Cold water, always first. Then CeraVe’s Foaming Facial Cleanser (for normal to oily skin), an unscented moisturiser and every night, an even, generous layer of Tretinoin cream on my whole face, with an emphasis on my cheeks. On special days I’ll curl my eyelashes, and put on some mascara. Maybe some Vaseline masquerading as lip gloss. I’ll smile in the mirror I glance in as I back out of my driveway.
Up until freshman year of high school, I had flawless skin. It was soft, smooth, neither oily nor dry. I would only wash it with soap. Hand soap. Get that. I vividly remember getting my first pimple, the summer before my freshman year. It was a smooth, pinkish bump on my right temple, right next to my hairline. From then it slowly but surely escalated—and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which causes increased melanin production, has made it so every single pimple I have ever had has been scarred indefinitely on my face. It’s for this reason that people often ask me, “Why don’t you just cover them up?”
I can laugh and brush the question off, joking that it would take too much time and make me even later to school than I usually am. But to be honest, I’ve just never had the urge to cover my scars. Yes, I feel pretty when I wear makeup, but when I look at the mirror and see my face without my scars, it feels like something is missing.
This is not to say that I love my scars, or I’m glad that I have them, or as some people phrased it, think they’re “cute.” But as my body has begrudgingly roomed with acne for the past four years, I’ve come to see my scars as just a part of myself, not the “it,” “issue” or “condition” I need to cover up.
What do people see when they look at my face for the first time. Is it my eyes? Is it my mouth, nose or eyebrows? If you’re honest and say it’s my acne, I don’t think I’d be mad. I’ve grown past hating my body and learned to embrace it for what it has christened me with: ten working fingers and toes, a mouth that can laugh, eyes that can see and skin that can move, touch, grow and feel. Yes, it’s a little spotty here and there. But as I’ve adapted and been able to move past what acne might cause—pain, stress and self-consciousness—I now can appreciate it for what it really is. My scars are a part of my body which I love dearly. They’re my body’s way of showing everything I’ve overcome. And most importantly, I wouldn’t be me without them.