When was your acne at its worst? For many people, the answer is high school. Hormones all over the place, emotions and stress running high, and self confidence often running low. However, for some people, high school is only the beginning of their battle with acne. It lingers through their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
For this post, we spoke with Melinda, a self-proclaimed “wannabe skinfluencer” (@melindainreallife) who shares her struggle with adult acne on Instagram and her blog, Melinda In Real Life. An HR Senior Certified Professional by day, she spends her free time blogging about skin positivity, healing hormonal acne and everything green beauty.
At what age did you start breaking out? When was your acne at its worst?
At this point, I’ve had acne for so long that it’s difficult for me to recall a time without it. I’ve had blemishes since middle school, but they didn’t become noticeable until high school. After high school, my acne became even more severe. My skin was quite angry when I was finishing my master’s degree program a few years ago (likely stress-related), but right now, it seems to be the worst it’s been in a while.
How did your acne make you feel while you were in school? Did it affect your self confidence?
Interestingly, my acne didn’t bother me as much in high school as it does now. In high school, a lot of kids are going through similar skin troubles. I could look around and easily spot someone else with acne, so I didn’t really feel isolated. Even in college, it’s not uncommon for people to show up to class in pajamas or still wearing their makeup from the night before, so I didn’t feel like my acne stood out. While I certainly didn’t like having acne and actively tried to get rid of it, my breakouts didn’t have the same impact on my self confidence as they do today. It wasn’t until I finished my bachelor’s degree and was working full time that it started to really affect me. Suddenly, when I looked around, I couldn’t find a single person with acne. I felt like everyone else had “outgrown” their hormonal spots and mine were angrier than ever. Since then, I’ve been trying not to let my acne impact my self confidence, but that’s much easier said than done. I’m a work in progress, and it’s important for me to be authentic to show others that it’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out.
What treatments did you try to control your acne? Did you ever visit a dermatologist or try using at home remedies?
You name it, I’ve probably tried it.
Over the last decade, I’ve been to many different dermatologists and tried a variety of treatments, including Doxycycline, Omnicef, Minocycline, Spironolactone, Differin, Duac, Tazorac, Clindamycin, Edpiduo, Tretinoin, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. I’ve also used various dermatologist-prescribed skincare brands.
My list of over the counter experiments is even lengthier: from drugstore brands like Neutrogena, Noxzema, Aveeno, Sea Breeze, Cetaphil, Bioderma, Clean & Clear, Proactive and Cerave to high-end brands like Perricone, Tata Harper and Naturopathica. I’ve tried products without essential oils, coconut oil, silicones, parabens, mineral oil, talc and phthalates. I’ve blasted my skin with every possible combination of AHA and BHA.
Believe it or not, the number of diet and supplement changes I’ve made in an effort to clear my skin may be even bigger than the number of products I’ve tried.
You’re such a huge fan of Mighty Patch! Could you tell us why you love it and how you use your patches?
I feel it’s really important to use products with clean ingredients, and I love Mighty Patch because it doesn’t get much more natural than just “hydrocolloid.” A lot of spot treatments contain ingredients that I don’t feel comfortable using on my skin. After I’m finished my skincare routine, I love to cover all my pimples with Mighty Patch Original before I go to sleep. These days, I’m usually going to bed with at least six patches on! It’s pretty satisfying to wake up in the morning and see that it worked! It’s like magic. Instead of picking at a zit, I just have to let the hydrocolloid do the work and the pimples disappear overnight. For me, the patches work best on whiteheads, but I do use them on all of my spots! I’ve even found that Mighty Patch protects smaller zits from irritation while I’m tossing and turning at night and they are less inflamed in the morning.
Using lots of patches at once? Try Surface, a nighttime Mighty Patch large enough to cover an entire breakout area (cheeks, forehead, back, chin).
Was there a point where you felt like you finally “overcame” your acne?
I’m not quite there yet. I do, however, think that I’m at a good, positive point. I have an understanding of my acne triggers and which ingredients work well for me. For the longest time I was shooting to achieve celebrity-status, glowing skin, which is just unrealistic. Accepting that I’m genetically predisposed to acne and will likely have acne-prone skin for a long time was a big step in the right direction.
You spread a lot of acne positivity on social media! Can you talk a little bit about what encouraged you to do this and what sort of comments and feedback you encounter?
Never in a million years did I think that I would have the courage to share my acne journey on social media! I’ve been shocked and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that I’ve received. The acne and skin positivity community has truly been an unexpected blessing in my life.
Anytime I was in the midst of a bad breakout, it was helpful to see others on social media who understood exactly how I was feeling because they were going through the same thing. I wanted to be that person for someone else! I made the decision to start writing acne-related content for my blog and sharing my experiences at least a year before I built up the confidence to make the posts public. I had started to feel like a fraud because I only shared happy snapshots on Instagram, ones where you couldn’t see any of my breakouts. In person, my skin was a far cry from the fake world I had created online. Now that I’ve finally been able to open up, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
I think I’ll always get some unwelcome comments, but that just comes with the territory of being on social media. I don’t let it bother me and others shouldn’t either.
If you had to give advice to someone dealing with acne in school right now, what would you tell them?
I know that it can sometimes feel like you’re the only one with acne but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your skin doesn’t define you! Try to remember that 80% of people have acne and it’s completely normal! Surround yourself with a strong support system and people that care about you.
Help us continue the conversation! If you’ve struggled with acne and would like to share your experience, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below!