7 Tips That Helped Me To Stop Feeling Embarrassed By Adult Acne
For the past five years, I suffered from adult acne, and not just the “oh, look, I have a teeny tiny spot” kind. No. The type of acne I dealt with was the angry, “I’m taking over your face with my roots” kind. Having adult cystic acne is debilitating. It's painful, both physically and psychologically. I went through periods when I wouldn't leave the house for days because I couldn't bear being seen in public. My confidence dried up. I'd wear crazy amounts of makeup, bright scarves to cover my neck and jawline and I suddenly developed an OCD-style scrubbing addition in an attempt to clean my "dirty face." And, too, the volcano of cystic, angry, hormonal left me with scars—both emotional and physical.
But then I realized the connection between your mental health and your skin's appearance. I also realized my acne was nothing to be ashamed of, and with my mental shift, my confidence slowly came back. Now I've stood exactly where you are and wished someone would have told me the below. Here, how I changed the way I felt about my acne.
I know you’re thinking, “Why would I want to hold my head up high when it’s the very thing I’m ashamed of?!” Well, for the simple fact that it is your head. I used to walk around looking at the ground, afraid to make eye contact. I hid my face from the world and therefore unknowingly hid from the world’s kindness and support. I blocked people out and felt very lonely as a result. Catching people's eye and greeting them with a smile makes you feel amazing and I’m a firm believer of you get what you give.
Shine your light, regardless of your scars. There's something to be said for moving with grace and confidence.
Look at yourself.
I mean really look at yourself in the mirror each day, not just to find the next big zit to squeeze either (and really, don’t squeeze your spots). Stop telling yourself you're ugly. Stop feeling frustrated by your skin. Your face is amazing and unique. Smile at your reflection like you would smile kindly at a stranger. Your skin will get better. Your eyes tell the story of you and stay the same as you age, get acne or even heal from acne. Look at you, beautiful!
Go simple and natural.
Throw away the crazy peels, the lasers and pills; there's something, of course, to be said about your skin care regimen (and there's a time and place for exfoliation), but really get back to the basics. Learn how to layer face products that work for your skin type, and don't overdo it. (This can lead to sensitizing your skin, not healing it.) Focus on your stress levels as well as diet, as these will help tend to the acne internally.
Show yourself some kindness.
Treat yourself like you would a stranger with the same issue—with compassion. Something that worked for me was repeating the following mantra whenever I looked in the mirror or felt scared to go out in public: I am healing. I am kind to myself. Sounds a bit new-agey, but it really did take the edge off the bitterness I felt toward myself.
Acknowledge how far you've come.
What do your scars represent? For me, my acne and my scars represent the journey to living a cleaner, simpler, happier life. They also mark the first step of my spiritual journey, my interest in food as medicine, homeopathy and working through my baggage. It’s a small price to pay for feeling connected to my body and feeling at peace with my mind and soul.
Your ability to take your pain and turn it into a lesson of compassion and self-love is right there.
For me, feeling my hormonal fluctuations, ebbs and flows allowed me to understand myself better; it unlocked a little door inside me. I see my scars as marks of strength, mental resilience and a sign to keep going in spite of the flare-ups and healing crises.
Trust that time will heal.
Your skin will get better as you get better and find more balance in your life. Sometimes time will heal physical scars, sometimes it won't. But emotionally and psychologically, time will heal. Right now, my scars are fading and it has taken years. But I'm healing.
Know your worth.
Don't let your problem skin fool you into thinking you deserve less: of people's time, attention, love, treatment or effort. Sometimes when your self-esteem has taken a hit, it makes you more vulnerable to people who would look to exploit you. Your keen, internal radar will sound off when you meet these folk. You just have to listen.
Dating? It's about being beautiful and honest about your scars and attracting the right quality of mate. With time, physical scars don't matter when you're in love with the right person.
Always check in with yourself to ensure you’re getting what you deserve: the best.
Amanda Davies is a writer and well-being enthusiast who focuses on the mind-body connection. Originally from Sydney, she is now located in London.