place, leftover acne topicals and nothing was working.
2019: Refocus + New Plan
Becoming crazy frustrated was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me. It pushed me to a point of determination to buckle in and figure out what the heck was happening on the side of my face. From the year prior, I had developed a love for some products and was liking the results, but was still using all the things. I was reminded of a conversation I had with my hairstylist in Fall 2018 about using salon only hair products and how she thought I would benefit from that. So that Fall I threw away every cheap, over the counter, non salon grade hair product I had in my bathroom. For reals. I threw it all away. In that short time of using those products, I did find that my hair was healthier than ever and really thriving. So I applied that concept to my skincare in early January of 2019…I threw away every cheap skincare product, gave away unopened products and narrowed it down to things that I found beneficial and good for my skin. You will find most of those products HERE and HERE.
I still felt I needed a professional opinion to help me get to the root cause of my acne. On several occasions, I had heard of Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham. I looked her up and booked an appointment! I had my first appointment towards the end of January 2019, which was perfect, because I was having a TERRIBLE BREAKOUT. For that appointment, I took all of the products I was using and gave her insights on some others I was using. She gave me the green light on some and red light on others. She also gave me some encouraging news about my acne…that my body was transitioning into womanhood and was essentially freaking out and that freakout can last a year, 5 years, 10 years; It just depends. But the hope she gave me was in saying, “It will eventually go away.” I left that appointment with two topical prescriptions, a refocused regimen including those topicals, a plan for chemical peels and a 3-month check-up. Also, I made a personal decision to tone it down on the makeup and just let my skin do its’ thing…wearing little to no make up on the daily and I also began getting facials regularly that targeted my skin issues.
Amongst all those moving pieces, my skin has shaped up and I am soooo proud. Meeting Dr. Hicks-Graham changed things for me and gave me the confidence I needed to move ahead with figuring this thing out. When we started chatting during that first appointment, I had such peace and knew that she wanted this change for me, as much as I wanted it.
So you might ask, what’s next? To keep pursuing healthy skin. At the moment, I have not had a major flare-up for about 6 months. I still get pimples now and again but that is just normal, even Dr. Hicks-Graham will tell you that! And most importantly, continuing my regimen like usual. While my skin seems to be doing well, I am still maintaining my usual day-to-day care, quarterly facials, chemical peels (which I will now be doing quarterly) and bi-annual visits to see Dr. Hicks-Graham to ensure we are still on a good path and adjusting if we need to!