Dani is a recent transplant from England and editor of The Freckle. When she isn't blogging about skincare or helping out at the BellaPelle studio, she enjoys playing the violin and writing comic books.
There’s no kind way to say this, so let’s just get right to it: I was a seriously pimply teenager. My acne problems started when I was eleven, and they just wouldn’t quit, no matter what I did. Having poor skin for most of my teenage and young adult years took a massive toll on my self-esteem, and let me tell you: I’m the kind of girl who didn’t find teenagerhood a picnic to start with.
I hit puberty early and all at once. Breasts, hips, hair in new places, my first period (sorry, guys!)...basically I went to bed one night with none of them, and woke up with the works. To complete the picture, my skin decided it was time to try out oil production, and, like any new venture, it didn’t exactly start out smoothly. By the time I was twelve, I was convinced my face looked like the surface of Mars - the reality wasn’t quite that bad, but it wasn’t good, either.
Now, clearly my body was conspiring against me, but if I’m honest I wasn’t putting up much of a fight! My lifestyle wasn’t great for keeping my skin under control. I was a pretty athletic kid, which meant lots of sweat and dehydration; but I was also extremely busy with extra-curricular activities, so not nearly enough showers. I had long hair that I often wore loose, so I had to deal with oil from my hair getting onto my skin. I swam regularly, so there was chlorine; I liked to spend time in the sun but I certainly wasn’t careful enough about sunscreen; I was a compulsive skin-picker when I was under stress (which, thanks to being at a very competitive school, was most of the time)...basically, I was doing just about everything wrong, and my acne was loving it.
The kicker came when I was twelve. On a family trip to Australia, I completely forgot to sunscreen my face our first trip to the beach, and by the next day my nose looked like a freshly-boiled lobster and felt like it was on fire. It was the worst sunburn I’ve ever had, and it was right on the most prominent part of my face. The skin bubbled, peeled and scabbed, and in an effort to fight the dryness and sun damage my oil production went into overdrive, leading to my worst acne outbreak to date. When I got back home, I went to see a dermatologist who prescribed a topical skin cream...to which I promptly had a violent allergic reaction. Whatever I did in a previous life to anger the god of skin, I was getting payback big-time!
My skin eventually healed from the acne/sunburn/allergy combo hit, but the damage it did to my self-image lasted for years, and the low self-esteem bounced right back to affect my skin. I had stress breakouts all the time, and I kept compulsively picking at them. I was convinced my poor skin was the reason boys didn’t want to go out with me, and I have virtually no photographs of myself during my formative years because I was so self-conscious in front of a camera.
What changed? Well, after years of skin specialists and cosmetologists and dermatologists telling me to use this regimen or this makeup routine or that special diet, I finally figured out that the biggest step I had to take towards good skin health was just to keep it clean. I started washing my face twice a day - it didn’t matter with what, as long as it made bubbles - and I made a concerted effort to keep my hands away from my face. It wasn’t until washing my face twice a day was a habit that I started thinking about particular products or regimens, but just making sure I cleaned all the day’s junk off my skin at the beginning and end of every day was enough to kick my major breakouts down to size. As my skin improved, so did my self-esteem: I went out more, I had more success dating, and I finally found the courage to let people take pictures of me.
At the end of the day, there really was no miracle cure - at least not for me. Improving my skin health took hard work and dedication, and being so sick of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin that I had to do something about it. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time, but it was absolutely worth it. Now I go out without makeup, I use products that I love, and I’m comfortable enough in front of a camera I’ve even been paid for it! I still break out every once in a while, but as long as I’m diligent with my skincare, I know I can keep it under control.
Have a skin story you’d like to share with us? Perhaps you struggled with acne as a teenager, or had a mole removed, or found a unique way to fight ingrown hairs. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org with your story, and if you’re chosen as the featured skin story of the month, you’ll win a free BellaPelle skincare product!