Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had picture-perfect skin—the kind that was naturally glowing and fresh, barely needed products, and was completely clear (minus the occasional hormonal breakout). But then I went to college, and boom—acne! Whiteheads, scars, cystic bumps; you name it, I had it, and I had absolutely no idea what to do about it. I wanted to cover it up with makeup, but that only made it worse. It was stressful, but the more I worried about it the worse I broke out. I felt so alone. The majority of people I knew who struggled with acne had dealt with it during their awkward middle school years, not when they were freshmen in college. But the truth is, I wasn’t the only one.
Our bodies change when we go to college, and it’s totally natural and perfectly okay. You may have heard about the freshman 15, but for me, and for so many other people out there, it was acne. After one year and countless topicals, medications, and skincare products later, my skin still isn’t completely clear, but it’s better. What has really improved is my attitude about it: I’ve discovered how to love my skin and take care of it even on its worst days.
One of the things I’ve come to learn is the perks of having a skincare routine, even if it’s one that’s constantly evolving as I try to find better products. I spend extra time in the morning washing, toning, and moisturizing my face. On days when I’m experiencing an especially bad breakout, I try to go foundation-free to let my skin breathe. As soon as I know I’m in for the night, I spend plenty of time washing my face again and really treating my skin to a more in-depth night routine.
When it comes to selecting products, I look for ones with short ingredient lists containing natural items. I’ve had luck with products that contain aloe, rosewater, and salicylic acid. Brands like Glossier, Mario Badescu, and Thayers make great anti-acne products that have helped me.
I’ve also learned that my skin is affected by what I put in my body. Thankfully, some of my favorite healthy foods like sweet potatoes, avocados, and spinach are great skin-boosters. However, my favorite food, ice cream, and all dairy products have been proven to make breakouts worse, so I try to consume in moderation. Also, drinking lots of water each day is a great skin-clearing method.
While it hasn’t been the easiest journey, having acne has taught me a lot about being kind to my body and taking care of it—and has helped clear my skin to boot.
Have you struggled with acne? How do you love your skin even when it acts up? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured photo by Lex Kelly.