Acne is the most uncomfortable, embarrassing and overall frustrating rite of passage that teens have to deal with. When you transition through college and into adulthood, it’s easy to expect that most of your adolescent afflictions will depart for good, but that isn’t always the case when it comes to this common skin condition. Finding yourself ridden with zits on the morning of your college graduation, or even of your first job interview, is horrifying to say the least.
I suffered from acne since I was ten, and now, at age twenty-one, my acne is, finally, ever-so-slowly going away. Dealing with this skin condition during college has been a constant struggle, as it has been a source of great anxiety, exasperation and discomfort. Since there is a stigma around having adult acne that connotes bad hygiene and junk-food addiction, people who deal with acne can feel lesser than people who do not have the condition, despite the fact that having acne is not necessarily a person’s fault, but more do with hormones or some other internal system muddling things.
If you are struggling with adult acne, don’t fret; here are five tips to help with the insecurity, especially when you feel out of options.
1. People Don’t Notice Acne
While people do physically see acne on other peoples’ faces, chances are that they’re not bothered by it like you are. When you feel like your face looks like a pepperoni pizza, it can be so difficult to get past the insecurity, but remind yourself that others are not really taking notice of your acne. They’re probably freaking out over their own insecurities, which shouldn’t necessarily make you feel better, but it might lighten the burden of dealing with your own insecurities.If you feel like crying or blushing when someone looks at your face, take deep breaths to calm your rapidly-beating heart and remind yourself that they are not judging you but just talking to you, and the embarrassment will go away. This process might take a long time to nail down, but once you do, acne won’t seem as big of deal, and you can enjoy going to your classes and talking to friends without feeling like wearing a paper bag for the rest of your life.
2. Take It One Step at a Time
It can be insanely difficult to embrace acne, and frankly, I have never been able to fully do it, but coming to terms with having adult acne doesn’t mean you’re settling for a less comfortable and joyful life; you’re learning to love yourself rather than just your skin. Taking the time to learn this can be challenging, but taking your acne one step at a time will help.
For example, if you’re a foundation-wearing college student, go without it for one day; it doesn’t have to be at school or work where people you know will see you. Take it slow, starting with a place like the grocery store, so you can slowly feel more confident leaving the house without wearing makeup.
Any acne sufferer has probably heard their dermatologist tell them “You have to be patient” while waiting for their acne to go away, which are some of the most frustrating words ever combined into one sentence. So, if “you have to be patient,” then look into other options to help with confidence beyond just skincare.
Even if your acne is hormonal and unrelated to diet and exercise, changing your diet to a healthier one and engaging in more physical activities will help with confidence, as they will make you feel better on the inside and help you to pay less attention to your skin. Get yourself a cute new haircut or a new shirt, and remember that you’re not disguising the pain of acne with material things, but using things like clothing as a way to showcase your confidence until you can accept your acne.
3. Google Celebrities With Acne
Seriously—this works. When we see famous people who look airbrushed every second of the day in every magazine picture and on every red carpet, it is so easy to be envious of them, but it’s important to realize that they’re not so perfect in real life, as they more often than not have a professional makeup team and the powers of Photoshop to make them look like gods and goddesses. Googling celebrities who have dealt with acne will be a good reminder that a lot of people, even the people who you have admired and thought flawless, do not always have clear skin.Singer Alicia Keys has struggled with acne in adulthood and now is embracing her skin by not wearing makeup. Seeing someone as beautiful as Alicia Keys dealing with acne as an adult might help any acne-suffering college student feel more like an adult themselves. I mean, Alicia Keys is a full-grown woman, so there is no need to not feel like an adult when suffering from acne. Tell those frustrating high school feelings to go away, and remember that you too can live a fulfilling life like Alicia Keys.
4. It Could Always be Worse
Suffering from acne can feel like the worst and most unfair thing in the world, but keep things in perspective; your life really could be worse. Think about all the ways in which you are fortunate. With the understanding that acne isn’t the end of the world, the embarrassing skin condition won’t seem as bad.
That doesn’t mean you must never complain about your acne; it is natural to feel upset over seeing red marks on your skin, but just remembering to be grateful for the things you do have will help ease the sting of acne.
5. Don’t Stop Living
Alicia Keys never let her acne stop her from pursing a music career, and neither should your own acne stop you from pursuing whatever you want in life. It is easy to curl into a ball and never lift your head from your chest so no one can see you, but think of all the opportunities you’d be missing by letting your acne control your life. You’ll feel so much happier if you do things that bring you happiness.
If interacting with other people and experiencing new things might bring you some happiness, then try your best to push the acne insecurity away. I know some days will be easier and some days will be harder, as I have suffered from some low moments because of my acne, but on the days when I’m able to look past the uncontrollable things in life, like the condition of my skin, I feel amazing, and when it’s particularly difficult, it helps to try to remember that feeling.
Having acne doesn’t have to be a curse or life sentence, but it might be something you have to deal with at the moment. Until the day your acne goes away, remember to not let it control your life—and let yourself have a little fun.