My Skincare Journey

Full disclosure, I used to have pretty good skin. Sure, I suffered from the occasional teen acne, but a breakout here and there never hurt anybody! With a few visits to the dermatologist and prescribed medication, most of my breakouts were under control. But let’s talk about genetics. Both of my parents were blessed with beautiful skin. My mother only uses body wash to cleanse her face and the woman rarely has breakouts. With that being said, I was never taught the importance of implementing a good skincare regimen into my daily routine. Heck, I didn’t even know what combination skin was until college. Once I left home to attend college in the midwest, my skin really cleared up and this is also the time that my obsession for makeup began.  

I rarely wore makeup growing up because I usually had practice or a game almost every day. To be honest, make up was not a priority for me and the lifestyle I lived at the time. Fast forward to my freshman year in college and I found myself watching every and any makeup tutorial on Youtube. The videos ranged from how to correctly apply bronzer to the different types of foundation and even cat eye tutorials. I was simply addicted! After two years in the Midwest, I moved to sunny and humid Florida. As I grew older, I expanded my beauty knowledge and creativity. I went from wearing light makeup to full face glam almost everyday (what was I thinking?). It was a habit I just couldn’t shake. I really started to take my skin for granted and back to the dermatologist I went. 

I visited countless dermatologists and was prescribed a numerous amount of products, but my skin kept getting worse. At age 26, I was suffering from the worst cystic and hormonal acne EVER! During my engagement, I found myself at a very stressful stage in my life. I was planning a wedding, working long hours, and renovating a house. I know this insurmountable stress factored into my acne, but I remember waking up on my wedding day, the day you are supposed to feel like a “princess,” praying that my makeup artist could make me look like someone else. I had no self esteem, lost all of my confidence and if I’m being completely honest, skipped a lot of events because of my skin. And then one day, soon after my wedding, I had enough! I made a promise to myself that I would do whatever it takes to clear my acne. 

Countless of chemical peels, prescription medications, extractions and facials later ($$$$), I finally threw in the towel. Up to this point, nothing had worked. My skin had become more irritated than ever and even resilient to medication. In September of 2019, I made an appointment to see the best dermatologist in Tampa, Dr. Risa Ross of Bay Dermatology, Lutz. She is well known for her expertise in a small yet powerful pill called Isotretinoin otherwise known as Accutane. It took quite some time and numerous approvals (seriously it’s no joke), but I finally began my Accutane journey in October of 2019. I was beyond excited and expected to see results right away. Looking back, I laugh at that naive statement because little did I know how long, arduous and painful the journey was going to be. I have a serious love/hate relationship with that tiny pill. 

I did my homework prior to pulling the trigger on Accutane. Most of the videos and reviews I read stated patients saw clearing within their first month. Within my first month, I had double the amount of craters on my face and boy were they painful. I started with a very low dose and eventually in my fourth month, increased to an extremely high dose. It took five and a half months to finally see some clearing and I completed my journey after seven months. Accutane is a closely monitored drug in order to manage patient risk due to extreme long-term and even permanent side effects. Patients need to register and meet all requirements through a risk management distribution program called iPLEDGE, prior to receiving the medication. Once the patient is cleared through iPLEDGE, they will receive a 30 day prescription after each monthly dermatologist visit, which prior to that, blood work and a pregnancy test needs to be completed. Your dermatologist (prescribers need to be registered and activated with the iPLEDGE program as well), will submit the paperwork for approval while the patient answers questions through their iPLEDGE portal. The patient only has a five day window to receive their next monthly prescription, so don’t miss an appointment! Should we also discuss the mood swings, frequent urge to go to the bathroom, headaches, blistered, peeling lips, dry flaky skin and the excruciating joint pain?

While this may seem like a ridiculous amount to go through for clear skin, I don’t regret the journey at all and I will tell you why. Because my skin was so dry, wearing makeup actually looked worse than allowing others to see all of the bumps, pimples, dryness and redness. Over time, I learned that makeup should only be used to enhance the natural beauty we all possess, not cover it up. I gained the confidence to go outside makeup free, but most importantly, I learned to love my flaws! Through Accutane, I became educated on my own skin. I was always told I had combination skin, but I actually have very dry and very sensitive skin! I started to treat my skin with clean products that were gentle and hydrating. Within one month of using safer ingredients and cleaner products, my skin went from clearing to zit free! I was also lucky enough with the timing that my last few months fell into a stay at home order from COVID-19, where I forced myself to go makeup free at least five days a week. 

Through my own education, I finally have a good grasp on makeup and skincare products that will benefit my skin, not irritate it. I went from wearing full glam makeup only a year and a half ago to now a simple tinted moisturizer with SPF, mascara and blush. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my full glam days, but now I know how to verify ingredients to ensure they are safe for sensitive and acne prone skin. Don’t worry, I’ll share my secrets in a future blog post. A routine that usually took me forty minutes now only takes me ten and because of this, I have time in the morning to play with the puppies, make my coffee, prepare for my workday and reset my mind. I still have an obsession with makeup, but this girl has an even bigger obsession with natural, clean beauty.

I would be lying if I said I don’t want to look like I’m twenty-five when I’m forty, but it’s finding ways to do this organically. I know this was a long blog to get through, but I hope my experience can help you and others in your skincare journey. Stay tuned for more beauty content!

Until next time,