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I looked over at my mom with a tear running down my cheek. This is ridiculous, I told her, throwing my hands in the air, “I’m almost 30 years old and look like I have the face of a sweaty, teenage boy who hasn’t showered in a week.”
I walked over to the mirror and studied the very red and very irritated bumps on my face one more time. I squinted and thought to myself, I think I see a difference. I was excited, I had just started a new cream that others swore by and praised up and down on the forums. Perhaps this is finally it, the holy grail of creams, the one I have been waiting for. Weeks went by, and optimism gradually faded to fear then disgust, and finally, anger as my new found cream was added to the pile of half-used tubes hiding in the back of my drawer. Why can’t I figure this out? So many questions came to my mind, each more puzzling than the next.
I had heard every name in the book from pizza face to Rudolph.
I had been battling acne on and off (mostly on) for 16 years. I had been to the moon and back and was desperate for something, anything to work.
At 13, I rode my bike to the local drugstore to buy makeup and zit cream. I would lather my face with clean and clear products hoping by some miracle, they would whisk my puffy whiteheads away to be quickly forgotten about. They did make me forget about my zits because I had a new problem. The flakes and dusty layers of skin I acquired looked like I could be a prime candidate for a head and shoulders commercial.
Back down to the drugstore, I went, and variations of creams, gels, pads, strips, and wipes were purchased, each creating more trouble than the last. Every time I shopped, I was ever more drawn to the makeup section with its gleaming bottles and colorful promises. The model’s picture smiled out to me that I too could have beautiful, radiant skin, no strings attached with the introduction of foundation and concealer. I happily took my basket to the counter and smiled as I delightfully handed over my hard earned babysitting money. I slathered and covered and forgot about the ugliness I felt underneath with my cover girl cocktail.
Ultimately, I am not sure what was worse, the patches of red from my nose to my chin, or the orange line left on the side of my jaw and hairline from my caked on Wet and Wild concealer. I was a modern day Oompa Loompa. 🤦♀️
Fast forward to age 17, and about 15 dermatologist visits later, I had a new cream to try. Getting my mother to take me to the dermatologists was like pulling teeth, but after much whining, she conceded. My new skin routine consisted of a nurse brushing on a tingly, itchy glycolic peel and a prescription for a cream I had heard good things about. Promise filled the air, as I happily handed my newly scribbled doctor’s note to the pharmacist at Walgreens.
Minutes later, he gave me my package while muttering the words, “If this doesn’t work for you, there are literally hundreds of more creams you can try. Talk to your dermatologist, and have him write you a new prescription if this one doesn’t do anything in the next few months.”
My eyes glazed over, as promise was run over by the 80-year-old lady, white-knuckling the steering wheel, pulling up to the window at the pharmacy drive-through.
By the time I had turned 21, my skin was no better than I had started at 13. The only thing that became smaller was my tolerance and my wallet. As my budget increased on products and possible treatments to try, so did my acne.
This time, it added a new location on my face, my cheeks. Irritation filled me, as I envied my 15-year-old self with my Saturday night sleepovers consisting of a Biore pore strip on my nose and white zit cream dotting my face. My biggest worry was if my zits would clear up in time for next weekend’s activities. Now, It looked like someone blew up a strawberry plantation and all of its remnants landed quite nicely on my face. Not only did I look miserable, I felt miserable. These painful, horrible red splotches stayed for weeks on end and were worse than any white or blackhead. Just when I thought I was healing, 3 more popped up in its place. My hands got antsy, and I started picking, only leaving me with brownish scars, redder cheeks, and no more answers than I had when I started this battle. In addition to my rosy complexion, I had small, white bumps on every inch of my skin making it feel like rough sandpaper.
Dreams of clear skin became distant and unlikely.
Back down to the doctor I went, and this time with hopes of a new cure: birth control. Many peppered their fantastic results all over the internet and at this point, what did I have to lose? The nurse practitioner was happy to give me my prescription along with a sample of the newest wonder birth control, guaranteed to clear up any acne issues. Not too long after I began taking it, my skin cleared up. I was dumbfounded. Who knew all this time that this was the answer? I happily told others of my new found fix, until new problems started surfacing. Not only did I gain about 10 pounds, but for the first time in my life, I had a yeast infection, which was incredibly gross, irritating, and painful. I found myself once again back down at the drugstore for my new problem.
One hurdle down, now I had to handle my newly developed pounds. I only thought this was my problem, when not but a month later and again, for the first time in my life, I developed a bladder infection. After the purchase of about a case of 100% Pure Cranberry Juice (not your Ocean Spray cocktail, this stuff will make you say pucker up buttercup), prescription antibiotics, and bladder pain relief pills that turned my pee orange, I worked through the trauma of my new found issue. About two months later, I acquired another bladder infection. This became a new staple problem I had to deal with every other month. I started to order cranberry pills by the dozens on Amazon.
About 9 bladder infections later and upon digging, I found that my current birth control had side effects a mile long including the possibility of bladder and yeast infections. This was just one of the many byproduct possibilities of what it was doing to my insides.
I made an appointment with my doctor and told her about my new issues and my thoughts of it being associated with my birth control. She refused that the birth control was the cause and her solution was to write me a new prescription for an antibiotic that kills bacteria (both good and bad) in the body. I was to take this indefinitely, along with my birth control. She wouldn’t even write me a different kind of birth control prescription, claiming if there were no other side effects that I was dealing with, I should stick to the one I was on. I walked out of the building bitter, as shiny posters of the brand of birth control I was taking gleamed at me, decorating the office of my OB-GYN.
I started talking to my friends about any of the birth controls they were on. One was on another kind that made her gain 50 pounds, another was on one that made her feel crazy and empty inside, another almost caused her marriage to end because of the anger problems she was now experiencing, and another acquired acne when she went on her birth control. Looks like we had all traded one problem for another. It seemed there was no good answer to my birth control dilemma and after my 12th bladder infection, I discontinued using it, and no, I never had another bladder infection again.
With the discontinuing of the birth control, I said goodbye to clear skin, hello breakouts. Not only that, but I gained more weight again and lost even more confidence.
Years past by and by my late 20's my acne had once again migrated to a new location on my face, my lower cheeks, jawline, and forehead, and shoulders.
Defeated thoughts clouded my brain that I was never going to figure this out. The lines I heard by so many dermatologists and doctors like “I would grow out of it” or “It really isn’t that bad” and “I’ve seen worse,” infuriated me and discouraged me. They had no answers, and I had no patience because this was getting far too old and I was far too tired of hearing myself complain.
I wanted to retreat like a wounded soldier in what I felt was a rigged game. I mean, I could live in my pajamas, right? I would be meals on wheels biggest customer. It seemed to work out in my head until I remembered I had to go to work and had a life to live.
If countless doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and traditional products didn’t give me answers, then I knew it meant one thing, it was going to have to come down to me and my approach.
So, I set out to get to the bottom of it all, and that’s precisely what I did. I cleared up my breakouts after 16 long, frustrating years and man does it feel good. I did it, I finally did it, and you can too. Join me as I reveal my secrets and findings of how I did it and how I am going to help you achieve the skin you have always wanted.