When almost every other bodily problem is up for public discussion, why does adult acne get left in the dark? Writer Laura Jane Williams brings her breakout battle into the open
So the thing is, I’ve always had pretty amazing skin. And that’s a really shitty thing for me to say, because nice girls don’t gloat about such genetic triumphs. It’s like saying “No, I eat whatever I want, I never put on weight!” or “Oh, my lashes naturally hit the glass of my spectacles.” I know this. But I promise what I’m about to type will satisfy even the most extreme schadenfreude hankering.
From November 2012 to April 2013 every Facebook photograph of me has been touched up, on iPhoto, so as not to reveal the true state of my skin. Karma came to bite me on my ample ass, you see. I got adult acne.
I amassed a collection of painful pustles under the skin, positioning themselves in such a way that it meant natural sunlight made it seem as though Batman’s Egghead had invited his whole family over for dinner along my jawline. The fluro lighting at work made the mounds on my chin look red and angry, pounding for release. Washing didn’t work, makeup did sod all, and the stress of worrying about how I was putting my colleagues off their lunch made it even worse.
Seldom did my irritations do me the pleasure of developing heads to be squeezed in order to release the pus. Any PMT blemish before The Skin Debacle of 2012 would’ve been dealt with in that way. But my bout of adult acne? Not so amenable. And it made me fucking miserable.
The truly ironic part of this devastating turn of events – and truly, I have now come to understand how absolutely, cripplingly mortifying bad skin can be – is that at the time of my outbreak, I was writing an eBook about adult acne. Say what you want about the universe, but that bitch has got one hell of a sense of humour.
I used to think that irrespective of the odd pimple it was who you were on the inside that counted. Well I’m calling shenanigans on that. Despite the fact that I’m a smart woman- I graduated top of my class, pay all my own bills, date, have friends, work hard, play harder, that is, in short, do everything normal, happy, functioning, people do- I could not get past the disfigured face I saw in the mirror. Over Christmas, I didn’t even leave the house. Kids- that kind of behaviour just ain’t me.
But that’s just it! Spots send you bonkers! It’s all you think about! All you see! AND THAT’S NOT ALL. As a sufferer of adult acne, you wonder if every time somebody makes eye contact with you, from the sales clerk to your BFF, if they’re thinking to themselves, “Wow. Sister be gross.” So basically I just stopped making eye contact at all.
My self-esteem was never as low as it was in those months.
I tried everything. Two litres of water a day. Lymphatic drainage massages. Eight hours a week of blue light therapy. New cleansers, different toners, no moisturiser, more moisturiser. I felt better for being more hydrated, and I’ve since recommended Lustre Light Therapy to friends because it helped enough to be worth a try for anyone, but I still couldn’t talk about acne. I still couldn’t use words to describe the debilitating angst that I felt, for the first time in my life, teenage and adult, ugly. And that goes hand-in-hand with worthless. I felt that, too.
My boss, wise elder, took me aside one day, slipping a box of Priori Advanced AHA facial cleanser into my palm. She had me combine it with a Vitage Age Defence Hydrating Mask a few times a week, and Medik8’s Growth Factor underneath my twice-daily Nivea application. I got salon-strength exfoliant to use twice a week, and switched my foundation to a tinted moisturiser so that my face can breathe better.
After 8 weeks of intensive TLC, my face started to heal. I felt like myself again. I don’t know why I got a breakout when I did- hormones, my “big move” to London, bad luck- karma? I don’t even know which part of my solution to recommend to you.
But what I do want to say, is that why is it we can talk about in-growing pubic hairs, fanny farts, thrush and scaly dandruff, but acne is off limits? The thing I wanted most during my six-month pizza-face ordeal was, aside from a solution, an honest conversation about it. But I was far too embarrassed.
It’s only now I’m almost back to my old spot-free self that I feel confident enough to say guys. We need to talk about adult acne.
I’ve stated my case. What’s yours?