“Just Drink More Water” and Other Unsolicited Advice to Clear Your Skin


Please don’t tell someone with acne to drink more water.

Jessica Lovejoy
Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

For most of my early twenties, I suffered from cystic acne, which is the most serious form of acne. Not only is it more painful and larger than regular acne, but the cysts that develop lie deeper in the skin rather than on the surface.

I was 20 years old, with large red bumps and cysts that covered my cheeks, back, forehead, and chin.

The breakouts started slowly at first, and I hoped they would go away on their own. They didn’t. I waited until my entire face had been taken over before I saw my first dermatologist.


The doctor gave me medicated ointments, antibiotics, and recommended dietary changes. Nothing helped. Over the next four years, I tried laser treatments, several antibiotics, organic facial creams, expensive celebrity-endorsed acne products, drastic dietary changes, and more.

My face stayed the same. So I learned to live with bad skin.

My skin was so terrible, I got used to children pointing at me at the grocery store. I’d watch the parents scold their kids embarrassingly, and then push the shopping cart in the opposite direction of me.

Whenever I’d go to the nail salon, the nail techs would take one look at me and tell me of their sister’s cousin’s husband who had really bad acne, but once he started washing his face with mineral water, his skin cleared up magically.

The unsolicited advice was everywhere I went.

Even if I tried, no one would let me forget how bad my skin was. It was all anyone noticed about me. That’s what living with cystic acne feels like.

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