I have a confession to make. I fancy myself a bit of an acne detective. I may not actually have the Sherlock Holmes cap, pipe, or a magnifying glass – but I’m always on the look out for an appropriate time to say, “Epidermally, my dear Watson!” (I know, skin humor – it’s not for everyone…)
What I’m saying is I’m good at understanding acne. There are always clues – and if you know what to look for, you can usually track down the pimple causing culprit.
I was reminded of this recently during an out of town trip when an unusual breakout popped up.
I went to a business conference and I got there on a Tuesday evening. By Wednesday evening I noticed I had quite a few small pimples show up, and by the next morning, there were more. It’s pretty rare for me these days to have lot of pimples, especially ones that come on quickly, so I started to question the usual suspects.
I hadn’t slept for two nights because I don’t sleep well in hotels. When I’m tired, so is my skin, and sometimes it can lead to pimples.
Most of the meals were catered and I definitely wasn’t eating like I normally do. (But the food was so good. They had the most delicious pastries that I was powerless to resist!) Added sugar, plus not many greens can cause my skin problems.
There could have been some stress. Perhaps before the event I felt added pressure for my skin to look really good, since I was there telling everyone I help people with their skin. Maybe my skin was sabotaging me!
All of those things were a possibility, and added together maybe my skin just couldn’t keep up.
But I know my skin. None of those things, individually or combined seemed to make sense for the kind of breakout I was having. The pimples came on fast, and they were more superficial than normal. They were near the surface, not far within the pore. They were small and weren’t very red or inflamed.
Knowing my skin, it seemed like the cause was more external. It’s the type of reaction I have when I use a new product that contains an irritating ingredient. I thought I was getting closer to figuring it out, but I brought the same products with me that I’d been using for months.
The only thing I could think of was the water. So that night, which was now Thursday, after I washed my face I did a final rinse with some filtered bottled water. The next morning I did the same thing after I showered. Less than 12 hours later, my skin had noticeably improved. No new pimples and everything seemed to be healing. By Friday evening, I was almost back to normal.
Bam. Mystery solved. I hung up my cap until the next time my sleuthing skills would be needed.
I’m telling you this story to help you understand that when you’re in tune with your body and your skin, your acne isn’t a frustration or a mystery. You recognize it’s a sign that something is off, you just need to slow down and figure out what that is.
I’m not saying my skin never bothers me at all if it acts up, but it’s a minor annoyance compared to how it used to affect me.
Now, if this were several years ago, that same kind of breakout would have really gotten to me. I would have obsessed and stressed about my skin. And if I think about it, these days I actually have more reason to be stressed about my skin breaking out. Helping people with their skin is what I do for a living! There is extra potential to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Not only could I worry about how I looked in general, but on top of that I could easily feel judged or like I was a fraud. But I don’t.
What changed? I have taken the time to understand my skin. Rather than fight with it, and let the emotions get the best of me, I approach the problem calmly, and with confidence that I can figure it out. Acne is just a symptom after all. If you quiet the irrational fears and worries, you can get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
It takes some time and practice – but any one can do it.
Now if you have breakouts frequently, or constantly, there are probably several things going on, but you can still figure it out.
If you’re not sure where to start, then let’s chat. I’d love to help you sleuth your skin and show you how to be your own acne detective.