Adult acne can be debilitating. And, new research shows that adult acne is more prevalent in women over the age of 25 than in men.
Just like the body positivity movement took over popular culture by storm — prompting campaigns from brands like Aerie and Asos to start the conversation about what real women actually look like — the #skinpositivity movement is a push to change cultural perceptions of beauty, particularly the way we view acne and health.
Most of social media agrees that it was largely pioneered by British blogger Em Ford of @mypaleskinblog in 2015, after she posted a video titled “You Look Disgusting,” where she revealed comments she had received throughout her life regarding her skin. In 2018, Huda Beauty used Ford’s image to promote an article about ridding acne scars — without Ford’s permission and much to her dismay — and face instant backlash. The movement continues to evolve with celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber and Lorde opening up about how acne tanked their self-confidence.
The world is starting to embrace a much more inclusive vision of beauty (but still has a very long way to go), and Sunday Edit is here for it. Meet three real women who deal with acne and are finally redefining their meaning of beautiful after using Sunday Riley’s new A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum for 6 weeks.
Her Bad Skin Day Mantra: “Something along the lines of ‘This Too Shall Pass’”
The truth is, I’ve never had acne [that is that] bad. It’s always around my cycle … [but] when I get them, they’re super deep and hormonal. I would put a clay mask on them to try and draw them out, I would do spot treatments, which actually really does help. But it doesn’t make them go away. You still have to cover them. You feel self-conscious. When you have a pimple, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. It definitely changes [everything]. I think we can all be our biggest critics and be really hard on ourselves, and for me I’ve just been trying to release all of that. Because it sucks, it wastes your precious time. Our bodies speak to us for a reason. Me with severe acne, my hormones are out of whack, my body’s speaking to me. [But] all good things take time, so I can’t expect cystic acne spot to just vanish overnight.
I actually think that people are becoming more comfortable with their flaws and imperfections and realizing that the norm of beauty that was pitched to us for so long, with the super-symmetrical face and white teeth and perfect hair and perfect outfit … is so unattainable and … not life-changing. People are becoming more and more comfortable in their own skin. I’m human, so I feel like it did take me time, and I feel like we’re constantly still always working at it. I’m a tomboy, and now I’m really into effortless beauty, and be[ing] as effortless as you can — I think I just feel more confident about aging. This may sound super hippie and cliché, but I really do think that everyone is beautiful in their own way. A lot [of] people may not be into freckles, but my freckles give me power. I seem to find the flaws most beautiful in other people actually. Anyone who’s willing to be themselves is my inspiration.
Her Bad Skin Day Mantra: “There’s nothing you can do about it right now, don’t make yourself have a bad day.”
When I was younger I never had any issues with my skin at all. I moved to LA, I don’t know if it’s the water here … but I started breaking out regularly. I would get cystic acne where they’re really deep down and very painful … more often than anything, and I started noticing random red spots that would turn into white heads. I was like, ‘why did I have perfect skin in high school, and now that I’m in my twenties I’m dealing with this.’ It just doesn’t make sense. And since I never dealt with it before, I didn’t really know what to do about it at all for a long time. Once I started to break out, I [started] using a lot of thicker stuff to cover it up. I wouldn’t leave my house without a full face of makeup on.
It definitely made me more shy [sic] and not as confident because I was always used to having really nice skin. With my job, confidence is key. If you go to a casting call or audition without seeming confident, they forget you in two seconds because there’s six other people that look similar to you that are going in for the same job. [But] now … I’m very excited for them to take the photos, so they can actually see how nice my skin is. Using [A+] every other night before I go to sleep has changed so many things for me, and I love it I feel completely confident.
I think how people see beauty now is quite skewed. I think every body type should be considered beautiful, and you shouldn’t need to be extremely skinny and look whatever way to be in. Nearly every influencer on Instagram uses Facetune, they make themselves skinnier and their lips bigger, you can edit anything you want on [yourself]. [My friends] think all these people are so perfect when they’re really not. I think that people should be able to feel confident even with blemishes on their face … [you] don’t need to cover up everything all the time to be considered beautiful.
View this post on Instagram
• | I haven’t painted a #selfportrait since grade school. I actually hated painted myself. I could never get it to look like me. It feels good that this actually looks like me. 🤗 It’s funny…I’ve been painting for over 20 years but I am still learning and surprising myself. I am very #grateful for my gift and to live in my purpose. ✨ – I am now taking #commissions. Dm for price list. Please note ** original paintings are an investment. #artistsoninstagram #artforsale
A post shared by Marielle Washington (@iammariellew) on
Her Bad Skin Day Mantra: “I always say ‘Something amazing is happening to me right now.’’’
My acne started in my early teens, around 13 or 14. No one in my family really had it, so they didn’t know how to deal with it. Everyone would say, ‘you’re going to grow out it!’ But I never grew out of it. I think when I was a kid, I was lazy with my skincare. I only did it in the mornings. I felt it was in mostly all over my face, and then at one point … it came back full force, but it was mostly on my cheeks. I was 17 [when I first started birth control for clearer skin]. [But], then my forehead broke out really, really bad. [So], I got off birth control, and my forehead cleared but the sides of my face didn’t, and they say that’s more hormonal. So, I said, ‘let me go back on the birth control.’ I feel like it probably made it worse for a while until I found the right pill.
I’ve gone to about four dermatologists in my life, to estheticians, [tried] to change my eating. First, it was a dermatologist that told me basically to be vegan. She said no dairy, no meat (only chicken) no shellfish…I tried it, but it was really hard for me to cut those foods out. So, what I started doing now is just try to eat as many vegetables as possible. [But], it’s nice for people to admit that ‘no, my skin isn’t perfect, some days it looks really good and others not so much.’ I notice when I’m not doing a million things to my face, it reacts better… just wash it, tone it, moisturize it, and we’re good to go. My skin is a lot more even [with A+]. It’s softer, and I like that when I wake up in the morning my skin is glowy. It’s really lightening the marks that I already have.
So, I chopped most of my hair off — now it’s super short and bleached blonde. This is me accepting my skin how it is, accepting me. I think that’s when I became more confident because I couldn’t hide behind the makeup, I couldn’t hide behind the hair. I like natural … I don’t really care about having tons of makeup on my face, I don’t really want to look different than what I already am, so it’s more about enhancing what I already have, rather than changing it. The more I started doing that, the better I felt about myself. Your skin is not going to be perfect every day. It’s OK to have a pimple on your face. [You] can only photoshop your blemishes, but [you] can’t photoshop your confidence.