Follow me on Twitter

To top
29 Jun

Hello I’m Anja, and I have 99 skin problems.

A while ago I wrote about being on Oratane, and all the side effects I was experiencing. I also posted this summer selfie, looooong before that dumb “no makeup selfie” campaign, of how great my skin was looking after 6 months on 20mg Oratane.


While I was at school I had gorgeous skin – my face was always clear, except for the odd period pimple.

But I had other demons.

I used to get horrible “rashes” on my chest and back. It was terribly embarrassing, but most of all: sore.

It used to act up at the most random times. This one time when I was 15, I swam in the ocean at Struisbaai and when I came out if the water it looked like a swarm of mosquitoes had attacked me. I had gigantic red hives ALL over my body. My mom rushed me to the nearest pharmacy where they gave me allergy tablets because they thought it was an allergic reaction to the salt water.

That was pretty much my life at school. I always had a weird skin issue, and tried everything – even on the Pill. (Which did nothing except make me chubby and moody.)

Eventually they gave me Differin gel, which I had to apply to the “rashes”. It was only a temporary solution, as I would apply it – have some relief for a while – then it would come back in full force.

But that wasn’t the only demon I had. To make matters worse I also had to deal with a problem scalp. I could never use any shampoos except for Head and Shoulders. When I was 15 I had this inexplicable oily patch of hair at the back of my head, that didn’t want to disappear no matter what shampoo I used. Even after visiting the hairsalon.

So I had to get special shampoos and meds for that too.

During my time at varsity my hair demons moved into the shadows, while my “rash” demons loomed.

But my face got more pimples than ever before, mostly around my hairline and sometimes around my mouth. It was so bizarre! So at the age of 19 I bought foundation for the first time. (That’s very late, I know. But I never needed it)

The foundation only helped until I started my first job, when all my demons jumped on my back at once. Hair issues: check. Rashes: check. Pimples: check.

It wasn’t a very happy time in my life, not only because of my skin (I’m not that vain!) but because I wasn’t happy in my job.

I reached breaking point one morning when I tried to cover some gigantic pimples and they weren’t having it. I was late for work, so I started crying because my skin was looking so terrible and I didn’t have enough time to make it look good – or make myself feel good.

I realised that I had to find a solution. One of my colleagues, Berlise, told me about Oratane and how it helped her. It was because of her that I made an appointment at the dermatologist.

The dermatologist was completely baffled by the “rashes” on my chest and back. I had to go for a biopsy for them to determine exactly what it is.

It came back that I had some weird skin condition that I can’t pronounce, which is basically a combo of acne and rashes. So basically I had Rashne. 

He then started me out on a low dosage of Oratane, to see me through the summer months. I made the mistake of having my eyebrows waxed the day before starting my new job at LEGiT (2 months into my Oratane cycle) and ended up with no skin under my eyebrows. It was suuuuuuper sore! Not to mention embarrassing. Luckily, with the help of my trusty Max Factor foundation stick, I managed to conceal it.

Even on the very low dosages one can still feel the side effects: dry lips, sensitive skin (no sunlight for you!) and sometimes headaches and moodiness.

But only when I started drinking 6 pills a week did I start feeling it drastically. My eyes were constantly red and sore (I always looked like a vampire), using face wipes was out of the question because it chafed my skin, booze gave me migraines and my lips were forever drier than a dinosaur’s back.

I didn’t care, because my skin was gloriously demon-less. No rashes, no pimples – just freedom.

In November last year I finally went off the medication, but then by the end if the month my eczema in my hair fueled up again. More viciously than ever before, I might add.

And then my hair started falling out too, to the extent that I was too scared to wash my hair. Everytime I brushed or washed my hair I would lose a concerning amount of hair.

This continued until April this year when I’d finally had enough. I made another dermatologist appointment and found out that all of the above is stress related. The dermatologist told me that they’ll never be able to fully cure it (as long as I have stress), but they can treat it.

So I’m on Oratane again now, and I’m drinking 3 pills a week. So far it’s really helping my eczema – I can now wear my hair down and I don’t have to wash my hair every night just to get relief. I’m really feeling better about everything, and am drinking supplements to combat hairloss, which I think is just a hormone imbalance or something.

I have come to terms that my job is very stressful and that I will forever have skin demons. Everyone has their body issues, and this is mine.

I decided to share this with you today because I feel like the Internet is filled with perfection. Everyone looks perfectly happy in their profile pictures, Instagram photos and blogs.

I am FAR from perfect. I am probably developing a new skin issue as I’m typing this!

I just wanted to show you that everyone has something. You’re not alone.


P.S. I have no photos of my skin from that time, as I was very self-conscious. The only photos I have are Photoshopped. (I’ve always been best friends with the spot healing brush.)



  • Monique

    Dankie vir jou eerlikheid, dit is refreshing. Keep on being so real Miss Anja! P.S Dit maak jou net nog meer beautiful.

    July 2, 2014 at 8:40 am Reply
  • fathima

    Hi Anja. Lovely post! I’m also experiencing terrible hairloss for a while now and my dermatologist also mentioned hormonal imbalance. What supplements are you taking? Maybe I could suggest those to her at next appointment. Thanks 🙂

    July 2, 2014 at 8:40 am Reply
  • Suzani

    Ek het ook ekseem op my hande, wat in 2011 opgedaag het en net nie wil weggaan nie; maak nie saak hoe duur die room/salf is wat ek opsit nie. Ook verbonde aan stres. Al wanneer dit weg gegaan het was in Desember 2013 nadat ek vir 2 weke elke dag in die see geswem het. Yay seewater! Anyway, dankie vir die post x

    July 2, 2014 at 9:11 am Reply
  • Jess

    ditto. Thanks for posting this. You look amazing all the time so it’s almost comforting to know that you have skin issues, too. I was on 50mg Oratane a day for 5 months and had perfect skin for a few years after that but recently, after switching BC pills, my skin disasters have returned. I must recommend this site which teaches you to heal your skin naturally.

    July 2, 2014 at 9:22 am Reply
  • Grethe

    Thanks for this. I sometimes feel that as a glamour/fashion photographer I am only perpetuating the problem of unrealistic beauty expectations and promoting bad self-esteem. That’s also why I made the choice to start doing work that makes me happy and is PRETTY TO LOOK AT without making people hate themselves for not looking like the models in the photographs 🙂
    Eczema and adult acne suck in equal amounts of LOTS so you have my sympathies <333

    July 2, 2014 at 10:57 am Reply
  • Talya

    you should really try cut dairy out your diet for 2-3 weeks and see the effects, my ezcema completely clears when i stop eating/drinking milk etc, a lot skin conditions are stress related but also cutting out dairy and gluten can be a huge help 🙂 x

    July 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm Reply
  • Rayne Alexander

    This is a really really great post. Thanks, Anja 🙂 I myself have pretty good skin but same as you, when something is wrong it is VERY wrong! Hopefully this helps other girls to realize not everyone is perfect. And like someone commented below; cutting out dairy products (and sometimes gluten too) makes the biggest difference. If I was not such a carb slut I would live my life like that 😉

    July 3, 2014 at 6:12 am Reply
  • Rayne Alexander

    In relation to my other post. I wrote that before reading your bottom blurb about being obsessed with carbs. HYSTERICAL. xx

    July 3, 2014 at 6:14 am Reply
  • Gugu_A1

    Oh I feel you, sometimes I feel like I was put here to be the poster child for skin problems.

    July 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm Reply

Leave a reply