I was 11 years old when my mother looked at my face and told me that “I inherited my father̵
My skin was probably of a concern that I started Accutane, a powerful retinoid used to treat severe acne, at 14. Accutane works by squeezing oil-producing glands into the skin. (It’s great for excessive oil that is responsible for pimples, but awful for skin hydration.) During my cycle, I felt like a lizard constantly throwing dry skin spots on my face. My lips were clumsy to the bleeding point, which made it so much fun to attend French horn camp. Still, it felt worth it as I no longer had to deal with painful pimples sprouting from my sebaceous glands.
Accutane banished future outbreaks, but my skin bore scars of an ugly past. I was still dealing with hyperpigmentation and the section under my lips was always in danger of flaking off no matter how much moisturizer I used. But the worst scar of all was my terrible self-confidence and fierce confidence. I spent years avoiding photos or mirrors because I didn’t want to see my awful skin. Even though I knew that coin-sized pustules were largely a thing of the past, I still felt deeply unattractive and self-conscious.
Someone even told me that I “looked dewy” – the ultimate compliment for a girl who once smiled and felt her lips begin to bleed.
One day I impulsively bought CVS’s Charcoal and Black Sugar Dual Action Scrub Facial Mask ($ 4), which was one of many mask sets now sold in the pharmacy. The instructions were simple enough: Spread the sugar crystals over a clean face, then rub the crystals in and rinse off after seven minutes. I started using the scrub it recommended twice a week and emphasized listening to relaxing music or podcasts while waiting. I did not really think the scrub would do much of anything – it was cheap and I bought it most of the time so I could pretend to be Mia during the makeover scene in The Princess’ Diaries.
Then something strange happened: my boss complimented me on my skin. It never happened. The only time people went on to comment on my skin was when they offered unsolicited advice on face wash marks. Little did they know I had not skipped washing my face morning or evening since sixth grade.
When I forced myself to look in the mirror, I realized that my boss was right. My skin actually did look better. The charcoal combined with sugar exfoliating cleared impurities and dead skin so my tone started to even out. When I started applying masks with hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid, my skin remained clear and moisturized. Someone even told me that I “looked dewy” – the ultimate compliment for a girl who once smiled and felt her lips begin to bleed.
Today, I am proud to say that I have a much better relationship with my skin and self-confidence. My skin is not perfect; I occasionally get zits and work on reducing some “ice-pick” scars back from a previous vicious breakout. But now I know what I can do to help my skin look its best. And as much as I love my 10-step skincare routine, my first tool to repair my shattered confidence was a $ 4 pharmacy mask.