I was asked by my classmate way back in third year high, I envy you; how do you keep your clear skin? I told her, nothing. I don’t have any secret to it. Deep inside, I really thought I was blessed with good skin genes.
How wrong was I to assume? I am stupid enough to assume.
I had the pimple/acne problem later than my friends. I had it right after high school. The summer I left my high school to start a new life in college, the pimples also started.
My mom was a bit worried, she had pimples too when she was my age she told me. She then advised me to use Johnson’s baby shampoo. I did what I was told, even if baby shampoo made my hair more stringy and greasy. I also used Johnson’s baby soap, for my face. I also got myself Eskinol overnight pimple gel, that I always see at TV commercials. That seemed to work for a while but, time progressed and I was getting oilier and the pimples are growing too. They are growing in size. (I was about 15-16 years old this time)
I was also prescribed a huge bottle of Cetaphil facial wash, along with a tube of Pan Oxyl acnegel, by a derma (Family derma) who happily said child, you are now a dalaga (Filipino word for a lady). How was I to be happy and excited to be a lady if I have a growing pimple problem? I have clear days and put-a-paper-bag on my head days.
Oh, I also loved the blue Ponds powder that they discontinued. Why pond’s? why?! It effectively hides the redness of my skin.
At seventeen years old. Second year in college. Semester break. I had rashes on my tummy that I paid no attention to. After a day, I have a huge boil in my forehead. A trip to the family doctor confirmed, I got the dreaded CHICKENPOX.
I was in denial! My mum told me that I was vaccinated against the pox! So, why do I have it?!
I can’t bathe, I was itchy all over, I have scars all over. I was a polka dotted mess, with oilier face and bigger persistent pimples.
It was hell.
I applied Sebo de macho to my scars, like my life depended on it. I wanted to get back to normal ASAP!
I felt very itchy and there are now red patches on my skin, it actually made my condition worse. Went to the derma (near my mum’s office) to get it checked. The picky skin I have got irritated from the Sebo de macho. Stupid skin. Was given tubs of Kojic acid. (at that time Kojic acid was not that mainstream and was very pricey. 500php for a small tub of cream. A tub of cream lasts about 5 days max on me.)
The little self confidence I had shattered. My friends are afraid to see me for fear that they get chickenpox. I was segregated when I returned to class, I was asked to stay at the corner of the classroom, with two rows of seats apart. My classmates stayed away from me. I went to hiding in my denim jacket and refused to remove it even if it was sweltering outside. I stayed at the library during free time to hide from people and also for the air conditioner to soothe my itchy scab infested skin.
I got more pimples than before, this time bigger than before. I have brown scars all over, I was a pathetic polka dotted person. If only I could die now. I was depressed as hell. I envy everyone who has clear skin. I prayed every night for speedy healing.
I spent every peso I have buying products that I thought could help me get back my previous skin. Even if I don’t eat lunch, as long as I get products to get my skin back….desperate much.
I have Likas papaya soap as my body soap, Eskinol calamansi toner for my whole body, a pumice stone, St Ives Apricot scrub for my face and body. Nivea whitening lotion for the body, and Nivea whitening cream for the face, and a oil regulating toner. My skin is starting to heal, in a painfully slow manner. And with the limited amount of money I have, I can’t keep up buying the brands I was using. I switched to Ponds detox white, and Skin white lotion.
The scars are now a pale pink/reddish brown dots on my skin.
It was pure torture. Mental/psychological torture.
Slowly I healed. It took me about a year to fade all the scars the pox left me with.
By this time I was very much into sun protection as I am afraid the brown scar spots would come back when I am exposed to the sun. I spent all of my money on Nivea sunblock. In the highest spf concentration I could find. I still have my pimples/acne, it never went back to being small.
I graduated college. Found a job. (I was 20 years old then)
Squirreled some pesos to get more skin care products. I shopped at Rustan’s essences as they have the “latest” skin care items, I got Akin Hypoallergenic Shampoo (goodbye Johnson’s Baby shampoo) , Used Murad moisturizer and sunblock, and invested on Kose Junkisui a Japanese serum for acne prone skin. Also got the pricey Mario Badescu drying lotion, that did nothing to help my skin.
The pimples stayed but my skin is definitely better than before.
My aunt recommended I use Burt’s bees as she uses the brand for my acne prone cousin too. So, off to beauty bar I went and got the Burt’s bees garden tomato soap, toner and shampoo. Brought Olay moisturizer for day and night. Using VMV armada as my sunblock and Nivea hypoallergenic powder to counter the stickiness of the sunblock.
Then Burt’s bees garden tomato soap got discontinued. Disaster struck. (I was 21-22 years old by this time)
My skin went on a full rage mode. My pimples are now bigger than the norm, and they are painful. Without a “head”, it’s just painful bumps of red that lasts for weeks. I hated Burt’s bees for discontinuing the soap, I went to all the Beauty bar stores I know and came up empty. Defeated. I headed to the derma (Family derma) again.
This time, the acne/pimples has evolved. Cystic Acne.
I have to take a isotretinoin, a powerful drug. That has a lot of complications/side effects.
That I have to subject myself to monthly blood tests. I have to take ROACCUTANE.
A box is good for a month. A box costs a little below 3k, plus monthly waiver/consultation from the derma that sets me back another 600php. Plus facial treatment from the derma that adds another 1k to the mix. I am bleeding out almost 5k a month. Almost my whole salary is spent on my skin. On the first two boxes, I get aggravated breakouts, but that was expected said the derma.
I see my derma once a month.
After 3-4 boxes, my skin is significantly clearer. And my wallet is significantly thinner too.
I am also used to getting my blood test every month that I can assist the med tech on how to locate my veins. I can laugh and carry a conversation while they are getting a syringe full of my blood, and look forward to getting the results to get another waiver and buy roaccutane.
By this time, I am using only derma brought medicines. And a cherry Chapstick to counter the dryness brought about using the isotretinoin. My eyes are also dry that I have to place eye drops from time to time.
After 13 boxes. I stopped Roaccutane. Because it has huge drawbacks. See the list of its side effects here.
But, I’m thankful for the drug. It cured me.
Or so I thought. It was just a break for my heavy derma expenditures.
I continued using Derma brought medicines for another 2 and a half years when the pimples slowly crept back up. The derma medicines are not working anymore. I panicked. (I’m already 25-26 years old!)
Went to see another derma (this time a derma from St. Luke’s Hospital) who also prescribed Roaccutane.
Again I took the drug. For the second instance. This still entails the monthly blood tests and facials/medicines.
This time around I consumed 7 boxes and then was told to stop. I still see my derma once a month, for treatments. But the price of the treatments has grown significantly. I was shelling out 4k a month for her facials. With no more money to go back, I searched for a new derma.
I found one near my old high school. This time around my derma is male. That doesn’t charge much. (less than 1k! this is like a bargain for me!) Good for me, but he requires me to go see him for facial treatment at least every other week (that’s twice a month). I go see him three times a month just to be sure. I also get my medicines from him.
I also go see a female Medicard derma also near my old school, at a hospital clinic, when I have the time. This Derma told me to use the classic Colgate, Pantene nature care shampoo, stop taking vitamin B. Take vitamin A instead.
Technically, I have two Dermatologists. And I still have acne. I still envy people who are blessed with good skin.
To others who also suffer from acne, you are not alone. It’s ok to be depressed and all but, take the fight. Keep on searching for the “cure”. We are all different and my cure may not be the cure your skin needs but we have to patiently look for our own solution. Just think of it this way, we will not age as quickly as those who have good skin on their youth!
*All my reviews, opinions, and other stuff expressed here are my own and based on my own experience with the product. This is not a sponsored post, I paid for this (from) my own pocket.
**I am currently 27 years old and I still have the burden called acne/pimples. I am way past the teen-age hormone years and close to the big 30, but my skin still thinks it is a teen-ager. This is a rather personal topic for me. I won’t post pictures as I hate letting people see my bad skin.
***I can’t wear skin make-up (foundation). Only eye and lip make-up are ok with me.