If you’re looking to be sold a miracle cream or overnight fix for acne, you won’t find that here. If acne has kept you from expressing your fullest self or you carry resentment for not “growing out of it,” we hope you find a little comfort as you read this.
I vividly remember feeling a gut-wrenching embarrassment when I got my first zit. I was 13 or 14. It was front and center on my forehead, just in time for class photos.
“You’ll grow out of it.”
“It’s just a phase.”
“Nobody else will even notice.”
These comments, however well-meaning, were lies. It turns out I wouldn’t ever grow out of it. And whether other people noticed or not, I noticed. And my own noticing was enough to keep me swimming in insecurity, thinking I was the only one.
I needed validation. Validation that society values unrealistic beauty standards and that it takes real effort to cope with skin that gets judged for being dirty or unhealthy.
Fast-forward 20 years, I still feel pangs of embarrassment and self-consciousness when I find an outbreak on my chin or near my jawline. As much as I wish I was one of those mythological, unaffected feminist goddesses that are unashamed and free of societal pressures, the truth is that I care and that sometimes I still have not-so-righteous feelings about my skin.
Over the years, however, I’ve realized that while in many ways, adult acne is much harder to come to terms with, there are certainly a couple of perks. First, I know that there’s no quick fix, so I’ve stopped expecting one. Second, I know that I’m not alone.
There’s no quick fix
Adult acne is complex and every person is different. The time of year, hormones, diet, exposure to chemicals, products, stress, exercise, etc. all contribute to the health and happiness of our skin. With so many variables, it can be REALLY tough to find just the right mix. And often it feels like as soon as I get it right, a variable changes and I’m starting from scratch.
When addressing any of these variables, there are a few things we at Suzi’s look for beyond “no outbreaks,” which can feel like an overwhelming, never ending battle. If you’re adjusting your diet, finding hormonal balance, trying new products, etc., consider the following:
- Moisture – What contributes to a soothing feeling of moisture? When does your skin feel dry, dull or oily?
- Inflammation – When does your skin feel balanced and bright? When does your skin feel reactive or painful? Is there a correlation between inflammation of your gut or muscles/joints and your skin?
- Calm – What leads to calm skin? Or beyond that, in what moments do you feel particularly at ease about your skin? How can you increase feelings of calm?
- Circulation – We believe that Oxygen is a great healer. How could increasing circulation affect the mood and balance of the skin?
You’re not alone
As I sat down to write this post, my housemate and her friend came into the living room. We started chatting and they asked what I was up to. I said I was writing about adult acne. Both of them, well past the age of “growing out of it” had, unprompted, stories and emotions to share.
What poured out over the next 30 minutes were silly comments about the current state of a shoulder, deep revelations about constant internal dialogue, discussion over red carpet beauty standards and realizations that we all struggle.
The shame and self-consciousness that accompanies adult acne crosses generations, genders, body types, locations, and perceived levels of confidence. It’s complicated, weighty and just plain hard. When hidden, it can haunt us. However, when shared, a small part of the burden gets released.
If we can support you by offering a listening ear, please let us know. We’re here for you and your skin (in that order).
Tess Ball first started working for Suzi’s in 2014 and has been a part of the family ever since. She’s passionate about physical and mental health, and spends every moment possible hiking, backpacking, climbing and taking her pup out to roll around in the elusive Seattle sunshine.