Heart to Heart | My Skin Story: Acne, Depression, and Healing

Last month in Tokyo!
Skin has always been one of my priorities, thanks to the women in my family. My grandmother is virtually ageless; she's turning 80 this year but doesn't look a day over 65. My skin, however, hasn't been perfect like hers. I discussed my acne skin story in this Top 10 story HERE, sharing why I got cystic acne and what products I used to speed up the purging process. Today's skin chat is more of a general take on my skin care history. The past 2 years been incredibly challenging and emotional, but I'm so grateful that my skin is nearly done healing!! Don't forget that your skin is an organ (your body's largest), so be gentle and patient. Below is a heart to heart video that I made while in Tokyo to share my journey, the process.

Equipment Silk Sleeveless Blouse // Gjenmi Staple Lariat Necklace // Hair: T3 Micro Compact Dryer

Shu Uemura False Lashes // MUFE Eyeshadow // Burberry Eyeliner

In case you've never seen my inflamed pimple-ridden skin, here's the Kiehl's video where I bare it all. I did manipulate the lighting so that it wouldn't look as red or as painful, but my face hurt all the time back then. I cried a lot. My eyes still get watery just thinking about it. I hated looking in the mirror, and I dreaded filming and uploading videos. I didn't want to talk about it, couldn't open up about it because I would inevitably burst into tears. I was so scared that someone would spot me in public that I stopped going to the gym and I stopped going outside altogether for a while. I started eating a lot of junk food and take-out and gained ten pounds back then, which many of you noticed.

To make matters worse, I was swallowed up by depression which deepened when the blue-purple welts started to surface. That part of the healing/scarring process was the most traumatizing because I looked bruised all over. I was fat, bloated, and ugly. There was so much deep damage that even my grandmother was very concerned that my skin would never bounce back. But after 6 months (which felt like years), my skin started to heal. My mood improved and I felt a surge of hope. The depression naturally lifted in due time, and although I was still embarrassed, I wasn't as afraid to venture out.

In hindsight, I think the best treatment would have been professional extractions and microdermabrasion facials every three weeks to boost the effectiveness of the products I had been using. I was overwhelmed and unable to take on that financial commitment at the time, but it would have left me with fewer, smaller scars. So that's my best advice to everyone.. find an exceptional esthetician AND use quality skin care! Of course, wearing sunscreen daily, drinking plenty of water, eating clean and green, and sleeping 7 hours a day will help drastically as well!

Even though I've been treating the scarring for a year, I have a couple stubborn scars on my cheeks and forehead. I'm hoping to clear those up in the next few months. It's all about consistency and lifestyle when it comes to these things. And since I haven't filmed a skin care routine video in a while, I figured I would share what products I've been using faithfully! I switch it up when I'm testing new products, but the lineup below features my go-to skin savers. These are my favorites, so please try them!!

Holy Grail:
Sulwhasoo Snowise Mask
Sunday Riley Luna Oil
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser
SK-II Skin Rebooster (now discontinued)

Other products in my current rotation:
Sunday Riley Good Genes
Replenix SPF50 Sunscreen
Koh Gen Do Massage Milk
Sunday Riley Flora Oil
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  1. I love the video and the idea of this skin care talk :)
    I've tried SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, but suffered from continuous break out because of that. I still have some of the acne pigmentation now, even though that was nearly a year ago. Do you have some product recommendation that apart from SK-II and Sunday Riley's? I don't think SK-II works well with my skin, and Sunday Riley's price point is just too high for my budget right now :( Thank you

    1. I don't use the SK-II FTE, just the LXP version! I think Equitance products are outstanding for the price. Check them out!

  2. Rae, thank you for sharing your story. I just wish you would stop saying facial waxing caused cystic acne. Folliculitis? Sure. But, waxing cannot cause acne, just as a good esthetician cannot fix acne. Powerful oral drugs or just luck/timing (by which time, many are permanently scarred) are typically the only cure.

    1. Yes, folliculitis was part of it. My dermatologist says facial waxing is the only reason that my intense break outs began, since my lifestyle and product usage had not changed. The acne was not hormonal. Also, I've had several friends try powerful oral drugs, and it has not fixed their acne. I, too, have used prescription topical treatments to no avail. Different strokes for different folks! I always recommend seeing a dermatologist for a consult, but ultimately, it takes a village!

  3. Regardless of what people say, what they like, don't like about what you share in your journey about your struggles with acne, I appreciate how you have always been so candid and brave enough to share it with us, bare face and all. I have had problems with acne since I was 13, and thought the acne alone was the terrible part. It wasn't until I was in my 20's when the acne marks suddenly started to leave small indentations in my cheeks and post hyper pigmentation marks that the depression and fear that I would never ever have good skin began. For you the most dramatic change in your skin was when you had facial waxing, for me it was when I started playing sports competitively and continuously let myself sweat with makeup on. Can either of us say that one event caused/led to the dramatic change in our skin? I think we can because it's our personal experience, it happened to us, and we are living with the aftermath of our experiences with acne to this day.

    On another note, I also agree that it takes a village, the right dermatologist, quality products (wish I knew this earlier), and patience (the hardest part) to get through acne. I have also learned that scars remind us of where we have been, but they don't have to dictate where we are going

    1. Thank you for this!! Thank you for being open-minded and kind and respectful. I am so fortunate and grateful to have subscribers and readers like you. Thank you for the encouragement and motivation because without you, I wouldn't be where I am today. I love your optimism! THANK YOU and best of luck with your skin and all your endeavors ♡

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm now in my early 30s and never had a skin problem until I started using this anti-aging line on April this year. I went to their counter in Nordstrom and bought the set after the rep tested my skin and taught me how to use the line. After a week, the purging started as expected, and I continued using the products for a month or so. Unfortunately, since then, my skin became too sensitive, breakouts/pimples are all over my face and now the dark spots and scars were left. I called the rep, and she said I have to stop using the products as I am getting a different reaction. This is the first time something like this happened to my skin. It's so depressing and I don't know what to use to get my clear skin back. I now switched to Sunday Riley, hoping that my skin will improve. Do you mind giving me suggestions on how to fasten the clearing process using the Sunday Riley line? (good genes, luna, cleanser, etc.) Thanks again and I hope to hear back from you.


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