I first developed adult acne in 2016. Having never had troublesome skin in my teen years this left me incredibly insecure, uncomfortable and very upset. I began trying whatever treatments I could possibly think of, both frantically Googled and those supported by a GP. I took a 9 month course of Oxytetracycline oral antibiotics which cleared my skin but 6 months after I stopped taking them my skin began gradually breaking out until I realised it had reached a level that once again made me very unhappy in 2019/20.
This blog post focuses on all the things I’ve found along the way that helped to boost my confidence with my skin. I’ve included any little wins which made me feel better whether that was at the time or if they’re still valid today. I am now in a place where I am not remotely ashamed of my skin, it isn’t perfect, but letting go of that pressure to be has been liberating. Acne is far more normal and affects far more people than I ever thought in my early 20s. It’s ok to not love your skin, but equally hating it never helped me so I opted to embrace acne neutrality and the mindset of “it is what it is” whilst more gently trying to make improvements.
Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation
Whilst I no longer really wear foundation discovering this product in 2016 had such a positive impact on my confidence. I was able to go from looking in the mirror and hating my reflection to feeling like I could face the day. I still wasn’t happy with my skin but this gave me a whopping confidence boost which meant I could look people in the eye whilst they were talking to me instead of wanting to bury my head in the sand. I was able to get a perfect colour match, the finish looked natural and never cakey and it helped to cover the redness associated with acne. It didn’t cause me to breakout, it lasted really well through the day and felt like my skin but better. For these reasons this product will always hold a special place in my heart.
Following Acne Positivity Accounts On Social Media
I never followed celebrities or beauty pages on socials but always enjoyed reading magazines. I don’t think I realised the subtle negative effect this had on me as I just firmly believed I could never look like the faces on the pages therefore my skin was wrong. Following individuals on Instagram belonging to the acne community so that I was surrounded on a daily basis by ordinary, yet extraordinary, people made me realise my skin wasn’t wrong anymore. Prior to this I was convinced that it wasn’t normal for a mid twenty year old’s skin to be breaking out, what felt like, all the time. Seeing unfiltered content I related to helped transform my confidence as I saw people replying with positive comments supporting other’s acne journeys rather than acne being seen as taboo or shameful.
- Acne Awareness Month: Why I’m Endlessly Grateful I Found The Acne Positivity Community On Social Media
Realising My Acne Wasn’t My Fault
I spent so many years thinking I was breaking out because I was doing something wrong. I wasn’t particularly nice to myself during that time frame. I thought I must be eating wrong, my hormones were wrong, my overall diet was wrong, my daily routine etc.
In 2020 I started trying to clear my acne again and had some really scary side effects from one of the medications I took – Lucette. It left me dizzy, close to fainting, nauseous and in a lot of pain for a few weeks. It really made me open my eyes to what I was doing to myself in order to try and clear my skin. It made me reflect on all the things I’ve ever tried, which is a very extensive list, and finally give myself a break as I realised I really couldn’t have tried any harder. This made me realise that perhaps it was my mindset which needed to change. So instead of hating my appearance I started by trying to be indifferent to it. I got another spot? So what, it happened, they always heal. I’d always said I hated my face but I realised this wasn’t actually true because I could find several things I liked about it such as my eyelashes, teeth and smile. Starting to think like this was like a breath of fresh air as it felt like I was finally showing myself some kindness. It led to me accepting my reflection without any pressure to be “picture perfect” which I learnt wasn’t attainable. I’d never say I liked my spots, but letting go of hating them and being a bit more blasé did me a world of good.
I also learnt to stop apologising for my skin. More can be read about this below:
Focusing On Something Other Than My Acne
Whenever I’ve had really insecure skin days I’ve always tried little pick me ups such as popping on mascara, a trusted favourite outfit or having a self care day to show my body some love. Acts of showing a little care helped to stop me from slipping into that mindset of thinking I hated my appearance.
Equally remembering that the condition of my skin was one of the least interesting things about me helped. I thought about how I’d describe my personality, interests and aspirations to a total stranger in writing if I had to introduce myself whenever I felt bogged down by my skin. I am, and have always been more than my skin and my acne journey is one of the least exciting things about me. This helped me to feel more positive even if I had to dig deep to find things on really tough days.
Getting Over Wearing Cover Up Make Up
I remember distinctly a few years ago seeing a girl get on the bus with hyperpigmentation and mild acne on full display seemingly without a care in the world. I was really envious of her and wished I had the confidence to do this so set myself a challenge to gradually put down the make up. I started this by leaving the house to go for walks, then the supermarket before building up to seeing people I knew. This took a lot of the fear factor away from being make up free.
Self Care Days
Rather than seeing skincare as a desperate attempt to correct any wrongs I began to try looking at is as a way of taking care of my skin. SPF was a big factor in this as it prevents sun damage and means I’m helping to look after my skin for the future. Remembering this and using skincare as a wind down time, particularly in the evenings, helped me.
Equally I found that exfoliating, applying body lotion, painting my nails, applying a hair mask, taking time away from screens to read books or go for walks amongst nature just generally made me feel more calm and put together.
Remembering That No One Will Notice Your Skin As Much As You
When my skin was at its most painful I used to spend a long time up close and personal with every pore with a magnifying mirror criticising every “flaw”. No one is ever going to get that close to your skin for as long as you do, particularly in a global pandemic with social distancing!
If I could go back and tell my 2016-year-old-self I’d tell her to remember the condition of her skin doesn’t make her ugly and feeling this way won’t last forever. That acne isn’t her fault and she certainly isn’t the odd one out or alone. It doesn’t mean she will be held back in life. Everyone gets spots, it really is far more normal than she realises.
Remembering Memories VS Acne Fears
I used to avoid having my photo taken unless I was deliberately pulling a silly face so that the image was already ruined and imperfect. The few photos I have from my early 20s are very precious to me as they included big milestones in my life and I wish there were more of them. I have almost zero photos from 2020 due to lockdown life and the pandemic. I’d rather have photos which include my face with a few spots to look back on in years to come than great big undocumented holes in my life. For anyone feeling incredibly camera shy I will also add that 6 years later, looking back on photos of my skin when I first developed acne, and admittedly wore make up daily, my skin is nowhere near as bad as I remembered it.
We are all so much more than our skin.
If you’re reading this because you’re not in a good place with your skin please take away from this post that this feeling won’t last forever. I never thought I’d reach the place of acceptance I’m at now, so it is possible.
Sensitive Comments Welcome