You Asked: Am I Doomed To Have Scarred Skin Forever?

Big pores? Acne scars? “Textured” skin? I feel your pain.
Publish date:
January 6, 2014
primers, pores, mac, Urban Decay, advice, makeup, skin, foundations, highlighters, cystic acne, bb creams, acne scars, Smashbox

Hi Alle! I don't want to offend you, but when I see close up photos of your skin, it looks like you have large pores and that your skin is perhaps more "textured" than most, on your nose and cheeks. Is that correct, or do the super-close-up photos just make it seem that way? If so, do you use a primer to help "fill in" your pores? I feel like I need some kind of spackle to smooth out my face, but it seems like nothing is made to really do that. Can I fix these? Or should I just forget it and work with what I've got?--Jane Eyre.

To begin with: My dearest Jane, it is not an illusion. I have some larger-than-normal pores on my cheeks and on the sides of my nose. I also have a couple in between my eyebrows and on my chin.

They are not terribly noticeable in real life, but you guys see my face at, like, four-times magnification three times a week, so obviously you’ve noticed. These, along with some deeper scars on my cheeks, are the result of a horrific bout of cystic acne that happened when I was 24.

As demoralising and awful as the acne was, though, it wasn’t the worst part of that situation. No, that would be the cancer.

Cancer is a total bastard like that. Not only does it try to kill you, it also screws up your beauty game. It’s easy for me to make jokes about this now, having had a clean bill of health for four years. But at the time, there was nothing funny or flippant about it. It was the suckiest suck that ever sucked, and having my nice skin ruined was the cherry on top of a truly horrible experience.

It took a long time to fix my skin (not to mention my emotions) once I got the all-clear. And I know that I’ll never have the smooth skin that I had before I got sick. That isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things--I’m still alive, my health is good, and that’s what matters. Plus the damage is pretty minor.

But I’d be lying if I said that my imperfect skin doesn’t bother me a tiny bit sometimes. Maybe this is because I am a beauty writer and the pressure is ON for me to look really good, and maybe it’s because I want to slam the door on cancer and say “Screw you” to its lasting effects. So I have two choices: I can either save up my money, go to a cosmetic dermatologist and have my skin lasered, abraded or filled, OR I can say “Whatever” and make peace with the skin that I have now.

Those are my only options. There is no product I can buy at the drugstore or at Sephora that is going to get rid of my pore issues or reduce my scarring in any significant way. Anything that could do that would be a drug, and only a doctor could prescribe it to me. Please don’t waste your money on snake-oil that promises to give you photoshopped skin in real life.

Someday I won’t worry about the discomfort or the cost, and I’ll go to a really skillful dermatologist who will fix my skin with lasers or dermabrasion over a period of several months. If I ever make that choice, you better believe I’ll write about it and let you guys know what’s up. But I’d want to be sure I could take enough time off afterwards to recover (if I needed to), and I’d also want to be sure I wouldn’t end up truly madly deeply in debt.

So for now, I say “Whatever.” And I work with what I’ve got.

As for the primer part of your question: Yes, I use one, but I am yet to find a primer that can make my skin look completely smooth. I don’t think it really exists.

Right now I like the Smashbox Photoready primer, which I apply a little more heavily over the uneven areas, let dry, and then apply either my Smashbox BB cream or Urban Decay’s Naked Skin foundation on top. Marks and pores are far less noticeable afterwards.

This is also one of the secret reasons that I love the MAC Iridescent Powder so much. The shimmer helps to diffuse light and hide my scarring, plus it looks really shiny and pretty.

I realise that my case is a mild one, and I don’t want anyone out there to read this and be like, “I am deeply unhappy with my very scarred skin, WHAT DOES THIS CHICK KNOW ABOUT MY ISSUES?” I know I’m coming from a relatively lucky place, and that my scarring is pretty minor. Having skin you’re not comfortable in can really affect the way you feel about yourself, and I want you guys to be happy! Take care of your face AND your emotions. Go see a dermatologist.

A few things to keep in mind...

You can love yourself as you are, but also want to make changes to your appearance. I love my face, and I make sure my skin is as good as it can possibly be--but if I could wave a wand and get rid of these cancer-acne scars, you better believe I’d do it. I know I’m not alone in that.

You should also be reasonable about whatever choices you make. Consider that not every procedure has amazing, brochure-worthy results. Can you live with that? Will you be happy with “improved” or are you insistent on “perfect”?

I also think that you are awesome the way you are RIGHT NOW. Having your face lasered might make some things easier over time, but it won’t change the person that you are and it won’t heal any hurts that are inside of you. Like yourself as you are, work what you have right now, and make any big decisions about cosmetic procedures with a heart full of love and a brain full of sense.

I hope this is helpful! Remember that if you have any questions for me, you can submit them via Twitter, on Facebook or here in the comments!