Writing a post to advise others about their skin feels inherently alien to me. I have struggled with my skin for a good few years now, a problem that erupted (quite literally) when I was around 15 or so and has continued to stick around with me into my early 20s like that creepy guy from school who, for a reason unbeknownst to the world, still messages you on facebook and refuses to get the message that
You’re. Not. Interested.
My skin used to cause me all levels of problems. I’m not going to try and tell whoever is reading this that I don’t still get insecure about my skin because that would be nothing more than a lie. However, I am going to try and write about a few things that I’ve come to realise over my time growing up with/living with bad skin.
I used to refuse to leave my house without makeup on. I was too afraid to answer the door if it rang, or pop to the shops to grab whatever I needed. All because I was petrified of people seeing my face. The postman would see my skin, and then maybe he’d tell the people in the village that he’d seen my skin, and someone would definitely make a comment at work in front of my work friends about the huge cluster of spots on my chin and I’d just have to quit my job. No way was I answering that door, it was all too risky.
I was unable to sleep over at new friend’s houses because, god forbid, they’d see me in the morning without any makeup on. They wouldn’t want to be my friend any more, and I wouldn’t blame them, my skin was disgusting.
I used to swim when I was younger, when I had good skin. When I passed my driving test and got my first car, my Mum encouraged me to drive to the nearest swimming pool and get back into it. But she didn’t know that everybody in the sports centre would see my skin and would, therefore, be utterly repulsed.
They’d see the horror that was my whole naked face. Gross.
This was something that I had conditioned myself to believe over years of constant reminders that my skin is not what women want, and definitely not what men want. I couldn’t fathom stepping foot outside my door without a full face of foundation on, because what I felt was absolute shame. I was ashamed of my skin, embarrassed that I’d passed my 15th, 16th, 17th birthday and still had acne. Most of my friends had ‘fixed’ their problem skin, so what was wrong with me?
I don’t know what it was that prompted a change in my perspective, I wish I had a profound epiphany to write about, but I don’t. I think I just realised that I was holding myself back from so many things, so many opportunities, simply because I didn’t like my skin.
I began to research body and skin positivity, and the importance of learning to love yourself. I’m definitely not all the way there yet, but surrounding myself with positive individuals, and following influencers that actually make me feel good about myself instead of like an acne-ridden potato has been a huge help. I’m actively teaching myself to re-wire all the negative thoughts and feelings I have surrounding my skin in order to be able to live my life like any other human being.
I've also stopped trying so hard to ‘fix’ my skin. Over the years of wandering the high street whilst waiting three hours for a bus home from sixth form, and my discovery of/addiction to online shopping, I must have spent hundreds of pounds desperately trying to find a miracle cure for my skin. I tried every face mask at Lush, every cleanser from the Body Shop, all the latest internet crazes and must-haves. Obviously, none of this worked. I decided, after a long fight with myself, to strip back all the products I was using on my skin, and to let it be. And it helped.
I use a cleanser (in a bar of soap because it lasts for ages and is great value for money), toner, Velvet Skin Oil, and moisturiser. That’s it. And I stopped stressing. I stopped squeezing spots, picking at any imperfections and leaving my skin red, angry and scarred. I stopped smothering my face in full-coverage foundation every day. I stopped exfoliating my skin to within an inch of its life because I realise now that you can’t scratch acne off of your face even if you try really, really hard.
I stopped caring. And I started living. I went outside without makeup on, I let my skin see the sunshine and, more astoundingly, I let other people see my skin, too. I let strangers in the street look at my naked face. I showed my acne to the world! And, guess what. Nobody cared.
Nobody gave a sh*t about my skin. Not one person. For a while, I was paranoid, searching for somebody staring disgustedly at my face, so I could confirm my suspicions that my skin was the worst thing ever and go back to not taking it outside ever again. But that didn’t happen. And think about it- do you remember seeing a stranger on the street with really bad skin? Think back to when you last went to the supermarket, the gym, the high street. Can you remember the condition of anybody’s skin? I can’t. And it was teaching myself that lesson that showed me that I’m really not that special. My skin isn’t so extraordinarily bad that people are going to pay that much attention to me. Everybody has their own lives to live and they couldn’t give a monkey’s about my skin or anyone else’s.
That’s not to say that on the mornings I wake up with a mini volcano in the middle of my forehead that I don’t smother it in concealer and pray that it’s gone by the next day. I still get disheartened each time I get a breakout. Obviously, I want ‘perfect’ skin. Who doesn’t? But ultimately, I don’t have perfect skin, and I want to get on with my life. I don’t want to be all consumed by my desire to have the same skin as celebrities who pay literally thousands of pounds to go to fancy dermatologists and have facials every Friday before their hot yoga class. I can’t have that life, and currently I don’t have that skin.
But I have wonderful friends, a great family, a good job lined up (provided I pass my degree), and a pretty nice life.
And I have acne.
But I don’t care.
Find below some positive Instagram accounts that have helped me overcome my negative feelings about the way that I look:
- @jameelajamilofficial and her account @i_weigh