Clinical studies suggest that up to 55% of adults aged 20 to 40 struggle with persistent acne. Since scarring is often an inevitable part of the breakout process, and one that such a high percentage of adults struggle with, it's a wonder we still consider acne scars so shameful: "How to get rid of acne scars" is a term searched over 60,000 times a month.
Why exactly do acne scars occur? They happen when an inflamed blemish tears the skin. Pimples cause our pores to swell, breaking the wall of the follicle. When the tear is shallow, the injury heals quickly. But when it's deeper, bad bacteria can leak out, worsening the lesion. The skin tries to repair itself by forming lattices of collagen, but when the lesion is deep, the collagen doesn't lay smoothly, causing a rough scar to appear.
We're taught that uneven skin texture is imperfect and unsightly, but the following images from 12 skin-positivity Instagrammers prove that if you just reorient your perspective slightly, acne scars are not ugly. They may be "flaws," but they're beautiful. Here are 12 pictures of acne scars that prove it.
Lea is a German acne-positivity blogger whose skin updates are always accompanied by a fire image like this one. She isn't always thrilled with the state of her acne scars, but she also knows they're not the end of the world and makes light of them in her captions (e.g. "The acne scars are on point these days. I have really struggled with fading them it seems like nothing is really working. My skin is at a point where it's pretty clear but it still looks like I have acne soooo … cool thanks").
French Instagrammer Sarah is effortlessly stunning, acne scars and all.
Twenty-year-old Zoe brings a sense of humor to her acne journey. Her caption to this photo reads, "Who needs contour when your acne sculpts your cheekbones for you am I right?"
"Healthy skin is not always perfect skin," writes Jessica Demasi, a certified eating psychology coach and inspiring women's health Instagrammer.
@a.sherrene isn't always happy with the way her acne looks, and she's honest about that in her Instagram posts. At the same time, she's not desperate to try to change it. I love her caption to this photo: "I'm not seeking advice so please don't link any products below Just posting a #nofilter #nomakeup picture."
Acne-positivity Instagrammer Nat documents her plant-based, Accutane-free skin journey beautifully and honestly at @pimpledgirl.
Skye's beautiful posts prove that you can be a working model with acne. The 23-year-old New Yorker captions this image: "The Rose that grew from concrete #loveyourself #selfconfidence #girlswithacne #acne #flawsandall #happy #beautyisonlyskindeep."
@st_skin_love speaks the 100% truth in the caption of this photo: "Acne coverage was always my number one priority and if I didn't get it right my day was spent worrying about how visible my spots, scarring, and hyperpigmentation were to everyone that saw me. It's really strange to look at these photos and actually feel good about myself. I didn't expect that. Guys. Acne does not make you ugly. The beauty industry sells us one vision of what beauty looks like and then profits from our insecurities. I'm not gonna lie, I don't yet have the confidence to leave the house like this, but I'm getting there. To everyone struggling to love themselves in a world constantly telling you not to—please know that you are beautiful and so so worthy!"
Kaschan is a 20-year-old who documents her acne journey on Instagram, acknowledging that the journey to skin positivity is not always easy. She recently wrote: "Although I feel dispirited, although I'm having low key anxiety attacks worrying about my acne coming back, although my makeup isn't sitting the way I want it to, although my biggest insecurity is on full show, I now recognize that acne is nothing to be ashamed of. It's just your body doing its own thang."
Model and travel blogger Nicole Bonifacio is no longer concerned with showing her makeup-free acne scars on social media. She captions: "Acne is one of the oldest friends I have. I had my first dramatic breakout when I was around 11 to 12 years old. … Since then, I’ve struggled with acne not only around my forehead, cheeks and chin, but also on my chest and back. As a model, I’ve struggled with this insecurity, especially when I would go to fittings and shows where the makeup artists and stylists would whisper to each other to cover up the blemishes on my body. … As a model, we are told to portray the perfect image especially with the help of photoshop, but in reality, no model is ever perfect. We all have our insecurities and flaws, but that does not take away from our talent, personality, and passion. … I encourage you to bring light to the things you are most scared about. Be comfortable in the skin you’re in. Love yourself and all your flaws."
@memyacneandi posts some of the most thorough acne journey updates on Instagram, always bringing raw honesty and a positive outlook to the process of documenting her skin health.
A few acne scars didn't stop @ambrahrnndz from posting this beautiful duo of smiley selfies. She writes, "For the longest time I've been told that I was not pretty enough without makeup, and I foolishly believed them. Well, long story short, I don't anymore. Lately, I've been learning to love myself. It doesn't matter if other people don't find me pretty, I find myself pretty and that actually makes me feel better."
Loving all the skin positivity? Don't miss 15 beautiful images of real women's cellulite.
Skroza N, Tolino E, Mambrin A, Zuber S, Balduzzi V, Marchesiello A, Bernardini N, Proietti I, Potenza C. Adult Acne Versus Adolescent Acne: A Retrospective Study of 1,167 Patients. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018 Jan;11(1):21-25.