I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
You know how as a kid you’re super unaware of your body and its various imperfections until someone cruel points it out? Yep, that's how it went with me and my acne.
Although my face was never an issue, my back, arms, and chest were always dotted with red blemishes and scabs. My mom--who had dealt with similar breakouts in her preteen/teenage years--took me to a dermatologist right away.
The thing is, it didn’t really bother me all that much. I knew my skin was bad, but at least I didn’t have acne all over my face, right? I wasn’t really that ashamed. Then, when I was about 12, I went swimming with my older male cousins at my aunt’s pool. I was standing on the diving board contemplating jumping and my cousin was standing behind me. “What’s that on your back?” he asked.
Context: this guy was a popular, spoiled 21-year-old with a huge attitude. I looked up to him, though, and I wanted him to think I was cool. I'm sure he knew what was on my back; he didn't need to ask. So when he did, I totally froze up and didn't know what to say . Not taking the hint, he continued to ask until, finally, my mom chipped in. “It’s just a little bit of acne, don’t bug her about it,” she told him.
Then he looked back at me and said something that would stick with me for the rest of my life, “Well, you better clear that up quick, Lyss! No guy’s gonna like that!”
I jumped off the diving board and sank to the bottom of the pool. I was absolutely mortified. No one was going to want me like this, with these disgusting pimples all over my body. I felt doomed.
From then on, I was determined to eliminate my acne. I got the strongest acidic creams the dermatologist would prescribe; I had my mom pop my gross pimples; I showered constantly; I used special soap; and I kept my bumpy red skin covered up.
I even went on birth control. First the pill and then the very intense Depo-Provera shot, which halted my period. The constant hormone fluxes caused a ton of depression and anxiety issues, weight gain, and even more self loathing. Worst of all, nothing really helped my skin.
A lot of time has passed, and I still have the same blackheads, whiteheads, and mysterious bumps on my back, chest, and arms. They’ve definitely become less extreme as my hormones balance out with age, but they’re there--and, unfortunately, I’m a big picker.
I’ve come to accept my flawed skin as just another part of me, and I don’t let it hold me back from wearing certain things like I once did. But I'll admit, I feel a bit deflated when someone close to me sees my body acne and says, "Oh, your skin looks really good right now!"
Lately I've been working out a lot (Barreworks!), so naturally, on account of the sweat, I'm breaking out more than usual. Here's what I've been doing to keep it under control.
How I Remove Sweat Post-Workout
When I'm not at home, I use Comodynes makeup remover wipes for post-workout sweat removal. Formulated to cleanse, tone, and moisturize, they're the next best thing to a shower. They're also great for removing makeup before you workout, if you're coming from work or something.
My Go-To, Acne-Fighting Body Wash
Like fellow xoVain contributor Mari, I regularly use Mario Badescu's products to treat my acne. As soon as I get into the shower I slather on their A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap, a specially formulated acne product for the body. It exfoliates with grapefruit and papaya and soothes with oat protein. The scent is fruity, delicious, and clean.
What I Spot Treat With
Instead of picking my pimples, I apply Mario Badescu Drying Lotion with a Q-tip each night, and it really works to eliminate pimples and redness, especially with whiteheads. The formula has salicylic acid to clear blockages, colloidal sulfur to help heal skin, and calamine to soothe redness.
The Moisturizer That Keeps Me From Getting Dry and Itchy
I never used to moisturize my skin because I was worried it would cause breakouts, but over the winter my skin became super dry and got really itchy. My solution was Tata Harper’s Fortifying Body Lotion. Cruelty-free, all-natural, and made without artificial fragrance or synthetics, this lotion absorbs easily and gives skin the healing nutrients it needs to regenerate cells.
Anyone else out there had a family member or friend make a bonehead comment about their acne?