I used to think something was wrong with me. Regardless of how many expensive facial treatments I’d get or skin-care products I’d try (after several years as a beauty editor, there’s gotta be hundreds) in the name of vanquishing my breakouts, nothing would work—and I mean nothing. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent reading deep into product reviews or Reddit skin-care subthreads in order to learn about serums or masks or spot treatments that have magically cleared people’s acne, and then proceeding to buy it for myself—only to have it do absolutely nothing to my skin.
It confounded me. My breakouts wouldn’t budge, and yet these zillions of acne solutions have given zillions of other people the radiant, clear skin that I’ve always dreamed of.
I’ve gone with my metaphorical tail between my legs to dermatologists desperately seeking help a few times over the decades, only to be put on topical treatments that also—you guessed it—didn’t work. That was all until a derm visit earlier this year finally changed my life (at the age of 30, mind you).
My acne is now completely gone. And ya know what did the trick? A pill. Spironolactone, a hormone-regulating prescription medication, has zapped my pimples into nonexistence. It wasn’t instantaneous—there were tons of rebellious flare-ups during the first couple of months (which led to bouts of hysterical tears)—but after plenty of patience and pill-poppin’ diligence, I’m in the clear. For the first time, my skin-care routine feels normal, not like a war.
Just one scroll through the #shelfies hashtag on Instagram will show that everyone’s got own arsenal of skin-care products, and any glance at a product review will reveal opposing results.
And yet, there’s still been a big part of me that wonders why I have to be one of the probably not-so-large percentage of people that have to resort to a prescription to deal with acne. Watching other people successfully vanquish breakouts with products—you know, the traditional method—when I take three Spiro pills a day feels like I’m being picked last for dodgeball. But you know what I’ve realized? Everyone’s skin is so vastly different. Yes, knowing your “skin type” (oily, dry, normal, anyone?) can help you navigate the beauty aisles, but there’s much more to your complexion than that. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that the same products that work wonders for one person won’t necessarily work for others. People’s skin-care journeys are incredibly personal things. I mean, just one scroll through the #shelfies hashtag on Instagram will show that everyone’s got their own arsenal of skin-care products, and any glance at a product review will reveal opposing results.
That’s just the way skin is. It’s fickle, it’s different for everyone, and it takes time to figure out. And you know what? One solution is no better than another. I’ve spoken to dermatologists recently about why some people need prescriptions for acne while others don’t, and they all simply say that everyone’s skin is unique (just like your DNA). So, rather than look at my need to take an acne pill as a curse, I’m choosing to view myself as a unique unicorn, and dedicate the 10 minutes each morning I used to spend spreading concealer over unconcealable blemishes to pursuits more worthy of my valuable time.
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