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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois chapter.

I remember being 12 years old and BEGGING my mother to take me to the dermatologist. I had enough of my blotchy, red skin and didn’t understand why I had been cursed with acne while none of my friends seemed to have been. Upon arrival at the dermatologist’s office, I was told to use Dove soap, nothing else, and to wait. So, I waited… for nearly 10 years. Flash forward to the present day, Hi! I’m a senior in college, and I still have acne.

My skin and I haven’t always had the best relationship, but I’ve learned ways I can avoid flare-ups by focusing on the cause rather than the physical manifestation. So, before you run to Sephora and spend the entirety of your checking account on expensive packaging (been there, done that), here are some things you may want to consider first.

Have you been to an endocrinologist? According to Dr. Terry Loong, hormonal acne is caused by hormone fluctuations, which may stem from high cortisol among other hormone imbalances. Seeing an endocrinologist could help pinpoint which hormones are out of wack, which you could then use to create a treatment plan. Personally, I ended up having high estrogen and cortisol, which I am now dietarily managing by avoiding inflammatory foods and increasing fiber intake, among other things.

Now, personally, I prefer to treat my acne from the inside out and have been extremely satisfied with the results so far. Acne treatments are in no way a one-size-fits-all ordeal, but it may be beneficial to consider holistic treatments if topical solutions seem to only act as a band-aid solution. The brand Clearstem has been my holy grail as of late, especially since they prioritize having zero pore cloggers or hormone disruptors in their products. Something you might want to check out is their pore clogger checklist, which you can copy and paste ingredient lists to ensure all your products are safe to use.

Ultimately, adult acne can be stressful, annoying, and even embarrassing at times. Personally, nothing is worse than having your acne peeking through your foundation while on a first date. Healing your acne from the inside out can be rewarding, not only by clearing up your skin but also by promoting overall health and well-being. Something my doctor told me that I always remember is “If your largest organ, the skin, has physical manifestations from an internal problem, just imagine what’s going on INSIDE.”

If your skin isn’t clearing up despite all efforts to, while the media may consider this a taboo, just remember how normal and common it really is to struggle with acne. You are not alone! Keep washing your pillowcases, drinking water, avoiding inflammatory foods, keeping wary of sneaky pore cloggers in cosmetics (even shampoos and conditioners), and remember that another’s beauty does not necessitate a lack of your own!

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Anika Sharma

Illinois '24

Hi! My name is Anika, I'm 20 years old, and am a senior at the University of Illinois. According to my parents, I've been demanding that I choose my own outfits since the second grade and have always had a passion for fashion and beauty. In my spare time, I love researching innovative and effective skincare products, as I am someone who has struggled with acne for years. More interestingly, I avidly seek out holistic methods to cure acne from the inside out rather than putting a band aid on the material manifestation that is acne. I am so excited to join the her campus team this year and look forward to all the coming opportunities!