Actress Olivia Munn gets personal about her skin and her history with acne
“I never really had to deal with acne until I was 16 years old and moved from Japan to Oklahoma,” says actress Olivia Munn, who you may recognize from the show The Newsroom and who is also in the upcoming X-Men: Dark Pheonix. “The weather and geography change did something to my skin.”
Like many teens dealing with pesky breakouts, she turned to Proactiv, which cleared her skin up for years.
“I didn’t deal with acne again until I was an adult when my skin reacted terribly to a medication I was on.”
This time it was cystic acne, large, red and painful breakouts that go deep in the skin and often require a visit to the dermatologist’s office for cortisone shots, which is just what Munn did.
“It was brutal – the hardest acne I’ve ever experienced. It was really painful on my neck, my chin, my cheeks, my forehead.”
When the cortisone shots, coupled with acupuncture didn’t seem to work, she tried spironolactone, which is a much more intense acne treatment similar to Accutane. (The medication is also used for hair loss and hormone issues.)
Her embarrassing moment
“I remember meeting Eric Bana for the first time inside a hotel lobby – we had to do a movie together,” Munn recalls. “This was during the time I had cystic acne and I had breakouts on my forehead, my jaw, and my neck. I remember I kept moving my hair so that it would cover it and he wouldn’t see it. Then he started walking outside the hotel. I started sort of panicking and was like, ‘I’m just gonna go and stay back,’ and they were like ‘But this isn’t your hotel.’ I just couldn’t bear him seeing my breakouts – they were so painful looking. It really tears your self-confidence down a lot.”
The turning point
Her agent set her up with Proactiv’s newest formula, then Proactiv+, to try and her skin cleared up within weeks. And a few months later she was in talks with the brand to serve as their celebrity ambassador.
“I think that anyone who is suffering from acne should definitely try it because it truly changed my life – especially the new version [ProactivMD], because the ingredient they have in there, adapalene, is the first time it’s been in an over-the-counter system,” she said.
The acne-busting ingredient
Adapalene is a synthetic, prescription-grade retinoid that doctors have been using for over 20 years. (This is why retinol is in your night cream.)
“Topical retinoids are the best ingredients for unclogging pores and helping bring new skin cells to the surface, while shedding old ones,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, Beverly Hills-based dermatologist.
“These over-the-counter retinols are not as strong and regular use can help with skin texture, acne, and the appearance of scars.” Though adapalene is a new first-defense to treating acne, now that it is so widely available, it’s not the only solution—it’s just one that happens to work very, very well.
These is why, as adult women, we are still getting zits and pimples.
Originally published as Olivia Munn’s Secret Struggle with Acne—and What Finally Worked for Her on ReadersDigest.com.