Saving Face: Winning the Battle Against Adult Acne


Something interesting has been happening to me lately: People have actually been commenting on how good my skin looks.


I’m not saying this to gloat; not in any way. In fact, I’ve been struggling with acne for the majority of my life. And as a soon-to-be a member of the Jackie Robinson Club (read: turning 42), my pimples were defending their reign, just as new fine lines started to etch themselves onto my face.

Any product marketed for acne, I’ve tried. Everything from Noxzema to acid peels, I’ve used it. At the very best, some of these products worked for maybe two weeks. Most times, these products not only didn’t work but made my acne worse. At the very worst, I had to resort to getting corticosteroids injected into my most painful pimples—the ones that almost felt like welts underneath my skin.

In truth, this caused me to feel depressed—it even jump-started my depression at times. And although I thought it was all in my head, as a psychiatrist, I also know that there actually has been a link found between acne and depression.

Many frequent trips to my aesthetician and the dermatologist later, I discovered that prescription Accutane worked well—but only after two different trials of taking the medication. And taking this medication also meant that I had to have monthly blood draws to make sure that my liver enzymes weren’t elevated and that I wasn’t pregnant—since Accutane can cause birth defects.

Within the last year, things thankfully seemed to finally calm down a bit, but I’d still notice that I would always get at least one large pimple right before my period. That’s when I decided to give oil cleansing a shot. The oil cleansing method is a natural, organic method that has been around for centuries and has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine.

Pimples are caused by excess oil—or sebum—that the seborrheic glands underneath your skin produce when your skin needs more moisture or when they’re overactive. As counterintuitive as it may sound at first, oil cleansing seeks to restore this balance by providing the oil or moisture that your skin needs, thereby reducing the amount of sebum that your glands are compelled to produce. In theory, oil cleansing should decrease the amount and frequency of breakouts. In my experience, it’s been a godsend.


In keeping with the natural and Ayurvedic route, I recently stumbled upon incorporating turmeric masks into my daily skin-care routine. According to my aesthetician, celebrity skin expert Tina K, when applied to your skin transdermally, the turmeric in the mask calms down any inflammation that your skin may want to manifest—and there can be a lot, since we’re constantly pounded by environmental toxins day in and day out.

The result? On several days, I’ve actually been able to leave the house and go to work without wearing a lick of makeup, aside from my beloved lip glosses. And for all of you who want to make sure you truly are what you eat, the best part about turmeric masks is that they’re actually edible, and an ingredient you can use inside and out.


We’ve extolled the benefits of honey before here at The Glow Up, and adding honey to my masks keeps my moisturized levels at their peak. An extra added benefit is that as a proud, bald black woman for the past 20-plus years, I find that applying honey-and-turmeric masks to my head after I shave has eliminated my razor bumps. (Take note, fellow baldies.)


In my experience as both a patient and a doctor, I’ve always found that utilizing a combination of Western medicine and more-natural treatments has given me the best success when it comes to any conditions or ailments I might have. Acne can be a real pain to get rid of—literally. But with a new year nearly upon us, it’s always in your best interest to start thinking about new ways to let your inner glow come through so that the world can truly see you glowed up!

NY raised me. LA made me. Full-time Black woman. Psychiatrist. Mental health advocate. Eternal boss.



I’m struggling with jawline and neck acne in my mid-thirties, and it sucks. I’ve always had acne issues, but this is a whole nother ball game. There is one pimple right underneath my chin that has been there for most of 2017. It’s no longer painful or active, I guess, but it’s still dark and raised. I got two new ones below my jaw and ear this week, and I’m sure they’ll stick around for months too. Have you tried the turmeric masks with cystic acne? If so, which one worked best? Seven different options is too many options for me.