Today’s blog post is a special edition — it’s my personal reflection on how to be confident with acne. From the day I hit puberty to now, working as the editor-in-chief of Femin Magazine, acne has been a pervasive presence in my life.
Like an unexpected, unwelcome guest who overstays their welcome, acne has been a source of insecurity and self-doubt throughout my journey.
As someone who has struggled with breakouts and blemishes for most of my life, I’ve learned a few lessons about self-esteem and confidence. So today, I’ve decided to share my story in the hopes that it will help inspire others to embrace their own beauty, acne and all.
My Personal Struggle with Acne for over 15 Years
Growing up, I was no stranger to the red, inflamed bumps that would lurk beneath the surface of my skin, waiting to rear their ugly heads at the most inconvenient moments.
There were days in my teenage years when I’d stand in front of the mirror, scrutinizing every inch of my face, agonizing over my complexion. I spent countless hours on researching skincare routines, trying out various products, and even going to the dermatologist for treatments.
At that time, everybody kept telling me that it would get better when the puberty hormones faded away. But I was so embarrassed of my skin that I didn’t want to go out in public, for fear of being judged or ridiculed.
Then I entered university, technically an adult, and assumed that all thee hormones had settled and my skin would clear up. But, of course, that wasn’t the case.
Looking at other girls in my class with clean, clear skin made me even more self-conscious about my own. Like, how could they look so perfect, while I was still struggling with acne?
Of course, there were other girls (and boys) who were on the same boat as me, but that didn’t make the journey any easier — people always look up for things they don’t have, rather than appreciating what they do.
University life with all the exams, deadlines, and stress didn’t improve my skin either. The situation didn’t get better, but at least, it didn’t get any worse. Well, until my last year…
Stress, sleepless nights, countless coffee and energy drinks, and a poor diet made due to my big thesis caused my skin to spiral out of control. I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I didn’t even want to leave the house.
I desperately wanted to find a solution, but it seemed like nothing was working for me — no matter how hard I tried or what remedies I applied, my severe acne would just keep coming back.
When I got my first job, then second job, the situation became even more difficult to manage. I was too busy for any sort of skincare routine, and the stress from work only made my skin worse.
During my first job, I had to do business trips at least once per month, and as you can imagine, all these changes in climate and environment only caused my skin to flare up.
At some points in my life, even my cousins and their husbands (yes, the men) showed their concern towards my skin situation.
Fast forward to my late twenties. I got married, bought a house, and became a mom of three within five years. But to my surprise, I still had adult acne — it never left me alone!
In the beginning, it was because of the pregnancy hormones. But then, it was the continuous sleepless nights due to young kids, my job, and stress from all the responsibilities that I had taken on.
Yes, acne has always been (one of my) biggest insecurities for a whooping 15 years.
The Psychosocial Impact of Acne
We often overlook the emotional turmoil caused by this skin condition, which can lead to a roller coaster of feelings — from self-doubt and insecurity to feeling embarrassed or ashamed.
Most people don’t realize how much of an effect it has on their mental health. We all know that beauty is skin deep, but when it comes to our appearance, there’s more to how we feel than just having a perfect complexion.
If you are struggling with acne, you know what I’m talking about. Besides all the stubborn acne scars and red bumps, the psychological and social impact of having acne can be detrimental to one’s self-esteem and confidence.
I remember how I avoided talking to people or even making eye contact with them until I felt comfortable enough in their presence. I was so afraid that they would notice my imperfections and judge me accordingly.
Even worse, one day I had a big presentation to give in front of hundreds of people and all I could think about were the red bumps on my face. It felt like it was written all over my face: “Look! This person has acne!”
I remember trying to cover them up with makeup, but that only seemed to make matters worse as the makeup would cake up. At this point, I had already tried everything — from over-the-counter products to expensive prescriptions, but nothing really worked.
Low self-esteem, anxiety, and even the peer pressure that comes with having acne as an adult made it tough. It was hard to ignore the constant reminders of my own imperfections every time I looked in the mirror or went out into public.
For a while in my life, I tried to avoid social gatherings as much as possible, even family gatherings. On top of that, I had to deal with the constant reminder from other people of how I should try harder to take care of my skin, which just made me feel even worse. I mean, as if I wasn’t already trying hard enough!
My Life-Changing Moment
Fortunately, things started to change…
It was at the beginning of 2021 when I decided to take a different approach towards my skin and life in general.
I had already tried every skincare routine, countless treatments, and even medications prescribed by dermatologists — yet nothing worked for me. Desperate, I started to look for something else.
I started off with small steps like wearing minimal makeup, switched to cosmeceuticals instead of conventional skincare, and consistently used sunscreen no matter the season. Additionally, I bought a Foreo Go and started using it every night without fail.
It didn’t make any difference immediately, but six months into my skincare journey, I started to feel differently. The redness was fading away and I felt more confident than ever — no matter how much makeup or filters I put on my face.
The skin started to feel more nourished and softer, with fewer breakouts. I felt like a different person, it was such a miracle!
But this transformation wasn’t only about my skincare routine — it was also about shifting my mindset and learning to embrace myself, flaws and all.
I wasted years and years of my life, hating myself for not having perfect skin. I blamed myself for something that was out of my control and I never appreciated all the things that I had in the first place.
So now, instead of focusing on what’s wrong with me, I focus on what’s right.
How I Learned to Accept Myself, Acne and All
The key moment for me was this realization: no amount of skincare can make you confident if your inner self isn’t whole. The newfound confidence that had come with my improved skin was only a reflection of the confidence I had built within.
And of course, this journey wasn’t without its struggles and challenges — there were still days when my acne would flare up, or when I’d break out in a cold sweat worrying about it.
I have oily skin, and I don’t think it will ever change unless I could be a vampire — and I wouldn’t want to because my family would miss me. So, instead of trying to fight with it, I learned to accept that this is just part of who I am. And that’s more than okay!
For starters, I stopped comparing myself to other people’s perfect skin — our skin is unique, and nobody should be made to feel inferior because of theirs.
I also started to appreciate the small wins: my skin was getting better, but more importantly, it taught me a lot about resilience and accepting who I am.
To this day, I’m still on a journey of self-love and acceptance. Every time I look in the mirror, I don’t let my acne define me anymore — instead, I focus on all the good things that make up who I am. And if anything were to happen to my skin tomorrow, it wouldn’t determine what kind of a person I am.
I’m still learning to appreciate that my skin is not perfect, but it’s mine and unique. It’s the vessel in which my body lives and loves — and for that, I am grateful.
It took me 15 years to finally accept myself, acne and all. But now that I have, life is so much brighter.
In fact, this newfound acceptance has taught me how to be kinder to myself and love the skin I’m in. Now, this is something that no amount of skincare can ever replace.
So if you’re also on the journey to learn how to accept yourself for who you are, take it from me: it’s worth every minute!
Life is too short to be spent hiding behind makeup or feeling ashamed of your skin. We all have our own unique stories and experiences, so why not make the most of them?
Instead of trying to fix everything that’s wrong with us, let’s focus on what makes us special and embrace who we really are. No filter or makeup can ever replace the beauty of self-love. And if I could do it — so can you!
Embracing Your Own Unique Beauty
It took me years to learn that beauty is not about having perfect skin, beautiful clothes, or anything else that society tells us is attractive.
Beauty is about loving yourself and embracing your imperfections with pride. It’s about embracing what makes us unique and loving ourselves, flaws and all.
I finally understand that beauty isn’t a standard, it’s an individual journey — so be kind to yourself and take the time to celebrate each milestone!
You don’t need perfect skin or perfect makeup to feel beautiful — all you need is confidence and self-love. So don’t be ashamed of your acne, embrace it and see it as a part of your unique story. And, if you’re still struggling, take it from me — you are worth the effort!
Give yourself compliments
Instead of focusing on your acne, look in the mirror and find aspects of your appearance that you love. Building yourself up in this way will help shift your perspective away from the negative.
Look at yourself in the mirror and compliment yourself out loud. After all, you deserve the same kindness you show to others.
Surround yourself with love and support
Reach out to friends, family, or online community members who can relate to your experiences with acne. Sharing your struggles and supporting one another can help with confidence.
I am so lucky to have my husband and my closest friends from high school who always reminds me that beauty isn’t something to be ashamed of — it comes from within. Their great support has been essential in helping me accept myself and my skin, so don’t underestimate the power of love and friendship!
However, remember my cousins and their husbands? I mean, they all meant good, but the way they commented on my skin was really unhelpful. The thing I needed was support, and of course, solutions, not just concerns.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Remember, many people’s social media photos are filtered and edited. Don’t focus on meeting the impossible standards; focus on finding confidence within yourself and feeling radiant in your skin.
At the end of the day, remember that you can always enjoy life and be confident in your own skin. Love yourself with all your imperfections and quirks, because nobody else will ever love you as much as you love yourself.
Skincare Products and Tips
Sure, we cannot discuss about acne without mentioning skincare. But it’s important to remember that while skincare is an important part of self-care and treating acne, it’s not the only factor — your diet, your habits, and even your mental health can play a role in how you feel about your skin.
I took me years to finally find the products I love and can really work on my own skin, but I’m so happy that I did. Now, I’m confident enough to step out of the house without a single layer of makeup and still feel beautiful in my own bare skin.
Skincare products work differently for everyone, so it’s important to find what suits you best. Here are a few products and tips that have worked for me:
- Gentle cleansers: Using a mild, sulfate-free face wash keeps my skin calm and reduces irritation. I have been using this La Roche-Posay Effaclar for oily and sensitive skin for over a year, and I’m very happy with it. Sometimes I would add a few drops of tea tree oil from The Body Shop to this cleanser for extra effects.
- Exfoliation: I like to exfoliate my skin twice a week with a gentle scrub. This helps to get rid of dead skin cells and keep my pores clean, so that the oil doesn’t build up in them and cause breakouts.
- Sunscreen: Sun damage can make your acne worse, so sunscreen is essential. I just recently switched to I’m Aqua Sun Essence from Suntique. It’s a Korean brand and it works really well on my oily skin, plus it’s SPF 50.
- Moisturize: I always make sure to apply a light, oil-free moisturizer immediately after I wash my face. This helps skin stay hydrated and prevents dryness and irritation. Right now, I’m using Clinique Moisture Surge Intense 72H for days and nights. During the summer, I just skip it and just have the sunscreen instead.
- Seeking professional help: If you’re struggling to manage your skin problems on your own, consult a dermatologist for proper medical treatment. They can assess your situation and suggest appropriate treatments based on your needs.
In the morning, I will just wash my face with lukewarm water to keep the natural oils in my skin. But in the evening, I double cleanse with a cleansing oil and a gentle cleanser to get rid of any dirt, makeup, or sunscreen that has built up during the day.
Again, when it comes to skincare, what works for this person doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. So make sure to experiment and find what works best for you!
Here, don’t forget that it’s also important to know the causes of acne. It could be caused by stress, hormones, or even genetics — so understanding this can help you find a better way to treat your skin in the long run.
For example, many adult females have mild acne before and during their menstrual cycle. If this is the case, it’s important to eat nutrient-rich foods, get enough sleep and exercise, reduce stress levels, and generally take good care of yourself — not just use topicals or other treatments that may help in the short term but won’t really address the underlying cause.
For other people, it can be emotional distress, environmental factors, or dietary changes that are causing the acne. In these cases, it’s important to take a holistic approach and address all of these issues in order to find long-term relief from acne.
Pointing out the right cause of your acne can help you find a better way to treat it, so don’t forget to consult with a dermatologist or other medical experts for the best treatment.
The Importance of Self-Care and Self-Love
When it comes to acne, it’s essential to remember that beauty truly comes from within. So be sure to prioritize self-care, self-love, and kindness to your own body and soul.
This can be as simple as practicing meditation, journaling, enjoying a hot cup of tea, or taking a nice long bath — anything that relaxes your mind and body and helps you stay present.
Be mindful of the foods you eat too. Eating healthy is an important part of self-care, not just for your skin but also for your overall health. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet can help to improve your skin’s health in the long run.
Finally, remember that being beautiful isn’t just about having perfect skin; it’s about feeling good and confident in your own body. So don’t be afraid to show off who you are — acne or not!
Embrace your story and never let anyone make you feel less than you are. At the end of the day, you are the only one who can decide what’s beautiful. Trust your own judgement and shine with confidence!
My Final Words
In the beginning, I didn’t have any plan to share my story on acne and skin care. You know, showing your weakness and insecurities to the world isn’t easy.
But I thought it’s time for me to be brave and talk about this topic, in hopes that this can help someone out there who is going through similar experiences — someone who might be feeling scared or overwhelmed or sad.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in your struggles. And no matter what your skin looks like, you are still worth it and beautiful in your own way.
Good luck on this journey, friend — take care of yourself, be gentle with yourself, and love yourself no matter what. You are worthy of it!