Sunday, January 27, 2013

Not the "Before and After" That You Expected

I feel quite vulnerable writing about this, something about my physical body that has bothered me my entire adult life. But I feel like I have finally found a decent solution, so I am for the first time talking about this. As I've slowly confided to friends about this, I am learning that others have suffered their entire lives, like me.

I'm talking about my complexion.

Once I hit my teenage years, acne bloomed on my face and never withered. It is always in season, the ever-blooming rose. Only this isn't the kind of rosy-ness a girl wants. Or a young woman. Or a middle-aged woman.  I kid you not, it has never let up.

My complexion is the only part of my body that I'm self-conscious about. I have been blessed with not being overly critical of my body shape or size, my hair, my fashion (or lack thereof), etc. I'm not the kind of woman who takes 3 hours to get ready for an evening out. But I can tell you that I am extremely conscious of every blemish when I had to speak to my boss, present in a meeting or, God help me, to the board. I feel like people won't take me seriously because I have the complexion of a teenager, even if they can tell by the wrinkles around my eyes that I'm not that age anymore. It has greatly impacted my confidence and it pisses me off.

I have gone to doctor after doctor. I had a few recommend Accutane, a medicine you take orally that changes your complexion forever. But the side effects are severe, and you have to take blood tests before, during and after to check for liver damage. While I know others have taken this step, I never felt comfortable putting my liver (and overall health) at risk just for clear skin.

I had one dermatologist put me on antibiotics, which immediately cleared my skin due to the strength of the prescription. He gave me a 12 month supply, to be renewed every year, for the rest of my life.

Antibiotics for the rest of my life? I don't think so, I'm not THAT fond of yogurt. I can't imagine what strength antibiotics I would have to take for my next sinus infection if I had kept up with that regimen, or if antibiotics would even work for me for "real" illnesses.

I've tried creams and lotions, over-the-counter solutions and prescription alike. I've has laser treatments that kill the oil glands in my most active pores, to reduce the severity of my outbreaks.

My current dermatologist has suggested more laser treatments and other solutions, all of which work for a while, but then seem to not work anymore.

Only my closest friends and family members ever see me without make up. I don't leave the house to run an errand without full foundation. I make the kids wait to go downstairs Christmas morning so I can at least cover the most disgusting spots before the camera comes out. There's a reason why there are no photos of me for Christmas this past year;  I didn't get any make up on before we opened gifts.

Finally, around Christmas time, I decided I've been trying the dermatologist solutions enough -- time to actually invest in some decent make up. 

I've been wearing Cover Girl, Almay or Maybelline my entire life. While for the most part I don't believe that product that costs 10 times more than the drugstore stuff is actually worth the extra money, I was unhappy enough to give it a try.

So one day around the holidays I walked down to a placed called the Cos Bar. I had read good reviews and liked the idea of a place that didn't represent any single brand but instead represented you, the customer.

I intentionally wore no make up so they could see what they were dealing with. A middle-aged woman (like me!) named Leann helped me, and steered me towards a make up that had great coverage but didn't look heavy. She taught me how to properly put on foundation, something I had never been taught outside of high school drama, and we all know what THAT make up is like. 

I walked out of there with $200 worth of product and a new attitude. 

And so here it is. I took these photos while doing my make up one morning. The only difference is foundation -- I still hadn't done blush, eye shadow, or anything else. Wish the photos were a little crisper, but that's what you get when I'm the one holding the phone camera. Not only does it cover the problem spots, but my entire face actually matches the rest of my coloring. Shocking!

In case you're wondering, all products are Giorgio Armani. The extra confidence I feel is worth every penny.


  1. You have always been so beautiful to me I never noticed. Even in the morning when it was coffee time. Love of a daughter can lead to selective blindness.

  2. You've heard it many times --true beauty is on the inside, but I know we women are truly self conscious about these things and it does have an effect on how we feel about ourselves. (Think heavy thighs.) PS -- I never noticed that much and I do see you sans make up.
    I'm wondering about a couple things. Some weird food allergies could do this -- I'm thinking of dairy or wheat. I'm again trying "no wheat" and when I did the food testing wheat did not show up as being one of my sensitive (as opposed to a true allergy) items. I started in Jan but it's hard to be absolute because we're social people and have had pizza for dinner at someone's house. So now it's actually been 2 weeks since I am totally wheat free. I started it because a friend at church did it for weight but found all her joint stiffness left -- totally. She's 5-10 years younger than I am. I have noticed that the eczema I've had in back of my knees for years is not there. It wasn't real extreme but would get dry and itchy/burny, most noticeable when I tried to sleep at night. I've also had "picky" legs at night for years and that's also gone.
    Another viewpoint -- the naturopathic MD in Fondy told me to stop using my Metrolotion and start taking digestive enzymes. (Don't know if you knew I had Rosacea Acne and was on topical medication) It worked, didn't need the prescription lotion. That theory is that most skin problems come from digestive problems and I have heard/read that in many places. I'm not good at using the enzymes regularly and it does come back when I don't use them and goes away when I do. I could see that might be a problem of yours because even as a kid some foods bothered you (thinking of ham). Digestive enzymes aren't too expensive and should be easy to find altho you do want a quality brand. I find TwinLab, Natures Way, Schiff to be good brands you may be able to find at Walgreens. I use the TwinLab. This comment isn't really meant for posting but as an easy way to respond and have some conversation about this.