10 Women Admit the Crazy Lengths They've Gone to for Clear Skin

Maressa Brown | Apr 21, 2017 Beauty & Style

woman facial laser
NinaMalyna/Shutterstock

Whether you struggled with acne in your teens or your post-baby hormones are doing a number on your skin, just about every woman has dealt with a dermatological nightmare at one point or another. In fact, a recent survey on the State of Acne in America, conducted by skincare company Curology -- which involved more than 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 44 who have suffered from acne, blackheads, or clogged pores at some point in their lives -- showed just how much we're willing to put ourselves through for the sake of smooth, clear skin.

One of the most jaw-dropping findings: 20.5 percent of women would be willing to pay $100/month for 10 years ($12K) to guarantee clear skin for life. And nearly half of women aged 18 to 24 (43.6 percent) would be willing to gain 10 pounds, take a pay cut, or be celibate for six months in order to have clear skin. Ouch!

Here's how 10 women actually did make big sacrifices of their time, money, overall wellness, and favorite beverage (wine!) for beautiful skin. Turns out, sometimes, the risk doesn't even always match the reward.

  • "My parents allowed me to get laser treatment ..."

    1

    "I got the chicken pox while I was a senior in high school, obviously well after everyone else usually gets it. After I recovered, I had scars on my face from the pox, and I didn't want to go to college like that. So, my parents allowed me to get laser treatment on my face over the summer to try to remove the scars. It didn't really help; it actually made it worse because the recovery time from laser treatment was at least a week, and when you're 18, and it's your last summer before college, a week is a long time for recovery. It turns out time is the best way to heal from chicken pox scars. I'm still waiting for the last few to go away 14 years later!" -- Joann W., 32, Hollywood, California

  • "I finally got clindamycin..."

    2

    "When I started college, my nerves when berserk, and it affected my skin. I had this massive outbreak JUST on my forehead. It was made up of tons and tons of tiny, red dots. They were painful and hard. I had never had acne before or since, so I really lost my mind. I cut my bangs, but I thought about it constantly, and my hair's oils only made it worse. I started using 10 percent benzoyl peroxide to get rid of the acne. The skin sort of peeled off, and it was hyper-red, itchy, and dry. But the pimples remained. So, I got clindamycin, which I saw in a catalog. It was $200+ dollars, but when I got it, it was life-changing. I literally cried when I noticed it working." -- Lisa B., 31, New York, New York

  • "I went on birth control strictly for my skin."

    3

    "I was on birth control pills for most of my teens -- strictly for my skin. They suppressed acne beautifully, but it returned uglier than ever after going off of them at 21. Now, I realize that I just need time to de-stress and clean up my diet." -- Emmie B., 28, Portland, Oregon

    More from CafeMom

  • "I decided to use Accutane ... the 'cure-all' for acne."

    4

    "I've struggled with acne for a decade and have tried literally every cream, pill, cleanser, and treatment in the book. I finally reached a point where I wanted to be able to be comfortable in my skin, both with makeup and without, and not worry about whether I would break out because I didn't use the right cleanser or moisturizer. That's when I decided to use Accutane, a medicine that is known to be the 'cure-all' for acne. I was told to start it when I was 17, but it took until I was 23 to finally say yes because of all the stigma surrounding the pill. I've been off of it for two months and breakout-free for three, and it feels amazing." -- Marissa P., 23, Astoria, New York

  • "I gave up sugar and alcohol for 30 days!"

    5

    "I gave up sugar and alcohol for 30 days, something I never thought I could do. I've spoken to estheticians who swear sugar wreaks havoc on your skin. It wasn't a total 360 for my skin, but it definitely looked clearer and and I felt like kicking alcohol helped keep my skin hydrated." -- Kelly K., 39, Los Angeles, California

  • "I went on Accutane ... and it didn't work!"

    6

    "I went on Accutane in a final attempt to clear up my skin -- even though I have a needle phobia and the prescription required regular blood draws to monitor my vitals. It also required I go on birth control. I had horribly dry lips and skin. I even had my skin ripped off while getting my eyebrows waxed. In the end, I still have acne!" -- Sarah N., 25, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    More from CafeMom

  • "I tried a facial that's called the Iderm Galvanic Facial."

    7

    "I was blessed with perfect skin until I turned 25. I started having awful cystic breakouts that left me bewildered, as I never had skin problems before. I did a crazy Internet search for months and stumbled upon a facialist in Seattle who focused on hormonal breakouts. She does a facial that's called the Iderm Galvanic Facial, which has been coined the facial face lift. First, a yucca solution is applied followed by a heat dome that helps all those vitamins sink into your skin. After that the fun stuff happens, the extraction! Basically, anything that is under your skin that's been brewing in bacteria is sucked out with a little vacuum. After extraction, an electrode mask is placed which transfers positive/negative galvanic current which helps with things like wrinkles, etc. After doing this for the past three years, my acne scars are practically diminished, and I find that I break out less." -- Roxane S., 28, Brentwood, California

  • "The only thing that's really helped post-Accutane is an amazing serum."

    8

    "After struggling with acne since I was 10, I did Accutane when I was old enough to pay for it, around 24 ... For breakouts, though, the only thing that's really helped post-Accutane is an amazing serum called CerumWorx from DermWorx." -- Lindsay T., 28, New York, New York

  • "I opted for a drastic measurement: a chemical peel."

    9

    "After a pretty harrowing breakup, my skin was in turmoil. I was terribly broken out; blackheads, whiteheads, cysts -- my skin really bore the brunt of my emotional turmoil. Nothing I was trying made a difference -- I work as a beauty publicist, so I'm lucky enough to have access to the very best of the best when it comes to skincare! I opted for a drastic measurement: a chemical peel. After a consultation with an experienced doctor, I went for the Jessner's Peel. The process of having it done ... it stings like crazy! (I mean, it's raw chemicals on your skin.)

    "The process itself only lasted a few minutes, and I was in and out within 20 minutes. I started to peel two days later, first around my mouth and the center panels of the my face. It honestly wasn't the peeling that bothered me; it was the tightness! I thought if I was to smile my skin might snap -- quite surreal. My downtime was about a week, but once the last little flake of skin came off, the results are unbelievable -- very impressive! My acne scars were gone, my pimples banished. I had the fresh, clear skin I had been hoping for. Added bonus, waved goodbye to some sun damage too." -- Kate M., 30, Los Angeles, California

    More from CafeMom

  • "I used ... Retin A -- and went through 'The Uglies.'"

    10

    "My acne was getting so bad that I needed to go on something ASAP. After Googling, [I picked] Tretinoin, also known as Retin A -- and went through 'The Uglies.' I knew it was going to be bad for the first few weeks, which happened to be all the best holidays including my birthday, but I needed to do it!" -- Kristen B., 23, Ludlow, Massachusetts

skin

More