Ever since my skin first started breaking out and I started posting about my “acne journey”, a surprising amount of people have approached me saying that they’re currently going through something similar themselves; or went through something similar at one point.
If you have (or had) had acne or another type of skin condition, then you probably have experienced the insecurity and shame that comes along with it. Not only is your face the one area of your body that’s pretty much impossible to cover up (and no, makeup doesn’t cover up texture), but acne carries this stigma that you must be “dirty” if you have it. So, as someone who's going through it myself, I wanted to share some of my advice to anyone else that’s struggling.
I’m not going to lie and write this article acting like I’ve been totally confident about my skin throughout this process, but I have found 5 key tips that have kept me from being so insecure about it. The truth is, I have had days where I’ve looked in the mirror and cried. I have had days where I canceled plans because I didn’t want people to see me; and I have had days where I felt sorry for myself and adopted a total “why me” attitude. But, the point I want to make is that these bad days will happen – and that’s okay. However, the key is not to let a bad day turn into bad days, a bad week, a bad month, or a bad life.
So, with that being said, here are my top 5 tips for those struggling with their skin (or honestly any other insecurity) right now:
1. Follow skin positivity accounts on Instagram
Social media can be the source of a lot of negativity, but it can also be the source of a ton of positivity if you know where to look. If your feed is filled with pictures of people with flawless skin, then you are more likely to feel like you’re the only person going through it; and thus, more insecure. But, if you tailor your feed to include skin positivity accounts, then you can get a taste of how common skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and such are. Additionally, these accounts have captions that exactly speak to people struggling with their skin by sharing their own experiences, insecurities, and how they stay positive. There are thousands and thousands of these accounts out there and following some of them have really helped me try and see my own skin journey in a positive light. Just search up “acne positivity” (or any other type of ________ positivity) in the discover section and you will be amazed.
2. Get help
Struggling with your skin can feel so frustrating, especially if you don’t know what you should be doing to help it. I spent such a large amount of time blindly trying random products to see if they would make a difference. The thing is that as common as skin conditions like acne and rosacea are, they aren’t normal! Your skin condition is your body’s way of trying to communicate to you that there is some problem going on in your body. Sometimes, the root of acne can be as simple as changing your skincare products, but it can also have much deeper, internal reasons. Seeing a naturopath and an esthetician really made me feel better because I was able to work on healing the root of my inflammation with my naturopath and work on residual scarring with my esthetician.
Getting help made me feel a lot less insecure because I actually felt like I was working towards something, and not just suffering in silence. Yes, seeing both the naturopath and esthetician cost money, but for me, it was so worth it. I did have one appointment with a dermatologist, but I didn’t continue to see her because I personally didn’t want to try and clear my acne through the use of medications like birth control or Accutane. My suggestion would be to see a naturopath over a dermatologist for skin conditions like acne because a lot of the time problems with the skin are due to gut or hormone imbalances, or nutrition.
3. Focus on something other than your skin
This one can also apply to any other area of insecurity. When we feel insecure about a specific area of your body, we tend to obsess over it and become blind to everything else. Personally, when I was first struggling with my skin, I would neglect the other parts of my body because I figured, “if my skin looks bad, it’s going to ruin anywhere else I put effort into”. For example, if I had to go out I would throw my hair up in a messy bun and wear a hoodie and sweats because I believed that my skin would ruin any look I would put together. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I found that when I started taking extra time to put my hair in a cute style, maintain my workout schedule, and put on a nice outfit, I felt much better about myself and I found that my acne was less noticeable. So, if you’re feeling insecure about your skin, try putting more effort into your hair or your clothes or something else on your body that will make you feel cute.
4. Don’t look at it
This one’s easier said than done but definitely helped me a lot. When my acne was at its worst, I would literally make myself late for work in the morning because I would spend so much time examining and picking at my skin. Not only that, but I would also open Snapchat at least once every 30 minutes to check and see how the lighting made my skin look and if I got any new breakouts. I finally realized that I wasted so much time in my day simply staring at my face; and decided that I was just going to stop looking in the mirror. If you also spend an excessive amount of time looking at your skin and letting yourself get down about it, literally cover up any mirrors around you and tell yourself that you aren’t allowed to look at your skin. Not only will you gain back a huge amount of time, but the less you look in the mirror the more likely you are to forget about your skin and actually enjoy the day.
5. Focus on the non-physical aspects that make you beautiful
Okay, this one may sound like it belongs on a Hallmark card, but it’s true. Your skin, or any other area of insecurity, does not define you unless you let it. If you used to be funny and outgoing before your skin condition, and then you let your insecurity cause you to become closed-off and anti-social, it wasn’t your skin that made you become that – it was your own insecurity. What I’m trying to say is that you are still the same person on the inside regardless of what you look like.
I recently watched this YouTube video (highly recommend for acne positivity), and the girl speaking in the video, Hitomi, made a really interesting point about not basing your idea of your own beauty on your external appearance. When I watched this video, it really resonated with me because I was feeling that I was now “ugly” because of my skin. However, there is so much more to one’s beauty than how they look like. Thus, instead of basing my idea of myself around what I looked like, I started to think about the non-physical qualities I possess that make me beautiful that hadn’t changed. It’s definitely okay to try and make yourself feel better about your external appearance, but also be mindful of the power of your inner beauty.
These were the 5 tools that I used to help me stop feeling so insecure about my acne, but you may find others that work best for you. Again, following these 5 tips won’t guarantee that you won’t have any days where you’re insecure, but hopefully, they will help keep those days to a minimum. For those of you struggling right now, I see you and I feel you; and you will reach a point where you’re looking back at this experience from the finish line. The question you want to ask yourself now though is: do I want to look back and see someone that kept their head up and lived their life, or someone that missed out on opportunities to be happy because they were too focused on hiding from the world?