I hate Proactiv. As soon as the side-by-side photos of drastic transformations and accounts of changed lives blare through my television screen, I would immediately be singled out as the elephant in the room. While riding in the car with my boyfriend I’d refuse to speak during Proactiv commercials, feeling as if rattling off would reveal just how uncomfortable I really was. I had been using Proactiv for four years, and it never worked for me. Sure, it helped. Just like a few sandbags would help holding back a tsunami. Still, I never achieved anything close to what people in the commercials achieved in two weeks that I did in the four years I wasted using Proactiv.
The problem is that people who have severe acne, like I did, are wasting their time using Proactiv. For them it is just another way to lose hope. Acne is not a problem being caused by dirty skin. Our skin is perfectly clean. As a matter of fact, people washing their face five times a day with Proactiv only seem to become more heartbroken. For many people, the problem is deeper than dirt. It has to do with hormones.
Most women break out during their menstrual cycle. Why? Because of fluctuating levels of estrogen and testosterone! Some people, however, have improper fluctuations every day of their lives. This is called a hormone imbalance, and it does not do good things for a person’s confidence. When women have too much testosterone, they grow hair where it shouldn’t be there, develop prominent Adam’s-apples, and suffer from torrential breakouts. Acne caused by a hormone imbalance could be revealing a problem that is more than skin-deep, and could potentially jeopardize a woman’s health. In any case, knowing that I had a hormone imbalance made me feel like the biggest freak in the world, because I knew that it wasn’t anything that was a secret. Meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and hearing them exclaim in a sing-songy voice, “Oh my gosh you have acne now!” was enough to make my raging man-hormones want to fling a chair across the room, or curl up into a ball and cry.
Acne isn’t anything that a child or teen should have to go through. It cripples them emotionally and socially. When I was eleven, my acne was so bad that I decided to show up to school with Band-Aids all over my face, just to hide my hideous pustules. When my friends asked what had happened, I said that I’d been shot in the face by some dumb kid on my street with a BB gun. The sad part is that everyone bought it. By fourth period, the rumor had been passed through the whole grade, and even to my teachers. My acne wasn’t going away, and after two months of continuing to wear Band-Aids on my face every day to school, people started to suspect. Some figured that I hadn’t learned my lesson to stay away from the boy with the BB gun, but others knew. My friend had seen me putting on the re-used Band-Aids in the girls’ bathroom before school. I became pathetic. The bottom line is that even after kids grow out of acne, they never grow out of the scars on their ego. To this day I remember every line that was ever said to me about my skin, since the second grade. The best thing that parents can do for their kids is to take them to the doctor. Maybe try out a few store-bought brands first, but don’t make them wait twelve years to try every cream and potion in the store, and get ripped off by every brand on TV. Likeliness is, if Stridex doesn’t work for six bucks a pack, then a trip to the doctor for ten bucks couldn’t hurt. I have only been acne-free for a few months now, and it’s hard to think that my suffering from acne for over ten years could have been nipped in the bud by a single doctor’s visit and hormone pills for three cents a day.
The bottom line is that people need to feel comfortable talking with their doctors about these things. That’s what doctors are there for. Taking a few minutes to talk to your doctor at your next check up might be the best gift you could give yourself, far better than a thirty-day subscription for disappointment.