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20th Mar 2024

More than skin deep: Clearing my acne is boosting my self-worth again

Kat O'Connor

There is no shame in having acne, but it can impact your mental health

Acne is something many of us deal with during our teenage years. Many of us will remember the days when we desperately tried to cover our spots with Rimmel’s Hide the Blemish concealer. We’d head into secondary school with two different tones on our faces, but people couldn’t see our spots, which was the most important thing for us.

Growing up with acne can dampen your self-confidence. If you grew up in the 2000s, you will remember how often women were slated over their flaws. Sometimes it’s hormonal, sometimes genetic, and sometimes there’s no reason for it.

When you reach your late twenties you’re no longer dealing with those confidence issues, at least not on the same scale. You’re more sure of yourself, more capable of shaking off your flaws and you’re able to boost your confidence in new ways.

You get to a stage where you are no longer your own worst enemy, but sometimes acne can bring those insecurities back. Dealing with skin issues as an adult can make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time to your teenage years. A bad breakout or particularly nasty pimple can tarnish the confidence you’ve built up in your adult life. 

Personally, my self-worth is heavily attached to my appearance so any kind of breakout can knock me for six. That’s why I’ve been trying so hard to take care of my skin recently; because it does make me feel so much better. It may make me feel low in confidence, but having acne does not make you any less of a person. It’s normal and it’s really not that big of a deal, but learning how to deal with it can have an incredible knock-on effect both physically and personally.

“If there’s something we can do to make ourselves feel better then we need to embrace it”

I’ve trialled so many different cleansers, a dozen different skin treatments, and good old-fashioned Sudocrem. I’ve changed my diet, chopped and changed my skincare routine, and tried every herbal tea Dunnes Stores has to offer. Finding a skincare routine that works for you takes a lot of time, effort, and money, but getting to a point where you finally feel comfortable in your own skin is something incredible.

We should not be ashamed of our flaws. They make us who we are, but if there’s something we can do to make ourselves feel better then there’s no harm in that.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve realised that having acne or bad skin isn’t something to be embarrassed about. It’s something that affects 1-in-20 women in Ireland after the age of 25.

But when it starts impacting your mental well-being and confidence, it’s important to take a step in mending it. 

I no longer feel embarrassed by it. Now I believe it is something that should be celebrated. Embracing the skin you’re in is something that takes time, but something we need to celebrate when we eventually get to that stage.

I’ll never have skin like Florence Pugh, but I no longer feel uneasy when I look in the mirror.

And that’s empowering enough for me.