5 Things Having Acne Taught Me

"When I've struggled with my skin in the past I've turned into a different person"


At 25-years-old I’ve struggled with acne on and off for almost the last 10 years. Having my first flare-up at around 16, I know a thing or two about dealing with bad skin.

I’ve lathered every product under the sun onto my face, tried and tested every ‘hack’, trialed different contraceptive pills, and eventually landed on antibiotics which finally cleared things up. I know that dealing with skin issues is not easy. Not only does having bad skin affect you physically (sore spots, itchy ones, spots that throb, if you have acne you know the struggle), it also affects your mental health, something that in my experience had a bigger impact on me than the spots itself.

When I’ve struggled with my skin in the past I’ve turned into a different person, someone I don’t recognise. I never want to go out, I obsess over finding a ‘cure’, spending hours trolling the internet for that one hack that will fix things, I found it hard to look people in the eye, I could never go out showing my bare skin, in fact, I would avoid mirrors even at home for fear of seeing my face – all things that I now know are entirely ridiculous.

That’s the beauty of hindsight, although I felt lower than I ever have before when my skin was at its worst, I’m now grateful for that, as it’s taught me things about myself and the world that I would have never known otherwise. I know that my struggle with acne is far from over, it’s likely something that will flare up every now and then until I’m grey and old, but that’s okay. Still, now, my skin isn’t 100% perfect – but is anyones?

I’d like to share five lessons having acne taught me, for anyone else going through the motions of dealing with acne to know you’re not alone and that there’s growth to come from struggle.

I need to change my mindset, not my skin. 

For a long time when my skin was bad I was too focused on fixing my face than I was the way I think. Shifting my thought process to ‘Oh god I have spots I’m so ugly’ to ‘My skin might be flaring up right now but that doesn’t make me any less worthy’ was a game-changer for me. In society, we’re programmed to think that having bad skin is a negative thing and something we need to fix, but actually, that isn’t the case.


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A post shared by Sofia Grahn (@isofiagrahn)

Following great skin positivity accounts like the one above is one helpful way to change the way you view yourself and your skin.

A healthy life is worth having 

When I have had bouts of acne before I would go on a health buzz and eat skin kind foods, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly, all in a bid to clear up my skin. Often, when my skin did eventually start to look a little better I would give up on my new routine, which now in hindsight is so silly.

I’ve learned that doing good things for my body like drinking water and moving it every once in a while is something I should do regardless of how my skin looks, and only doing it with the intent of ‘fixing’ my skin isn’t a good end goal to have.

No one really cares

When your skin is flaring up you think that everyone notices and is judging you for the way you look, but actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You might think that everyone is looking at you and thinking how ‘awful’ your skin is, but they’re really not. Often, in fact, the person you’re speaking to is probably thinking the very same thing you are.

Think of it this way, when is the last time you looked at someone and judged them for a spot? Probably never, right? So, why would you assume people do that to you? Push back your shoulders, make eye contact, and feel confident in yourself, because you’re perfect the way you are.

Stressing doesn’t help 

Usually, my first reaction when I see a new spot is to freak out. But, in fact, that’s probably the last thing I should be doing. Stressing out about my skin often only leads to more spots appearing because I’m stressing out. For this reason, I’ve learned that it’s better to remain calm. If I wake up with some new spots on my face that appeared overnight? That’s no big deal, they’ll clear up soon and in the meantime, I can speed up that process by using my favourite spot clearing treatments. No longer do I allow my skin to rule my life or ruin my day.

You’re still worthy 

Maybe this lesson comes with age more than it does with having acne. But, having bad skin over the last few years has taught me that I still matter, I’m still beautiful, and the people I love still care about me no matter what my skin looks like. With time I’ve learned that I am so much more than just the way that I look. As girls and young women we’re told almost from the second we’re born that our looks are our currency and that just isn’t the case. I might have a chin full of hormonal breakouts but I can still write a good article and be kind to people.


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A post shared by A B I G A I L (@abis_acne)

Having bad skin or a breakout is only one tiny part of you, there are a million other things that make you amazing and so pinning your whole self-worth on how your skin looks is crazy. Instead of investing so much time into changing how I look, I would rather read a book, or paint a picture because these are the things that truly bring me joy and add to my character, not hating myself in a mirror.

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