Community Spotlight: Overcoming Cystic Acne With Madeline Reiss

This is the first post in our "community spotlight" series where we share real from our own community. If you have an experience you think could inspire others, email us at founders at askmirra dot com

Hi, I'm Maddie!

I'm 26 and live in the Philly area. I'm a writer in the health & wellness industry, and currently on a marketing team for an online retailer that sells TONS of skincare products. I spend many days researching and evaluating the latest trends, for both business and personal reasons!

Like many of us Mirra readers, my interest in skincare was born out of necessity. When I turned 21, my hormones rebelled and I was introduced to cystic acne and inflamed, dry, sensitive skin. When I exhausted all the traditional methods of treatment, the only advice any dermatologist had to offer was to try a birth control pill--which would seemingly work for a month before breaking me out worse than before.

Feeling out of options, my research led me down the holistic route. I overhauled my entire skincare regimen: ditching every ingredient I couldn't pronounce for earthy, oil-based serums and milky cleansers. If it didn't say "organic" and smell like roses I wasn't interested. I even shelled out big bucks to see an ND in hopes that cleaning up my diet would help. While I saw a slight improvement, I eventually realized that "natural" doesn't always mean better, and that the “natural” world is also full of marketing B.S. that can prey on women's self-confidence.

As I poured over article after article by holistic health bloggers and natural beauty brands--a lot of the well-intentioned "beauty comes from within" and "you are what you eat" advice led me down a path of self-blame. If I woke up with a new breakout I told myself it was because I had too much dairy, gluten, or sugar. Or it was because I failed to make time to exercise, prepare healthy meals, and take supplements every day. Or it was because I was stressing too much and needed to be more zen. As someone already prone to depression and anxiety, this new layer of guilt in my life caused me to feel inadequate and even affected my work and personal relationships.

Through all of this, I finally realized that there are MANY factors that affect our skin: what we put in our bodies and on our faces are only two of those things. Other things (like genetics, our hormones, the environment, the weather, etc.) are out of our control. My long, frustrating journey has taught me to accept my skin as it is right now, and as a result, helped me learn to accept myself in the process. We're all on a life-long journey to better ourselves, one day at a time, our skin is just one piece of that puzzle. :)  

The best skincare advice I've received is to give it time. I'm sorry that's kind of wishy-washy, not-so-practical advice, but coming to a place of acceptance has gifted me peace of mind, and has helped me to stop stressing out so much over the way I look. Since I've found more inner peace, I've been able to take a step back and realize that my skin IS improving slowly but surely!

If someone asked me if I consider myself a confident person, at first, I'd probably say no because I spend a lot of time worrying. From mundane tasks to bigger ones, like finishing projects at work--when things slip through the cracks, I really feel them as failures. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time telling myself “I can't do it” and ruminating on perceived "not-enoughness." It's frustrating because that negative self-talk puts me in in a state of action-paralysis when looking at a packed to-do list and rapidly approaching deadlines. I get very caught up worrying about the worst-case-scenario. But all of that stress, coupled with a desire to get things done, inevitably leads to a burst of action that helps me power through fear. For me, every day became a practice of meeting negative thoughts with positive ones, even if I don’t believe myself at first. I feel like we all worry about what others think of us, but from my experience, overcoming my inner critic has been the most empowering. Doing so again and again over time has helped me face projects, tasks, and hurdles with so much more confidence. I've learned that the "worst" (mostly, my inflated version of the worst) can happen and the world isn’t going to end. :) Ultimately, my self-consciousness prompts me to dig deep to find the confidence to push forward!

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