Laura: You Are Not Alone

In Latvia, sometimes I feel abnormal when I look around because I don’t really see a lot of people dealing with skin issues. That’s why I created my account and began to connect with other people. Once I did this, I saw that I wasn’t the only one. So many people were actually dealing with this. However, there were no beauty magazines, articles, and barely any platforms bringing this up. So, I  just thought about starting my own. I was nervous at first, but when I saw other women posting skin positivity, I thought “Wow, they’re so brave. They’re showing their real skin, and they don’t care. They’re just putting everything out there while I am hiding." My self-esteem was very low, but I began to feel better about myself upon creating my account. Once I began to see myself as normal, I felt more okay. By sharing my story, I noticed that I was feeling less depressed, more inspired, more encouraged, and better about myself. When people were responded - “Yes, I feel the same way!” I felt like I was truly connecting with people for the first time in a while.

In the past, there had been so many experiences that I’d been through alone, and every time I went through one, I felt like it took a piece of me. The journey has been very hard. 

When I was in high school, I can remember the first issues with my skin. Everyone just said, "It's just teenage acne! It’s here now, but it’s going to be gone in a minute!” However, that obviously wasn't the case. I know that the people closest to me meant well, but when they made comments about my skin or unintentionally diminished my experience, I took it to heart sometimes. So, given that, I felt very discouraged from being myself.

Furthermore, outside of friends and family, I was very shocked by some of the comments and recommendations people were making. Even though I had been to multiple doctors, they still felt the need to give their advice without me asking for it. What's even worse is how they would scan my face upon talking to me. That made me so uncomfortable, and it made me feel like I didn’t want to be there. This is where I began to internalize the issues that I had with myself. At this point, I started to become uncomfortable in my own skin. 

Beforehand, I still remained extroverted. I wanted to go out, do hobbies, be with my friends, meet people, and do different things. I can remember thinking back on the time that I felt very comfortable with myself -  when acne didn’t really affect me. But over time, it did. 

I would try to talk to my friends, and they would say “Oh, you look great!” However, it didn’t really help because I felt like they didn’t truly know what I was going through.

When I started university for my bachelor's and master's degree, my emotional state and acne got worse. I started getting all of these bumps under my skin, and when I went to see my first dermatologist, she touched my face and said - “Your cheeks are so full!” 

I was like… "That’s not a compliment." 

As she explained how my cheeks were filled with bumps bound to come out at some point, I got very scared. And sure enough during my university years, everything came out, and it was just horrible. I became even more introverted because every time I looked at my reflection, I just felt very upset with myself.  I was so unhappy. I didn’t want to look at myself. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to see my friends. Basically, because I wasn’t okay with myself, a lot was taken away from me.

At the end of my master's, my acne was at its most intense. So, my dermatologist gave me an Epiduo cream which happened to burn my face quite a lot. My dermatologist said that I should use it as a spot treatment on my face, but when I did, I felt like my skin was burning. Even if I used the most basic moisturizer, it still burned my skin. My skin was burning so bad that I would cry, but then, my tears made my skin burn even more. I had to basically sleep with a cold compress on my face because I had destroyed my skin’s barrier.

Before that, I had gone through a lot of procedures as well. Every time I traveled back home to see my parents during university, I would go to the dermatologist for procedures. I had a lot of them. I remember one time I had this procedure similar to little electroshocks on your face, and it was horrible. My face would turn red, I would be crying, and it was so painful. I just believed that maybe it was worth it - that maybe it was going to help me because ultimately, I just didn’t know what was going on. 

After I finished university, I moved back home, and I was like - "Okay, I need to start doing something about this." I went to another dermatologist, and they did my bloodwork to see what was going on. This is when I noticed that my hormones were out of control. My estrogen levels were too high. So, I went on birth control, and I noticed that my skin had improved slightly, but at the same time, there were side effects that made me feel even more depressed. I remember that I cried a lot, there were yeast infections, and I had mood swings. The pill affected my whole body, and for some reason, I also wasn’t sweating. I was on the pill for like half of a year, and the side effects were too much for me. With that, I just decided to go off of it, and I tried to sort myself out as naturally as I could. 

For a while, I just went through an endless cycle with skincare. Every time I would just think - “Oh, maybe this product will help!” But eventually, I began to strive towards progress and not perfection.

Healing takes time, and obviously, your skin won’t get flawless. You have to be kind to yourself and gentle. You can’t put all of the harsh chemicals on your face, and we should avoid thinking certain products will clear our skin forever. 

I’m trying to be very gentle to my skin because I used to be very rough to it. When I saw acne, I would just scrub and try to remove it, but that definitely didn’t help. Today, I don't mind my real skin, and I still think that people who show their skin are very brave. Even when I go to the gym without makeup, it’s still a very big step for me. Some days, I even feel very confident about myself, and I've learned not to care if someone is judging me. If I've come to the point of being able to feel good about myself, why should I care about the opinions of others or hide myself away? So, for those with textured skin, it’s okay and normal, and it doesn’t make sense to believe that we are any less worthy and beautiful than others.