If you’ve ever had acne, you know its effects can be more than skin-deep. As someone who has personally had my own struggles with chronic, cystic acne, it didn’t just come with inflamed, red skin. It also came with insecurities, loneliness, and feelings of unworthiness. After years of learning to love my skin with and without acne, I thought I would share some of the best ways to deal with feeling insecure about acne.
Acne is more than skin deep - the emotional effects of acne
Before we get into how to actually deal with acne emotionally, I wanted to clear up some of the ways acne can affect you. Whether from family members or strangers on the internet, you’ve probably heard the whole gamut of acne advice or even understatements of your situation.
You might’ve been simply told “Don’t worry, you’ll grow out of it” or “You just need to drink more water.” Unfortunately, even when others are trying to be helpful they can simultaneously belittle the pain and stress your acne might be causing you.
Since it’s not always easy for those without acne to understand what you’re going through, the experience can feel particularly lonely.
We recently caught up with influencer and skin positivity promoter, Evelyn of @normalise.acne. When we asked her one thing she wished she knew at the beginning of her acne journey she told us, “I wish that I knew that so many other people were going through the same thing as me, if not even worse than me, that would have made me feel much less alone.”
The Physical and Psychological Effects of Acne
And Evelyn is right. Acne affects over 50 million Americans annually and 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24. And despite acne being considered something that occurs in youth, more than 15% of adult women have acne. And unfortunately the effects of said acne go further than just your skin.
Studies show that moderate to severe acne has been shown to increase your risk of poor body image, low self-esteem and cause social isolation and constriction of activities. And because of these negative psychological effects of acne, increased levels of anxiety, anger, depression and frustration have also been seen in people with acne.
I personally was insecure about acne and it took me a long time to be able to separate my worth from my physical appearance. But throughout my journey there were a few things that really did help me deal with both the psychological effects of acne and the physical effects of acne. So let’s dive in!
5 Ways to Deal with the psychological effects of acne
1. Boosting General Self-Esteem
Like I mentioned earlier, low self-esteem is a common psychological effect of acne. In a world filled with filters, cosmetic surgery, and photoshop, it is easy to feel less than great in a swarm of fabricated perfection.
Unfortunately there is no magic cure for the low self-esteem derived from acne, but there are a few things that can help you realize how beautiful you really are. Affirmations can be an amazing way to prime your brain to think differently.
If you haven’t heard of affirmations, they’re positive statements that can help overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. If you’re already a lover of affirmations, acne-specific affirmations are a great way to feel less insecure about acne. But, if you haven’t already tried them they can feel a little tricky at first.
Telling yourself “I’m beautiful” or “My skin is worthy of love” over and over when you aren’t sure you believe it can be uncomfortable. But practice makes perfect. Plus, on average it only takes about five positive thoughts to replace negative thoughts. This means simply repeating one affirmation five times each morning can be helpful.
3 Positive Affirmations for Acne
“I know my skin is healing.”
“I see my skin through love, not hate.”
“I’m at peace with appearance.”
2. Building Positive Connections
Like Evelyn shared earlier, knowing you’re not alone is key to dealing with some of the emotional effects of acne. One of the easiest ways to connect with others who have a similar experience to you is through social media. Luckily, there are a growing number of accounts like Evelyn’s that promote skin positivity and loving yourself for who you are.
Here are a few I love:
Joanna J Kenny promotes #poresnotflaws and skin confidence. She is a great follow for learning to love all parts of your body, skin included.
Thalia Acne Fighter is great at documenting her own personal acne journey and promoting overall skin and body positivity. Her posts are great for those feeling insecure about acne.
Also if you’re curious to know a little bit about Evelyn, she is rosacea and acne-prone and shares vulnerable and incredibly helpful posts about her own skincare journey.
Finally, on our Wabi Sabi Botanicals Instagram, we’re always celebrating real, imperfect beauty. We're also working to curate a community of people who want to love the skin they’re in.
Other ways to build positive connections with other people with acne could be through communities like Reddit or Facebook pages. You might also be able to make real life connections by joining clubs or taking classes with like-minded people.
That being said, building positive connections can become even more powerful when you remove the negative connections from your life. That can mean unfollowing the person who always makes you feel bad on social media. But it can also mean asking family and friends to not make comments about your skin. Try doing an audit of the people on your timeline and IRL. Try to see how you can build the loving, uplifting entourage you deserve.
3. Distancing Yourself from Acne Mentally and Physically
It’ll be harder than it sounds, but distancing yourself from acne mentally and physically can work wonders. Especially, if you’re looking to feel less insecure about acne. My first tip is to keep yourself as far away from your mirror as you would a stranger (about arm’s length is usually good!).
When we have acne, we’re prone to getting up close to our mirrors and inspecting every pore, pimple, and wrinkle. But, the reality is that most people do not get even close to seeing whatever we’ve spent all day worrying about. You might even consider doing a sort of “mirror cleanse” where you try to spend the least amount of time in front of your mirror as possible.
You might be surprised how it leads to less negative thoughts, less picking, and overall less redness. But distancing yourself mentally from your acne is just as important as distancing yourself physically. It’s easy to find yourself in a downward spiral when you start thinking about your acne. So, here are a few coping methods for when you find yourself filled with negative acne-related thoughts.
- Get outside in nature and take in the beauty of the natural world
- Try a guided meditation
- Physically reset by moving your body
- Call someone you care about
One thing Evelyn found helpful when having a rough day is to show herself love. “I like to buy myself a pizza, buy myself takeout, just treat myself as if I were my best friend,” she shared. “Sometimes I even allow myself to just go into a store and buy a new skincare product or just buy something I’ve wanted to try for a while now, you know? It could even be clothes. Stuff like that. Just in moderation.”
Getting out in the world and treating yourself like your best friend is a great way to distance yourself from negative thoughts and bring yourself towards treating yourself with love and kindness.
4. Crafting a morning routine based in self-care
Something that completely changed my skin was when I discovered what I call the Skin-Spirit Connection. At the peak of my chronic anxiety, my acne was the worst it had ever been. And despite the fact that skincare and diet played a part, my healing morning ritual made my skin the clearest it had ever been.
My morning routine includes things like meditation, journaling, and affirmations, but your morning ritual should include things that feel right to you. The point of a healing morning ritual is to carve out a time in your day completely devoted to your healing inside and out. This will look different for everyone, but can include things like:
- Dry brushing
- Gua Sha
- A curated + nourishing skincare routine
- Spending time outdoors
The most important thing about your routine should be that it makes you feel good. It should help make your skin care feel less like a desperate race for results and more like a ritual that will heal your skin in its own time. I know how it feels to be insecure about acne and just wish your skin would repair itself overnight. But, patience and finding products that truly nourish your skin are so important.
5. Make Constructive Steps Towards Healing Your Skin
Just because you’re working on loving the skin you’re in doesn’t mean you can’t work on healing it at the same time. In fact, many have found that taking care of themselves and showing themselves love can add even more power to a carefully curated skincare routine. We know there are thousands of skincare products out there and it isn’t always easy to find the best one for you.
We always suggest listening to your body when it comes to skin care, but educating yourself about the type of acne you have can be helpful too. Hormonal acne works differently and acne on male bodies can even work differently than acne on female bodies.
Finding Skincare Routines Made For Acne-Prone Individuals
While skincare is just one piece of learning to be less insecure about acne, it is important to know whether your skincare is helping or hurting you. When I was first struggling with chronic acne, I had tried many, many products to no avail. It eventually led me to natural skincare. But everything I tried was too harsh for my sensitive skin. Most of the natural skincare on the market used essential oils, which are concentrated forms of plant matter known to cause sensitization.
My journey eventually lead me to the ingredients that are in our products today. But, besides essential oils, there are certain ingredients you should avoid if you have acne.
Ingredients to avoid if you have acne:
Shark Liver Oil/Squalene (not to be confused with the skin nourishing squalane)
Carrot Seed Oil
Chondrus Crispus (aka Irish Moss or Carageenan Moss)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
If your acne skincare routine is already free of these ingredients, we also have a few ways to help heal pimples fast as well as some ways to go foundation free. Since you’re reading this blog you’re already off to a great start, but trying what you’re drawn towards is key to any acne healing journey.
You might also consider evaluating other factors that might be contributing to your acne. If you’ve always had stomach issues, you might want to learn more about the gut-acne connection. If you’re experiencing hair loss and breaking or peeling nails, you might want to evaluate your food intake to make sure you’re getting enough calories and protein.
That being said, you know your body better than anyone so the best you can do is find time to listen to yourself and your body, inform yourself through educated sources, and continue trying what works best for you.
Overview for those insecure about acne
Dealing with acne isn’t easy and there is no solution that works for everyone. But feeling insecure about acne is something many people experience. I hope you find what works best for you and you come to see how truly beautiful you are. If you're still looking for a little more guidance, I welcome you to try our Skin Quiz or contacting us with any questions.