My Cystic Acne Went Away / And Guess What.

When your face is a canvas painted with a health problem, everyone let's you know what the magical cure is. I was recommended to stop eating sugar, wash my face, stay away from mosquitos (?), and heckled by Mary Kay associates who saw my plight as a chance to make some extra $$ (thanks for the free samples, though.)

The day I had enough, was after I had given birth to my daughter and on my first outing in the real world. This was a big deal since I was still recovering from birth, living on like 2 hours of sleep, and depressed and clueless as only a new mama is. I drove five minutes to the mall just to walk around and enjoy feeling like a human being again (such as window shopping for clothes that didn't have to accommodate a watermelon sized belly.) I strapped Ella in the carrier and braved the snow, all the while feeling on top of the world because I was finally getting out of the house.

I didn't even hit one store before I was stopped by one of those annoying kiosk vendors who was trying to give me samples and sell me on some really overpriced lotion. I explained that I already had a facial routine that worked for me and I wasn't shopping for anything, just killing time before I had to pick up my husband. Seeing that he was going to lose a potential customer, the dude pulled me aside and proceeded to tell me,
"But just look at your face. I mean your beautiful, but that acne is taking that all away."

At the time, I had been ecstatic because the positive hormones from pregnancy + birth had actually made a significant difference on my acne...and I actually felt beautiful. For once.
Yeah. For once. 
Until that moment was crushed by a random stranger who pointed out my worst insecurity in front of everyone.

Somehow I escaped his terrible sales tactics and his flawless, clean cut features and hobbled back to my car where I instantly lost control over my emotions and bawled my eyeballs out. #Hormones

I felt so ugly. It's a shame - because everyone else just naturally has flawless skin, you know - and here's this freak who dares parade out bare-faced with the audacity to refuse a product that could make her beautiful for once.

Basically, I've lived in complete insecurity about my appearance ever since I was 11-years-old. I would literally avoid social interaction with people because of my acne. I was embarrassed to go on vacation and see my (beautiful!) cousins who didn't have the Bergmann acne I inherited. I didn't want to go to the dentist because I was afraid he'd be grossed out by my cystic acne. I even thought I would never get married because of my acne (lol.)

Ten years later, my face is still scarred from all those years of acne, but I'm happy to say I've been acne free since giving birth. By acne free, I mean I have less than two zits a day and can touch my face or kiss my husband without having pain. Yeah. Seriously. Sometimes I couldn't even kiss my husband because of acne. UGH.

So, how did I cure my acne? What prescription cream did I lather all over my face? How long did I go paleo to make it disappear?

Well, nice of you to ask, because actually, I did nothing. Time itself (and maybe pregnancy) kicked my hormones out of teenage-ballistic-hormone mode, and thank heavens, stopped the ten year battle on my pores.

Girl. I get it. I know what it's like to grow up feeling unlovable because of your skin. I know what it's like to hate every. single. picture of yourself - no exceptions. I know what it's like to feel like the ugliest girl in the room. It's tough; it really is.

It stinks, because acne isn't a social stigma most people try to combat. If you have acne, you're automatically labeled as lazy, just a gross teenager who lacks good hygiene, OR you simply don't realize what's on your face (as if it's possible to miss a huge mass of pain on your face.) I find it funny, because people with acne probably have some of the best skin regimes out there in all our fruitless attempts to keep it at bay.

I wish people understood that it's not always as simple as changing your diet or putting zit cream on the night before. If that worked for you - woohoo - but it might not work for the guy next store. Even peeps taking medication might have to wait years for the effects to finally win. Even then, you're left with some awesome scarring that the guy at the mall would be appalled by! I literally tried everything to cure my acne and still woke up every morning in despair as I realized (yet again!) that the social pressure of having flawless skin would not be appeased that day. 

I wish I could say I was exaggerating, or blowing this out of proportion. The thing about insecurities though - we don't like to say them out loud. They may be silly ("How can you let acne make you THAT insecure?!") but the thing is: they're real.  For the longest time, I saw myself as someone else because of my acne. I woke up each day feeding myself negativity because I didn't look like all the "pretty" girls out there.

If I could go back to my poor little insecure self, I wish I could tell her that it'll be okay. That your face does not define you, or that your body does not define you. Or that for every hater, there's someone who will love you back. For every flaw, there is beauty. 

It's easy for me now, as I don't really struggle with acne anymore and ever since giving birth and accumulating all sorts of stretch marks and losing a freakish amount of weight from breastfeeding - I HONESTLY. DO. NOT. CARE. About anything (except for naps.)

For those of you who struggle with acne, I found the video below so powerful and encouraging during my acne journey. This gorgeous gal (who actually looks great without any makeup, btw) was just like me and here she is killing it.

(JUST FYI: this video contains snapshots of written comments that contain some colorful language. If you're uncomfortable with that sort of thing: you've been warned.)

So beautiful ladies, whatever your flaws and insecurities - stop freaking out about it and letting it control your life.

We're all imperfect. Some people are just better at hiding it. And honestly, having gone through acne - when I see someone else like me, I'm just like, "AW, YEAH SEEESTER! Be the boss that you are and flaunt your beautiful, God-given skin that you're not afraid to hide."

Stay beautiful. Stay strong.



  1. Bethany, this was so beautiful. I've never struggled with cystic acne, but my best friend has and I remember how it made her feel so terrible about herself. And like you, she tried everything and it wouldn't go away till after she had a baby. I can't believe that salesman had the guts to say something like that to you! :( I'm sorry you had to deal with that!

    I've struggled with body image my whole life, (like most woman I guess) and have to constantly remind myself that there is beauty in my imperfection. Thank you for sharing your heart! You are one beautiful, amazing mama! Inside and out!

    1. @ Jana - thank you! It's refreshing to hear that (yet again!) another beautiful woman like yourself struggles with the same things I do.
      By the way, congrats on becoming a Mrs!! I'm totally stalking your blog as I write. :)

    2. Thanks Bethany! I am really happy to be married now, even though I had fun planning my wedding. lol

      Hope you're having a great weekend ;)

  2. Hi Bethany,

    Thanks so much for being so open and honest. I love the way you write. Its down to earth yet so impactful at the same time. I've been following your blog for a few years and I'm so blessed by what you share.

    I only struggled a bit with acne in my early teens, but I have been overweight since the preteen years. When you wrote that you hated every picture of yourself, holy cow, I relate so much. I still hate most pictures of me and haven't been able to get over myself about it. I guess I feel like the overweight thing is different because I technically have more control over it than someone has over acne. Still though, I struggle a lot. I wake up just about every day and instantly begin body shaming myself. I know the truth, that this isn't where my worth lies, but it's hard to remember that in a world that is constantly chasing 'perfection,' whaddeva that means. (Sigh) Its a struggle for reals. I'm nineteen and am hoping and praying to be married someday, but often tell myself that that wont ever happen because of the way I look. Again, not true I know, but ugh its a pervasive lie.

    Thanks for being willing to speak out in the silence. I feel like this is a conversation for us gals that needs to be reviewed consistently, but few people are willing to talk about it.

    God bless ya Bethany. I'm thankful for you.

  3. For the record, I've always thought you were a pretty thang;)

    But yeah...people are people. Whether it's how you mommy you kids, how you decorate your house, or how you look, somebody will always try to make you feel like less than enough. I like to remember this verse: "Whatever is Excellent or Praiseworthy, if anything be of good report" ...etc. "THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS!"

    Always replay the compliments you're given, and decide to block the negative. You can't help that they come to mind: you CAN decide whether or not you're going to keep hashing it over and getting discouraged.



    Love ya!

  4. Thank you Bethany. I have semi-bad acne but have never felt super insecure about it...(unless it's REALLY bad) but it's nice to know if I am ever felling insecure in the future I can read this and feel better! Thanks for sharing your story!


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Maira Gall