How not to battle adult acne

Image credit: Beatrice Obe

Acne doesn’t feel like a small problem. What starts off as a few spots in your teens swells up into something much bigger, and suddenly you find yourself doing double takes in the mirror before leaving the house, or cutting bangs to hide your face. Acne is stressful and disheartening: many of us have been there.

As a teenager with acne, I began a ritual of layering foundation and cancelling plans. I constantly put energy into treating my acne, but failed to. My failed efforts only made me more self-conscious. Tiny pimples ironically took up a massive amount of brain-space. I would spend no less than three hours every day in front of the mirror, picking at scars and covering up under concealer. It was exhausting.

Then my mother suggested I use coconut oil rather than the make-up wipes I was buying from shops. Because of its anti-bacterial properties, coconut oil is better at cleansing the skin, whilst shop brands had been leaving make-up behind. It was my first successful attempt at treating my acne and quickly became a permanent part of my routine. She recommended turmeric, garlic and fuller’s clay as natural alternatives for masks that often contain harsh chemicals. I have her to thank for the improvement of my skin.

My skin was healing, but my self-esteem still needed a lot of work. So, I made a pact with myself to only look in the mirror if I absolutely had to. No more poring over the slight changes on my face, no more hours struggling against blemishes. Going out was no longer a chore. Soon, I began to appreciate other things about myself. With less time spent obsessing over acne, I could spend more time appreciating actually going out. Supportive friends also helped to soothe my acne-related anxiety, providing an underrated remedy: reassurance.

I don’t consider dealing with acne as a battle. ‘Battle’ implies the impossibility of a truce. I used to think of my skin as detached from me, an alien that I was being forced to live with. But really, your skin is yours and it won’t go away. Realizing this, and growing to become happy with my skin, was as just as helpful to me in overcoming my acne problem as any skin tip or herbal remedy.

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