Words & Eccentricities

The Acne Chronicles

I may be masochistic, in a totally non-fetishist kind of way. After all, who would have the nerve to share “before” pictures of herself in the worst acne episode of her life? But I don’t exactly have a beauty-queen reputation to uphold and I’m no magazine cover waiting to happen, I’m just a short (and stout) Filipina, with a horrid acne tale to tell.

I’ve battled minor acne episodes all my life, but last January 2012, I woke up with a swollen face  and the start of an acne scare that I still dread to this day. If most people welcomed the new year with a bang, I said “hello” to 2012 with the beginnings of a self-esteem disturbance.

Aside from naturally oily skin (which I have yet to be thankful for someday, when all my batch mates have wrinkles and I, an active T-zone), I also managed to hoard all of my mom’s allergy-prone genes – and this combination was enough to send me maniacally heading to the nearest dermatologist.

The first clinic I went to prescribed a couple of foul-smelling liquid medications that were as smelly as they were harsh. When I first applied them I realized how those soap opera scenes with the scorned villain throwing acid on the “bida’s” face would have felt like in real life. To make the ordeal less tortuous, I had to stand in front of the air condition and the electric fan while I dabbed the hideous yellow liquid on my face. The experience was a rioting feeling of hot acid on my face and freezing cold on the rest of my body (yes, like I had the head of a werewolf and the glittering body of a Cullen). I had to do this three times a day…sometimes in places with no electric fans or air conditioning.

After the yellow liquid curse, I had to apply a white lotion of some sort that left crusty flakes around my pimples every morning. I had to get the crust after showering and then I had to apply everything all over again.

This wasn’t the solution I was looking for. This was facial hazing. I’d recommend this as a severe form of torture to anyone who would listen.

Thankfully my aunt asked me to stop the dermatologic suicide and referred me to her own skin specialist. Yes, she was sobbing when she saw me and my acne-infested face. So she brought me to a wonderful lady doctor who prescribed oral antibiotics, a week of steroids, a gentle facial wash (Cetaphil), a hormonal pill that acted as a diuretic, an anti-acne gel (Differin) and a keratolytic (Benzac).

I had to take the antibiotics and the diuretic pills for three months. Aside from that, my doctor recommended laser therapy twice a month. Yes, I was drugged. Hahaha

My acne scare was a learning experience. And no, I’m not going to be all poetic about it.

I realized that something as skin-deep and superficial as a couple of red, pustular spots can actually rob you of your own sense of worth. Those who beg to disagree have never had to experience the simple tragedy of daily commuting – when everybody else inside the jeepney stares at you and mentally wonders what-the-hallelujah happened to your face.

I realized that those mental notes can sometimes end up coming out of their mouths and they actually ask you out loud. For a while I got tired of actually trying my best to explain, so I  mumble stuff like, “vehicular accident, everybody else died”, or “an old lady with a voodoo doll and   a lock of my hair”, blah blah blah… Some of them never even catch that hint of sarcasm as I try to dramatically recite my response.

I realized that some people can be really, really, really mean. Sometimes all you have to hear is the sound of their voice and their expression when they ask you “what happened?” There are ways to avoid that question and the pitying looks (that may be sincerely meant once in a while) that come after. Before he/she can even say a word, get way ahead and tell him/her that she gained weight, a lot of weight…works every single time.

I realized that the people who really care about you don’t really care about the way you look.

I realized, with the help of a guy who still took me out on dates (in public) even if looked and felt like a total mess, that yes, love is blind.



I hated the sight of mirrors and this web cam shot was a struggle. You would cry too if it happened to you! ( that song from the problem kid movie).




This taken after a couple of weeks. Sorry for the utterly “pink” set of house clothes.





Image getting there soon! 🙂


8 thoughts on “The Acne Chronicles

    • Thanks, it was one tough journey, its still not done though, I have several more laser sessions to make the scars look more tolerable, right now I’m still a walking crater, haha

      • Does laser smooth out the indentations the acne leaves, or does it fix the colour?

        Have you seen that young American gal on the internet that has the incredibly popular video series on how to hide acne and the scars with an incredible make-up job? I watched that video and it made me teary, but wow, wish I knew that stuff when I was a teenager.

      • The “after” photos here are actually a product of oral medications (antibiotics and a hormonal pill), topical anti-acne creams and laser therapy for the discolorations. I’m about to start a different type of laser for the indentations (I hope it works!) Its a bit more expensive and it has to be done every three months to allow the skin to “rise”. Yes, I saw that video too! Sadly, my own acne episode can’t really be improved by make-up. 🙂

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