My name is Charlotte, I am twenty-four years old and I’m from France. I have been dealing with acne and acne scars for 12 long years. I just graduated with a Masters’s degree in vine and wine sciences with a specialization in marketing.
I first developed acne when I was 12 but it got pretty severe when I was about 17. I got prescribed creams, gels, antibiotics, birth control pills, I visited different dermatologists but nothing worked at that time.
Due to a medical condition, I couldn’t take Accutane. I specifically remember the day my doctor declared: “I am sorry, you won’t be able to take any oral medication for your acne, you just have to wait, there’s no other solution”. This is the day I was kind of left alone with my issues.
I definitely have been depressed because of acne. I have bullied by so many people including friends and family. Even by people who also struggled with severe acne when they were younger.
At every family event, there’s always this moment when people would judge my skin. Always. It happened during a wedding, a funeral, at birthday parties… Somehow, I always end up being the center of attention so, yes, I avoided so many family gatherings because I did not want to hear people talking about my skin.
I think when you constantly hear: “your skin is disgusting”, “you are ugly”, “you should take Accutane” (even though people know I can’t), “you should try this and that”, it is a normal reaction to feel sad and not understood. I don’t know one single person who would be happy to hear rude comments.
I remember crying in my bed at night, thinking about all of these mean and unsolicited comments. I realized I was spending too much energy and time focusing on that, rather than just literally live my life.
To overcome this situation, I decided to let go of people’s comments. This can be hard to do and it takes time but I think it is important to move on. I realized I did not need negativity in my life, that if people were too concerned about my skin, they probably had concerns and insecurities about themselves too. I kind of grew to be more empathetic with people even though they were and are still sending hate to me. I think they don’t need hate back, they need love. Now, I surround myself with real friends and supportive family members and I also started to trust myself more.
Social media is kind of a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, it reflects and puts on a pedestal a vision of beauty standards created by society. When you see celebrities and people editing pictures to have a “perfect” face, eyes, nose, and skin, you start developing a complex. I, myself, used to fake my own appearance by editing pictures, just because I wanted to fit in and look “perfect”. I realized that there’s no such thing as perfection, and somehow I managed to understand that this was wrong to do, for my own mental health I stopped doing that. On the other hand, thanks to social media I discovered this empowering movement with the acne community. I virtually met people from all around the world with whom I could relate to, that understand me, and that inspire me. I created my account “skin.without.makeup” for myself and also for others. I wanted to add my contribution to normalize acne skin (even if it’s a small contribution).
A few years ago, I couldn’t even go out without wearing foundation on my face to simply buy a baguette in my neighborhood. Now, I am confident enough to show my real skin with the world. It may be nothing for a lot of people but it’s such a huge step for me.
I wish people knew that acne is both painful, mentally and physically. It can be itchy. It sometimes feels like your skin is burning from inside as if you’re putting your face on a stove. It hurts because you can feel every little spot growing within your skin. I wish people would understand that yes, we are cleaning our skin, that we are changing our pillowcases, that we tried everything but sometimes it just doesn’t work because we simply all have different DNA, different genes, and therefore different skin. Also, I wish people knew that most skincare advertisements are not true, treating acne and acne scars takes time and having acne can cost a lot financially.
In my case, my insurance is not covering acne and acne scar removal treatments. I have to pay out of pocket. On average, I’d say I spend at least more or less 40€ monthly for acne treatments but most of the products I tried didn’t work for me.
I have two big passions, one is enology (science of wine), the other one is cosmetics including makeup and skincare. I thought to pursue a career in cosmetology, I ended up not doing it because I felt like I couldn’t belong there due to my skin condition. I pursued another career but I’m happy with my choice, I don’t regret it.
I have faced prejudices in the workplace during interviews to get an internship because of my skin and also because of my skin color. It is pretty difficult to deal with because these are things I cannot control but honestly, I prefer not to be hired by people like this than to work for them.
I think since joining the acne community online, my self-esteem improved so much. I’m not alone anymore and I’m happy to be part of this community.
I don’t know if I really have a goal within the acne community. Honestly, I just want to show the world that people with acne are normal people, that you can be confident with acne, and that acne skin should be normalized in our society.
My biggest advice for people who are struggling with acne would be: “Stop focusing on negative comments, you don’t need this and you don’t have time for this. Start living your life to the fullest. You don’t owe a thing to anyone. You are stronger than you think you are. You will get through this.”
Follow Charlotte’s journey on Instagram.