Sponsored by Rogaine
Are you tired of hearing me talk about my skin yet? Yeah, me too. But today, instead of telling you how a product helped/did not help my skin, I'm giving you the full story by partnering with my friends at Rogaine, a brand dedicated to acting as a proactive means for treating conditions like hair loss or thinning hair, which are not only a hereditary condition, but a DNA-driven reality that all men and women will inevitably encounter with age.
I've been battling acne since I was a teen. I can't say I remember the first time a zit popped up on my face, but I do remember feeling plagued by mild breakouts throughout my teen years. I distinctly remember my mom taking me to get intensely painful acne facials, where (I'm convinced) the aesthetician's goal was slow torture by means of dousing my face in the strongest acids one could legally use on skin. I saw countless dermatologists, and used a multitude of salicylic acids, benzoyl peroxides, acne washes, oil-free moisturizes, and retinols that never seemed to make any difference. I went on rounds and rounds of different oral antibiotics, spironolactone, and yes, even accutane. I listened as friends (close friends, best friends) said things to me like "well I never wash my face and I've never had a pimple, so why do you get them?" I listened as everyone from random strangers to beauty store employees to skincare specialists (I literally had one of these experiences two days ago) take it upon themselves to, without solicitation, tell me what I was doing wrong and how their expertise would finally fix my skin. It was usually the same advice: "you have acne, therefore you must have oily skin, try exfoliating, never use anything moisturizing, and try x ingredient." None of it ever worked, and all the "advice" started to wear on me.
And after trying everything (I really do mean EVERYTHING), I realized that it wasn't fair for all of these people to make me feel at fault for a medical issue. I realized that it was my DNA; just as my DNA gave me blue eyes and a petite stature. While some people's DNA plagues them with thinning hair, mine gave me acne. Thanks, DNA.
Regardless, my acne got worse during the second half of my college career. Not only are deep nodules painful to the touch, but it became painful for me to even look in the mirror. Once, when I started to send a snapchat selfie, I broke down in tears; I didn't recognize myself. My skin had been so ravaged by this monster that it had zapped me of all confidence. It wasn't simply about vanity or not looking "pretty." My skin just no longer felt like my own, and I was tired of being upset about it. So I went on another oral medication (spironolactone), which helped clear up my skin...for awhile. But I got tired of always being on pills. I wanted something final. I wanted a cure. So I eventually made the difficult decision to go on Accutane.
I heard plenty of commentary about this decision as well. Countless people told me how terrible it was for me. How it would ruin my body forever. How I should just try something else. And I get it; accutane is no laughing matter. Monthly dermatologist visits, monthly blood tests, invasive and condescending monthly iPledge "quizzes" to make sure I understand the risks and that I AM NOT ALLOWED to get pregnant on accutane. It's a big frickin' deal, and doctors take it seriously. After being on my first course for 8 months, my skin looked beautiful...for awhile. And then it broke out again, even worse than before. It was devastating. This was supposed to be the end! The cure! And as a full time blogger, trying to hide my acne under a blanket of make-up for photoshoots and events became increasingly difficult, physically and emotionally. I probably had a full on tear-filled breakdown on a monthly basis.
But I decided I can no longer let my DNA define me. I'm defying my DNA through big decisions, like starting my second round of accutane (this time with less apprehension). I'm done with the feedback of others (specifically of those who aren't experts) who try to tell me what I should/should not do with my own body. I'm done feeling victimized by my vitriolic skin. I'm defying my DNA through smaller steps and lifestyle changes, like seeing a nutritionist to address any dietary issues that could be adding to the breakouts. And through healthy living-- working out, eating better, and taking care of my skin. I'm not going to lie; it's been a really tough journey, one that isn't even close to being over. But I'm optimistic that I'm going to get through it, especially with the support of my friends and family, whom I'm so lucky to have.
Thank you to Rogaine for partnering with me on this post!