Monday, February 22, 2016

lessons in self-love and acceptance {my struggle with hormonal acne}

Top: Ellery borrowed from Plan de Ville; Pants: St. John; Shoes: Oscar de la Renta via The RealReal; Bag: Chanel; Sunglasses: Celine; Bracelet: Tiffany's

First things first. I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, that I truly appreciate all your kind words and birthday wishes last Friday. To feel genuine connections today is rare and the fact I can share my little corner of the internet with you day to day and have it mean something to both of us -- to connect, to discuss, to commiserate, to support, to advise, to just BE, well that's nothing short of amazing to me. Truly. Thank you.

Secondly, but on a very related and open note, I wanted to talk about something that I've been dealing with and thinking about lately and that's self-image. Now, before this starts to sound like an eye-roll inducing after school special, I'd like to clarify a few things. This isn't where I get on a soap box and tell you the importance of self-image and self-worth. Because at the end of the day, I think we can all recognize just how important these things are and how very little they should depend on how we actually look and where we are in life, but our perspective on them. The tricky part, especially as I'm entering this phase where a lot of things in my life really are falling into place after years of hard work (knock on wood!), is how to address it when your perspective shifts. When things you can't control throw you a curve ball. When telling yourself that you're beautiful no matter what, gets a bit harder because of some new insecurity, big or small. When you just can't quiet the doubts that creep in, whether they're warranted or not. 

Where am I going with this? Well in the spirit of being open and honest with you all, for the past two years, I've been struggling with some persistent hormonal acne, primarily along my jawline. What started out as seemingly normal breakouts around that time of the month, has now progressed into something a bit more concerning and cystic in nature. As someone who historically never really dealt with acne as a teenager, aside from the typical pimple that showed up from time to time, this has thrown me for a loop. A complete loop.

Now, you may be wondering as to why it hasn't ever really been a topic here on This Time Tomorrow, or perhaps all that noticeable in my photos. And that's the beauty of makeup coverage and strategic hair placement and me just generally shying away from closeups of my face (I get really nervous when Lydia gets too close to me with her camera). For that, I want to say that I wasn't intentionally trying to mislead anyone about my appearance. At the end of the day, I wanted my outfits to be the focus, and the fact my face happens to pop in from time to time, is just a byproduct. 

In the whole scheme of things, I also realize my acne is by no means debilitating, and after many, many, many Google image searches looking for answers and explanations, I realize I'm much more on the mild to moderate side of the severity spectrum. Hence why it doesn't look all that obvious or noticeable in my photos. Does that mean my self-doubt doesn't creep in regularly? Of course not. Or that my insecurity doesn't control me sometimes? It definitely can and does. Or that some self-loathing, despite my better judgement, doesn't get the best of me? Oh god, it certainly does. More than I would like to admit. 

A bit dramatic? Perhaps. But isn't that the frustrating thing about insecurities? Sometimes, the things no one else really notices or cares about, are the things you blow out of proportion in our head. What used to be routine, like say, going to the coffee shop sans makeup, becomes an inner struggle of thinking everyone is staring JUST at your face. And your latest breakout. 

It can be isolating to say the least -- especially when a lot of your friends (or perhaps amongst my circle of friends), aren't necessarily going through the same thing, you can really start to feel alone. I find this particularly interesting, given that, after a lot of internet research and chatting with my dermatologist at great length, this is actually a really common problem among women my age (due to a long list of hormonal factors that I'm not really qualified to write or speak about). 

Now, I don't intend for this post to turn into a complete skin care routine write up as I'm still very much in the stages of sorting out possible causes and treatments, including but not limited to diet changes and a prescribed medication from my dermatologist. (That said, if you would find it helpful if I documented this experience here, please do let me know in the comments below!) Instead, I want this post to help anyone who's struggling with a self-image problem of their own, be it acne or not, to know that you're not alone. And despite how difficult it might get to remind yourself at the end of the day, it really is true: you are enough. You are. You are fucking more than enough. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And especially don't let yourself tell you otherwise.

Easier said than done, of course. Especially in an age of over-sharing and over-editing, when you can easily compare yourself to this person or that celebrity -- trust me, I get it. And in some ways, I feed into it -- it's the nature of this world I work in. Guilty as charged. But just as that saying goes, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," you gotta be kind to yourself first. You owe that to YOU.

And in the spirit of self-love, I've partnered with my favorite facial oil, Biossance, to help celebrate their latest product launch, The Nourisher. As someone with, oddly enough, very dry skin despite my recent onslaught of breakouts, I've toyed with the idea of facial oils off and on the past few years, afraid it would just add too much "oil" to my already seemingly "oily" face. I've now fully incorporated them into my evening routine at the recommendation of my dermatologist, who has me on several cleansers and creams that are extremely drying on the skin to help combat my acne. Throw in the fact that winter is in full swing here in NYC and my skin has never been dryer. Never. It's been extremely uncomfortable and unsettling -- almost to the point that I've noticed my skin becoming a bit dull and less firm than I'm used to, particularly on my lower jawline and neck, where a lot of recent breakouts have been occurring. I'm trusting in the process that my dermatologist has outlined for me (and urge you to consult yours first before you start subscribing to this routine for your skin), but have relished in the fact I can lather on just a few drops of a gentle facial oil like Biossance's Nourisher combined with a gentle moisturizer like CereVe, and start to feel my old skin texture again, despite the necessary skin peeling from my cleansing routine. 

If you'd like to share your own self-love story, Biossance is hosting a giveaway over on their Instagram account. Simply upload an image of your own, share your self-love journey and tag Biossance and you'll be automatically entered for a chance to win a Nourisher sample. 

I also want to say that this post was extremely therapeutic for me to write -- and while I'm still very much in the thick of struggling with acne, I feel immensely better for getting this off my chest. It's something that I've wanted to discuss here on This Time Tomorrow for a while now, but the timing always seemed off and I had a million excuses as to why I didn't want to openly admit this thing that I'm extremely insecure about. But when Biossance shared their latest campaign story with me -- that of self-love -- I felt it would be amiss of me to not take this opportunity to stare this thing down in the face, once and for all, especially with a product that my dermatologist and I feel is a good fit for me and my skin right now.  

Of course, part of me is still afraid to hit publish -- because us silly human beings hate being vulnerable -- but I also recognize that if this reaches just one other person who might be going through something similar, than I fully believe it was worth it. And if you happen to be that one other person still reading this very long and rambling post and want to talk about it -- hit me up! I'm all ears:

Eep. Hitting that publish

This post was in collaboration with Biossance. As always, all opinions and styling are my own. Thank you for supporting all This Time Tomorrow collaborations!


  1. Thanks for sharing! I never would have guessed that you struggled with acne, but I guess that's how it goes most of the time with insecurities, like you mentioned - they consume our thoughts and yet most of the time no one else even notices.

    I've struggled with acne my entire life and definitely thought it would be gone by now. It's frustrating because I take great care of my skin, and yet have friends who don't and they are the ones with perfect skin! I totally feel you on the insecurity - especially when we have no control over it and it seems like we are doing everything right.

    Just know that you truly are stunning - acne or not! And I hope that the new program works out for you and your skin!

    xo Mary-Katherine | Gold-Hatted Lover

  2. Oh my, in love with your shoes and the amazing top, babe! Love love love! XO

    Shall We Sasa

  3. PREACHING TO THE CHOIR!! Never suffered with acne or bad skin - around 28, BAM - it plagues my life! I've been getting regular facials at Ling Skincare near Union Square and it has helped TREMENDOUSLY! I also have skin on the more dry side and was combating the breakouts with harsh astringents - apparently this was making it much worse! There is a product called Oxygen Plasma that Ling sells and it's AMAZING at hydrating and maintaining the PH balance of my skin. Good luck - it's such a frustrating problem!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing, Krystal! At 27 and struggling with hormonal acne myself, it feels like you're all alone at times, especially when comparing my friend's clear faces with my mountain-rangey one. And it's painful! I would love to hear any advice you have particularly when it comes to medication and diet changes. I just haven't found the right fit, and it's exhausting. Thanks so much for being vulnerable, I look forward to hearing more of your story on this!

  5. Thanks for your honesty!! I am totally struggling with the same thing myself and it is so frustrating! I look at everyone and wonder, why isn't anyone going through the same thing and why me?! I felt like I tried everything and nothing is working!! Thank you again! By the way, obsess with your heels and top!

  6. I'm seriously so so in love with that top! and bravo to you for coming out and being open and honest about your experiences!

    XO Sahra
    Que Sera Sahra

  7. Such a beautiful look! I love the top and shoes!

  8. Do you eat or drink a lot diary? I heard that diary products could cause acne around the jawline and mouth. Anyway thank you for opening up on something very personal. I did the same on my instagram account with Target and their launch of their social challenge's always interesting when you open up especially to a bunch of strangers. It's also like a healing process too.

    Anyway OBSESSED with your shirt


  9. I also never had acne as a teen but only later developed cystic acne as well which I found out was due to my diagnosis a couple years ago of PCOS. It's no fun and I think it's courageous of you to share your story!

  10. I get hormonal acne too! It can be the worst! I will have to check out this face oil! You look great

  11. Such a gorgeous tailored look - I am obsessed with this top! xx

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. Your top is amazing by the way!


  13. I used to have cystic acne in high school and my doctor diagnosed me with PCOS - it's extremely common in women and most women don't even know they have it. It's worth talking to your doctor/gyno about. I got put on the pill and it cleared up right away.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story and being vulnerable. It often seems like the life of popular fashion bloggers are perfect, and it's a nice reminder that you guys are human too! Everyone has their insecurities.
    P.S. your outfits are unreal. you keep doin you

  14. Just wanted to say props to you for sharing your story and that also GIRL, I hear you! 2 years ago I developed rosacea (which at first I thought was some sort of adult acne, as my face was red and full of small bumps) - it took about a year to figure out what was happening and is still a struggle, but I'm slowly figuring out what works with my skin. That said, it can definitely make your self esteem PLUMMET when your skin is out of whack, so I feel you on that one. The upside is we are our own harshest critics and HONESTLY no one is noticing it as much as you are. And just in case you need it today or any day, you are absolutely beautiful!

  15. Krystal, I love your blog. Always have since like 2010. It just keeps getting better and better. Seriously, thank you for sharing this. I've struggled with some adult acne lately (29 y.o. currently 30 in August) and it has been frustrating since I never did as a teen. I feel you on feeling isolated. You feel like everyone has beautiful skin and you need to hide yours from everyone. Regular chemical peels have helped and I love the skincare line, Image. I am not afraid of face oils as I used to use one by Shu Uemura so I am interested to try Biossance since my skin is dry as hell this winter, too. Insecurities in general suck - I am also dealing with weight struggles which I have never ever had - fat and pimples? It is like my teen years decided to show up on the edge of 30! Ugh, anyway, I love your blog posts where you are open and real. So thank you so much for this one. Btw, you are beautiful inside and out!

  16. This really hits home for me. Just like you, I never really suffered from acne as a kid, aside from the occasional pimple. I never even wore foundation until my late twenties because my skin never needed it. Then I got pregnant with my first baby at age 30 (I'm 33 now) and the breakouts were not just hideous but horribly painful. I'd sometimes have 10-12 cystic pimples on my cheeks at the same time. No amount of makeup helped and I was feeling incredibly insecure. And since I was pregnant, my dermatologist said there was nothing she could safely prescribe to help me. Surprisingly, I found using Manuka Honey as a face mask every night helped with the pain and inflammation, but it wasn't until my third trimester of my second pregnancy that the acne just magically cleared up and hasn't returned. I also started using Peter Thomas Roth's Glycolic Acid 10% cream, which certainly helped, but by no means provided a cure. The damage was done though and I'm left with scars all over my cheeks. Those I can cover with makeup, but it's frustrating to feel so self-conscious without makeup on. I so want to be that woman who can just throw on some clothes and run out for coffee feeling and looking great without makeup. But nope. Until I'm done having babies and nursing, my derm can't treat the scars so I've learned to just kind of accept it and find a routine that allows me time to care for the kids and apply makeup in the mornings. So anyway. You're absolutely not alone and I commend you for sharing your story! xx

  17. You are beautiful! I hope your new routine works for you. Now, if only I could find something that would really work for my thinning hair.

  18. Thank you for sharing you're story. I posted something similar on my own blog just last week as I have always struggles with body image and feeling uncomfortable in clothes that I wear. and its so nice to see that someone else is willing to share their story too!

    Aimee x

  19. I've struggled with breakouts pretty much since I turned 13. Now at 27 I'm so over it. I've gotten to a point where it's only hormonal, along my jawline like you. I also learned that was using way too harsh treatments and the best thing I started doing was oil cleansing. If you recall middle school science, oil dissolves oil - so it actually works better than soap and replicates your own skin oil so your glands don't overproduce and make your face feel oily, just soft and clean. I use a cheap bottle of jojoba oil from trader joe's. I have some josie moran light argan oil for spot touch ups and when I'm really dry, slather on coconut oil before I go to bed - it's all soaked in by morning.


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