Cate Luzio is the CEO and founder of Luminary, a global, inclusive collaboration hub for women, headquartered in New York City.
In every single purse and makeup bag, I carry a stash of Clearasil. Since I hit puberty at a very early age, I have always had major breakouts. Of course, you assume as you get older that it will go away. But I have gone to dermatologists, talked to doctors, used every kind of cream imaginable, and nothing seems to keep it at bay. When I know a breakout is coming, I can do everything possible to my face to try and prevent it, but it never really quiets the acne.
In my 20s, my acne kept getting worse. When I went to see doctors, there was always a reason or rationale, and it was always my fault. Doctors focused on everything I might not be doing right, like “It’s from when you hold the phone up to your face.” When I went through five rounds of IVF in my 30s and the acne got dramatically worse, the explanation changed to, “Oh it’s stress. It has to do with your period.” My doctors then jumped to, “Are you eating more greasy foods than normal? Are you exercising and not washing your face afterwards?”
I have tried every acne medication known to man: retinol, Strident, natural cures. Clearasil seems to be the only thing that maybe helps a little bit. I'm very careful with what I use on my face.
It has been so frustrating that no medical professional has ever been able to say, “This is what we should do. This is what the problem is.” At 45, I wonder how am I still getting these breakouts? I think three months is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without them, and I didn’t do anything differently to cause these calm times. For the last 25 years, the acne just shows up whenever it wants. It drives me crazy and is really stressful.
Since I was younger, I’ve also had a form of eczema or dermatitis, particularly on my thighs. It’s embarrassing when you're growing up and have bumps on your legs. Now I also have them on the backs of my arms as well as bad eczema on my scalp that flares up when I'm stressed. I’m constantly trying to troubleshoot what's wrong. The crazy thing is, I don’t even know if it’s eczema. No doctors have ever said that’s exactly what it is – they just hand me a cream to use and send me on my way. There’s no concrete diagnosis or attempt to figure out the underlying cause of these skin issues to see if they can make it better.