Anyone who wears makeup will probably say that they feel better, perhaps more confident with a full face of makeup on but for people with acne, like myself, makeup takes on a whole new purpose.
When you suffer with skin problems such as acne that often leave you feeling so unhappy with your bare face, makeup is no longer about being creative or making yourself feel more glamorous or put together – its about covering up, its about making yourself feel acceptable.
I trained to be a makeup artist at 16, and that training in itself was a challenge for someone with acne. You spend a lot of time taking your makeup off and sitting in front of your peers with a completely bare face, which left me feeling hugely exposed – particularly at the beginning of the course when my classmates weren’t my friends, but strangers.
I left the beauty industry a couple of years later for a number of reasons but one of the main ones being the constant pressure to look good, a standard I felt I simply couldn’t withhold whilst suffering with acne.
It’s not that I think acne is anything to be ashamed of or cover up but for me personally, it’s something that makes me feel so embarrassed to show my face without makeup.
My skin is pretty much always covered in blemishes but even on days where the acne is a little more settled, my face, chest and back are all extremely scarred from past flare-ups, which means there never seems to be a day where I can get a break from the constant feeling that my natural, uncovered face is simply horrible.
I’m not ashamed to admit I wear a lot of makeup. Not just when I go out but on a day to day basis. I wear full coverage foundation, a lot of concealer and everything else that goes into putting together a heavy face of makeup but why?
Do I wear it because I enjoy putting it on? Do I wear it because I like the way that full coverage face looks? No. I wear it because I’m embarrassed by what’s underneath. I’m embarrassed to show off both the fresh blemishes and the old scars, and the general state of my natural skin.
I often feel I’ve set a standard for myself now with all of the makeup – a kind of precedent I now have to uphold. I’ve created an image for myself that is a face full of cosmetics and I now have anxiety around letting people see what lies underneath this.
As someone who doesn’t just suffer with the physical affects of acne but the mental and emotional impacts, makeup is something of a double-edged sword. It provides me with the confidence to go out and show my face, it gives me the confidence I need to smile in my own skin, take pictures and have fun but it’s also become a comfort blanket.
Although there are times where I will go out in public without makeup on, I don’t feel comfortable or happy in doing that. I feel exposed, I feel open for criticism, I feel judged and that’s all because of my acne. If I do go out without makeup on, I’m usually alone and going somewhere where I have no plans to see anyone I know.
It’s rare I will optionally and knowingly meet someone I know whilst not wearing makeup. I have close friends and family who I allow to see me with a bare face but the anxiety is still present within me that I don’t look good enough, that I look ugly because of my skin.
Even in front of people I feel comfortable with in general, when I sit in front of them with my bare skin on display, I find myself constantly touching my face, checking for new blemishes or covering spots I know are there. I can feel myself messing with my hair or biting the skin off my lip which are things I do when I feel anxious or uncomfortable and that’s because I’m so conscious that the person in front of me is looking at my skin.
Acne might be common – according to the NHS about 80% of people aged between 11 and 30 are affected by it – but the severity of acne varies between individuals. Some people will suffer with mild acne that can be treated with a good skincare routine but other acne can be severe and feel untreatable at times. But no matter how severe or minor your blemishes, they can take a massive toll on your confidence, and I know first hand that it can leave you feeling ashamed of your own skin.
I’ve started to make a conscious effort to try and show my bare skin on my social media, as well as the made up, glamorous pictures to breakdown the façade I’ve created myself in an attempt to retain some kind of self confidence whilst suffering with my acne.
I want to feel comfortable in my own skin, with and without the help of cosmetics and I want others to feel the same. When you see the statistics of how common acne is, it’s crazy to think so many of us are embarrassed to suffer with it, so next time you want to go out with a bare face but feel you can’t because of your blemishes, push yourself past that barrier and do it. Step outside and let your skin see the sunlight and hold your head high because acne isn’t something we need to be ashamed of.
It’s natural, it’s not your fault, and having acne does not make you ugly. For many of us, it’s just a part of being human.