When you’ve still got acne in your 30’s

acne dermatologist jess bunty

I thought I’d be over this by now. And to be honest, for a little while, I was. Less than a year ago, my skin might have been scarred but I had absolutely no active acne, and I went outside without makeup on. And not just down to get the mail, I went shopping. Shopping without my mask on. I still felt self-conscious, red, raw, marked for life… but I felt confident enough, brave enough. But it was short lived; my acne returned, and reached a point I felt was even worse than my teenage years. Good God, what the hell is going on?!

I’ve battled with this skin I’m in for most of my life now. It’s a bit confronting to say that – most of my life. When you hit your thirties, time seems to catch up with you a bit. You’ve had your 10 year high school reunion (invited over Facebook no less), you’ve probably graduated from some kind of tertiary education institution, and you may even be starting to drive your own kids off to school each weekday morning. Your life is progressing, maturing, developing. You’re adulting! But every morning when you wake up, all you see is spots. Red, angry spots. They’re on your jaw, your chin, your nose, your cheeks, your neck. Why couldn’t they have been left behind in your teenage years? Or even your twenties?!

This is the age I’m meant to be concerning myself over those other skin issues: wrinkles, sun spots, tiredness. I’d rather be researching botox than pimple creams, trust me.

I feel like I’ve tried a million and one things to fix my skin. People regularly feel inclined to tell me exactly what I should do to get clear, beautiful skin, because it worked for them. And I know their suggestions are coming from a place of kindness, but most of the time… I’ve already tried what they’re suggesting, because I’m in my thirties. I’ve had more than 17 years to dabble in acne medications and topical creams, and if I haven’t tried it – I’ve heard of it. I’ve made it my distinct business to be aware of what’s out there. Why? Because I hate having acne. Because it’s ridiculous how chronic and debilitating this is at my age. Because I still give a shit about myself, and I’m really bloody trying.

Is it stress? It is hormones? It is bacteria? Is it that bottle of red from the other night? Or maybe it was the Gin. God… why is this so damn hard?

Right now, I know of some possible issues going on with my body. My Implanon has run out, and either needs to be removed or swapped over. My diet needs to be improved, and I need to drop out sugars. I’m not exercising enough, and working online creates stagnation. These are things I can identify as targets I need to hit harder, in order to become better. But will they completely right all that is wrong? I don’t know.

I think the greatest positive that comes from ageing is acceptance. I remember being in my teens and refusing to go to school because of my skin. I remember being in my twenties and refusing to go to work because of my skin. Now I’m in my thirties, I accept that my skin is a mess, and while I’m actively trying to fix it every single day, it no longer stops me from going out. I accept it’s not perfect, smooth, flawless. It’s raised, lumpy, obvious. But I own that, I work with that. I used to edge close to ‘meltdown mode’ if my dark red, patchy scars showed through my foundation. These days, I allow it. And it’s not that I necessarily care less, it’s just that I accept that this is me. I am not Instagram perfect. But really, no-one is. That world is all a lie, and I refuse to give in to that pressure to deceive. I refuse to continue deceiving myself.

I love roller coasters, but this particular one involving my skin is the only one I am ready to get the hell off. It doesn’t break me down to the point of tears and sadness anymore. I haven’t felt that way for a few years, but I remember those moments still, vividly. These days, it’s more frustration I feel as I look in the mirror. I’ve developed a steady patience, and I’m willing to give each tweak I make to my routine enough time to take effect. But it’s frustrating to see those deep mounds of acne continue growing, no matter what I slather them in. It’s frustrating to remember you’re not a teen, you’re a grown woman, and this shouldn’t be happening.

I will continue the battle, continue tweaking. I will continue applying my makeup each morning. My shield, my defence. And I’ll continue to work on my personal targets. I’ll be heading back to the doctor soon to deal with the Implanon issue, and hopefully try a new strategy. This has always been on-going, but I look forward to the day I can sit here and write “I am acne free”.

If you want to follow my latest slice of life, and my acne journey, then check out my latest YouTube video.

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  1. Rai
    August 19, 2017 / 1:59 am

    It’s my first time reading your blog but I’m a follower of yours on YouTube and im must say how similar our acne journey is. It’s kinda comforting to know that there are people out there facing the exact struggles I’m facing. So thank you soooooo much for putting yourself out there in that vulnerable state because I know I can never be that brave like you. Hang in there cos I never thought my cystic/hormonal acne would ever leave me but ever since I started trying 1000mg of vitamin C daily, it actually went away. I still do have the occasional zits and lotsssss of scars but it’s so much better now. Anyway, my point is don’t give up! I’m sure one day you willl find the right ‘remedy’. Keep up what you’re doing for the YouTube community!

    With Love from a Singapore follower. 🙂

    • August 24, 2017 / 9:46 am

      Hey Rai! First of all, I’m super sorry for not responding to you sooner, that’s really bad form of me, so my apologies. Second, that’s incredible to hear how including a supplement like that has helped you so dramatically! I love it! It’s also great to hear that you never gave up, you never let it beat you. That’s super inspiring! Hopefully your journey helps others, too 🙂 xx

  2. AA
    September 13, 2017 / 12:17 pm

    Hi Jess!

    I initially found you on Youtube, and you are the first Youtuber where I sought out your IG AND blog! Keep posting great videos! I know it is hard to get the motivation sometimes because of the struggles you are going through but they do help people. There are a lot of silent lurkers on Youtube who watch all the content but never comment (me), so I thought I’d pop on over here and say hi.

    Acne is a real bitch and I hope you find the solution you are looking for. I have had my fair share of acne issues and it is beyond frustrating. There are so many factors to it. I’ve also researched and heard all of the suggestions to “cure” acne. I have also tried just about every topical ointment. I have been on birth control, antibiotics, crazy diets, diff skincare, etc. I think I have tried everything except Accutane and hearing Accutane experiences intrigue me. Sometimes there is only so much we can do externally to improve acne, and it’s okay to use oral meds to help heal it. I think acne boils down to genetics and how our skin is made up to behave. So there is no one cure to acne. I look forward to more videos from you!


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