Is it Better to Be Open About Acne, Instead of Hiding It From Those Closest to You?

Last Friday, I let you know about how I had told my friends about my ongoing struggle with acne anxiety, and how I ended up bawling my eyes out in front of them – releasing all sorts of emotions!

It got me to wondering – how open are you with those close to you about the fact that you have acne and it bothers you?

Up until my episode with severe acne, I never talked to anyone about acne – ever. Not my friends, not my parents, and especially not any of my boyfriends.

Even if the topic came up in conversation amongst close friends, I would have offered no input and tried to change the topic of conversation as soon as possible, lest it brought attention to the fact that I had acne.

I even remember times from middle school and high school when my group of girlfriends would want to get together before a school dance to get ready and do their makeup together, and I would never want to participate. 

I wondered why anyone would want to do their makeup in front of someone else – to me, this was something that was done in strict privacy. If I did my makeup in front of someone, they would see me putting makeup on my spots and it would draw attention to the fact that I had them, and … well… don’t ask me what I thought would happen or why anyone would care, but to my subconscious, it obviously wasn’t something good. It was simply a situation I wanted to avoid.

And then once I was in my older teens and twenties, and I started having boyfriends… ohhh boy, that’s where the real stress began.

For one, when you’re kissing a boy, it often rubs the makeup off your zits. And then, of course, they’re right there up close, looking at you. And it’s a sexy situation, you know. You want them to think you’re sexy. And then I would always worry that they were thinking “huh? you looked fine ten minutes ago before we made out, and now what’s this all over your face…”

Basically, it seemed to be their imagined analysis of the discrepancy between my made up face and my “morning after, sun shining in the window illuminating my zits face” that caused me so much stress.

And there was NO way in the whole world I was ever going to actually discuss this with them. I was never going to ever say “hey. I have some acne, and it bothers me. Does it bother you?”. That would mean acknowledging its existence, and I couldn’t handle that. I’d rather be in denial, so instead, I was just going to continue bottling it up and stressing over what I think they’re thinking about me.

It wasn’t until my skin got so bad that I simply couldn’t hide it anymore that I broke down and explained to my boyfriend at the time what was happening.

It was like coming out of the acne closet. And although it only happened because I was forced to, in a way, it was a huge relief.

I guess you could say the relief was so great that I wanted to continue it… I forced myself to be honest about it to others about it if needed… and eventually I took the greatest leap of all – I took my acne problem public with this blog (never would have seen that coming ten years ago!)

You know what? It feels really good to be so honest and just say “Here I am. No, I’m not perfect. And it’s okay”. It was definitely a major first step in self acceptance.

I can’t say like it completely got rid of all acne related stress though – obviously not – but it certainly cut down on it big time. Trying to pretend like a problem you have doesn’t exist isn’t really healthy, and bottling it up seems to amplify the emotions that go along with it. To me, it felt like being in a pressure cooker.

So for anyone out there who is stressed from hiding their acne from someone close to you, I highly encourage you to just talk about it with them. Yes, it’s scary, and there is a good chance that they won’t truly understand the pain and embarrassment, especially if they’ve never had acne – but at least it’s out there. That way, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life wondering if they notice your skin problems… you’ll now know that they know about it, and you’ll find that they love you anyway!!

What a relief!

Watch This Article in Video Form

Do you hide your acne problem from those closest to you? Does hiding it cause you a lot of stress?

photo by Gabriella Camerotti

50 Responses to Is it Better to Be Open About Acne, Instead of Hiding It From Those Closest to You?
  1. Sufyan
    August 24, 2012 | 4:49 pm

    I’m exactly the same as well. Just don’t wanna talk about it whether it be my best friend or close friends or my Brothers and Sisters or even my parents cause it’d just make me more depressed. I’m still struggling though my face is still dry,red and itchy and the worst thing is I don’t put makeup on ( I want to though ) but just dont know how !

    I’m a male btw so….. you know I know nothing about makeup and all that :-)

    Thing is when i’m at home alone i’ll feel happy about myself knowing that i’m safe inside but as soon as I have to outside that’s when it all kicks in. Contact with other beings frightens me. Just thinking about what they would say or how they’d look at me.

    I always have to look down when i’m talking to someone and the other Person thinks that i’m ignoring them but in actual fact I just don’t want them to see me like that.

    So it is hard very hard living with this condition. It destroys me inside and i’m sure it destroys those who have it or who have had it.

    So one day i’m hoping all this’ll just go away and I can enjoy being acne free :-)

    Pardon my spelling and punctuation and all that I had to write this quicky as it’s 12:48 A.M in the United Kingdom as I type ;-)

    • Tracy
      August 25, 2012 | 6:55 am

      Hi Sufyan, that’s interesting .. I wondered if it was different for males who don’t wear makeup, if they feel the same stress about hiding it like females do. So you say you don’t? You just think talking about it would make the stress worse? Ah well…. men and women may also differ there in that girls often like to talk things out. ?

      Either way – one day you’ll get to the acne free stage :) I’m wishing you tons of blessings Sufyan ( & thanks for being a loyal Love Vitamin reader!)

      • Sufyan
        August 25, 2012 | 10:07 am

        Thanks a lot Tracy ! ;-)

        One day………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. :-)

  2. Sufyan
    August 24, 2012 | 4:53 pm

    ………….And thankyou Tracy for this Blog and all the work you’ve done for us ! ;-)

  3. Annie
    August 24, 2012 | 7:01 pm

    Yeah.

    Yeah. What else can I say? It’s horrible. It’s awful. I want someone to tell me it doesn’t exist, that people with the worst acne of all don’t feel it, that I’m just crazy or that nobody else can see acne… All of these denial thoughts parade into my mind whenever I stare this straight.. in … the.. face… Like I can’t do to myself, much less anyone else. I am wearing a mask to cover a mask–all day, every day.

    Yesterday I didn’t put makeup on at all, and it was–like–the best day of my life. Figuratively speaking; really, not wearing makeup is the most freeing feeling.

    I want to feel like myself, which is not this hiding/denying thing, but it’s also not acknowledging that this is here to stay. The hyperpigmentation, if nothing else, will be around for awhile, and I honestly think that worrying about hiding it all the time contributes massively to a continual sort of stress, like a chronic stress not of getting acne, but of having to hide it continually.

    • Tracy
      August 25, 2012 | 6:57 am

      I also feel better these days if I wear no makeup, even if I have some spots… and I think that’s what it is – its like “here I am. completely. no hiding”, and that stress is gone. There is never any worry that anyone will “find something out’ about your face that they didn’t know, because it’s already there.

  4. Kim
    August 24, 2012 | 7:56 pm

    Hey Tracy,
    Thanks for bringing to light another interesting topic! I feel very much the same way as you did when you didnt like talking about it! I dont like talking about it to other non acne sufferers, because many times ot seems like they notice your face much more and it makes me more uncomfortable and stressed and many times they offer advice for things which work for their already clear skin! Advice such as avoid these kimd of foods or wash with this! Grrhh
    I dont know if you have also experienced this with people you have confided in about it also?

    • Tracy
      August 25, 2012 | 7:03 am

      You’re right, I wouldn’t go around just telling anyone – people are often annoying about it and do offer unhelpful advice… yes I have had that happen.

      You can’t really blame them though – when someone is upset, the natural reaction is to want to offer solutions to help you fix your problem. They don’t really get how tricky and deep the problem is. Even so – it’s seriously aggravating.

      So yes… don’t just tell anyone, but if you do find that you feel really stressed because you’re hiding it from someone in particular (like a boyfriend), thats when I say it’s better just to say something, even if they give unhelpful advice. If they try to do this, it might even be a good idea to say something like “I’ve tried everything and I don’t need suggestions – please – I just need you to listen”

  5. Stella
    August 25, 2012 | 1:12 am

    When I’m at my parents house I don’t even bother with make-up most of the time. They’ve seen me at my worst and best (I’m not even talking about acne, but life in general) and I couldn’t imagine to not be myself around them or trying to hide my spots. It just doesn’t bother me around them – I totally forget about it because I know they love me for who I am. No stressing about what they might think etc.
    Well, strangers + friends, that’s a whole other story. I’ve kind of “talked” about acne with some of my friends before, but more in a light-hearted manner, like “OH fuck, another zit, my skin is terrible right now, ha-ha”. They know that I’ve been to dermatologists before and tried all kinds of different stuff. But I’ve never talked to anyone about the immense need to use make-up to feel “human” enough to step outside or how I sometimes feel while looking in the mirror in the morning. Hm.

    • Tracy
      August 25, 2012 | 7:05 am

      Yeah, it’s a pretty scary conversation, and it’s tough to have with just anyone. But if you do feel the deep need to discuss it with someone, if you have a best friend or someone you know won’t judge them, it might be helpful. Maybe not – of course, it’s up to you. I find it stressful to suffer in silence, but that might not be the case for everyone.

  6. Victoria
    August 25, 2012 | 6:26 am

    I can completely relate to what you are saying. I’m scared of talking about it too. Although I do talk to my parents now as I know they don’t care what I look like, they love me for me and it can help releasing my emotions when I’m really stressed about it. I’ve also told a couple of other family members who are sympathetic but they just dont really understand what it’s like. They can be annoying at times when they start suggesting ways of how to get rid of it, like I havent tried everything. They sometimes act like you can just wash your face with this or take these pills and it will just disappear, so I don’t really mention it to them now because they just make me angry when they start saying why dont you try this or that. I wish I could talk to my friends about it, I know that they dont care what my skin is like and will love me whatever. When I’ve been on holiday with them and they’ve seen me without makeup they dont even notice. I just worry that it will seem like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I can empathise with Sufyan about feeling safe inside the house and not outside, I wont even answer the door sometimes if I dont have my makeup on. I also understand about not looking at people in the eyes, I do that even when I’m wearing makeup. I am trying to break the habit though and not worry about people seeing me, I am who I am, I have acne and if anyone has a problem with that then they’re not worth talking to anyway.
    I’ve never commented on your blog before Tracy, but I just wanted to say thanks for creating this great website. It really helps me to feel good about myself and to know that I’m not alone.

    • Tracy
      August 25, 2012 | 7:14 am

      Hi Victoria :) Nice to hear from you! haha I always like it when long time readers speak up for the first time! I’m so happy that I’ve helped even one person feel less isolated because of this sucky, awful, problem.

      I understand how it is about annoying people offering suggestions… I don’t entirely recommend talking about it with just anyone, because you’re right – most of the time, it’s more annoying than anything else. But yeah, if there’s someone in particular you’re stressed about hiding it from, I think it’s better just to get it out there – even if they don’t say the right things.

      I love what you say here: “I am trying to break the habit though and not worry about people seeing me, I am who I am, I have acne and if anyone has a problem with that then they’re not worth talking to anyway.” Way to go!! Good luck with everything, Victoria :)

    • Sufyan
      August 25, 2012 | 12:07 pm

      Same here I won’t answer the door as well. I’ll just wait for someone to open it in my house well that is unless i’m alone in the house.

      I try to avoid PEOPLE as much as I can. I know it’s a dumb thing to do but what can you do ? ( lol it rhymes :-) )

      • Annie
        August 25, 2012 | 3:42 pm

        Wow, that trips me out. Your comments just jogged all of these memories of me being super irrationally irritable when people would come over to my house during the day unannounced or early. My brother’s friends would ring the doorbell and I’d leap up and dash into my bedroom like they had guns or something… Even now, when I’m struggling with my makeup or something and I’m running late, I get so irritable when people rush me. I’m always kind of feeling like I’m doing all of this covering up for them anyway, so I can’t stand to be rushed. And, frankly, in general, I’ve been SO much less social, friendly, spontaneous, etc than I ever would have been, basically after the age of 12. But I never quite recognized or acknowledged that skin was the problem. It was like it felt like so much a part of me that I couldn’t separate my skin problem with my social and emotional problem. It’s important that Tracy does this, I think, even more so because it’s not talked about, and it’s hard for sufferers to recognize if it isn’t acknowledged in their external world, too.

  7. Mary
    August 25, 2012 | 8:38 am

    Not even notice?? Man, that is so hard for me to comprehend. But I like your advice. I have tried talking to people about it. It feels like I’m admitting to a secret that I no longer have to go to the extreme effort to hide. It totally does help.

    • Tracy
      August 25, 2012 | 2:28 pm

      Yeah, I guess it depends, really, on how bad your acne is/how observant your partner/friend is as to whether they actually noticed or not…. but I am entirely convinced that other people do not see our acne the way we see our acne… when we look in the mirror, that’s all we can see… big ugly, red lumps. But they see your whole face and honestly don’t notice anywhere near as much as we do, as hard as it is to believe.

      • Annie
        August 25, 2012 | 3:44 pm

        I know that’s true, because that’s how I see others. I’ve seen beautiful people with bad skin who I still perceive as beautiful, even intimidatingly beautiful. But it’s so very hard to believe because, well, seeing (ourselves) is believing.

        • Tracy
          August 26, 2012 | 8:38 am

          yep, exactly

  8. Lorena
    August 25, 2012 | 4:16 pm

    I made the mistake of being too open about my acne, especially when it was at it’s worse. The reason for this was because I felt like it was the elephant in the room (especially at work). Within a month, I went from having pefectly clear skin, to being completely covered in severe acne that couldn’t be covered up with makeup…it was an absolute nightmare. I felt very ashamed and guilty about it, and I felt like I had to explain/defend myself and let people know that I led a fairly healthy lifestyle and that I had not intentionally brought this on myself and that I was trying very hard to get rid of it. I eventually stopped, and only talked about it to my closest friends and family. But now I see that there is something very wrong with this picture…we shouldn’t have to feel this way. I think that a big part of the problem is the society we live in which is so obsessed with outer beauty. I’d wager that our stress would be significantly less if there was more general awareness about the challenges that acne sufferes face and if there weren’t so many misconceptions about acne in general.

    Thank you, Tracy for your awesome blog! I found it back in May, literally four days before I was scheduled to go to my Dermatologist to start Accutane. I didn’t want to take Accutane, and deep down inside of me I knew there had to be another way to get clear, but I was to the point of desperation and saw no other option. Finding your blog was an absolute miracle; it was the light at the end of the tunnel. I immediately cancelled my appointment and bought your book instead. I followed a lot of your advice and I also started seeing a natropath and now I am significantly clearer! Thank you!

    • Tracy
      August 26, 2012 | 8:41 am

      Hi Lorena!
      Yeah, I definitely don’t think it needs to be talked about to everyone and anyone – I understand what you mean about wanting to defend yourself though! I notice I feel that way if I ever get a bit of a breakout now… I feel embarrassed because I’m supposed to be the “acne guru” …

      Anyway, I’m really happy that I saved you from going the Accutane route if that was not what you wanted .. that’s so great to hear!! :D

    • Annie
      August 26, 2012 | 1:52 pm

      (1) It is kind of humiliating when I’ve talked about how I “figured it out” to close friends and family, and then the next time I see them, I’m broken out. I find I’m more open about acne after I’m clear, but when I break out, all the stuff comes back and I can’t even open my mouth to speak, although I want desperately to explain what I thought was going on… But it’s just hard.

      (2) It is super important to know that some people really have SORT of figured it out. I mean, SHiT, “no QUESTION” (as Tracy says) that diet affects acne. NO question.
      It’s a BIG deal, Ms. Tracy! Even if you, the “guru”, break out every so often, you have basically achieved a “normal” skin condition, given our generally toxic global environment(s). It’s a damn miracle for each of us, I would think, to learn we do have some degree of control, that all that horror of medication is just a spiraling nightmare that we don’t have to live in, and that we can have hope that our internal health and external beauty are wholly related, and that we are on our way, improving and developing into new people all the time. (One big drawback of acne for me over time has been feeling stuck, developmentally, in adolescence. You feel awkward, like you can’t really envision the future, like you don’t really know, much less trust, your own body… like others are judging you, like you can’t as readily be your full self, confident and adult, proud.)

  9. Mary
    August 26, 2012 | 9:48 am

    Going without makeup is being honest, as well.

    I’ve noticed that if I have a bit of a breakout but don’t cover it up, or use only very minimal coverage (just on the spots), that if I am happy and confident, people I interact with respond in a warm and open way. But if I am closed off and “hiding” through my break-out-induced shyness, then people are also closed off and I feel more self-conscious.

    I also think that with the natural cleansing methods a lot of us use (manuka, jojoba, aloe), that our non-blemished skin can look really soft and beautiful and I hate to cover that loveliness up with mineral makeup. I almost think that good skin with a few spots can look better than totally false and made up skin. This depends on how bad one’s acne is, of course…and how confident one feels that particular day…but yeah, natural is beautiful!

    • Mary
      August 26, 2012 | 9:51 am

      It feels good when people accept you as your true and natural self. The hiding is over, then.

    • Annie
      August 26, 2012 | 1:53 pm

      I love this. Thanks!

  10. Sufyan
    August 26, 2012 | 10:31 am

    Just say if people looked at us with having acne how do you think they’d think about us, as a Human being. Would they feel disgusted or would they hate us ? It’s a question I always ask myself after someone has seen me with acne.

    I always think ‘ oh no he/she has seen me with acne what are they gonna think ? ‘ does that happen with you guys and gals ? do you have that guilt inside of you ? I always have that and it’s hard to get rid of.

    • Mary
      August 26, 2012 | 12:21 pm

      I do have that guilt as well but I think it’s very egocentric of us and that we worry more than we need to… If the person responds to you in a normal or positive way, even with the acne, doesn’t that prove that we are valid people? I see others with acne and I don’t think less of them for it…so do others think less of us? No, I don’t think they do… But it’s all about what feeling we project from ourselves. People go off of that, and that feeling can be a positive or negative one.

    • Annie
      August 26, 2012 | 2:01 pm

      I do have that feeling, for sure, and I also agree with Mary. I especially have that feeling around newish romantic partners and people I feel may be judgmental. I think it’s this primal black-and-white seeking of total acceptance and fear of total rejection. I think the depression is related to that feeling that if we leave the house, there is little chance of gaining real acceptance (because we cannot always leave the house with acceptance for ourselves even). So it feels futile, a very depressing notion.

      In romantic love, I am deeply afraid my partner is judging me as “an ugly person,” as though I am permanently acne’d and therefor perhaps damaged or less valuable “goods”. Our society is hugely tied up in looks, and I have spent much of my life trying to fit the image I am surrounded by; so acne is kind of the ultimate demoralizing agent in my life, after working on so many aspects of inner and outer beauty… I feel I am flawed, incomplete, or damaged. But I know better because, unfortunately, I’ve had to build relationships based on my underlying and inner beauty, and others can recognize it without your face showing it in every single way you want. Nice lesson.

  11. eva
    August 26, 2012 | 12:33 pm

    It’s funny, in my late teens, when my acne was bad, I would talk quite a lot about it, to my boyfriend at the time and to my mom and also to my best friend. Only now, as my acne is very mild, it’s rather occasional pimples and bleackheads and rashes that are bothering me, I have a much harder time being open about it. It might sound really stupid, but I’m 32 now, and deep down inside I see it as my personal failure that I’ve reached my thirties without having figured out how to have nice smooth skin. Now I’m embarrassed to talk about my skin or to admit how much time I spend on the whole skin topic. All of my friends around me have really nice skin and they really don’t bother that much about what they are putting into their bodies or onto their skin, and they are not even balanced and calm, but their skin is never affected, while I get a rash every time I’m upset. It’s only here in the www where I can talk openley and share my fears, seeing that I’m not the only one being obsessed with their skin issues :)

    • Tracy
      August 26, 2012 | 8:23 pm

      Hi Eva – yes I can understand that for sure! It’s like I said in my video last week when I cried in front of my friends over it – it feels so silly to explain that this little bit of acne can make me SO upset. Where as I guess I felt more justified about being upset when my acne was visibly bad. Oh well… I guess we really need to stop justifying ourselves to anyone else… I’m also glad we can talk about this together here :)

  12. Kim
    August 26, 2012 | 1:24 pm

    http://www.acneeinstein.com/abolish-acne-anxiety-with-this-weird-theory-of-emotion/#comment-36
    Hey all,
    Found this and thought it eas interesting study.. Hope it can be of some help:) i did the relaxation audio and ot helped me feel very relaxed!

    • Tracy
      August 26, 2012 | 8:24 pm

      Hi Kim, thanks for sharing this… I think I’d actually heard of that before, it’s really interesting!

    • Sufyan
      August 27, 2012 | 3:30 am

      Thanks for the link ! I have this Anxiety thing in me. I’m gonna try it out :-)

  13. Megan
    August 26, 2012 | 6:16 pm

    Tracy – I can’t resist commenting. Your honesty and candidness is moving. I’ve been following your blog for awhile…I actually grew up in the same small town, though I don’t think our paths ever crossed.

    I’d lost the link to your blog a couple of months ago when my husband overhauled our computer, and had forgotten about it (sorry :(!) until recently. Catching up on the entries I’ve missed has been hilariously synchronistic, as I’ve been looking into FODMAPS for my own digestive issues, recently learned EFT and have a trip to Lasqueti planned!

    I know your blog is primarily geared at acne sufferers, and while I’m not a severe sufferer myself, I can relate to a lot of what you post (particularly around anxiety) and love learning new things about nutrition and holistic-type living (I’ve been keeping a blog myself, though mostly as my own expressive outlet).

    Just wanted to share my appreciation for what you’re doing and express my gratitude for your sincere openness. :)

    • Tracy
      August 26, 2012 | 8:34 pm

      Hi Megan! Nice to hear from you :) I’m glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my blog! And that’s funny to hear you grew up in Powell River… I often wonder to myself if I have any followers in this town and I have no idea hahah.. not you, of course, I take it you live elsewhere! Also your blog is rad… good luck with your facebook fast.. I’m in the process of trying to quit doing everything on the internet that doesn’t lead to a productive action, so I can relate… woweee, not an easy task!

      • Megan
        August 27, 2012 | 7:37 am

        Yeah, I’ve been in Victoria for the past eight years (wholly cow, it’s been that long!), but I still find myself homesick for PR sometimes.

        And thank you! :) I’ve been reading a little bit about how to maximize productivity on the Internet–I don’t think outright quitting Facebook is the key (so I’m learning), but once this fast is up, I’m definitely putting a cap on the amount of time I spend on it, haha! (In the meantime, I continue to feel totally disconnected from mainstream culture, ha!).

        • Tracy
          August 27, 2012 | 8:24 am

          Nah I don’t think quitting the internet or getting rid of the internet, or completely putting a ban on certain websites is the answer… because the internet (and facebook at times) is so useful, it would be a shame…. we just need to train our brains to interact with it in a more positive, productive way.

          I have been told what you do is when you have an urge to do something unproductive or time wasting, you acknowledge the urge but you resist the urge and don’t do it, and then over time this trains your brain to know that it doesn’t get rewarded when it gives you the time wasting/idle surfing urge, and then it stops giving you the urge!

          That’s the theory anyway… I’ve been putting this into action but I’ve relapsed a few times. I’m doing better this time, but it’s still really hard :)

  14. Sarah
    August 26, 2012 | 8:16 pm

    I use to be the exact same way…I wouldn’t tell anybody about it, never let anyone see me without makeup, but then it got so bad at one point I broke down. Of course my parents/siblings use to kind of know about it when it wasn’t so bad, I had no problem not wearing makeup around them. But when it got bad, I opened up to my mom about the emotional problems. In the past few years, I’ve opened up about it with my closest friends and boyfriend. I never thought in my life I would be able to open up to a boyfriend, but I think if you meet a guy who loves and respects you, he won’t care at all. I use to be the girl that would have to have every spot covered up, and in the morning I would always wake up first to cover up my acne. Even in the beginning of our relationship I did, but once I opened up about it, he didn’t care and still thought I was beautiful; it let so much stress off my shoulders. The hardest part is getting the courage to say it, but i’ve learned that being able to open up about your biggest insecurities gives you a sense of strength, at least it does for me. And I have to say when someone accepts you for who you are, and still thinks you are beautiful, it can give you a boost of confidence as well. It has made me not care so much what other people think of me. I think that opening up to people you are close to is usually always a good idea even if they don’t understand the pain, at least you know they accept you for who you are. I’ve gotten to the point I can talk to anybody about it, my challenge is going out in public without makeup…slowly trying to conquer that.

    • Tracy
      August 26, 2012 | 8:35 pm

      Hi Sarah, that’s fantastic to hear you’ve found someone who accepts and loves you for who you are :) It feels so wonderful. Good luck with quitting makeup! It’s a really tough thing to crack, but it’s pretty sweet when you end up feeling comfortable without it

  15. Elina
    August 28, 2012 | 8:12 am

    Thank you Tracy for talking about this! The anxiety that comes with acne is certainly not something everyone understands so reading the experiences from our “acne-friends” really helps! Reading Annies comment about running to put on makeup when the doorbell rings made me laugh – I do that too! And opening the door, or going outside, without make up? Never! And even though I do sometimes mention going to a dermatologist or doing other things to improve my skin to my friends I don’t really want them to see or notice my acne. My friends all went on holiday together this summer, but of course I stayed at home so that they wouldn’t see me without make up…

    About noticing other peoples acne: This summer I worked with a girl who had worse skin than I have (and mine is bad). She didn’t wear any make up at all. And even though I noticed her acne (I always think about peoples skin) it didn’t bother me the way I think my acne bothers the people around me. An example: there have been times at work when I’ve waited for my collegues to finish their lunch before I take my break because I’m afraid they will lose their apetite in my presence. But working with this girl made me truly realise that it’s not just about our skin. When we meet people we see them as a whole: yes their face, but also the clothes, the hair, the way they talk, what they say, etc. For me, that girls skin is not what decided what I thought about her.

    Stay strong and stay beautiful, friends! And Tracy, thanks for a great blog!

    • Tracy
      August 28, 2012 | 8:28 pm

      Hi Elina – it’s really inspiring when you come across people with acne or other skin problems and they don’t wear makeup or come across like it bothers them, isn’t it? – and also when you realize that when it doesn’t seem to bother them, that it doesn’t seem to bother you either – it really makes you think :)

  16. Heather
    August 28, 2012 | 9:52 am

    I agree with being open with the people you can’t “hide” from… however, I’m not sure what to do if someone brings acne up with me. That had never happened to me until this past weekend, when my mother-in-law basically confronted me about my particularly bad breakout.

    She’s completely sweet and supportive, but just wouldn’t stop talking about it… how the answer is monthly $100 facials and how I can’t give up on dermatology because I haven’t been to a female doctor yet. And as much as I try to keep low key about how I’m eating (trying to be healthy and avoid sugar and dairy) she raises everything as a conversation topic in front of the whole family. I’m not ready to be That open, though I guess I should be.

    When someone else keeps talking about it, I feel more stressed out because I can’t “forget” about my acne like I usually can when I’m away from mirrors, and I can’t hope people aren’t noticing because obviously they are. Plus I found myself basically cornered and defending myself about why I won’t “do anything about it.” I could only partially bring myself to explain that I’ve done everything I’m willing to do and now need to try the doing nothing approach.

    • Tracy
      August 28, 2012 | 8:32 pm

      Hi Heather,
      Aw, I’m sending you tons of sympathy – that really sucks :/ you really should only be open about it with those that you want to (for your own wellbeing), not be forced to.

      I guess the lesson here is just to be honest about your feelings in general – so I’d suggest being honest with your mother in law that it’s embarrassing – of course, be sure to say that you really appreciate her support, but just let her know that you really don’t want to discuss it in front of others… good luck!

  17. ally
    September 4, 2012 | 2:02 pm

    I feel totally exactly how you described. I hate talking about my acne, I hate it when people complain about having one spot or two when I have so many tiny small red ones that have lately been getting worse and bothering me so much since I’ve been travelling. I’m coming home in a few days and moving to a new city to look for work in a few weeks where I will see my boyfriend for the first time in months. I’ve become obsessed with looking in mirrors trying to find lighting where it doesn’t look THAT bad. I feel so ugly in what is possibly the beautiful city I’ve ever been to and my self esteem is at an all time low :(

    I wish I could talk to someone about this but I feel like they won’t understand. Thanks for talking about this though and I’ll consider how I’m going to discuss it with people close to me, since it’s starting to affect my mood and my happiness and how I interact with people and my confidence.

    I feel so self-absorbed worrying about this when others have problems that are so much worse but it literally consumes my whole day worrying about this and fearing it will get worse. Sorry for that whole rant, I guess the first step for me will be to share the burden of keeping a secret to people on the internet! Thanks for listening. :(

    • Sufyan
      September 4, 2012 | 2:47 pm

      I have exactly the same problem as you do.

      Think about this there’s people out there who are blind, deaf have no arms and legs. People have cancer and obviously all that is much worse than having acne/redness/spots.

      So if you look at it that way then you shouldn’t be too worried.

      I myself think like that as well. I look ugly with all that acne/redness but when I think of other people and what they might be going through I kind of stress less about myself :-)

  18. Layla
    September 6, 2012 | 1:28 pm

    I stumbled across your blog when I was researching flax seeds, and I have now been browsing through it for about an hour. It really is refreshing to know someone else that feels the same things as me. I never acknowledge my acne with anyone, and I get incredibly upset someone says anything that may remotely make me think they’ve noticed my acne. I had clear skin for awhile, and then I started breaking out again…and it’s almost more painful now because back when I was clear I really thought I was done with this monster. But now it’s come back and it just makes me feel ugly and all I want to do is hide in my house. I spend the night with my boyfriend quite frequently and I always hate the morning when I know that my face looks disgusting. He constantly tries to tell me I’m beautiful and that he never even notices…but I just moments like when we’re kissing and he puts his hand on my face, and all I can think about is is he grossed out by feeling all those bumps instead of soft, smooth skin. It’s just nice to know that there’s another girl out there who can relate to the pain acne can cause. Thanks so much for writing this blog!

    • Tracy
      September 6, 2012 | 9:12 pm

      Welcome to the blog, Layla :)
      Yes, there’s definitely lots of us who feel that way!!! You’re not alone!

  19. Marissa
    September 28, 2012 | 9:21 am

    I hate wearing makeup. I don’t wear eye makeup or any lipsticks, but I have to have stuff on my face. At home, I’m not allowed to cover my face wih makeup because my mom wants me to be more confident. Besides my mom and my younger brother, I am paranoid about anyone else seeing me without makeup! I turn down sleepovers and pool parties but I don’t want to sleep in my makeup and it will wash off in the water. All summer, I avoided the beach because I was too ashamed. I used to be on swim team; not anymore. My acne and spots hinder me, but I like to think it’s getting better. Finding this website and signing up for the emails were a miracle! I see girls who are beautiful that have more acne than I do, but when I look in the mirror, I hate what I see. Even with makeup on, I can tell that people notice it. I used to be so social and always out with friends at parties, but I stay home now. It’s a long road to recovery, if at all, but it’s the “getting there”. You give me hope Tracy!

    • Tracy
      September 28, 2012 | 10:23 am

      Hi Marissa,
      It’s such a difficult thing! We are always so hard on ourselves. I’m sending you love :) I’m glad to hear you’ve found some hope.

  20. Jake Schuster
    August 8, 2013 | 6:10 am

    Tracy,

    Great post with great thoughts. I have a frustrating paradox in my life where all of my friends just happen to be tall, great-looking guys with perfect skin. I am medium height and have dealt with acne for going on ten years. I am the one out of the group who studies Sports Science for school and is thus supposed to be the health expert of the group. I’ve come close to getting completely clear only for stress and lifestyle (too much partying) to be the thing that drags me down time after time. Meditation and gelatin are my upcoming projects. Anyways, your site is one factor that gave me the courage to say recently to my friends that the reason I’d stopped drinking for a while was because of my concerted effort to clear my skin. I stood my ground and looked them in the eye when I said it and they were VERY cool about it. Big relief! Thank you for this great site, keep up the good work, and congrats on your nuptials!!!!

    • Tracy
      August 8, 2013 | 8:46 pm

      That’s great that you were honest and it worked out. I really think that it’s true that if when you say something you are confident and clear about it and act like it’s no big deal, others will follow your lead and also act like it’s no big deal

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