If you scroll through the skincare section of most beauty websites, you'll find dozens of products and articles advertising ways to "get rid of" your "horrible" and "unwanted" acne. From the language used, you'd think pimples were a flesh eating virus. In reality, it's a common condition (affecting between 40 and 55% of adults under 40) that occurs from bacteria build-up and excessive oil production on the skin. The cause can be rooted in hormones, medications, or even genetics. While a common myth claims that acne is caused by poor hygiene, we're here to firmly debunk this eye-roll inducing rumor.
Even though acne can be painful and unrelenting for some, it isn't something to be ashamed of, and doesn't make anyone less beautiful. Recently, hashtags like #acnepositivity and #skinpositivity have started trending on Instagram, celebrating those who have shed their shame and insecurity around acne, and encouraging others to do the same. Keep scrolling to see photos of inspiring acne-positivity activists.
Model and YouTuber Nazhaya Barcelona is the person to follow for a major confidence boost. Barcelona shared this photo on Twitter with the caption "An iconic shoot I did with @peter_devito, showing all types of skin to give representation to the acne and other under represented skin communities." Barcelona also manages an Instagram account celebrating her acne (which she cleverly calls an "accessory") called @theacneaethetic.
Abigail is a beauty enthusiast who actively shares her acne experience on her Instagram @abis_acne. Abigail will often show a side-by-side comparison of her face with and without make-up, along with a reminder that one isn't better than the other. One of her main philosophies is that if you want to wear make-up, it should be for yourself, not out of fear of what others may think of you.
@brielamour89 is a self proclaimed "skin positivity artist" who is healing her skin through natural skincare products and methods. In recent years, Briela has become more confident about her skin (and herself) than ever before, and writes kind and encouraging letter-style captions to her many followers.
@badassbrownfeminist_ identifies as an intersectional feminist and a body-positivity activist. Sharing this photo on Instagram, she writes, "My face is peppered with acne scars from years of PCOS-related acne. And even when I'm wearing foundation, like in this picture, I can't hide them completely because a lot of them are pitted, textured scars in addition to the concealable redness. I've hated this pitting for years, but guess what—they're a part of me and will probably never go away completely despite my ongoing treatments."
On @pigss's popular Instagram, you'll find many acne-positivity posts, with one captioned, "Reminder that acne doesn't make you ugly. A heart full of hate does." She posts photos of make-up looks that cover her acne and leave it bare, and both options look equally stunning. She's also does sponsored content around skincare products for acne-prone skin types.
The more you share photos of your acne, the less scary it can become, and that's exactly the focus of @loveyourskln's Instagram. In this photo caption, she writes, "I got a new pimple on my cheek there and some small ones on my chin but also some tiny like such small ones on my forehead and idk why. But that's okay. Acne is okay and we've got to learn to love it."
Kali runs a popular account called @myfacestory, dedicated to her acne-positivity journey. On this particular post, Kali writes that "all skin is good skin & all bodies are good bodies." Who could argue with that?
Kunye.co is a beauty and wellness community that aims to support the emotional and physical well-being of their followers. For this particular photo, they captioned, "Living for the day the word “blemished” is banished from beauty culture vocab." No blemished bod here— just an elegant profile of the model's natural skin.
Designer, stylist, and model @chloebarcelou gets super raw in this shot on Instagram, writing, "As you can see, I am (and have been for 10 years) an acne sufferer—often dealing with the worst kind of acne there is: cystic. This is a part of myself that I have kept hidden (or, tried to hide) for most of my adult life. For many years it felt as if my battle with acne would claim my youth and beauty, my self-confidence, sense of worth and often times, my very happiness. Today, although not completely free of acne, I feel quite free (almost free) of the mental weight it has plagued me with."
Em Ford of @mypaleskinblog is one of the first acne-positive advocates to share her bare skin and story on Instagram. Em proves that you can be a fashion model without clear, picture-perfect skin. Whenever we need a little self-esteem pick-me-up, we click over to her account.
Howard D. Why is Adult Acne on the Rise? International Dermal Institute. Updated April 25, 2019.