Caution: This post contains graphic images of a face inflammed with red, angry pimples filled with pus. You might feel itchy and want to vomit after seeing these images. I totally understand if you run away from me if you saw me. Reader discretion advised.
However, I beseech you to carry on reading – for my sake, and yours.
Once upon a time not too long ago, I looked like this.
In fact, this was taken on the day of The Singapore Social Concerts, just 3 days before the skin-ravaging facial on Monday, 27 May 2013 .
I’ve never had ‘flawless skin’ – I’ve discussed that in my Garnier skincare post. I’ve been battling acne my whole post-puberty life and scars, freckles, hyperpigmentation, dark spots have constantly made themselves very much at home on my face.
No Photoshopping was done on the previous photo, to show you how my skin looks like with only makeup. Just in case you want to know, I used Lioele Dollish Veil Vita BB as a base, and Lancome Mat Miracle Foundation on my face. They’ve never given me any problems in the past few months of use. This is my best face paint combination in my life, in fact.
In this post, all the photos you see were edited only for size. There was no Photoshopping involved – I have no desire to make the condition seem better or worse than it really is.
I will not reveal the name of the facial salon in this post, NOT in the interest of protecting its reputation, but because I truly believe that no sane organization would intentionally cause harm to its customers. Okie, maybe you’d quote the China fake milk powder stories to show that people would do anything for a quick buck, but this was a sponsored facial and the salon would obviously not want to incur the wrath of the blogger and its potential clients.
Mr Mode is livid that despite them inflicting so much pain – physically and emotionally – on me, I still choose to keep the identity of the salon a secret.
If you see me on Sunday at the Bloggers Bazaar, I’d most probably be wearing a mask so that I won’t scare people away, and also to minimize further bacterial infection.
This was how my skin looked like minutes after the facial.
Dinner with ex-colleagues, feeling very happy and confident because I still looked decent enough to face the world.
Me and Min. I don't think I can smile so happily again, not at least for the next few months. ='(
This was how my skin looked on Day 2. I had on a sheer layer of foundation.
By night, things were starting to look bad.
I've rarely had outbreaks on my temples or forehead.
I woke up to a rude shock. I had to wear a mask coz I was starting to feel very self-conscious, although in retrospect that was only the tip of the iceberg.
The facial therapist simply said I have sensitive skin and extraction of the pus would solve everything.
They applied some cream thing to make the skin look better than it really did.
I thought nothing could be worse than Day 3. Apparently Day 4 proved me wrong.
They look like barnacles! Just that mine are filled with pus.
These are barnacles:
I'd sent images of my deteriorating skin condition to the people at the facial salon and they asked me to go down and have the pus extracted again, this time to their HQ, where their Director was around. I don't know how people who have been in the industry for THIRTY YEARS couldn't tell this was not your normal acne breakout or post-facial sensitivity.
A close-up. Just to annoy you. LOL. Imagine seeing this on your face when you wake up. Not funny at all.
I love how this self-shot was taken. I can see the tears welling up in my eyes, the sorrow and bewilderment of how my skin could become so terrible.
The facial people told me that 'It has to get worse before it gets better'. BULLSHIT. Anyone who tells you that about your skin is really just lying to you. I have friends who are aestheticians say there's no such thing. If it gets worse, it can only get worse.
From the first round of extraction, they kept lying to me that 'tomorrow your skin will be better'. It never did.
At home, my skin turned worse. The glistening layer is not my own oily skin! Mine's oily but not so disgustingly greasy. It's the anti-bacterial gel they applied.
I showed the facial people these pictures and in the evening, C and D told me they're coming to pick me up to see a dermatologist. Mr Mode was there with me.
My skin has been ravaged.
Your Doctor Can Kill You
The first doctor was terrible! The minute he saw my face he nonchalantly commented "Oh, it's an acne breakout". And then he scribbled some stuff and looked at me with the okie-i'm-done-with-my-diagnosis-please-get-out look. I was like WHATISTHIS!!! I tried to ask more, to better understand my condition and he just kept saying it's a normal acne breakout and he would prescribe me antibiotics, some cream and a cleanser.
While getting my medication, we could see that the nurse wasn't sure what she was doing, she had to double check with the doctor all the time. Worse still, D pointed out that I was given EXPIRED CREAM. WHAT??!?!?!?!!! The nurse tried to smoke us into saying that the printing's wrong and she'd get another box. The doctor had to come out of his room to help this girl. They rummaged the cupboards and found one new set and I heard the doctor asking the nurse "How many more expired boxes?". WTF, seriously.
On the way home, I told Mode I didn't have confidence in the first doctor's diagnosis. So we went to another clinic and luckily, this second doctor knew what he was doing.
After listening intently to my narration of the past events, he said it's not your regular acne breakout, it's definitely an allergic reaction to the facial I had on Monday. Some people are allergic to certain ingredients, and the most common cause is herbal or plant extracts. C and D did mention that the products used on my face at the salon contained plant extracts.
I showed the second doctor the medication the first doctor prescribed and I was even more enraged when he told me that the antibiotics prescribed would cause gastrics and one of the creams would actually lead to very dry skin and redness. The first doctor really should not stay around in the market. Did you know that prescription drugs kill more people than illegal drugs??
I told the doctor to give me a new set of meds. He let me keep a gel and some tablets from the first doctor coz they would work.
He said this skin allergy should not cause any scarring, but will leave me with hyper-pigmentation for at least a few months. He also advised that I go back to my skincare regime before the facial because the new products given by the salon might be contributing to the allergy.
Actually there're many factors that could have caused my current skin condition:
- The facial itself, like the face massage
- The products and equipment used during the facial
- Subsequent extractions that made my skin angrier
- Products applied to my skin during subsequent extractions that hindered the healing process
- Products given by the beauty salon - cleanser + toner
I have sensitive skin but never this awful. The second doctor tried to say it in a nice way.
Me: Is is very bad?
Doctor: This is.. um... not mild, at all
Me: Is this the worst you've seen?
Doctor: Yes. This is definitely one of the worst I've ever seen.
The worst feeling, other than wanting to cry whenever I see myself in the mirror, is when I wash my face and cannot find a single smooth spot. My skin texture feels like those corals I've touched at the Sentosa Underwater World.
The only difference is that they look so pretty and I look like I have an incurable disease.
Help me. ='(
I'm sorry if I scared you. I have goosebumps too. You can't imagine how difficult it was to look at these photos and not cry. I cry the most when I'm washing my face.
My self-confidence has plummeted to rock bottom. I cannot remember the last time I was so depressed over an external condition. Mr Mode consoled me by saying that it's a good thing it's only temporary and it's not like I contracted a terminal disease. I guess I could thank the heavens that I'm lucky to be alive, but can my life ever go back to normal? I don't know. It's a great fall to take for a person who is image-conscious and with an online personality.
Did I also tell you that it's FUCKING ITCHY AND PAINFUL??
Close friends have urged me to make a police report and I could sue the beauty for negligence, damages and loss of income. This ordeal has caused me to be unable to take photos of myself for an advertorial and if I am unable to produce the post by next Tuesday, it’s highly likely that I might get dropped by the client. For the time being, I don’t think any company would want to have me endorse their products.
Also, as I’m one of the Top 10 finalist in the Singapore Blog Awards for the Best Beauty Blog category, being unable to publish posts with my face will put me at a great disadvantage. I have to do pictorials, how could I do that without showing my face at all? This Saturday is the briefing for Best Beauty Blog category, where if attendance is not guaranteed, immediate elimination is for certain.
I spoke to Janet, a member of the organizing team, about my skin condition and she said they’ll do away with the video recording of my introduction and will just take a shot of the room with me inside. But I’ll most probably in a mask and thick-framed glasses to hide as much of these barnacles on my skin as possible so I really don’t know how I’ll look ‘normal’ at all.
I will also have to give my girl friend’s wedding on Saturday a miss. Was so looking forward to it. FML.
Tyra Banks taught us that it’s possible to smile with the eyes. Yesterday I tried to smile with my eyes at Mr Mode, but when I was smiling my widest with stars in my eyes, he still couldn’t tell at all. My mask covers all the way to right under my eyes. On Sunday, if you do come down to the Bloggers Bazaar at Zouk and see me with my mask on, please don’t ask me for the name of the salon. I would appreciate if you could just say hi and buy cosmetics from me. BAHAHAHA! So I’m really smiling at you if you see me, but you just can’t tell.
Even if my skin gets better over time, which I believe it will, I will have to live with scarring and pigmentation for a period of time. The doctor said at least for a few months. Who is going to pay for all my treatments?? Tell me!
I have to film for Orchard Scotts Dental, I cannot attend events with this face – heck, I can’t even leave my house with this face, I can’t attend my beloved dance classes, Jay Chou concert is on 8 June, my wedding shoot in Taiwan is in February 2014.
However, I really cannot bring myself to think about police reports and court cases now. All I want to do is heal.
If you know of any reputable skin clinics, dermatologists who are good at treating skin allergies, please drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Even if you don’t know of anyone suitable, write to me on Facebook, tweet me, leave me a message on Instagram. Your love and kind words will definitely help me pull through this difficult time, and probably make me feel less disgusted by how grotesque I look now.
I used to literally have goosebumps when I see people with a skin condition. I’d think to myself ‘Why doesn’t she see a skin doctor?’, ‘Why would anyone leave the house like that?’. Or even on a more superficial level ‘How could people leave the house without makeup?’. To me, making up is a form of respect, for the event, for the host, for the people around me.
This ordeal has shed light to the fact that actually, there could be plenty of reasons why people look… well, different. Most of the time, they didn’t choose to look like that, they were just born this way. This person has probably seen more skin doctors in her life than I’ve seen a GP for a cold; that person probably has gone through years of depression due to low self-confidence from bad skin but has emerged stronger and immune to the stares of people; the other person probably has skin so sensitive she breaks out from the sheerest of makeup.
There are reasons why people are like that. I have learnt not to judge people by the result of their actions. I will learn to see more of what’s inside a person - a good nature, a pure heart, a fighter.
As a beauty blogger, everyone expects you to put your best face forward. This is an undeniable expectation, totally acceptable, despite it being extremely superficial. I don’t know how my skin will eventually turn out, I could be scarred for life, I could heal over time (after plenty of cash spent). Nobody knows. If I'm scarred, people will judge me the same way we all judge people with bad skin. I’ll just have to live with it.
Remember me this way:
I know it's difficult to relate to a condition so severe, but have you ever had a skin allergy or reaction this bad? Or worse? Even remotely similar will do to help in knowing that I have a circle of support. Even if you've never experienced this (I hope you've NEVER and NEVER WILL!), please write to me - in the comments section below, on Bun Bun Makeup Tips facebook page, on Instagram (@bunbunmakeuptips), or by email. Anything goes. I'm at my lowest point now. Feeling very vulnerable, self-conscious, zero self-confidence. I need all the support and love to pull me back up.
Thank you for reading thus far. Putting all these down in words has been cathartic.
Traumatic Facial Experience Series: