Acne Awareness Month Blog - Mental Health and Acne
Acne - one of the most common skin concerns that affects millions of people of all age, colour, skin type and nationality every single day. We celebrate Acne Awareness Month in the month of June as an initiative to reduce the stigma around it, and throw light on acne as a concept as well as its suitable treatments. Suffering from acne is something that seems like a never-ending battle, and can have a significant impact on your mental health and well-being over time. The link between acne and your mind is stronger than you realise, and not only can it make you feel conscious about your appearance, but also take a toll on your mental health, leading to anxiety, stress, depression, poor self confidence and social isolation.
Today, as we evolve as a society and are de-stigmatising acne as well as normalising authentic and raw beauty, we cannot ignore the profound effect it has had on people all over the world. Sublime Life brings to you 8 unique stories from our community who share their struggle and arduous journeys, and how they broke this never-ending cycle to embrace their real skin and wear their scars with confidence today. We hope they inspire you to do the same.
1. Aishwarya Kandpal from @greatbigtales
My work demanded travelling across India on a monthly basis, and I wouldn't bother carrying much beyond a sunscreen and a face wash in my bag. Suffice to say, my skin and I existed happily and the world was fine.
Come 29 and my skin began rebelling against me, something I failed to recognize, come to terms with or even acknowledge. Reason being? I always had clear skin without making the slightest of efforts.
But here I was, drowning myself in anger and frustration over the tiny pimples that would now find their unwelcome place on my face. Whether it was age, the lack of care, or just my hormones going berserk, I still don't know, but something told me nothing with my skin was alright.
Therefore, in July 2020, I finally started my IG page and began documenting my acne journey. From someone who's always had clear skin, a sudden bout of acne in 2019 was a very unwelcoming sight. I failed in trying to clear it, of course I did. And with every failure towards achieving clear skin came the realisation that products cannot do much. They're not equipped to do much in the first place! How interesting it is to know that the skincare industry places ALL the importance on skincare without ever spelling out that skincare is not JUST external. Hence I began talking about minimal skincare, occasionally sharing bare selfies of my face. The latter felt right because I think that's the kind of skin show we need on social media and the larger milieu of pop culture. At the same time, I consulted a doctor for 2 months who helped me achieve clear skin to some degree. But had to stop because I felt my body was not equipped to handle her tablets, most of which I discontinued. I'm finally on my own now, with a lot more knowledge about products, skincare and lifestyle changes.
Ultimately, I've learnt that you alone get to decide how you want your skin to be. Your skin is a rockstar with all its blemishes, lines and pores. And it's brave to have the skin that you do.
I hope to take my learnings far and wide so that the younger generation of social media users starts recognising what real beauty standards are instead of chasing the chok-chok glow of the perfect skin.
2. Ruhin Kapoor from @ruhinnkapoor
I was in 11th grade when I began to notice this horrible patch of acne on my cheeks. I had always been conscious of hygiene so I’d regularly use a face wash but that’s about it. Things got worse in 12th grade, I had acne scars and breakouts became common. I was already conscious about my appearance but then I was asked all sorts of questions like “why are you having so many pimples?” Or “will these go away soon because they’re spoiling your face”?. I was afraid of meeting a dermatologist but when I noticed my self confidence dip I convinced myself that it’s time to fix it. I was put on medication and predefined products that drastically improved my skin health. Ever since I’ve been very passionate about skincare, I like keeping things simple because that’s what worked for me. I know the kind of impact acne can have on an individual’s self esteem and confidence. But always remember that it can be fixed. It doesn’t happen overnight but it gets better with time. I still have minor breakouts from time to time but I’ve learnt to accept that it’s temporary and it will go away. At the end of the day I love myself for who I am.
3. Nabeela Banu from @perksofbeinghijabisisters
My acne journey began the moment I saw a pesky little zit on my forehead when I was 11 years old. Just like every other teenager I was told it’s normal and it will eventually be better. Years passed by little did I know that my teenage zits /pimples would turn into adult acne and my life changed completely. That’s when my real acne journey started - zits turning into cystic acne, visits to the dermatologists , hoarding skincare products, popping my zits so the number of acne on my face is countable , self confidence dropping to low self esteem and feeling worthless, losing out on many opportunities because of a thought that would always pop up in my head- I may be judged because of the red cheeks and scars on my face?
Crying to myself whenever someone always asked what happened to your face? Why don’t you visit this dermatologist? Why don’t you apply this? etc etc. I was always a girl with a dream, a dream to be a doctor and I’m proud of myself for chasing my dreams, regardless of whether I had acne or not. I was going through a very difficult phase of my life with the most painful acne ever and preparing for my entrance exams. I would blame the stress here. My mental health was deeply affected. I felt so low and worthless because I couldn’t crack the exam. My family gave me hope that I can try again and that hope brought me here. Today I am a dentist, a blogger and a social media manager. I researched a lot on acne, causes , types , products etc. that led me to start my own blog where I share my life and skincare reviews. My acne journey has taught me so many things, the most important being, "My acne doesn’t define my goals, it makes me unique and these scars are a proof of my resiliency and courage".
I’m at a better place now with myself and my acne, now I understand my skin a lot more better and I know what my skin needs.
4. Natasha Noushad from @brownandbougee_
A final year medical student from Kerala I started getting acne after my high school and especially during my first year of college (2017).I was so conscious and tried to conceal and hide it but I just looked like bumpy road. People teased me and my self esteem took a huge hit. Then in 2018 I started using self prescribed medication and I started getting better So I continued to damage my skin barrier. In 2020 my roommate got me into skincare and I realised the importance of moisturiser and sunscreen, things I had not touched for 20 years. Now I work on repairing my skin barrier and hydrating my skin. I work with gentle exfoliators like lactic or salicylic acid and actives like Tranexamic acid for my redness. Ingredients like mugwort, centella asiatica extract and green tea also help. All I have to say is, I have found beautiful people who love me with or without my acne and marks and no one should EVER feel the need to cover or correct who they are. HEALTHY SKIN IS THE GOAL NOT PERFECT SKIN.
5. Bhavna Sai from @that_skincaresisters
Upto last August (2020), I had not used any skincare products on my face because there was no one to educate me regarding skincare, and I have been born and brought up in such an environment where no one cares about skin care because there is no one to teach them as well. I have acne and acne scars.
I know today I am a skincare blogger but when I look back, I can see a dumb girl who doesn't really care about her skin. Like every other girl out there I usually get pimples during my periods but I don't know how to take care of them. Now we have innumerable bloggers and people are getting to know more about skin care better day by day. I have even started my skincare blogging on Instagram just to help people with my knowledge. I know age and our hormonal changes will cause acne breakouts but with good care we can control that before getting worse. That phase was really so bad for me. I didn't know whom to ask and how to react. If you have someone to teach you about skin care then that would be a different story but I didn't have anyone.
By watching some skincare videos on YouTube I got to know about the concept of skincare and I am so glad for it. From the day I started taking care of my skin to gaining more knowledge about it, Today I am happy with it. I won't tell you that you won't get breakouts but I can tell you that you can overcome that phase with a good intake of food and good skincare.
6. Janani Guanshekaran from @stylefitwithjanu
Basically, I had severe blackheads and cystic acne from the year 2014. I consulted a few dermatologists for my concern, but none worked for me rather my acne increased day by day. I was so worried, stressed out and I had no confidence. I even avoided going for an outing. During July 2020 I came to know about an esthetician. She suggested retinoids for acne treatment. I was initially scared of using retinoids. But with all the will power and courage I could gather, I started my retinoid journey. During initial stages of treatment, all the bumps slowly turned into cystic acne. This stage was really painful. My confidence became too low. During this period of time I neither posted any makeup tutorials nor showed my face. Then slowly I observed a positive difference. My acne and acne marks started to heal completely.
I learned a lot during this acne treatment journey and came to know more about skincare ingredients. Acne healing journey from July 2020 to February 2021 was a tough but a satisfactory experience.
7. Sakshi from @thevelourbeauty
It took me almost a year to get the skin that I have. I struggled with pimples/bumps/blackheads all my teenage years and I was so embarrassed of my skin that I merely hung out with my friends. I was not comfortable taking pictures and now I have my own page where I influence others to be brave and show bare skin.
All I did was follow a basic skincare routine and was consistent. The only new addition was Vitamin C in the morning and Niacinamide in the night. I still don't have crystal clear skin, but I am very happy with it. I have learnt that my skin is not flawed, it is just a part of my body which I am proud of.
8. Gowri from @the_aphrodite_diaries
I used to have clear, acne free skin during my teenage years and early twenties. But ever since I was diagnosed with PCOS, acne has become a part of my life. At first, I found it very difficult to accept. I felt embarrassed to face others as the first question that popped up in any social conversation was about my acne. I had become extremely conscious of my appearance and the identity that people attached me with, based on my acne. I lacked confidence to even step out of my house and avoided all social events. This emotionally exhausting experience and stress had taken a severe toll on not just my physical health, but also my mental health. I guess I was running away from facing the situation, rather than facing it. I tried out everything under the sun and even consulted a dermatologist to find a solution. Some of them seemed to work at first, but the results were only temporary.
The acne was so severe that I used to completely depend on hiding those so-called flaws with heavy makeup. I had lost all hope and was at the verge of giving up, when I realized that I was letting the opinions of society and my perception of acne as a flaw to define who I am and what I do, just based on the way I look. I thought to myself, "Am I just my appearance, my skin or something more?" and that's how I began my self-care journey. First, I learned to accept me as I was and embrace the real me. Then I started incorporating various self-care routines such as healthier lifestyle, stress relieving activities and a relaxing consistent skincare routine using products that were suitable for my acne prone skin. It took me a long time and dedicated efforts to reduce the occurrence of acne and the intensity of the acne scars; and to achieve relatively clearer skin than how it was three years ago. But, it was all worth it as now I am in a better place where I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin.
I still get acne every once in a while. The difference now is that I have realised acne is normal! It is not what defines you, but what makes you powerful. Wear it with pride like a warrior who wears her scars. Embrace your perfect imperfections with self love and patience. Be kind to yourself, be empathetic and be an inspiration to someone who is going through a similar journey. Be real, be unapologetically you!
- Krisha Jhaveri