My Skin Journey- Unfiltered

OKAY, so this will probably be one of my more vulnerable posts that I will share as I have struggled with acne and sensitive skin for a good portion of my life. Acne is not just a chick thing. Lots of dudes struggle with it as well, so don’t feel like this is gender specific. My skin is something that has always been a struggle for me. I want to share some things I tried that didn’t work and what I’m doing now that has brought my skin to where it is today. First thing to remember is that everyone’s skin is different. What didn’t work for me, could work for you. What worked for me, might be a total bust for you. I’m also not a doctor, so please do not take my word as prescribed.

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Before you really try to successfully treat your skin, you have to know what skin type you have. My skin used to be extremely oily, but since I have entered my mid 20s and been on Accutane etc. my skin is dry-combination, which is a blessing. I’m learning dry skin is a lot more forgiving than oily skin. If you have been through both extremes, you will understand my view on that subject. Your skin type will determine what kind of face wash and moisturizer you use. It will also affect what type of makeup you use- for the ladies.

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Stress and acne?

It could be a thing. It could not be thing. I personally don’t believe stress is a major cause of acne. I say this because I work in a stressful atmosphere and I do not have major breakouts anymore. I also don’t believe that food plays a role in your skin. If you eat a greasy bag of potato chips and then touch your face- then you might have a problem. Again, I’m not a doctor, but this is what I have found from trial and error, from switching my diets up and coming up empty. It also depends on what kind of acne you have. From age 16 I had cystic and hormonal acne on my cheeks, chin and jaw line. I wouldn’t get little tiny friendly zits. I would get mountain ranges and would give them their own names. No joke. Throughout my teen years I tried topical ointments, pro-active and all those other TV famous kits, prescriptions like tetracycline and monocycline and birth control. Nothing seemed to keep my acne at bay. Because of my horrible acne, I became INSANELY insecure. I wouldn’t take pictures. I would have my hair down and in front of my face. I heard people talking behind my back about my skin and how horrible it was. I would tell my mom that I didn’t want to go to school. Let’s just say I was a REAL mess for a very long time. I lacked self-confidence and I was emotionally wrecked.

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These pictures are really hard for me to share because it’s coming from such an emotionally sensitive time in my life. In my eyes I looked like a monster and I honestly felt like a monster. The bumps, redness and dark scars were absolutely horrendous. People shouldn’t have to go through the self-hate that I went through. Around age 23 I finally decided to try Accutane because my acne was SO horrible and hurt to even touch my face. The top 2 pictures were my skin before treatment and the bottom 2 were from after.  Accutane is a prescription treatment that is very intense and rough on your body. Your lips bleed and your skin is flaky and dry the entire time you are on it. I got a nose bleed every week and my ears would crack from dryness. You feel lethargic and groggy most of the time. On top of all that, you must also be on birth control and have blood drawn every month to make sure there is no liver damage from the medicine and to make sure you are not pregnant. If you were to get pregnant while on Accutane, your child can be born with serious deformities. Luckily, I’m not sexually active at all so this was something I felt responsible and confident with. Every month you also have to take an online test to be sure you understand the seriousness of the medicine and its side effects.

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I know that sounds horrible, and it was, but my skin started to clear up 3 months into the cycle. By month 6 (bottom 2 pictures), my skin was completely clear. At 6 months the treatment was finished. They don’t want you to be on longer than that. I stayed on birth control to keep my hormones somewhat controlled. The Accutane helped a little bit with my scars, but not enough to make me feel great about my skin. My skin stayed fairly clear for about a year. Soon, I started to see heavy breakouts again.

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So, here I was at age 24 with adult acne. YAY! SUPER. I could somewhat cover it with makeup, bright filters on instragram, bangs and hats- but I knew I had to fight yet another battle. My dermatologist was somewhat stumped. She said I should try tetracycline again and see if that can control my hormones. **Insert non amused emoji face.The last thing I wanted to do was try something that didn’t work before. My hormonal acne had me feeling insecure again. God really challenged me through this stage in my life. I’m not a shallow person, but all I could think about was the way I looked. My acne had me so self-conscious about everything. It was a constant struggle to understand that God made me just the way I was supposed to be, yet I felt so imperfect. I learned a lot about myself and how I handle situations like that (not very well). I started to look at myself in the mirror and look through the surface to see what God really saw in me. Just as God looks at our hearts, I finally started working on mine. I started to love myself again and love who He made me to be.

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While working on loving myself in the skin I was in, I still wasn’t going to give up the fight. Instead of looking to my dermatologists, I started looking to those around me. I started asking questions to people who I knew had overcome acne. A friend of mine told me that she started taking birth control and Aldactone. Combined together, it has cleared her acne. Aldactone is a diuretic, but when combined with birth control has been known to clear up acne. How come I had never heard of this? Probably because Aldactone is not specifically for acne, so my dermatologist was not going to mention it to me. Some Christians may not approve of birth control, but that’s an entire discussion I’m not going to dabble in. My primary doctor put me on this combination and after 3 months my skin was completely clear. I’m currently on month 6 and it is still clear. The biggest side effect I noticed was dryness and nausea. I switched from taking it in the morning to taking it at night, and I no longer feel nauseous. It’s a fairly mild medicine and I can stay on it as long as I would like.

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The best drug store face wash that is strong enough to get my makeup off, but gentle enough to not break me out is the L’Oreal 360 Clean for sensitive skin. It comes with a gentle sponge so I don’t have to use my hands (that may be dirty) to wash my face. I’m also not a fan of using towels to wash my face. They seem kind of rough and you don’t want to use it more than once- that just seems like a lot of laundry. I use this wash morning and night and it has made my skin feel SO clean.

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Next product: Simple Micellar cleansing water. This falls in between a toner and cleanser. I use this after I wash my face to make sure all dirt and makeup is fully removed. Most toners are pure alcohol and  SO bad for your skin. They strip your natural oils and can make your skin very confused, which makes it produce excess oil. Yes, your skin can feel confused. It has feelings. Alcohol toners can also accentuate your wrinkles or even make them worse. This micellar water is gentle, but removes the junk while leaving my natural oils alone. I’ve noticed my skin has a lot more healthy glow to after putting down the alcohol based toners.

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The moisturizer I use is Burt’s Bees Brightening Moisturizer. I have uneven skin tone and scars. I feel like this moisturizer has truly evened out my skin. It’s not harsh and it smells so good. I love that it comes in a pump bottle. It does not have SPF in it, but I usually use a face primer that has SPF. My makeup also has SPF in it. You will not regret trying it out. I use it morning and night. I’m also prescribed a retinol cream to help with scarring that I use at night. You would have to see your dermatologist to be put on it. That is the harshest thing I put on my face, but I only use it 3 nights a week and make sure to moisturize right after.

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Some people love using masks. From what I have learned from my dermatologists, most masks are not great for your skin unless you make it yourself from pure ingredients or it is applied at a professional salon. A brand that they recommended is Mario Badescu. This brand is carried in a lot of holistic health stores. I chose their brightening mask to help with my uneven skin tone and scars. I use it once a week. They have several other types of masks if you don’t need help with skin tone. I want to try them all. Oh and it SMELLS AMAZING. Zack doesn’t hate it when I wear it around him because it smells nice.

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Price Breakdown:

Burts Bees $20

Simple Micellar water $8

L’Oreal 360 Clean $5

Retinol Cream $35

Mario Badescu Whitening Mask $24

^Most of those products will last me 6 months. The retinol cream and mask will last a year.

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This unfiltered picture above was taken a week ago. EEK. I don’t ever post pictures where you can see my scars. I currently have no cystic acne. I am still working on the scarring left behind. I do not get plastic surgery or botox. That’s just not my thing. I have done a couple sessions of microdermabrasion and plan on doing a few sessions of Skinpen micro needling. I have a plan with my dermatologists at Pariser and they really want me to feel beautiful at my wedding this fall, so they are dedicated to my case and keeping me on track. I share this story in hopes that if there’s someone out there reading this who has struggled or is still struggling with skin issues, that they would know they are not alone. The worst thing you can do is tell yourself you are not beautiful or worthy. Above all, you absolutely CANNOT quit. God make us all unique in His image. That means our skin is going to different. That doesn’t mean we have to live with acne and insecurities. Get to a dermatologist and make a plan. Stop using harsh chemicals on your face and start treating your skin like it’s delicate and special.

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^Hey- no filters, hats, or heavy bangs over here! I’m so happy with where I am today and can’t wait to continue this journey of loving the skin God gave me. Stay strong everyone and know that I’m rooting for you!

xoxo

Ashley

{Please comment with any questions or if you are struggling with acne. I want to help!}

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11 thoughts on “My Skin Journey- Unfiltered

  1. You are beautiful inside and out. Thank you so much for sharing. We all have our issues. Mine is my weight. I really struggle so, I know the insecurities. You are so brave for sharing this and I am so encouraged by your story.

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  2. Wow, I have never thought anything about your skin, other than you are beautiful. We see ourselves so differently than other people do. I see you as beautiful and confident. We all have stuff we don’t like about ourselves. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Wow! What a truly beautiful and insightful post. I am inspired by your authenticity. And I, too, only saw flawlessness whenever I encountered you. Undoubtedly, you’ll make a stunning bride. “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:29-30

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    1. Lynda, thank you for those kind words. The only way I can encourage teens to be authentic is to be authentic myself. I hope it can encourage them! I cannot wait to be a bride- praying my face cooperates that day! Thank you for the scripture.

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