The Pursuit for Perfect Skin

I have had acne-prone skin almost all my life. I started to break out around the age of 11-12 years old. I have had cystic break outs, black-heads, white-heads, you name it! I have also been to a total of three dermatologists in my life time. I am now 21, and finally learning to love my “flawed” skin, so to speak. I spent my teenage years trying every method and acne prescription there was, to “cure” my acne. I even took prescribed antibiotics made to target break-outs, at one point. To make matters worse, alongside the acne came hyper pigmentation. Being a melanated black woman, I am no longer a stranger to hyper-pigmentation, but as a budding young woman, I was baffled at the dark spots that appeared in my teens. All I wanted was for them to fade away, and they did, however I could not kick the habit of picking at my skin, which would only bring them back. I even had one dermatologist prescribe a spot treatment bleaching cream at one point. I however never tried it, as my mother and I were afraid of the accidental damage that could occur.

I constantly envied others who had flawless, poreless skin. People that used grapefruit scrubs and called it a day, yet had not one blemish. Not only was I very self conscious about the skin on my face, but it did not help that no one else in my Jamaican family had ever had acne issues. They all seemed to be born with flawless skin. Therefore my mom could offer no real help besides driving me to the dermatologist. She also obsessed over why my skin could not be perfect. Despite the fact that I knew she was only trying to help, it only made me feel worse. Even now, when visiting relatives in Jamaica I find that not many people have acne, and they all seem to have flawless skin (possibly related to what we consume and the overall environment). My grandparents, uncles, and aunts, are always baffled at my acne-prone skin.

As I approached the end of college, I stopped using prescription acne products and turned to YouTube for advice. I then discovered face masks, such as Lush cosmetic’s Blueberry “Catastrophe Cosmetic” face mask, that could calm my cystic acne, and reduce the pain that came with it. I learned about the aztec clay mask and apple cider vinegar, as well as the importance and use of toners. Lastly, I learned about the 60 second cleansing rule (scrub your face in circular motions with your cleanser for one minute, so that the ingredients of the product can penetrate and truly do its job), chemical exfoliants, SPF, serums, and moisturizing even when you have oily skin. I also learned about how micro-beads in face scrubs can encourage hyper-pigmentation, and that they are actually the devil. I eventually stopped caking my face with high coverage foundations, that never truly felt comfortable on my skin, and started accepting my “imperfections”. I now use gentle exfoliating toners that slowly turn over the skin and renew the surface cells, as well as wear moisturizers that contain SPF, religiously, and wear more comfortable medium coverage foundations (fenty beauty soft matte foundation is my ride or die).

As I continue to learn more about taking care of my skin, I have accepted the fact that I have problematic skin, and that it is in fact okay to have blemishes. Not having “perfect” skin is not the end of the world, and should be considered normal instead of goal that MUST be achieved, in order to truly be beautiful.

Zahra Marston

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