In my 25 years of experience as a skin therapist, it’s abundantly clear to me that skin conditions, like acne, are directly related to our self-esteem and overall self-image.
The truth is, negative feelings about your skin often turn into negative emotions. I’m extremely passionate about women and youth maintaining realistic views on acne. The issue of self-worth is tied into beauty; it affects how we move through our day and the decisions we make.
Acne, even mild breakouts, has a huge impact on your life and self-confidence. But when you have acne combined with aging, or are a teenager, it is a double-whammy of negative emotional feedback loops.
THE AGES OF ACNE
Acne occurs at many ages, and varies in severity. Tweens and teens are the most common age groups to experience breakouts, but the impact is the same no matter how old you are. Mid-20s to 30s is often when adult onset acne occurs, usually on the heels of hormonal changes due to pregnancy or nursing. When we hit menopause, it’s like having a second “hormonal teenager” with acne rearing again! And for post-menopausal women, it’s not uncommon to experience clogged pores and bumpy skin.
It is important to realize that acne is caused by genetics and linked to hormonal changes. As much as we dislike dealing with pimples, it’s normal for our skin to break out—it’s just that some people are more prone than others. Learning how to properly treat and manage breakouts is key.
THE PRESSURE TO BE FLAWLESS
There is increasing pressure to look flawless due to social media, app filters and airbrushed magazine ads. The younger generation are masters with filters. It has created a false impression of reality. As a seasoned skin therapist who has seen skin up close for decades, I look at media and I think, “What the heck? Where are the blackheads and pimples? It’s biology!” I want you to know these images are not real or normal—even newborns get acne. The reality is that when it comes to putting yourself on display, some people are better than others with makeup application and concealing skin imperfections.
When someone struggles with any degree of acne, they often feel it is the only thing others notice about them. And it’s this hyper-focus on their breakouts that changes how they see themselves and how they show up in the world. To me, this is a very serious issue. Not only has their skin condition been carving out a deep-seated belief that they’re not good enough to shine “their light”—their self-worth is completely wrapped up in worrying about their skin.
Another observation I’ve made is the discrepancy in how some clients describe their skin. Their mental picture and descriptions of their acne simply do not portray the truth about their skin. My favorite morning tip to support a new, healthier habit of self-perspective is to move to a different mirror, away from the bright bathroom lights, and view yourself from arms’ length before you decide how good your skin looks today.
I believe real beauty comes from the inside and can shine brightly when it has an opportunity to feel safe. And even though when dealing with acne there is no such thing as an instant cure, if you are able to manage your own expectations and work with a professional who understands the science behind this condition, your stress and anxiety about your skin shifts to relief, followed by lovely boost of self-worth as it begins to heal.
While you may not have the skin you want today, with a collaborative and supportive approach to healing acne, there is hope for clearer skin in your future.