Growing up, I had a sneaking suspicion I’d fall victim to acne sooner or later given my dad endured years of cystic acne, even into adulthood. At least acne doesn’t usually strike until puberty, right? That’s (usually) correct! Lucky for me: I hit puberty before most of my peers.
Body hair, voice cracks and mystery emotions were all accompanied by what would become my new nemesis for almost a decade: inflamed acne. At least it was only on my face though, right? WRONG. I had bacne—like BAD bacne. Like, “oh my god, my vision is getting blurry because I bumped into a back zit the wrong way sitting down,” type of bacne.
The universe decided to play another joke on my insecure 13-year-old self: My middle school had a swimming pool.
Bacne + awkward pubescence = middle school NIGHTMARE.
(If only young crusty had this blog to reassure me everything would be okay.)
Solving the bacne debacle was relatively simple: I sat in the bleachers and refused to participate in gym class during swimming units.
After deeming my masterful plan to hide my bacne from the general public as a smashing success, I had ALL the time in the world to stare in the mirror for hours loathing my large pores and zits of all shapes and sizes.
(Again, if only there was an over the counter supplement to help curb inflammation and fight acne from the inside out in my youth. ALAS. I’m glad this generation can experience the zit fighting magic of SKIN DISCIPLINE even if I was left stranded with awfully stripping topical treatments)
ANYWAYS! My acne slowly but surely eroded my self-esteem. I distinctly remember dreading looking in the mirror each morning, afraid to be greeted by all of the pimples that found a home on my face as I slept. Likewise, I avoided eye contact with the mirror when I came home from school. Feelings of shame and humiliation washed over me when I saw the face, full of new pimples, that the world was staring at all day long.
I became desperate for solutions. From using toothpaste as spot treatments to those awfully drying acne face pads, I tried it all. In retrospect, a more thoughtful and simple routine would have served me far better than trying everything I could get my hands (and face) on. However, in hindsight my acne taught me so much about myself and what is really important.
The inspo for little crusty came from a joke that “even when my skin was at its best, I was still just a little crusty,”. And that was liberating. I don't need glass skin to feel good enough to leave the house without makeup. I’m allowed to break out and not want to hide from the world. If I could go back in time and give my 14 year old self a pep talk, these are some tips I would share.
First: STOP PICKING AT YOUR SKIN! I promise you this only makes your acne worse, which makes your self esteem worse, which makes you pick more. It is a vicious cycle. Stay at least an arms length away from the mirror. PLEASE!
(P.S. tossing a pimple patch, like the KILLA Duo, onto a breakout can help prevent picking while fighting the acne causing bacteria from the inside out!)
Second: focus on a thoughtfully curated and uncomplicated routine you know you can stick to. In other words, find your hero products and stick to them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Found a cleanser that works great for your skin? Awesome! Keep using that one and don’t get caught up in ill-advised suggestions from family members, peers or literal strangers on the internet! (Also, you don’t need to wash your face three times a day, and also also: oily skin needs moisturizer too!!!)!)
Finally, I realized I had more to offer the world than achieving skin goals. Furthermore, #SkinGoals look different for each of us! I felt that my life could improve if I could just clear my acne for good. It felt like a constant roadblock, in spite of the fact that it was 150% self imposed.
Your skin is the largest organ, but beauty runs deeper. It extends beyond what your skin looks like and what you are wearing. Beauty enshrines so much more. How do you treat others? Are you kind? Supportive? Giving? Do you make others smile? (Do you make yourself smile? When was the last time you laughed?
We are always shifting, changing, and growing. Our skin is no different.
“Imperfections” do not carry any moral value. It feels necessary to reaffirm this point to my younger self, and all of you now, because the slew of perfected, filtered skin across social media platforms can start to warp our own perceptions of ourselves. In a sea of products meant to “fix” my skin “problems” I began to feel like a failure.
I was left wondering if something was wrong with me. Maybe I didn’t want clear skin. I began thinking: maybe I did something along the way to deserve this. The unshakable and unsettling reality of living in my own skin, rife with daily personal condemnations in the mirror.
Skin texture is not an indication of a lack of willpower or innate character flaw. Please, please, please do not let external aspirational beauty standards begin to seep into your spirit and erode the ground beneath your feet that allows you to stand firmly, proudly, in your being.
Breakouts are not indicative of an ethical shortcoming.
Your skin is beautiful now, tomorrow, or a week from now, because it is yours.
Your value does not change like the seasons. To reiterate, to be flawed is to be human. Following that logic, who is to say they are even *flaws* in the first place?
(And to be frank: In 5 years nobody will remember that one whitehead you had on your cheek, I promise.)
Now? I feel great in my skin.
Unafraid. Full. If people are staring at my “imperfections”, I sure as hell don’t notice, not anymore.
So, go forth—be crusty.
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