Friday, January 2, 2009



I get tons of email and Facebook messages on acne advice, therapy and management. Ask anyone who I went to high school with, wait - make that grade school to high school, and they will tell you how much I suffered with acne during pre-pubescent and most of my teenage years. If they remember how bad it was, then they must have been one of those mean boys or meaner girls who constantly teased me about it. It was so bad that I remember bringing a bar of sulfur soap to school and making several trips to the bathroom thinking that the acne would stop if I could just get my oil glands to stop producing oil. Of course it didn't take too long for me to know (sadly, by experience) that stripping your skin off it's natural oils will only make the situation worse.
Okay, so here's the scenario: You're breaking out. You take a cotton ball and scrub away with that toner made for acne-prone skin. You rub away. Repeat 3 times a day (at least). Or substitute the toner with a soap, pimple ointment, cream, or whatever somebody tells you (toothpaste??) will zap that zit. Thing is, our skin really produces it's own moisture. So what's happening is that you end up stripping your skin off that natural moisture. Doing so will result in your skin producing more oil to compensate now for the lack of. I'm no dermatologist, but I have battled with acne my entire life and I have lived through the scars - both inside and out. Guess what? adult acne is WAAAAAAAAAAAAY harder to cure and I have tried every single thing out there in the market. Of course, the solutions I provide here are based on what worked for me. My disclaimer: IT'S NOT FOR EVERYBODY, CONSIDER THE SIDE EFFECTS AND PROCEED WITH CAUTION AFTER SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION.

Isotretinoin or Roaccutane

3 years ago, my acne came back with a vengeance around my jaw line. It didn't take me too long to know that my hormones were raging. I went into a slight panic just reliving the idea of acne in high school from a not so distant past. More importantly, I would lose my job. Okay, I'm over-dramatizing that. What I mean to say is, it's just not acceptable for a make-up artist to have bad skin. It would almost be like having an orthodontist with crooked teeth. I mean, seriously. Isotretinoin (generic name) or Roaccutane is considered the silver bullet. It is the most drastic form of acne cure in the market. It's serious side effects have made it controversial albeit effective. I was desperate and I needed a quick fix. I had absolutely no time to dilly-dally and frequent trips to the dermatologist was not something I could fit into my hectic schedule. Not to mention, the downtime and cost that comes with facials. More importantly, I was afraid of scarring. The thing is, I started having acne at the age of 11. I was an early bloomer and developed quite faster than the other kids in school. The earlier you get acne means less scarring and more time for your skin to recover. People often joke that I'm making up my acne bout with minimal proof that I have suffered from it. So I turned to Roaccutane for fear that my adult acne would leave permanent marks now that I am much older. I wanted a fast solution with no attachments that came with a gruesome skincare regimen.
Roaccutane can't be purchased over-the-counter. Obtaining a prescription entails a series of medical procedures which resemble a general check-up. In other words, you must absolutely be fit enough to handle the side effects. Women must submit a negative result pregnancy test or exam each time you get your prescription refilled. Speak to your dermatologist or physician if you would like to consider taking this route.

What to expect:
  1. Extreme dryness everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Load up on lots of lip balm, lotion, eye drops, and drink lots of water. Lips may be prone to peeling and cracking.
  2. Acne break out in the first 10 days of treatment. The medicine forces out all the acne from your system so don't plan on attending parties, or even be seen out. I swear, this will the your ugliest, most depressing time on this treatment, but be assured that the worst will soon be over.
  3. Shrinkage of pores or no pores at all. Drastic reduction of oil and sweat.
  4. Increased sensitivity to the sun. Bump up your daily SPF to 25 and for prolonged outdoor activities, do SPF 50.
  5. Liver sensitivity so refrain from very little or completely abstain from any alcohol.
  6. Women cannot, absolutely not, get pregnant while on this treatment. Pregnancy while on roaccutane will result in infant deformities and abnormalities.
  7. As you are getting off the treatment start maintenance with a bi-monthly or monthly diamond peel which you can get with mostly any dermatologist. I go to the Zen Instititute at Fort Bonificio Global City. They offer total body and face treatments and you will see the results instantly.

Birth-control Pills

My mom took me to every dermatologist in Manila from the age of 12 to 16. She and I were getting quite weary and frustrated that nobody could offer me a single solution. A doctor noticed a mole on my nape and suggested we see this dermatologist to see if I should have the mole removed. Dr. Verallo (VMV Hypoallergenics) took one look at my mole, then one look at me and told me to see a gynecologist. After my mole was removed, she very much as-a-matter-of-factly said that my acne was due to my raging hormones and wanted me to get a go signal from an OB-gyn to get on the pill. 3 months later, all my acne had disappeared.
The two most effective pills for me are Yasmin and Diane 35. At 16 I was put on Diane and then I switched on to Yasmin when I turned 27 and needed a lower dose pill.

  1. Bloating and weight gain.
  2. Migraines and severe PMS.
  3. Shorter but regular mentstrual periods.

I still get occasional break-outs but at the age of 34, I pretty much know how to keep them at bay. I know what food causes me to have pimples and also know which activities (overdone or the lack of) make me break-out as well. They key to great skin is knowing what makes your body tick. I'm no longer on any of the acne treatments I have listed above. I combat zits and skin allergies with a daily doses of natural bee pollen, virgin coconut oil, Lysin with bioflavinoids and multivitamins from an awesome health brand called Life Extension and time-release L-Carnitine.