a blog about natural skincare + korean beauty obsessions

My Skin Journey: Acne, Antibiotics, and Natural/ Korean Skincare

My Skin Journey: Acne, Antibiotics, and Natural/ Korean Skincare

The Beginning Struggles

I think I was in 7th grade when I started getting acne. It was devastating. All my friends barely had any skin issues, and I think acne played a huge factor in how I interacted with people. I would always have my hands around my face to cover it up. I’d always look down when having conversations with people.

I’d have to dig up the archives to show you guys those embarrassing pictures. (That was when smartphones didn’t exist, so they’re probably hidden in my parents’ closet of mementos.)

I had huge red bumps all over my forehead and upper lip. I think it was a little later on when it started to travel to my cheeks.

I would stay up all night crying and wishing those ugly bumps would disappear. I never wore any makeup- I don’t think I ever thought of it as an option until high school.

A trip to the dermatologist

My mom finally took me to the dermatologist. Hallelujah! I thought all my skin issues would go away.

I got prescribed everything under the sun for my acne. Birth control pills, antibiotics, doxycycline, prednisone….and topicals like Retin- A, clindamycin, strong salicylic acid washes, etc.

To this day, that list of prescriptions just makes me *cringe*. 

The birth control pills helped I think. But they made me feel weird and hormonal. I went off those then kept trying new things the dermatologist would prescribe, to no avail.

Accutane was the last resort. This was about my junior year of high school. I was so excited to get on the medication; I must’ve Googled thousands of testimonials and stories of acne clearing up with Accutane.

I didn’t care that there were SO many health risks involved- like liver disease, depression and suicidal thoughts, hearing loss vision problems…You couldn’t ever get pregnant on the medication, because your baby would be born with severe, life-threatening birth defects. I had to have two forms of birth control in order to start the medication.

The process of taking Accutane was strict and pain-staking. Monthly bloodwork and checkups to make sure all my organs were working properly. We were also given booklets of information to study through this program called iPLEDGE; you had to ace monthly quizzes in order to get the next month’s dose.

But slowly…skin started to clear up! It also felt like my oil glands were producing barely any oil (yay!), buut my skin was parched as a desert. My lips were cracked and bleeding and I remember some days I would barely have saliva to swallow.

The doctor gave me prescription-strength moisturizer for my face and even the inside of my nose. It was crazy. I felt like a little guinea pig trying all these different medications.

Aftermath of Accutane

After the 6-month round, my skin was pretty much clear. I was so relieved and ecstatic. I read that after this 6- month round of Accutane, most people’s battle with acne ends there.

…Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. The acne came back after 3 months or so.

I started another course of the medication, although I had to wait a couple months because Accutane is so strong. Fast- forward a couple months after finishing the course…my acne still. came. back. I was so hopeless at this point!

I couldn’t believe that I had put my body through this incredible amount of stress, with zero results. To further reiterate how dangerous Accutane is, the product is now discontinued.

College & switching up my skincare routine

By this time, I was entering college and moving to LA. I don’t quite remember my skincare routine during those years, because I think I had simplified it down to just washing my face with water and spot treating whenever necessary.

I started to wear more makeup to cover my blemishes, so that made me a little bit better. I started to try different diets, because I was truly convinced that acne is a result of an internal problem. So I tried to combat it with eating omega 3- rich, high antioxidant, low sugar foods.

I tried the apple diet, gluten-free diet, low-carb, low sugar diet, etc. and saw pretty good results. But they were difficult to keep up with, especially with taking classes and weeks where I’d have to study for over 12 hours a day. I also worked out at least 4 times a week.

My skin was acne-prone and oily. Probably really dull, too, from all the crazy nights of partying and studying. I also remember days where the sides of my nose were extremely dry and scaly during the dry summers of LA.

I think by 2012, I started incorporating oil cleansing into my simple routine. I wanted to keep my skincare as natural and simple as possible.

I graduated college in 2013. By 2015, I left the jobs that I absolutely hated and became self- employed. That was when I had the opportunity to stop wearing any makeup. 🙂

A trip to Seoul in 2016 convinced me to try Korean beauty products. I felt that Korean skincare products were more suitable and nourishing for my sensitive skin. There were many brands that are natural and free of harsh chemicals, which is something I still stand by. I started to love taking care of my skin and using this regimen for my acne-prone skin.

Fast forward to today

Now I feel a lot more confident in my own skin, but I’m always researching the best products and methods to really get the clear skin I’ve been dreaming of.

My breakouts have subsided as I passed my puberty stage, although I do get hormonal breakouts around that time of the month. I have some deep pockmarks on my cheeks, where stubborn pimples have left their lasting mark. Hyperpigmentation and textured skin is an issue as well. I still have enlarged pores from having oily skin.

It’s so bizarre to think that even though I still have all these issues with my skin, it’s still nothing compared to what I experienced when I was a teenager. In fact, this is the best my skin has ever been, even though it’s far from perfect.

You might see my skin in person and think, “Wow does she even take care of it?” and to that I’d say, “Yup, it’s been hell of a skin journey.” I get jealous that people do absolutely nothing to take care of their skin, live unhealthy lifestyles and still have immaculate skin.

But we’re all different and have our own sets of issues. If you have problems with acne, then I’m your girl. I totally feel your pain.

I’ve probably racked up thousands of hours of research to clear my own skin; My mission is to educate and help others with their skin journey too.

I love natural beauty products and Korean skincare.

Let’s learn together. 🙂

Chinese medicinal herbs for acne
My mother would feed me Chinese medicinal herbs to help clear up my skin.

My Skin Type

I have combination/ oily, acne-prone skin. And it’s sensitive! (Seriously, what a combo).

My face is extremely oily. I remember in middle school I would wash my face in the morning before school and pray my skin wouldn’t get oily. Lo & behold, in less than two hours, you’d be able to fry an egg on my face.

I lived on Guam, where the weather is really hot and humid. You’d start sweating as soon as you stepped out the door, so I think that had a huge impact on my skin.

I’m now in LA and I’ve been living here for about 7 years now. It’s extremely dry here. Aside from being oily in my T-zone, the skin around my mouth feels dry all the time. Can anyone else feel my pain? Haha.

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