Acne: spotting facial facts and embracing the skin you’re in

February 26, 2020

Image created by Sadie Souter with ideas from Amanda Rusta

Amanda Rusta explores the stigma around a common skin complaint and contemplates how to create a positive complexion

Acne is a common skin condition estimated to affect approximately 95% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 in the UK, according to a recent NHS report.

With this, I’m curious why acne carries such stigma and shame?

I know when I have a break out, I feel ashamed and too self-conscious to go out. I literally hole up, entrapped by the four walls of my bedroom. The influx of models, as I scroll through my feed, with utterly flawless skin only heightens my intolerance of my imperfections.

We live in a culture that values beauty and assigns such significance to perfect appearances. Trying to measure up to these unrealistic, digitally manipulated beauty standards can ruin people’s self-esteem and take a toll on their mental health. I know it can make me feel I’m not pretty enough or good enough.

My friend says her acne makes her feel disgusting and she feels that people will judge her for being unclean or something. And no, for those of you who were just making that exact same judgment, acne is not caused by dirty skin or poor hygiene.

The main root of acne is hormonal imbalance, which causes an excess of oil in the skin, particularly prevalent during adolescence. Other factors such as stress, genetics and food sensitivities can all play a part, which make it a very individual experience.

Acne can make you feel disgusting and unclean but it is not caused by dirty skin or poor hygiene

By finding out more about what can cause acne and what can help, I feel less anxious about my appearance. I try to take extra care of myself when my skin breaks out as it is usually an indicator to check in with how I’m feeling.

I have also followed a few top tips from this helpful article in Teen Vogue.

To be honest, when you’re doing everything right, it still takes time to see results, maybe as long as a few months. That’s a long time when you’re really desperate for clear skin.

I have learnt that your skin doesn’t define you or affect the life choices or opportunities available to you. When your skin is spotty, it always feels way worse to you than it actually is.

Hashtags like #skinpositivity can have a good effect on people’s mental wellbeing. Skin Positivity demonstrates that you are not alone and that there are so many other people experiencing the same issues as you.

Even so, acne can be horrible; heart breaking and painful, but it is a normal part of teenage life. Acne positivity is a drive for people to be more open about their skin problems, from the occasional spot to full-blown cystic acne. Celebrities and influencers going barefaced on social media and opening up about skin problems is a step towards stamping out stigma.

When your skin is spotty, it feels way worse to you than it actually is

Some skin care and makeup products make false claims persuading you to spend your money on useless creams and gels. I have tried lots of products that promise to cover blemishes but they have actually ended up harming my skin instead.

Not only are there some crap products out there but also, once finished, these products are discarded and most of the packaging isn’t even recyclable. Many toxic chemicals and substances (like micro beads in facial scrubs) are used to create these beauty products we all buy. This build up of plastic and waste is damaging to not only our faces but also our planet. Why not get involved in creating a more sustainable future?

Acne isn’t cured by facial products alone but with a good helping of patience. Small daily changes like following a simple face care routine – leaving it alone; don’t overdo the squeezing – regular exercise, eating plenty of fresh vegetables and drinking at least two litres of water a day will make a world of difference.

Things I know make my complexion worse are stress, too much sugar and late nights. In a way, seeing the result of an unhealthy lifestyle so blatantly on my face forces me to adopt a healthier way of living.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Acne-Positive Influencer, Kali Kushner aka @myfacefactory, who I admire massively for her strength and conviction in accepting the skin she inhabits.

“You are still the same beautiful, wonderful person regardless of what your skin looks like. You are worthy of all things good and can accomplish anything, don’t let your skin hold you back!”

Amanda is currently studying English literature, sociology and French at A level, with the aspiration to study French and Law at university. She has a grade 8 in piano and loves listening to music.<

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