Struggling with Acne and Self-Esteem

Hello lovelies! It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with some pretty intense acne this past year. I’ve tried so many different skincare products and routines, and it’s taken quite awhile to make any progress. These past 6 months I’ve been taking pictures of my skin, so I could eventually do a blog post showing the progress.

I knew I wanted to do this blog post because acne is something I’ve struggled with. It’s pretty much the root of my insecurities, and a lot of my time and money was focused on trying to have super clear skin at one point. But, with hormonal, cystic acne, it’s kinda hard just to clear it up in a day. It’s painful, it extremely noticeable under makeup in real life, and it tends to come right back a week after you clear it up, in my experience.

I had pretty good skin with minimal acne until July/August of 2017. It was a gradual change to where my skin went from typical, teenage hormonal acne to intense, cystic hormonal acne.

July/August 2017

These are the first photos I took of my skin for this post. They are from what I deem my “first” real breakout and when my skin really started taking a turn for the worse in August of 2017. I remember thinking, “Wow, there’s no way my skin could get worse than this.” And, boy, was I wrong. At this point, I believed the acne would pass quickly, and that is was caused by stress. I was starting my senior year of high school, applying for college and worrying I wouldn’t get in, and Casey left for basic training for the Air Force. Needless to say, I was stressed. I figured once I wasn’t anymore, it would go away.

November/December 2017

Then, in late November/early December I started to see my skin getting even worse. I can’t say it’s too much different from August, but there was quite a few more pimples and noticeable marks leftover from the zits I couldn’t help but pop. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have touched a single one of those cystic pimples, because they left some nasty marks on my face.

January 2018

January was one of the WORST months for my skin. I’d say my acne was at it’s worst during this time period. I felt ugly, worthless, and the cystic acne covering my face was PAINFUL. Again, I was popping pimples like it was my job and picking at the scabs that were left. It really did a deal on my face because of this.

Quick note: I’m not sad in these pictures, it was just a little awkward taking pictures so close to my face!

I can actually feel how painful those pimples were from just looking at those photos. Even when I’d get the stubborn zits to go away, they’d come back in a week or so. I think the fact that I literally just could not get them to go away for good was the most frustrating.

Meanwhile, my skin was covered in red pimples without makeup, but this is what it looked like with makeup and an Instagram filter.


Looking at that picture I’m still not quite sure how I managed to make it look like I had clear skin, but I promise you this photo was taken days apart from the makeupless January ones. I even remember finishing my makeup in the mornings and still seeing bumps all over my face.

My skin looked pretty bad like this until about February/March when I started using Proactive. I swore I’d never use it because I genuinely thought it was a gimmick, but Casey had some leftover boxes and suggested I try it, so I did. I had nothing to lose at this point since my skin already looked so bad.

April 2018

Proactive made a noticeable difference in my skin, but I was still struggling with a few stubborn, cystic pimples on my cheeks that kept resurfacing. I went to the doctor and she prescribed Tretinoin Cream 0.025%, which is one of the lower dosages of retinoid creams. She recommended I continue using Proactive and to apply the cream just in the areas where I had acne (as seen in the pictures above). It’s been the best product for clearing up those painful, cystic zits. I didn’t even know my regular doctor could prescribe me cream for my acne, but it saved me a trip to the dermatologist!


My skin isn’t completely clear yet, but I’m not dealing with constant breakouts and cystic zits. When I do get a pimple, which is rare, it’s small and passes within a day or two. This is just from being on the retinoid cream for two months, and I didn’t even have to go to the dermatologist to have it prescribed to me.

The biggest difference in my skin now is that it’s just leftover marks from acne that aren’t raised bumps. It’s a lot easier to cover with makeup and it isn’t painful anymore. Luckily, retinoid cream helps with scarring too, so I’m continuing to use it. The 2-3 cystic zits that were super stubborn and always coming back are gone, and if I push against the spots where they were, I don’t feel anything.

Acne is one of those things that seems like no big deal, unless you’ve got it. To me, when I had bright red, painful bumps covering my cheeks and jawline, it felt like the end of the world. I had a twisted image of myself when I looked in the mirror because all I saw was the acne. When everyone seems to have clear skin on social media, in magazines, and on T.V. it makes the breakouts seem even worse. I can tell you from experience that a little bit of Estee Lauder Double Wear and photo filters can go a long way. And if you think even celebrities have perfectly clear skin, then check out this article from Teen Vogue about Lili Reinhart or this one from Allure about Kendall Jenner!

Now, I still have a long way to go to get rid of my acne scarring. I’m definitely less insecure and I can actually leave the house without foundation or concealer on. I can’t stress enough how easy it is to make it look like you have clear skin on social media. If you’re struggling with acne and self-esteem issues, I really hope this post helped you out!

xoxo, The Chic Flamingo



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