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My frenemy Acne Vulgaris 2

Previously on “A Young Woman Complains About Her Acne Story”…

I’m kidding! Although some of it may sound like a classic telenovella, I swear everything is all true. All real. Now, where were we…

So I started with a new range of skincare products. My sister had some pretty bad acne too, so my mom went and got us pharmaceutical-grade cream – and this just made things way worse. The stout white tube labelled Differin Gel, contained adapalene, a chemical; specifically a retinoid known exclusively for it’s acne-removing miracles. There are many other retinoids available, however adapalene is the only one that may be received over-the-counter. It has many amazing acne-fighting properties by targeting the cells in your skin so that pores do not become clogged and reduces inflammation. It has worked wonders for millions and I mean millions of people worldwide. Some of the side effects aren’t pretty and this is what made me stop with the treatment – dryness (and slight peeling because of it), burning, itchiness, the list goes on. And no medication comes without its side effects, but in this case, the negatives outweighed the possible good in my case.

Adapalene: the retinoid for full-on acne domination.

So I used this horrible-smelling clear gel everyday, twice a day. I washed my face, scrubbed my face. And before I left for school and before I went to bed, I applied my Differin Gel. Now one of the key signs that it’s working is the burning and the breakout of dozens of new pimples. A whole lot of redness and inflammation. It’s almost as if dealing with your new sebum-filled inmates wasn’t enough, they had to go and put you through more pain by throwing some redness and discomfort into the mix. In this case pain is beauty. Literally! But this is all part of the healing and regulating process, but it just was not for me.I know, I know what you’re thinking : Zahraa! Why didn’t you stick with the treatment!? I mean yeah, I guess I should have, I would’ve proabaly been snatching wigs everywhere I went, but I just couldn’t. I was weak. 

Well, because I was a coward, I retreated with my skin in this healing, yet vulnerable position and began using other products. Because my regular dose of adapalene was not being put into my pores, my acne inevitably got worse and my skin type went from normal to oily. I started using products designed for those with oily skin. But because I was cleansing my face often and aggresively, I stripped it of all its moisture. My skin began peeling; not like a long-Summer’s-day kind of peeling where you get a tan as a bonus. No, more like a you used the wrong skincare products hunny kind of peel. This peeling was also one of the side effects of the adapalene that is usually present during the first weeks of usage.    

Now stuck with my skin so dry, it could make the Sahara jealous – I pumped it full of moisture boosting agents and oils. And yes, you guessed right again! Things took a sharp turn south and my skin type undergone a journey – and went from normal, to oily, to dry. Ugh! And and now finally, my skin has ceased (for now) in it’s identity quest and I now have combination skin. A combo of dry and oily. Of sad and loney. And of mad and groany.

But although my skin stopped transitioning, I was still left with large red mountains. Deep battle (lol) scars and super itchy and inflammed skin. I was not a happy-chappy. In fact, I still felt pretty gross. No! I just felt gross, no pretty involved!

But after the lessons I learned of using chemical-ridden products, I didn’t want to return on that path. And I know that it works for many with severe and mild acne, and if I had stuck it out and followed through properly on the treatment; I would’ve been the glowing Artemis I was always destined to be. But this whole “journey” was more than just about looking pretty – I just was not feeling it. Deep down, not in the pores of my skin, but in my heart – I felt unhappy and the confidence I once had in the beginning of puberty was lost when I realised that I was the only pimply freak in a room of well-groom and well-developed adults.

Before I could heal my skin, I had to heal myself. And that meant doing a lot more than slathering cream on my zits. I had damaged my skin because I was impatient, incompetent and ignorant on the time and process my skin had to take to get better. But because I was crazy-eager to return to my clear-faced past, I recklessly put my face through some harsh and tough love. And that all stems from deep within – somewhere inside I thought that how I looked was not enough. I believed that people were going to taunt me relentlessly. Kids were going to laugh and adults were not going to let me in on their adult secrets. And now that I’m typing this all out, I’m legit laughing at how stupid I was. How could I let something so dumb get to me? I let those acne adverts and clear skin campaigns get the better of me – how dare I do that to myself!? It was time for a change.

I was going to be starting my second year of college and I wanted to start it off well. First year, you’re still finding your feet, when second year comes around, now you truly feel like a tertiary student. And I didn’t want to be starting off my second year with the same gullible and adolescent thinking.
It was time for a change – a change that I was more than happy to make.

~ Thank you to everyone who showed interest in this topic, it means a lot to me. I will be making a third addition, which will serve as the ‘happily ever after’ to my acne story. Please leave a comment below with any of your acne experiences, want to hear your stories!


Adapalene: the retinoid for full-on acne domination.

Adapalene Gel.​


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