Acne is a term that is often used in a nonchalant way, meaning small blemishes or pimples. However, acne is actually more complex disease characterised by clogged hair follicles, resulting in inflamed spots, whiteheads and other impurities. Many people suffer with acne, particularly through adolescence, and there are many tried and tested ways to treat this disease. This article will describe personal anecdotes about acne and particular treatments and tips to feel confident with acne and other skin imperfections.
A personal story by Melody Day
My Acne Story
My personal relationship with acne has gone through highs and lows throughout the years. As an early bloomer, I began to notice certain pimples and impurities around my face at around 10 or 11. During this time, I had just joined a very strict secondary school, which deeply condemned the use of makeup in their students, meaning that I was unable to cover up my slight acne, making me feel insecure and frustrated.
As I developed into my mid-teens, I developed an excessive skincare routine. Every morning I would batter my face with abrasive face scrubs, uncomfortable toners and viscid face wipes. I was determined to remove any spots upon my face with an array of chemicals, which of course, did more damage to my already sensitive skin.
In my late teens, I ditched the ridiculous array of products in my bathroom cabinet and minimised my routine entirely. I quickly noticed a dramatic change in the quality of my skin. Within a few weeks, my face became smoother, brighter and breakouts occurred less often and were less severe.
My Acne Skincare Routine
From the age of 15 up until my present age of 21, I have kept my skincare routine very simple. In the face of breakouts, I have become a bit of a witch hazel purist. I use a touch of witch hazel gel on an affected area and within a couple of hours the spot reduces in size and redness and in a few days the acne is completely unnoticeable.
On a normal day, I wash my face with a sensitive water-based cleanser, use a Vitamin C under-eye serum and finish with a moisturiser that contains a small amount of SPF to protect my skin against sun damage. I understand that many readers may gasp in horror at my undecorated skincare routine, but it is important to recognise that each person’s skin is completely unique, and acne can affect people in a multitude of ways. Thus, it is vital that you are mindful of the ingredients that you are placing on your skin and making sure that they are not causing your acne to worsen.
My personal relationship with acne has gone through highs and lows throughout the years
How to Deal with Acne
Unfortunately, there is no strict rule book on how to tackle acne effectively, as like most skin issues, every person has their own difficulties with acne. Some people’s skin is determined by genetic factors, whereas others will experience breakouts under bouts of emotional and physical stress. Therefore, not every treatment will suit every person’s skin. However, there are a few simple steps to incorporate into your skincare routine that will help to make a difference.
Firstly, it is important that you keep your face clean. It is advised that you wash your face twice a day, once in the morning and before you go to sleep. This will help to unclog your pores and fight off certain bacteria that can aggravate acne further. Try using a mild cleanser with warm water, and do not wash your face in an overbearing fashion, as this can irritate pimples.
Moreover, it is fundamental that you do not squeeze pimples of blackheads. Although for many people it is second nature to squeeze spots, this does more harm than good. By aggravating the acne further, you run the risk of infecting the affected area, and increasing the risk of scaring. Instead, use a product containing salicylic acid, which will help reduce redness and swelling.
It may be a good idea to reduce the amount of makeup you wear, and indeed, make sure you remove make up before bed. Certain beauty products can clog up the pores on your face, potentially leading to more acne. It is vital that you cleanse your face before bed, to remove any residual makeup that you wore throughout the day.
If you believe that you suffer from chronic acne, it may be worth visiting a medical professional to seek out a prescribed acne treatment. Many dermatologists prescribe treatments containing retinol, also known as Vitamin A, to help even out skin tone and reduce inflammation. It goes without saying that all acne treatments come with side effects, so make sure to consult your doctor, if you notice any issues.
Is Acne Affecting my Mental Health?
Acne is a very sensitive issue for many of its sufferers. For many it is an unescapable problem that, over time, debilitates a person’s self-esteem. If you are a teenager suffering with acne due to puberty, these negative feelings can be amplified. Acne is a normal part of human development and is a sign that your body is growing naturally.
However, it worth discussing how our mental health can affect our skin. If you are suffering with anxiety or depression, your body may react to these difficult emotions through skin imperfections. Studies show that during times of extreme stress or low mood, you may develop skin conditions such as eczema, hives or psoriasis, which in turn, can make us more vulnerable to acne. Although these skin conditions are relatively common and easy to treat, they can be reduced by practicing mindfulness and other relaxation techniques on a regular basis.
Acne is a normal part of human development and is a sign that your body is growing naturally.
How to be confident with an acne-scarred face
This is an interesting question because unfortunately no matter how much we may try to ignore it, acne can and does affect your confidence and thus your mental health. Acne is depicted as an imperfection and in a world which promotes and idealises clear, poreless skin it can be difficult to feel great about yourself when you have acne.
And honestly there is no real resolution that I can offer. I know when I had severe acne I would avoid going out with friends, socialising for many reasons. None of my close friends had issues with their skin so I would feel almost as if I was a visual whole amongst them, that people around me would be looking at and judging me for my skin condition and I am sure this is a common feeling amongst acne sufferers. When in reality if you are an acne sufferer you will be aware of the fact that acne has not got a significant correlation to hygiene and having acne does not mean you do not look after your skin. And acne should not be a factor in
Try to understand that acne is not a permanent part of you, it does not make up your personality or beauty (both internal and external) and regardless of whether you have acne, you deserve to feel beautiful and confident in yourself, because news flash, acne is not synonymous with ugly.
Another note is, do not let acne affect the choices you make in your everyday life. Try to find hobbies and interests which can boost your self-esteem, and make you feel valuable and confident regardless of your external appearance. Find a new sport or interest which you can invest in, spend time with friends and family, people who love you regardless of the acne and hopefully you will come to realise that acne is not the end of the world. That your beauty and worth is developed from within and can continue to thrive regardless of the state of your skin.
Can acne cause depression and anxiety?
There has been a recent study by Richard G. Fried, a psychologist and dermatologist, who suggests there is a far greater emotional and psychological burden of having acne that may be worse than just the physical impact on our outer appearance.
Fried states “Severe acne is associated with increased depression, anxiety, poor self-image and poor self-esteem.” Further Fried continues that, a study of 9,567 in a New Zealand secondary school found that 14.1% of students showed symptoms of clinically relevant depression and 4.8% showed symptoms of anxiety when reporting on their “problem acne”.
Therefore, acne can really have a damaging effect not only temporarily on your outer appearance but also internally and this study shows a greater cause of concern and attention needs to be placed on young people and students who suffer with acne.
Skin positivity: Experience sharing my acne journey online
Skin positivity is a relatively new concept to me. I have heard of body positivity and seen it grow in popularity on platforms such as Instagram but skin positivity is, I feel, less well known.
I appreciate the shift towards accepting so-called imperfections and simply allowing people to just exist without being picked apart for their appearance, especially those with conditions such as acne. I hope this movement can help us all in learning to accept ourselves and our skin in whatever condition and stage it may be in and understand that overall health and wellbeing are more important than smoothed perfection.
So, whether you have flawless skin or acne-prone skin that is going through it, you are doing the best you can at this moment. Relax and appreciate your body and skin for what it is doing for you every day and try to understand that your beauty and worth is not dependent on any type of breakout that appears on your skin.
I would also love to hear about your experiences, any advice you would give to others dealing with acne and any general thoughts so please feel free to comment!