Beauty & the beast: Breaking out

I don’t even care that I completely failed my midterm. No crying over spilt milk, right? I had no care in the world besides when the J-line would pick me up from the Silo, so I could celebrate.

After that and a good night’s sleep, I woke up, ready to head back home for the long weekend. I looked in the mirror and was greeted the most unsightly being in the world, a creature with unruly bed hair, raccoon under-eye circles, red irritated patchy skin, and 409832409283 new pimples. A week of stressful, sleepless nights of cramming and crying really takes a toll on one’s skin.

By now, I think it’s relatively safe to assume that most of you guys have noticed that lack of sleep and stress are correlated with breakouts. This is because stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete more of the hormone cortisol, which causes you to secrete more oil on the face, which can clog pores and cause acne.

Some factor in life stresses you out, which causes you to break out. Well speaking for myself, seeing these unattractive red blemishes on my skin stresses me out even more, so I continue to break out. It’s a pretty unforgiving cycle. Then, lack of sleep only increases stress levels. More importantly, lack of sleep also causes more inflammation. Sleep also repairs your body; it’s not called beauty sleep for no reason.

Although most people would agree that lack of sleep and stress does cause acne flare-ups, diet is more controversial. In my own opinion, maintaining a healthy diet is a key factor in having nice skin. I believe that “you are what you eat.” So if your diet consists of mostly oily and fried foods, then your skin would look, well, oily and fried.

Of course, there are exceptions, like those people who can eat anything — scarf down a whole bag of hot Cheetos for breakfast, have a gallon of mac ‘n cheese for lunch, and half a pizza for dinner and still not get a single pimple or gain a single pound.

I, for one, am definitely not blessed with that trait. Although I personally notice the correlation, I know many people have informed me that acne and diet are not intertwined. The theory behind it is that what causes acne is dirt and oils being trapped in between your pores, and that eating greasy food does not mean your body produces more oils. Now, I’m no bio major, so I won’t even try arguing that point, but whether you agree there is a correlation between having a healthy diet and having healthy skin, I’m pretty sure everyone will acknowledge that there is no harm in cutting back that bag of chips for some fruit.

So I catch myself in front of the mirror, leaning over the sink. I find myself trying to pick at and pop my pimples, as if that will make my problems disappear. It’s a really bad habit. I always end up doing this, and never fail to regret it literally the moment after. No matter what, don’t be like me and pick at your pimples. It doesn’t make it disappear.

Heck, it doesn’t even temporarily solve anything. It immediately turns redder and more irritated. Then there’ll be a scab, and maybe even permanent scarring. It’s not worth it. If you’re prone to picking at your skin, like I am, it may be helpful to keep your nails short to make it more difficult. It also helps to put post-it notes on the mirror, but I find it embarrassing if my roommate or visitors see these notes.

Well, I guess all I can do is follow a simple skin routine of cleansing with a medicated acne wash, moisturizing and applying a spot treatment. In time, my skin will eventually clear up by itself, just in time for finals…

 

EUGENIA CHUNG can be reached at ehchung@ucdavis.edu.

 

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