Acne Sucks, Part I

Well….doesn’t it?

I can honestly say that I am sick of my skin. It doesn’t like me. And I find this devastating because I’ve been nothing but good to it. I have never been a smoker. I never went to sleep without washing it. I always wore sunscreen. I didn’t clog my pores with greasy foundation or greasy food. I mean, I drink a gallon of water a day! I know all of the rules to having clear skin and alas acne is still taking over.

I know there are many women out there with this issue. And it’s frustrating, isn’t it? Especially when you spent the most of your teenage years and early 20’s with perfectly clear skin! I’ve even spent some days looking at myself in the mirror and crying. Jacked up skin makes a sista feel so unpretty sometimes.

Ugghhh!! But enough of the complaining. I have decided to actively make attempts to get my clear skin back. I know hormones and genes play a part in acne but maybe, just maybe there is something that I can do to at least control my acne. Right now I feel as if it controls me!

And so I have decided to involve my Clumps of Mascara family on this journey of mine. It ain’t an easy one and I’m going to need y’all’s support. Attempting to feel beautiful when you average 2-4 new pimples a day is tough. But the motto of this unofficial series is, “Yes I’ve got acne. I’m still fine though!”

Bam! Laugh it up. It’s funny but it’s true.

Here’s what I’m starting with….

That’s right. That’s some raw acne footage for you. And I’m smiling anyway because despite it all…I am still beautiful.

As are you.

We are going to beat this. Or find ways to deal with it. This mini-series will bring tips from fellow beauty bloggers as well as any submissions from readers we get. Feel free to share your story! I will keep you updated with any new products I am using.

We ‘gon be alright, sisters. *group hug*.

The official song of the unofficial series is High School Musical’s “We’re All In This Together”. Don’t act like you’re surprised. Ya’ll know I’m a cornball so it only makes sense. LOL!!

  • brightstarr

    You are definitely gorgeous, breakouts or not. However, what worked for me was switching to organic laundry detergent. You may not think it will work as well, but it's actually good! I use seventh generation, but you can play around with some different brands. Also, if you use a lot of hair products, make sure you wrap your hair up at night so it doesn't irritate your skin. For my face, I don't use anything expensive. The neutrogena pink grapefruit line works for me. Also, stay away from stress…it's toxic! Good luck. :-)

  • abby

    hi there! I admire how strong you are and how positive you still are despite of the dilemma. Actually, I am also having a hard time dealing with my skin issues right now. I used to have really flawless milky white skin (people always mistaken me for a korean because of my skin). But due to my skin asthma, which attacks whenevr the weather is so bad or too hot, I used this clobetasol ointment which is a steroid or has steroids. It really works, and i was ecstatic to find such great product. only that, even if when I don't have redness of skin asthma, i applied it thinking that it would prevent my skin asthma to appear and i could go out in the sun or cope up with rainy and windy weather outsides without the damn itch. But oh boy, after using it for about 3 weeks on top of my moisturizer and or sunblock, one day, i woke up with rashes on my left cheek (i only put it there since my skin asthma flares up only there and on some parts of my body). i thought they were pimples. thinkking that it is just because of stress (that was the time when I broke up with my bf) due to a lot of crying, I still put on the ointment thinking that it would help my skin be pacified while I try to stay calm, relaxed. So I forget about stress in school, church activities, etc, and just slept good hours everyday. BUt still, the rashes were there, and they are getting insane. So see, it wasn't stress. And I am used to being stressed but I don't breakout. If I do, just one or two, and they are gone for less than a week. So there, I ran out of clobetasol. I haven't bought yet. Then I happen to browse a fellow blogger's post about topical steroid creams. When I saw her pictures, they were just like my rashes. So it came to me that the clobetasol was the culprit. It ain't pimples, it's a syndrome of topical steroid withdrawal. I posted about it, and you could check it out on my blog. Right now, I am trying to strengthen my immune system so I would tiotally recover from it by taking a lto of vitamin C and eating healthy. I have only started this yesterday. I hope it will work. I am definitely, not gonna use that damn ointment again, or if ever, i'll use it just for one night if my skin asthma persists. but i'm definitely not gonna overdose on it ever! I shared this with you because you might be using somehting that might be alleviating your skin. Well, knowledge is power, right??

    You are definitely not alone with this, we will stay strong and positive. Keep us updated sis!

    Yes, you are beautiful, no matter what =) hugggggg!

  • nailedmama

    Good for you! I feel you girl, the same thing happened to me. Some of the things that work for me are making sure my make-up brushes are clean, replace your sponges, drink lots of water, DON'T pick, and don't bombard your skin with a million products. I really love the Murad Acne Spot Treatment and my moisturizer has glycolic in it-but see a pro for that. Good luck!

  • Mimilainna

    yes you are still beautiful girl. sometimes i have random breakouts, mostly along my chin and i hate it with a passion.

  • Askmewhats

    You are a late bloomer..but so what??? You are beautiful! I swear! it's nothing compared to your bubbly personality! I love you for it!!!

    GOodluck!!! I'm sure it'll be gone, I have the same when I was in Junior High! And I do get a couple of zits every now and then but nothing beats the treatment of SMILING! *hugs*

  • Alex

    I agree a lot with what abby said. Make sure that you're not currently using anything that could be aggravating your skin/making your acne worse, and consume lots of vitamin c.

    Up until about a year ago, I had great skin, then all $h*t broke loose. I was using a cleanser that contained a mint oil that I wasn't aware of (I'm sensitive to mint oils) and it was too harsh for my skin, so my barrier became damaged and I started breaking out and having rashes. I ended up changing my cleanser, I use a 2% salicylic acid liquid exfoliant (this has helped immensely), and I have a new moisturizer (to reestablish good barrier function). Also, a few times a week I replace my BHA with an AHA to make sure that I'm getting all the dead skin off, so it can't clog up my pores. So far my routine seems to be working for me; I now only get very tiny bumps every now and then. When selecting products be sure to stay away from anything that might be sensitising, like alcohol.

    Also, I'm not precisely sure why/how vitamin c has helped me, but I make sure to have a glass of fresh orange juice everymorning, and when I drink it regularly my skin and hair seem to look better.

    Good luck, you'll get it figured out.
    Also, I rec purchasing from stores with a good return policy. I had to return tons of stuff before I found the products that worked best for me 😉

  • Belle Cheveux

    I feel your pain, sis! My skin is crap. I tried drinking more water, eating less junk food, exercising — nothing worked. Right now I'm doing the regimen (I use a sonic toothbrush with my cleanser though) and exfoliating two times a week with St. Ive's. So far, so good.

  • Kizzy

    I'm supporting you all the way!
    To be honest, it doesn't look that bad though. But I feel your pain, my skin doesn't like me either….

  • lazybeautiful

    I really think the trick is to use and do as little as possible to your skin. Don't load it with products, keep it clean and well moisturized. I had really bad acne until I started using less products.

    Here's what works for me: Every night, I cleanse with Lush Dark Angels Face Cleanser, treat acne with 10% benzoyl peroxide all over (spot treating is pretty useless), moisturize with a little olive oil. I don't use cleanser in the morning, just rinse my face with warm water, apply 10% BP again, then sunscreen. It's pretty simple and works great for me.

    Be sure to keep your hands clean and away from your face, clean your makeup brushes and change your pillow case every few days. Tons of acne causing bacteria live in those things.

    Hair products can sometimes irritate skin also. So be sure to not get any on your forehead and to rinse really well if you do.

    If regular skin care products don't work, you might want to try prescriptions. I used Differin gel as a teenager and it worked wonders. Another, slightly weird prescription, is birth control. Believe it or not, some types can help with acne.

    I'm glad you're doing this series because almost everyone can relate, including me. Good luck on finding a way to control your acne and keep us all posted. :)

  • Nina

    I feel your pain, not a day goes by when I don't have a new and painful bump on my chin or cheek. Have you tried Mario Badescu? I've heard lots of rave reviews about the products, although I've never tried them because the prices are a bit steep.

  • gg

    it happens to the best of us! i have NO idea what triggers my acne. i wear makeup which only makes it worse. ugh. thanks for sharing.

  • Latinminx79

    I know this is random and since your all natural but just thought I'd ask have you ever thought of birth control. I went on it about 6 years ago for my skin and I rarely get breakouts. And since them I have been able to get rid of all the dark spot left from old breakout.

  • Anonymous

    I found that the acne products from work. I have sensitive skin and they have really clean all natural type products. The prices are a little much, but it works and they last for a while.

  • τreciä

    I swear this is the weirdest thing! we get the teenage years all cute and stuff and by the time we reach our 20's our bodies pull a fast one on us… My skin is "clearing" up all i do is switch up my cleansing products.. I'd use my mothers, my sisters and my own. as if that lasts… bam i break out again… Have you tried the oil cleansing method? mixing stuff u can find in ur kitchen?

  • Milan Angel

    Girrrl! I WISH I could show you what my skin looked like a year ago. It would put those pics of yours OUT OF BUSINESS. No seriously. Each person's skin is different so what may work for some may not work for others but i've found that Proactiv 3-step system (at night) and Cetaphil facial cleanser (day) works for me. I also use Cetaphil facial moisterizer at night before bed and my dermatologist recommended Aveeno Positively radiant SPF30 for daytime moisterizer (my skin really loves the soy in this stuff). I also use a cream the derm prescribed called Azalex. I think that's my secret weapon. That Azalex cream has my skin looking better than it did when I was younger and didn't have much acne at all! It really has improved the overall look and healthiness (is that a word?) of my skin. But that's what works for me. Once I find a good skincare routine I stick with it. I don't test out a lot of different products claiming to do this and that because sometimes that can make the skin worse. I consulted with my derm on all products I used before and she told me what to keep and what to chuck out and what to add. ((big hugs, sis)). You are GORGEOUS. All of us are and you and your skin are going to be happy with eachother once again.

  • Urban Sista

    Your smile outshines any blemishes! Keep your head up :) Have you tried drinking apple cider vinegar and water daily? My skin is decent, but I noticed when I did that for a month it totally cleared up any blemishes. Oh! I've also used natural olive oil soap — it's very gentle, but cleansing. I saw a big change in the texture of my skin with that… Good luck!

  • Tess

    Brittany don't despair! There are a lot of really good products to help control acne both from the dermatologist and over the counter. Be patient because they can take some time to work – the improvements do not necessarily come immediately. Also, people are seeing your beauty, not any minor imperfections!

  • Nicole

    I had some acne problems as a teenager, and then once I hit my twenties everything just went away – until last year, when I started using all kinds of makeup! My skin went crazy. Since I haven't done the YT vids for a while, I've quit using a lot of makeup on my face, and now it's starting to calm down. I still get the occasional breakout, but it's mainly during "that time" of the month. I try not to mess with it by picking at it. I did during the worst of the acne use apple cider vinegar on my face as a toner, and it helped immensely.
    You're beautiful, regardless! I think these ladies are right in that we have to find what works for our skin, as everyone's skin is different, and then stick to it. It does make sense. But it's the journey to that point that is painful!

  • nineanais

    I appreciate your maturity and positive energy, but I feel your struggle. I had similar problems and then, my skin just kinda cleared up. I can't explain it, but I'm thinking it was related to hormones, stress, sleep and water quality (I moved around quite a bit in my early-mid 20s) just as much as it had to do with diet, exercise and the products I used. I think it also took a while for my skin to get used to a routine/regimen, because the minute I got frustrated, I'd try something else.

    My first piece of advice is to talk to your dermatologist, and also your general practitioner. You want to be sure that your breakouts aren't a symptom of something else, or a side effect of another medication (like birth control) or a result of your endocrine system being slightly out of balance. If you've already gone that route and aren't interested in a cream or a pill that may have side effects, you might want to consider a more holistic skin care approach. You could consult an esthetician, a naturopath or a holistic skin care practitioner.

    Whatever you do, hold on to that radiant attitude, and stay beautiful.

  • Amina

    I love your positive attitude. Everyone gave you great advices :)
    I just wanted to say see a dermatoligst too…Seeing one has helped me so much :)

  • beautyjudy

    Girl you ARE beautiful! I like you attitude about it!!!


    I feel your pain! It drives me crazy that I'm 24 and still dealing with acne. What sucks is that products that work for most people don't work for me…like benzyl peroxide does absolutely nothing for my skin but everyone loves proactiv lol. The best system I've found is Murad and I'm sticking with it as long as I can afford it. I look forward to your acne journey!

  • Anonymous

    I feel your pain. As a "acne late bloomer" myself, I went the dermatologist route for several years before deciding to try Paula's Choice. Her products have been working for me for the past two years. I enjoyed the results so much that I even went to see her on tour when she came to Atlanta to say thank you. Crazy, huh? Now the only acne I get is hormonal. Thank goodness!!!

  • Dimpledgemini

    I had the same problems until I started taking the Pill for birth control….one of the side effects for me is the clearest skin I've had all my life.

  • Rachel

    It sucks to have breakouts. Thankfully, for those of us fighting them (and I'm 38 and still do), our skin doesn't look as bad as those with "dry" or "normal" skin does. I find that the girls I knew in High School with really pretty skin now look rough and wrinkled.

    It takes patience and tenacity to get through what is causing your issues. Just take it one day at a time.

  • Anonymous

    I hear ya. I'm older than you and up until recently was still dealing with adult acne. A few months ago, I started washing my face with liquid Black Soap and applying 10% benzoyl peroxide all over my face. My face completely turned around. Also I used the oil cleansing method which also worked pretty well. Hope all these suggestions work for you.

  • Anonymous

    Your plight is bringing out of lurk-mode…My 2cents:

    *Pretika face brush – at night
    *Jojoba oil – to remove eye makeup and as a at night moisturizer it helps balance skin and unclog pores
    *5% or 10% Ben Peroxide – whenever needed
    *Jan Marini Biogylogic Cleanser – morning or when needed
    *Mild Castile Soap – use with Pretika at night
    *Use clean white cotton towels and clothes for face
    *Keep scalp clean
    *Change sheets and pillowcases religiously
    *Keep makeup brushes clean
    *Skip latex sponges and applicators
    *Drink plenty of water
    *Make sure you are regular
    *Coffee and splenda are bad for my skin.

    HTH's – Angie R.

  • Stefanie

    I completely understand!!!! Many of the suggestions posted are good ones. Personally, I try to use natural products as much as possible. I do use some products that aren't, but in moderation. For skincare, I basically use Korres, Earth Science, and Philosophy products. It seems that you are already doing good things such as drinking water, keeping your face clean, etc… but hormones can be a beast!

  • K

    I had acne in my early 20s even though I didn't have it in my teens. Nothing my dermo did for me worked… but I grew out of it!! GROUP HUG!!!

  • sel

    B, I'm loving this pep talk! Sing it with me… "We are beautiful…in every single way…pimples can't bring us down noooooooo!"

    Okay enough Christina, I know you are getting a million recs but the regimen truly changed my life. I've also just started a retinol (RoC retinol wrinkle-reducing something-or-other serum) and it's made me a little dry and sensitive, but I'm already more glowy and breakouts are going away super fast. Just thought I'd share! I'm with you all the way in this journey, mama! xoxo

  • Martha

    Trust me, I know what you're going through! I'm currently dealing with a horrible onset of adult cystic acne and it's pretty much taken my will to live. On a daily basis I hate walking around knowing that people are judging me by my face and what I look like. People probably assume I just don't care but honestly, I've spent thousands of dollars trying to sort this out and nothing is doing the trick. SO, I shall join you in this quest of yours!!

    We ARE beautiful, no matter what sort of flare ups our skin has decided to throw our way.

    Love your spirit!

  • Anonymous

    I have the same type of skin, but mainly on my t-zone.. what I found really worked was the Body Shops new tea tree oil line, its amazing.
    You cleanse, tone, and then moisturize every morning and every night. Within a couple of days, my skin improved noticeably, and even past blemishes were fading. It's been only a week that I've been using it, but its magic! :)

    Also, getting a lot of sleep helps too. And water, but you're already doing that :)

  • timelesslisa

    Thank you so much for sharing your pain, I'm dealing with hormonal acne for the last 2 yrs & I'm just over 40. Stress makes it worse so I can not go without my Timeless Presc. 3 Step Acne kit, Daily Emulsion & ph Normalizer, Cellular Labs Vit C serum & Alpha/Beta peel 2-3x a week. When I'm good with my nightly regimen it stays in check. I've also got to remember to drink my vitamins too because antioxidants on the inside help me alot. I find that Aloe juice as a spot treatment soothes inflammation but I can't stand flare ups that take up to 2 wks to fade sometimes, makes me very self-conscious even if no one can tell under the concealer.
    *more group hugs!*

  • Amanda

    This is so cool! This women Rose that I’ve been following for a while is doing this whole thing where she sends out organic free skin and beauty recipes all month long. She has a free video you can check out here. Just thought I would pass this along.

  • em

    I'm more of a lurker on your blog (I love it!) but I just had to comment because I was the same way. Started breaking out like crazy a few years ago, and the pimples looked just like yours, and were really painful–even when I'd brush my fingers against a pimple it would feel awful. I started using Dr. Hauschka products about 2 years ago and they have really calmed my skin down a lot, and I get far less breakouts. Good luck with trying out different products and like you said, no matter what you're still beautiful. :)

  • GreenEyedArtist

    Dont waste your money on Bare Escentials Blemish Therapy. It wont do any good. My acne is similar to yours – large, painful with scaring.

  • *Coop*

    Same page again. I've been dealing with breakouts recently too. In the past, I could just drink more water and things would clear up. Not now. I'll keep checking back to see what works for you. So far, Clean&Clear astringent + Neutrogena bar aren't working. Neither are witchazel + Burt's Bees orange cleanser + peach scrub. :-(

  • Traca

    you're gorgeous. i have break outs at times. the only thing that i find that works for me is pure tea tree oil. it dries it out 2 nights tops, and once you get into a routine, it prevents them. $7 a bottle at wally world, all natural, and works wonders.

  • Anonymous

    haha. i know what you mean. but my face has really been nice to me lately. i have used some special tips of mine and urs to combined the perfect way to apply mascara for me. u want a pic?

  • Christa

    You are still beautiful. Don't dispair.

    Here are a few novice suggestions I have for you. Simplicity is the key. Wash with a gel cleanser with salicylic acid (sp). Neutrogena and Mario Badescu are good lines to try. Both are affordable. Apply a thin layer of benoyl peroxide to purge your skin and prevent new breakouts. Apply a light, oil-free moisturizer as needed. You might not need one night and day. Heck, you might not even need it everyday. I would also recommend laying off the sunscreen products until you figure out what's breaking you out. After, you skin has calmed down, I'd definitely slowly add a face specific sunscreen back into my regimen. I use an oil control lotion from Dermatologica with builtin SPF.

    For a while, keep your face products to a minimum. I know you live in a humid environment so this is important. Avoid silicone products and products that contain silicone at all costs. It causes cystic breakouts on my face and I don't even break out regularly.

    If these measures fail, I'd seriously consider consulting a dermatologist for further guidance. God speed in your journey and keep up the fabulous posts.

  • May Caroline

    Just found your blog and I love it. I couldn't tell that you had skin problems until this post. I agree with the previous posts on going to see a dermatologist. I saw one a few years ago and it was useful. She was a big advocate of prescription strength Accutane, which was a huge help. Good luck, and thanks for sharing your beauty tips!

  • ItsMsJ2u

    Make sure you visit a dermatologist. I had some bad breakouts a few yesrs ago & I decided, after trying everything that I knew to try, to visit the Dr. I can't remember if he said what "type" of acne it was, but he did say that nothing topical would have helped. He may have been saying that just to push some pills, but whatever he gave me helped.
    Good luck and I hope things start clearing up soon. =)

  • fashionprincess

    hey i know you have a ton of comments so I hope you read this. I had horrible acne and one of the things that helped me is natural skincare. this one called zenmed really got rid of my acne. Plus there are pills to take that cleanse you on the inside and help clear up your skin internally and externally. You should seriously try it.

  • B

    fashionprincess—> Thank you sooo much for letting me know about this one. I'm going to check out the website now!

  • Jennie

    Your skin may need extra care. Check out your food habits and product you use for routine skin care. You need to choose products suitable to your skin type. Check out the site called to get your personalized product recommendations.

  • Trishita

    Hi. i am a regular viewer of you blog,am from India. I'm facing the same problem like you. and to be honest I just love my skin when it is makeup free and smooth like hell. I'm 22 years old and I never had a single pimple in my whole teenage. but now I am battling with mild acne since 1 year specially in summers. God I hate summer months.

    What regimen I follow? well I wash mah face with dermat precribed cleanser,then using Dr. Brandt blemishes no more intensolution to tone my face. it'll prevent new breakouts frm coming but it is useful in treating whiteheads/blackheads but wont give fruitful results if you have acne caused by P.Acne bacteria .

    for acne marks I can suggest you a awesome product
    Dermajuv acne scar fading cream and its very very very very expensive some 80$ :O I'm going to try it soon but I've heard some raving reviews about it.
    for reference see the links below

    another honest reviewer

  • You are so incredibly inspirational!
    Acne always makes me feel so, so, so unattractive. I feel embarassed to go out, or even let my boyfriend see me without makeup before bed. It just brings you down in so many ways, so like you, I’m trying to fight it!
    I’ve started in on the Alba Botanica Acnedote train, everything except the lotion, and I believe (knock on wood) that’s it’s slowly but surely helping my face get to some level of normalcy.
    Please, PLEASE, continue to be as honest and wonderful of a blogger as I’ve seen because all of us suffering from acne sure appreciate it!