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MY SKIN STORY | How I Cleared My Cystic Acne + My Skincare Routine

The worst feeling I’ve ever experienced? Talking to somebody and looking into their eyes, while they were looking at my chin.

From age 13+ I have struggled with severe cystic acne. And I do want to preface this post by saying that this is a topic that makes me mind numbingly uncomfortable and self conscious. But today I want to share my skin story with you.

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Toward the end of middle school, I began to notice my skin was changing. Small bumps and blackheads began popping up all over my face, but hey, I was 13- I thought it was just a phase. Little did I know I would struggle with severe cystic acne for the next 6 years of my life.

All throughout my time in school, I would hide behind my hair, cover my face with my hand, and avoid eye contact at any cost. My struggle with acne led to intense shyness, introversion, and depression. There is no worse feeling than being so uncomfortable in your own skin that you refuse to make new friends, stay camped out in your room every weekend, and delete any and all pictures of yourself.

It was this lack of confidence that led to my obsession with makeup and beauty products. I began wearing essentially a full face of makeup in 8th grade (TOO YOUNG) all because I couldn’t even bare to look at myself in the mirror. Seriously. Whenever I was in the bathroom I would force myself not to look in the mirror because I knew that if I did, I would want to spend the rest of the day crying.


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these are pretty much the only images I was able to scrounge up where I had cystic acne

Eventually, in the 10th grade, I decided it was time to go to the dermatologist. While it took several years to figure out and fix the problem, with her help I was able to get my skin under control. Over the next few years, I found a system that worked for me, and slowly began to see improvements in my skin. Today it’s the best it’s ever been.


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  1. Removing My Makeup: This is such an essential step in maintaining clear skin I don’t understand why some people knowingly skip it. Removing your makeup at the end of the day helps avoid clogged pores, excess oil, and irritated skin. Since I have incredibly dry skin, coconut oil is my savior. Ever single night I rub about a dime sized portion of oil onto my face, and I SWEAR TO YOU, nothing takes makeup off easier. Even if you have oily skin, this doesn’t leave a film of oil on your face, and instead acts as a nice little pre-moisturizer.                                                aun-1586_1z
  2. Exfoliate: Like I just mentioned, I have extremely dry skin (acne prone and flakey- can you get better luck than that?) so exfoliating is a must for me, and should be a must for everyone. By exfoliating your face, you shed all of your old, dead skin cells, and your skin is, therefore, able to generate new ones. If you skip exfoliating, not only will the dead skin pile up and make you look flakey, it wall also lead to clogged pores and excess oil production- a recipe for breakouts! A great option is the St. Ives Blemish Control Green Tea Scrub. This product is not overly abrasive, and is a gentle option for sensitive skin. It also has a percentage of salicylic acid, which is known to fight acne.Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser For All Skin Types

3. Cleansing: Here we have the step most people skip to right away- and with good reason, it’s important! Washing your face with a cleanser removes dirt and oils, gets rid of buildup, boosts hydration, and fights breakouts. Unlike exfoliating (which should only be done 2-3 times a week) cleansing your face should be done at least 2 times a day. My favorite cleanser of all time, and the cleanser that my dermatologist recommended to me, is the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for All Skin Types. This has a mild, non irritating formula, it is incredibly hydrating and gentle on the skin, and it is fragrance free!    3004. Moisturize: Keeping your skin moisturized is essential for maintaining clear skin. By hydrating your face, skin cells are able to restore themselves and heighten cell turnover. Moisturizers are made to hold water into your skin, and all in all is a necessary step in anyones skin care routine, not matter what skin type. My favorite moisturizer is the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream for Dry Sensitive Skin. This gives relief to chronically dry and flakey skin, it is fragrance free, and it prevents moisture loss.

My Prescribed Medications


5. Tazorac: This (which was prescribed to my by my dermatologist) is a retinol cream that is used to amplify the growth of skin cells. I apply a thin layer to my face (after making sure it’s washed and dry). This particular product was an incredibly difficult cream to get used to. When beginning to use this, your skin goes through a massive purge and it almost looks like it makes it worse- but really that just means that it’s working. This is used to pull out blackheads and imperfections, so it’s only natural to see a big breakout directly after starting to use this. Another warning- this is what turned my skin into the sahara desert. But after consistent use, it really does make an enormous difference.                                          aczone

6. Aczone: This gel formula is what I finish my skin care routine with. With 5% dapsone, Aczone treats both inflammatory and non- inflammatory acne. This is a lot less harsh than the tazorac, but treats present acne like a dream (whereas I find tazorac helps a lot more with blackheads and scarring.)

After about 2 or 3 years of trial and error with my dermatologist, we finally found the right skincare routine for me, and I have never felt more comfortable with myself in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still refuse to go a day without makeup, but now maybe I’ll wear just a little bit less. I still have that sense of humiliation that dragged me down for so many years, and it has been an ongoing struggle trying to overcome that. Even though I know my skin is better, I still have that thought in my head “you need full coverage, your skin sucks.” Everyday I am becoming more and more confident, but I know that it’s a process and I’m prepared for the ride.

I hope you enjoyed and that this post helped some of you struggling with cystic acne. I know it can be a painstaking experience, but there are ways to make it better. Have a wonderful day everybody 🙂

-Love, Lieve


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