I know first hand what it’s like to have little to no self-confidence while having acne scars. The feeling that no matter where you go, whether it's strangers or family or friends, that everyone is staring at you or judging you and making you feel worthless and pitied. If there's any way to make you feel worthless and gross and like everyone is staring at you in disgust it's acne scars. I remember never wanting to cut my hair in fear that it won't shield me from my acne scars.
If I were to go out without makeup I had to have big sunglasses on and a shield of hair to at least hide some of it, and that’s not a way that you should live. It took years of me being scared and feeling too ashamed to show my face.
Until one day I was talking to a really close friend of mine and finally opened up and she told me that I was being ridiculous and that so many people have it worse, and that kind of opened me up to realizing that although sure I may have it tough in the skin department but so many more people have it so much worse, and that’s what kind of made me realize that I need to stop worrying so much about what people think and focus on living a happy positive life because, well stress leads to more acne and no way I was being dragged into the vicious cycle anymore of getting acne, feeling stressed about acne, and then in return getting even MORE acne will mean MORE acne scars as well.
One of the things I read and hear about over and over again in the acne and skin positivity community online is how people don’t feel confident or even comfortable being around other people and out in public without makeup on. People feel shackled to their makeup, like they NEED it, like they are so hideous and ugly without it, they couldn’t possibly stop wearing it even if they tried. But at the same time I hear them talk about how they WANT to stop wearing it all the time and be spontaneous again.
How they want to be able to just get up and go when a friend asks them to grab froyo without worrying about if they have time to put on makeup.
How they hate getting up an hour early JUST to make sure every inch of their face and imperfections on it is covered.
And this got me thinking. Reading these stories made me remember how I felt when I first got acne. It made me think back to all those times when I would look at myself in the mirror with my full face of makeup on and hold back the tears because I could still see my imperfections, the bumps and the texture even though I tried my hardest to cover it all up. It made me remember how defeated and hopeless and utterly alone I felt. It made me remember that I constantly told myself how gross and ugly I was and how not even makeup could fix it.
I remember how dependent I felt on my makeup when I first got acne. I remember putting on a full face makeup JUST to go to the gym, the pool, the beach or even my parents’ house. That’s how insecure I was. I didn’t even want my family to see me without makeup on. My acne embarrassed me, it made me feel ashamed and like I wanted to hide everyday.
Of course I still had to be a functioning human in society and so makeup, and especially foundation to cover my imperfect skin, became my security blanket. It became my shield I could hide behind. It didn’t particularly make me feel better about myself or my acne but it least gave me the ability to face people and be out in public.
I think this might be one of the biggest misconceptions people have about makeup: that it will make them feel different or better. That was never the case for me. Sure I felt fine enough to be around people but it never quite gave me the comfort I was hoping for. On the surface level it seemed like I was more confident and I felt better when wearing it but at the end of the day, I still felt like shit and ugly when I took it off and looked in the mirror. And that’s not what confidence is. My skin and how big of an issue it was for me was still always in the back of my mind. It never left me. Because I just tried to cover it up with makeup instead of dealing with it.
What’s crazy is that once I finally took that leap of faith and decided to stop hiding behind my makeup, stop carrying around this security blanket, once I went out in public without makeup on and my acne, texture and hyperpigmentation out and on display, that’s when I found peace.
That’s when I could start forgetting about my skin. Because I wasn’t hiding anymore and that did something to me. It changed something deep inside me. It started to change this core belief of mine that I wasn’t good enough that I had been carrying around for years. It was like me giving the middle finger to all my nasty stories and ugly lies about how I wasn’t worthy or pretty or lovable.
At the time I didn’t realize what a huge step it was but me deciding to not wear makeup just to cover my skin anymore was the beginning of everything. It was the beginning of me making peace with my skin, the beginning of me getting my life back, the beginning of my acne healing.
The beginning of it all. It brought me where I am today and it’s weird to even say that but ditching makeup that very first time changed everything.
But I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that this very first time I left my house without makeup on in years felt good. Because it definitely didn’t. It felt like everyone and their mother was staring at me, like everyone was judging me and wondering why I didn’t wear makeup or if I even washed my face. I was scared and I wanted to run back home and hide the entire time but I didn’t. I knew that if I ever wanted to feel confident or even comfortable without makeup on, if I ever wanted to ditch that shackle to makeup I just had to go and do the scary thing.
Someone once asked me how long it took me to feel confident enough to leave my house without makeup on and what I told them was this: I didn’t wait to feel confident. It sucked and I didn’t want to do it but I did it anyway.
Because that’s how you get past your fears, when you walk straight towards them. What people don’t realize is that if you keep running away from your fear and you keep avoiding stepping outside of your comfort zone, it will always chase you down and push you into a corner. So to get over something, to be confident doing something, you just have to do it.
So do it. Decide to be done hiding. Decide to be done letting makeup be your security blanket. Decide to look fear straight in the eye and tell it to F off. And eventually it won’t be so scary anymore. And then eventually you will wonder what you were scared off and worried about this whole time in the first place.
But it all starts with you taking that first step. So take yours. That’s how things change.
Can you still be confident and have acne? Can you still love yourself whilst having acne? Can you still achieve your dreams and desires whilst having acne? The simple answer to these questions is yes, absolutely!
Society paints acne and skin conditions in a pretty undesirable light. We are taught that having acne is dirty or ugly. That obviously isn’t the case, but up until recently there hasn’t been any advertising campaigns showing serve acne or imperfections. You cannot blame people for thinking so negatively about acne. I’m not saying that acne is a great thing that we should actually want, but it definitely shouldn’t been seen as such an awful thing as it is very common and often pretty unexplained and cause by things that are pretty out of our control.
I get asked how I managed to still have confidence when my skin was at its worst. The truth is I didn’t always have that brave face on. Acne takes its toll on your confidence because it is something that is still perceived as shameful. But what if we changed our view of it slightly? What if we saw it as an opportunity to look deeper into ourselves and a chance to focus on loving yourself no matter what? For me this is what I used my acne for. I felt so low and lacked confidence at first but I was determined to take the positives out of my experience. I also believe that acne shows up at troublesome times in our lives (just my opinion) due to stress, so it really is a time to look at what you can change about your life.
My confidence grew the more open I was about my skin. It felt really liberating to go out without make up on and actually feel proud of myself for doing so. There is nothing wrong with wearing makeup but there is something magical about being happy with your skin no matter how imperfect it is. I grew tired of making excuses for my skin, trying to justify it and explain it. I had no clue why I was breaking out so much so what was I meant to tell other people! I stopped trying to make other people less awkward about the situation and just rocked it. Confidence isn’t a permanent thing, so I still had days that dragged me down, but on the whole I felt loads happier.
Before acne I loved myself on a very shallow level. I knew I was a good person and that I was relatively happy with myself but I was still far too critical of myself. I would look in the mirror and tare my body apart, I’d long for different features or different hair, I’d compare myself to people on social media and I’d actually be pretty horrible to myself looking back that makes me feel very sad. It took something like acne to make me great myself a little better.
As my acne worsened I was forced to change my perspective. In order to get by day to day I knew I needed to build myself back up. I needed to be my own cheerleader and start being a bit nicer to myself. I stuck little messages on my mirror. One said ‘You are enough’ the other said ‘You are beautiful’. I’d read them every time I went to the bathroom and I would really try and believe it. Self talk is so important. If I noticed myself being nasty in my head or obsessing over my skin too much I would try and stop myself.
Being kind to yourself is key. As well as the self talk, things like getting enough sleep, eating healthily, exercising regularly and relaxing. When you’re dealing with acne it isn’t a time to beat yourself up, it’s a time to nourish yourself. Diet and acne aren’t always linked, I tried going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and tried drinking celery juice for a month but my skin continued to worsen. So when I say a healthy diet I mean getting enough fruits, vegetables and nutrients as well as the things you enjoy. With regards to working out it can be so daunting going to the gym when you are breaking out but please don’t let that stop you! If you really can’t face it go for a walk, do some yoga or a home workout. Do something that will get your body moving and feeling good! Your mind will thank you for it too.
Acne is an opportunity to learn so much about yourself. It shouldn’t stop you from living. Just because you have some spots it doesn’t mean that you are not worthy or shouldn’t achieve your dreams. You are still just as entitled to happiness as anybody else. The world we live in is a very superficial and scary place. Perfection doesn’t exist but maybe it is are chasing it. Get comfortable with your flaws? Great your body well and take care of your mind. Believe in yourself and don’t let anything stop you from being you. I’m grateful for all the experiences I have had in my life because they have taught me so much. Good can come from bad situations if you open your mind and believe in yourself.
Everyone has imperfections, but they also have good features. Instead of concentrating on your acne scars, think about what makes you beautiful.
Write a list of what you see beautiful about yourself:
Your self-worth should not be defined by how you look. Remember what makes you a unique, interesting individual. Acne scars cannot take these qualities away from you. Some things to consider include:
Earlymorning, as you get ready, say something nice about yourself in the mirror. Agree positively as you say it to increase your confidence.
When you are feeling down, little reminders can help you get up. Use post-it with positive reminders to your bathroom mirror, in the fridge, in your cabinet and even in your purse. When you are upset about your skin issues, go back to these notes to remind yourself of how wonderful you are.
Do not suppress your feelings inside. While your acne scars might make you feel that you are alone, others will understand what you are going through. Your family and friends can offer you much needed support and comfort. Express your frustration and resentment. If someone says they don't mind your acne scars, believe them. They're probably telling the truth.
There are several online groups where you can discuss your struggles with acne scars. Others with the same skin issues can help you find remedies at the same time giving you moral support. You can go to a skincare forum, online support groups, and platforms.
I decided that maybe, just maybe if I could stop spending all my time thinking about acne scars, and thinking about the way I looked. And more importantly, thinking about the way that others looked at me, that maybe I could finally feel happy and confident about myself.
It’s hard to be happy when you feel like you have the weight of the entire world on your shoulders but the more positive you are the more you let yourself forget about your acne scars. Just be happy and smile and laugh, the more you'll realize that your life is so much more than the imperfections on your body.
So smile and laugh, and keep that stress away and you will live the happy, laughter-filled life that everyone should experience.