Ever since I started high school at age 12, I’ve had acne to some degree.  I’m 38 now, so that’s a long time to deal with something that most people only experience through their teenage years, if at all.  Apart from clothing choices, it’s never really held me back, it’s just been an annoying nuisance.

Starting with the usual T-zone pimples that most kids get through puberty, I dealt with having a spotty face pretty well, by assuming it would all go away in good time, and I would be like everyone else.  My hormones had a different idea, and thought it would be cool to get all messed up and give me full blown acne that covered my cheeks, then traveled down my neck and chest, across my shoulders and around to my back.  I even had pimples in the crooks of my elbows.  Hormones can be such jerks.  I tried hard not to let it diminish my confidence, but occasionally a fellow student would say something stupid and it would knock me around a bit.  It’s funny how you remember almost word for word the negative remarks strangers or acquaintances have said to you, but not the positive encouragement from your loved ones.

Feeling like I was dirty and unclean,  I used all manner of deep cleansing washes, scrubs and astringents, which did nothing but leave me red and inflamed.  I tried not to squeeze, but that’s pretty hard when you have yellow and white pustules sticking out like little volcanoes on your face and body, so I used to have pick-a-thons, that left me a bloody, bumpy mess.   Wearing makeup seemed like I was making my skin dirtier, so instead I used a ‘medicated cover stick’ that was the colour of no skin I had ever seen, but I smeared it over my spots regardless, in the hope that no one would notice what was happening underneath.  It was like the facial equivalent of two Big Brother contestants ‘just being friends’ under a blanket – pretty sure we all got away with it.

I saw doctors, dermatologists and natural health professionals, who prescribed all sorts of lotions, potions and medications.  One of them wanted to put me on Roaccutane, but I wasn’t prepared to deal with the side effects, and chose a broad spectrum antibiotic instead.  It was slower to work, but in the end, it helped calm my acne down.  What I didn’t realise was that it had also played havoc with the good bacteria in my gut and caused a bunch of digestive issues for me later in life…but that’s another story.  The GP I was seeing, specialised in natural remedies and used a holistic approach to treatment.  He would make up a topical lotion based on calamine, that my Mum would paint all over my back with loving pity.  It was quite a depressing, private moment that she and I shared, and it still makes my eyes fill with tears.

My skin settled down in my very late teens as I swapped antibiotics for the contraceptive pill.  Once I started working around this time, I was also able to afford beauty treatments, and found an Ella Bache therapist to be most helpful.  I spent much of my pay on facials and skin care products, and learnt so much more about acne and how to treat it.  It was from then on, that I was kinder to my skin, and to myself.  My 20s was a great time for my skin, with the (very strong) pill keeping my hormones balanced and my face pretty clear – I don’t think I have ever been completely free of pimples since I turned 12, there has always been at least one little sucker somewhere on my face or body, reminding me that I once had acne.

Not wanting to rely on synthetic hormones to keep things under control, I would test the waters every so often by going off the pill, hoping that each time I did, I had outgrown the acne and could just get on with my life.  There would be hopeful optimism and crossing of fingers, as the first couple of months would prove successful, but alas, the inevitable return of the spots would sending me crashing back down to earth and running headlong into the arms of Diane (name of pill, not lady friend).  My resulting clear complexion came at price, however, and in a bittersweet twist, Lady Diane (apparently banned in New Zealand), sent me bat shit crazy.

With my friends having grown tired of my Sunday morning apology texts, I knew it was time to make some changes.  The new low dose contraceptive pill certainly helped control my behaviour, but allowed a few more (manageable) spots to appear.  All was fine and dandy with this new compromise, until I decided to have a baby.  The three year journey from going off the pill to meeting my daughters, was a long and difficult one, and not just for my complexion.  My face fared well, with only the occasional zit, but from my jawline down, things weren’t so great.  Big, sore, cystic pimples appeared on my neck, chest, shoulders and back, taking an age to heal and leaving me with scars and discoloration.  My body confidence was at an all time high from regular yoga practice, however I was so embarrassed about my pimples that I felt too self conscious in swimwear or revealing clothing – even sleeveless tops were a rarity at this time.  Fortunately my yearning to be a mother far outweighed my desire for a perfect complexion or backless dress, so I took it all in stride.

Post pregnancy hormones are a bag of dicks too, so I have since found myself dependent on the pill again.  If I had the time and money, I would persevere with alternative therapies like acupuncture, or even just experimenting with my diet, but life is not all about me at the moment, so for now, I’ll take the easy way out.  I have a little bottle of spot fighting lotion from Indie Lee, which reminds me so much of the calamine treatment I used as a teen.  It took me a while to find an all natural acne remedy containing my favourite zit zapping ingredient, sulphur.  Not only is the Blemish Lotion chockers with sulphur, but packs an extra pimple clearing punch with zinc and salicylic acid.  A veritable triple threat, zits have no chance against this baby.  It takes down redness immediately and speeds up the cycle and healing time of even the biggest pustules, even if you’ve had a sneaky squeeze.  The bottle is lasting forever, as I only need to attack a few spots here and there, unlike the calamine lotion that had to be painted onto most of my back with a brush.  When I recall that period, I’m grateful now for only having to deal with a few blemishes at a time, but I also think that forty isn’t too far away, and isn’t it time I was done with all this shit…

Kind Beauty Points: Cruelty free, eco friendly, natural.

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