By Whitney Hunter |

To the elderly woman at HEB that pointed at my acne and gave me her unsolicited advice on how to fix it—thank you, but no thank you.

Having acne is hard. You don’t want people to look at your face and you’re hyper-aware of your flaws so if someone comments on your acne, you get overly sensitive. You want to mask the redness and bumps with makeup, but not too much makeup due to a fear of aggravating the situation. It’s a constant struggle.

I could complain all day about the annoyance of having a red, speckled face, but in reality I haven’t had it that bad compared to others. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I never really had acne in middle school or high school. I had the occasional zit as all pre-pubescent kids do, but it was never something that made me self-conscious.

That is until college rolled around. Junior year got here and so did my acne. It wasn’t just one or two little zits, it was a splotchy, beard situation of cystic acne. It didn’t just hurt my self-esteem—it just straight-up hurt. Inflamed and painful pimples covered my face. I thought picking and poking at them would lessen their appearance, but no matter how much I thought it would help, it just made it worse.

I tried every topical treatment I could imagine. I watched hours of people’s skin-care routines on Youtube. I saw my face in the mirror in the morning and just hated it. After some Googling and swallowing my pride, I asked for help.

I talked to my hairdresser who had told me in the past of her struggle with acne. She recommended her dermatologist and what worked for her. I thought, “this is it. My skin is going to go back to normal.”

I went to Coastal Dermatology ready to get prescribed a miracle pill. My dermatologist told me that I, like plenty of other college students, am suffering with hormonal acne.

I was shocked. Other people my age are dealing with acne for the first time too?

Call me naive, but I thought that since I didn’t have acne in high school, I wasn’t going to ever struggle with it. Yes, I’m aware how ridiculous this sounds. I blame this belief partially on pop culture and society, as the people who struggle with acne are always teens. By the time people get to college in movies and TV shows, they have glowing flawless skin. This was not my case.

I got prescribed spironolacton, a high-blood pressure medicine that also serves as an androgen blocker limiting the production of acne. I was so excited to be on medication that on the drive home from the doctor, I went to Target to buy a pill box. Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous this sounds.

The thought of waking up everyday to take a pill that I truly believed would get rid of my insecurities made me beam with joy. Each day I woke up, took my pill and waited.

A week passed. Nothing.

Then a month passed. Nothing.

Three months. Nothing.

After some research on WebMD (something doctors absolutely love), I called my dermatologist and explained that it wasn’t working and I wanted to up my dosage. She thought it was a good idea and I went from 50 mg to 100 mg. But sadly, I had the same results.

A week passed. Nothing.

Then a month passed. Nothing.

I was over it. After more research and reflection, I came to two major realizations:

  1. You are not any less beautiful or worthy because you have acne.
  2. If your body is producing red, inflamed pimples, maybe there is something wrong going on inside of your body.

I embraced this wholeheartedly. I stopped wearing makeup on weekdays to give my skin a chance to breathe and it felt amazing. I didn’t feel self-conscious showing a bare-face because I know that I am more than my acne. I have been focusing more on eating a healthier diet which has been making some improvements on my skin. As much as I love cheese and ice cream, dairy doesn’t seem to do wonders for my skin, so I have been limiting my intake.

I’ve also switched to a more natural skin care routine and have stuck to the belief that less is more. I don’t need to have an eight-step day and night regime for my skin. If just a few products give me results, why add more? My skin care regime is made up of just three products: face wash, facial oil and a face mask I use once or twice a week. All of these products are natural and I can pronounce each ingredient, which is reassuring when you’re putting something onto your body’s largest organ—your skin.

You do not have to use more natural products if that is not what your skin responds well to. A crucial thing to realize when combating acne is that each and every one of our skin types is different. What breaks me out might give you a radiant glow. It’s all about finding what works for you and sticking to it.

If you’re dealing with acne or any other thing that makes you look in the mirror and want to burst into tears, try to live by this cheesy motto: act confident and no one will question you. It just might help you start to tackle those insecurities.