Endless doctors appointments. Antibiotics here, creams there. Countless failed treatments. Year-long NHS waiting lists to see a dermatologist. Lifestyle, diet and routine changes galore. Saving and spending every spare penny on products that promise (but rarely deliver) clear skin. Sound familiar?
Yup–dealing with acne can be stressful, challenging and (seemingly) never-ending. But one thing it doesn’t have to be is lonely. Enter: the acne community on Instagram. Unfiltered breakout snaps, acne scars proudly on show, and real, relatable, unfiltered images abound. This is the community that puts your ‘flaws’ centre stage and gives you the courage you to embrace them, rather than erase them.
Between real-skin photos, passionate captions and honest-as-honest-can-be skincare reviews, discovering a group of women I can truly relate to has been an absolute game-changer for me. These women constantly remind me to work on my mindset as well as my acne and to love myself 100% of the time—with breakouts, clear skin and everything in between.
So, when I decided I wanted to write a blog on how to deal with acne, it made sense to ask the community which has helped me to develop the ‘IDGAF’ attitude towards spots that I’ve always needed. From mindset tips to wellbeing hacks, here are 16 tips for dealing with acne straight from the minds of the girls who know exactly what you’re going through — the acne community on Instagram:
Know that you’re more than your skin
Emily Keel | @emilykeel_
Instead of focussing on your acne and how you look, pick some things about yourself that you love. These could be about your personality, your body or the things that you do.
Write them down on your mirror and read them every day! We are so much more than our skin and it’s important to remember that daily!
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself. It’s so easy to panic when we’re breaking out, especially if there is lots of fear about treatments or products no longer working — I’ve definitely had those anxieties in the past.
A while back I would have thrown a tone of harsh products on my skin, restricted my diet and tried to control the situation the only way I knew how. This never ended well and I’m fairly certain my most stubborn scarring is from times like that.
Now, I really focus on giving myself some grace and letting my skin ride it out because skin will heal. I focus on things I enjoy, I stick to my usual skincare routine and eat all the food that makes me feel good!
You can’t hate your skin into clearing up
Mim | @acneisntugly
My top tip for acne would be that you can’t hate your skin into clearing up. I hated my skin for so long! I would get angry and sit there picking and popping using blackhead remover tools and aggressively scrubbing my face thinking the more I scrubbed, the more likely the acne would go away.
Of course, the negative self-talk on top of the physical hatred was a vicious cycle. You have to be your own best friend. You have to be kind to yourself. You have to be patient. Hating your skin gives you no advantages to helping it heal!
Don’t let your skin determine your happiness
Ivy | @ivyblooms
Don’t let your happiness be determined by the goal of reaching clear skin. Happiness is achieved in the present. If you set a bar to it, you will just keep moving that bar even when you reach it and you’re depriving yourself of that joy in the meantime!
Always be gentle with your skin
Shiny | @its.shiny
My top acne tip would be to be gentle with your skin. Avoid harsh products and excessive scrubbing. Acne-prone skin already has a weakened skin barrier, so being too harsh just hurts it even more! Keep it gentle.
Speak openly about your acne
I can’t express how good it feels to talk about it. Bottling it up as well as feeling embarrassed or ashamed is a feeling that you have made up in your mind. There is no need to feel that way; ACNE IS NORMAL.
The moment you open up, you will feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
You’ll find that people support you, and I bet you thought they’d be disgusted or judgemental? People may even open up and discuss their experience too!
We’re all naturally selfish people, so you may be worried someone is staring at your skin and judging, but I can grantee the person you’re worried about staring at your skin is probably worrying about you staring at something they feel insecure about!
Learn self-love and acceptance
Nicole | @theblemishqueen
My top tip for dealing with acne would be to learn self-love and acceptance. Everyone’s journey to clear skin is different, but the acne healing process is never linear — it is full of ups, downs, and ten steps back!
We often go into our skin journey with the mindset that we are ugly because of our spots and we will only be beautiful once they are gone. We seek to fulfil this false image portrayed by society that tells us we are our appearance, our skin isn’t normal, and our external beauty defines us. All of this is WRONG!
We need to be intentional about reminding ourselves of the truth: we are more than our acne, texture & pores & acne are NORMAL, and even with spots we are beautiful! If we don’t take the time to achieve self-love and acceptance, we will be fighting to clear our skin for all the wrong reasons and success will be even harder to achieve.
Connect with like-minded people
Sofia Grahn | @isotretinoinwiths
The real-life changer came when I searched the hashtag Accutane on Instagram. It sincerely felt like a whole new world was unfolding. A community, so many people sharing my story, my experiences and yes – my skin. It’s an utterly life-changing thing to see people with skin similar to yours when it’s otherwise more often a rule of thumb edited out. It was like someone lifted a heavy weight off of my shoulders… other people have acne too!
It’s a mind-blowing thing to come across a movement where people are embracing the current state of their skin. It hades never ever crossed my mind that I could like myself WITH acne. It simply wasn’t a part of my reality.
It’s a life-changing thing to recognize someone else’s beauty and worth through a picture, and then by a secondary effect slowly implementing it onto your own self-worth.
Cut out toxic people and attitudes
Constanza Concha | @skinnoshame
The best decision anyone can make is changing their environment to a healthy one — cutting toxic people and attitudes, etc.
Our insecurities come from how the world sees us! The events in your life would be reflected in the way you see yourself, so make sure that you are safe and happy.
Unfollow accounts that make you feel self-conscious
Megan Wicks | @skinpositivitymovement
Unfollow brands and people that make you feel self-conscious about your skin! At first, it may be hard to pinpoint which accounts these are, but once you have this task in mind, you will start to see that there are many unhelpful and unrealistic account that you are currently following.
Do some spring cleaning. Follow accounts that promote acne-prone skin (I promise they exist!), brands that don’t use photoshop and people that talk openly about their flaws. It will help drastically with your self-confidence. Once you realise that you aren’t alone, it is so so freeing. Don’t compare yourself to something photoshopped!
Take the focus away from your acne
My top tip for acne would be to take your focus away from your acne and place it back on yourself.
Make a conscious decision to not let acne and your skin run the show, but to tune back into yourself and find love and happiness and confidence in the small things in life. Realise that having acne doesn’t mean your life has to come to a halt.
The most important thing is knowing that acne doesn’t have to define you or your life if you don’t let it.
Realise that your skin doesn’t define your worth
Galina | @healmyskinfromwithin
Acne or any skin condition does not define your worth or beauty in a world obsessed with unattainable beauty standards. Having acne does not make you less than — you are worthy of loving yourself no matter what your skin looks like!
Always remember that acne is normal
Realising that acne is normal has made me and so many others feel at home and feel accepted in society. The acne community made me understand that normalising acne shows courage and bravery.
I believe with all of my heart that acne is normal. It just hasn’t been portrayed enough in the media, in the film industry and in the world we live in. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t everywhere. It’s normal it’s okay and it’s definitely doesn’t define you at all!
Don’t let your acne stop you following your dreams
Daisy Jane | @clearskinandgym
Carry on. Follow your dreams, still do all the things you want to do. Don’t let your acne get you down or stop you!
I wish I didn’t let it stop me and now I have a few regrets by not taking opportunities from before.
Be the best version of you, acne or no acne! Go travelling, go dancing, go swimming — do it all and don’t have any regrets or second thoughts! Clear skin doesn’t bring you happiness, YOU DO! Believe in yourself and you can conquer anything.
Dealing with acne can be so heartbreaking and you can feel like you are alone, but I promise you are not! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and having acne doesn’t define you.
Don’t compare your journey to others
It’s all too tempting and easy to compare yourself to others on social media. But we are all different and what might work for some people might not be a miracle worker for you!
Stress might trigger a break out for you but not other people — while chocolate might trigger their acne, but you can eat as much as possible.
Try and test different things, but don’t beat yourself up. Remember that when people post their ‘miracle’ results, they’ll have tried and tested loads of different things beforehand.
Write down all the amazing things about yourself
Alice | @notesbyalice
I know how it feels to spend hours staring in the mirror criticizing every last inch of your skin or your body, wishing you looked like ‘her’, being scared to step outside with your natural skin and focusing way too much emotional energy on your outer appearance. Knowing how to deal with acne is hard, but my top acne tip would definitely be to stop focusing solely on your skin and remember all the incredible things you have to offer the world instead.
The next time you catch yourself criticising your appearance after scrolling through Instagram selfies, stop — and remember all the awesome things you’ve achieved in your life and all the valuable non-physical qualities and attributes you hold. Write them down. Stick them somewhere you’ll see and remind yourself of them every single day.
Every single person is this unique being with all these wonderful aspects of their personality, with their own talents, quirks and eccentricities. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. When I was a teenager and had a bad breakout, it’s all I focused on. In my mind, who cared that I was doing well at school? Who cared that I had friends and family who loved me and enjoyed my company? Who cared that I’d got a place at art college? People used to tell me that I made them laugh, that I was a kind person — but I didn’t even stop to take it in. In my mind, I had spots, and that made me ugly — so none of the other stuff mattered. I considered all my value as a person lost the minute I had a cluster of spots appear.
See how ridiculous that is? And maybe you’re feeling the same. Don’t forget all the amazing things you have to offer the world, all the people who love you for who you are (regardless of what your skin looks like) and all the things you’ve achieved and will achieve. Acne is a part of you for now, but it’s tiny in comparison to all the other amazing things about you.
How to deal with acne: By the Instagram acne community
I wanted to finish this article off with a humungous thank you to all the girls who took the time to send me these tips.
I honestly believe that connecting with these girls has changed my life for the better. Whenever I’m feeling down on myself or get myself stuck in a negative mindset rut about my skin, I scroll through their uplifting posts or pop a message over to one of them — and am instantly bombarded with positivity, love and support.
I truly admire every single one of them for being their authentic self online and being a much-needed source of support for thousands of people all over the world. As someone who’s gone through the ups and downs of acne, these girls are true warriors in my eyes… and I want to tell every single one of them how damn proud of themselves they should be!
So, thank you, thank you, thank you, girls. You’re absolute angels and I thank my lucky stars for getting involved in the acne community every day!
If you enjoyed these tips on how to deal with acne, make sure to get following these queens — all their Instagram, YouTube and blog links are above.