Living with acne: Five women share their experiences with us

Acne is more than a skin condition; it’s an experience some of us have to navigate through daily. Living with acne, especially in the developmental phase of a person’s life, can have a lasting effect on their self-esteem, mental health, and overall well-being. Even with acne being a relatively common condition, people living with acne tend to feel isolated and disrespected in the societies they live in. With acne awareness month coming to an end, we reached out to some people dealing with acne, to share glimpses into their experiences. Through these stories, we hope to build a sense of community and support for people dealing with similar issues, and challenge other members of society to do better. 

What is it like, living with acne?


My acne came at a very vulnerable time–as a teenager. I was in a different country and different school, and felt completely alone. I was trying to understand life. To be noticed was the last thing I needed. But having acne as severe as the one I had, made me stand out in the most uncomfortable way. 

Strangers would come up to me showing me tips and atrocious tricks on how to “get rid” of the acne. I had to find a way to pick up confidence amidst that public scrutiny and own the narrative–the fact that my face wasn’t smooth didn’t mean that I wasn’t taking care of it. Some people even insinuated that the cause of acne was as a result of having multiple sexual partners.  One person even said I must have done something bad in my past life. Sometimes, I think it is the principal reason for my introversion because I would much rather not hear people talk these days and just sink into my own thoughts.

To sum it up, acne has been a big driver for my current approach to life and people, but I’m grateful for it. I was always born to stand out, so I’ve been wearing it loud and proud lately with my experimental outfits. 


In 2021 when my acne breakouts became severe, I found myself gravitating towards long braids, not just because I loved them, but as a way to conceal acne breakouts. I wore face masks to comply with COVID safety measures but also to hide my skin. They shielded me from unwanted questions. 

Acne messed with my self-esteem. I avoided going to places with large crowds or doing anything that would bring attention to my face because I thought that whenever people looked at me, all they saw was my acne. 

The money spent purchasing skincare products specifically formulated for acne-prone skin is no joke. Guilt eats me up whenever I spend so much money on these products because I know I can easily invest it elsewhere or save it.


It helped me nourish my interest in skincare. It’s easy to read up on articles and watch videos when you’re looking for a solution to a concern. I’ll probably never get used to being told to wipe the oil off my face multiple times during the day but the glow is something I’ll always appreciate.

Acne-prone skin can be healthy skin. In the journey of skincare, let your focus be on healthy skin rather than clear skin. Cheers to our 2-3 days of clear skin in a month.


To be very honest, it has been difficult, especially regarding my self-esteem issues.

I’ve always been referred to as “the girl with plenty of pimples”. I’d have people walk up to me in public and ask, “What are you using on your face now?” “Why is it so big?” “Ah, why is it so plenty on your face?” “Try this cream” “Try this soap” “It’s from Turkey, it cleared my own” “Don’t take anything made with oil” “Avoid groundnuts” “Don’t take anything fried” “Eat this, eat that” etc. Younger me always wondered if there was something wrong with me especially when I looked at my friends blessed with “good” skin. I would like to think that there isn’t a skincare product I haven’t tried. From soaps to even antibiotics, but it still wouldn’t clear up. Eventually, I gave up. I told myself that it’s not my fault I’m like this, if this thing wants to clear, it will.

It’s reduced now and while this has made me begin to love myself more, it is still a work in progress. There is just something about gathering the strength to be “immune” to people’s stares and questions. Acne or not, I fine die and I know it! I’m no longer the young girl of 6-7 years ago who wore face masks around because she was tired of people staring and asking what was wrong with her face.


I’ve never had perfect skin but it was never really acne. However, I got depressed when my stage 4 acne started. Depression caused and sustained my acne. I lost all self-esteem. My confidence dwindled. Even as an ‘acne survivor’, it has made me very self-conscious. Any small pimple, I’m worried about going back to how it was before. It has also made me appreciate my skin more. I love my face now. Acne taught me to love how I look.

How can we have more compassion and understanding towards people with visible skin conditions like acne?


I wish people would show more compassion to people with acne. Acne is an actual skin condition that cannot be cured, it can only be managed. Be kind with your words. Stop pointing out their acne breakouts — trust me, they already know (Unless you’re willing to pay for their consultation with a dermatologist and purchase their skincare products)

Acne treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What worked for one person may not work for the other. Refrain from giving unsolicited skincare advice to people whose skin history you know nothing about. Instead, politely ask if they would appreciate your input before speaking. To those without any skincare expertise, stop mixing weird ingredients and selling “concoction” to people in the name of skincare products. Stop profiting off people’s pains. It’s wicked and unjust.


I wish people knew to just mind their goddamn business about commenting on any part of people’s bodies. Because trust me, you’ve not done better research than the person with the condition especially if you’ve never even been in that situation. And most especially if the person hasn’t asked for your opinion. Also if you’re someone who used coconut oil or any homemade ingredient and it brightened your skin, I want you to put a cautionary note at the end of your advice that homemade ingredients do not work for a lot of people, and it is best people visit a professional. Also be cool, and stop staring so much. It’s just acne.


The unsolicited advice/comments, we REALLY don’t want to hear them. we know when we’re having flare-ups, and I say this with much love, there’s no need to point it out.


Acne-prone skin can be healthy skin. In the journey of skincare, let your focus be on healthy skin rather than clear skin. Cheers to our 2-3 days of clear skin in a month.


What I wish people knew: you don’t have to point out that someone is breaking out. We can see. We know. We looked in the mirror. Don’t try to proffer solutions except it’s solicited. Girls with acne are as beautiful as it can get. Not any less. Be kind with your words. Acne is not a disease!

We are grateful for all the ladies that shared their experiences with us at NayLiving. Matter of fact, best believe that a lot of us can also relate. Please remember, we’re all in this together and we are beautiful, acne or not.


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