Two years ago, my acne presented itself in uncomfortable, red, cystic pimples around my jawline and some on my cheeks — hardly any popped up on my forehead or around my mouth. At the time I was working as a fashion and beauty editorial assistant (my first job out of college), and to say I was under a lot of stress is putting it very lightly. By the nature of my job, I had access to tons of skin-care products, but nothing I tried helped clear up my acne. That job stress, combined with the stress of having the worst skin of my life, put me at a low point. I had this idea in my head that because I work in the beauty industry, I shouldn't be experiencing skin issues like this and that it somehow meant I was bad at my job.
Finally, after a few months waiting around for the issue to go away on its own, I visited my dermatologist. My derm confirmed what I was already thinking: I was experiencing hormonal breakouts, most likely aggravated by stress; common for women in their early 20s. (After talking it over with my mom, I found out she too had an issue with this around the same age.) I was prescribed two topical products, an acne cream for the morning and a retinol cream at night to help increase cellular turnover and decongest my pores, along with spironolactone, an oral medication traditionally used for high blood pressure but is now a dermatologist go-to for fighting persistent hormonal breakouts.