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Toni’s Story

My name is Toni. I am 29 years old and I live in California. I am originally from Ghana, West Africa, but have been living in the states since November 2011. Currently, I am a social worker. I am trying to learn how to be patient with myself, my skin, and my body.

I have three goals for my (Instagram) account. 1. Learn from and be inspired by others. 2. Provide some much-needed representation of Black faces in the acne community. 3. Help other people feel encouraged about their own journeys. 

 I started developing acne late into my teens, but back then it was very mild. When I turned 21-22 is when my acne really came in full force. It’s been about a 12 year battle with acne and acne scars. 

I feel like I’ve tried everything to try and improve my acne. I’ve cut out dairy, changed my diet, tried various topical treatments, bought expensive skincare, you name it. I’m not in a position where I can afford expensive peels or facials. Since the pandemic began, I decided to really try and focus on my skin and spent hundreds of dollars on various products, some which have helped and some which haven’t helped at all. I finally decided to invest in online dermatology and am currently using tretinoin. And no, my insurance does not cover this.   

…there is little to no representation of Black people in the acne/skincare community. It is incredibly difficult to find people who look like me and whose scars look like mine.

My self-esteem has been severely impacted by my acne and the scars they’ve left behind. Especially as an adult, I would look around at my peers who seemed to have perfect skin and wonder why that couldn’t be me. I was very self-conscious about my acne and still am to this day.  Though I am naturally shy, my acne has caused me to be even more introverted, keep to myself, not engage with new people, and build friendships out of fear of judgment.  This is something I still struggle with to this day.

 Every day is a conscious effort to remind myself that my acne doesn’t define me. Though I’ve never really experienced bullying from my peers as a youth, I did experience some “bullying” from family members who would point out my acne and scars. Now I believe they had good intentions and were trying to help, but I always felt so singled out and degraded when they would buy me products without my consent or point out my breakouts. It got to the point where I had to tell my own mother to stop pointing out my skin and treating me like I’m stupid/don’t know that I have acne. 

Social media has really affected the way I feel about my skin and my body. First of all, there is little to no representation of Black people in the acne/skincare community. It is incredibly difficult to find people who look like me and whose scars look like mine. This makes it difficult to find products or treatments that would work for me. Also, social media has created this perfect image of what skin should look like, and mine is nowhere close to that ideal. This is part of why I created my acne journey account. Not only to document my skincare progress but also to provide some much-needed representation for Black people suffering from acne and acne scars and also to gain inspiration from others who are also on this journey. 

 I also recently started therapy not only to deal with some personal issues around grief, but also to improve my self-esteem and learn how to be vulnerable around others; two things which my acne/acne scars have severely impacted. Today, I am grateful to feel self-confident and know that even the moments where I feel betrayed by my skin do not define me nor do they have any value on my worth as a human being. 

I wish people knew how isolating it can be to live with acne/acne scars. How many of us struggle not only on the outside but on the inside too, and that NO we are not sitting idle doing nothing about our acne. I wish people could be more empathic, supportive, and non-judgmental. 

My advice to anyone struggling with acne/acne scars and emotional scars left behind is to be patient, love yourself, and stand up for yourself. Do not take shit from anyone about this journey of yours, which is so very personal. 

Follow Toni’s skin journey on Instagram.

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Rachelle’s Story

My name is Rachelle and I am twenty-six years old from Canada, Alberta. I’ve been dealing with acne for almost two years after I reacted horribly to a facial called Microneedling. I was unaware my skin had underlining acne so when getting the Microneedling facial done it spread the acne bacteria all over my face and in a matter of two weeks my skin purged very badly and I soon learned that I was dealing with cystic acne.

When my skin first broke out I did not have a clue as to how I was going to heal it. A lot of the products I was using were making my acne worse; I was spending so much money trying to find the right products that would work for me. The doctor’s advice was unhelpful because I did not want to take antibiotics to heal my skin so I was quite lost on what to do. I could feel myself falling into a bad mental state and became very depressed. I felt like I was losing myself. I went from being so outgoing and social, always wanting to talk, meet new people and hang out with my friends and family, to never wanting to leave my house. I would cancel events with my family and friends, which was so unlike me, and when I did have to leave my house I would never make eye contact with people. I would just stare at the ground and get in and out of the store as soon as possible because my biggest fear was running into someone I knew. It started to affect my day-to-day life a lot. I’m a mother and I can’t be hiding indoors all day – it’s not fair to my daughter. I really had to find it in myself to build up the confidence to leave my house and start being comfortable in my skin.

I stopped focusing on the negative things about having acne and started to write down the positives I’ve gained from having acne, like how much I’ve learned about my gut health and the importance of putting healing foods into my body. I learned about clean skincare products and how a lot of products have pore-clogging ingredients in them which is just going to make my acne worse. The biggest thing I learned from my skin breaking out is the importance of saying positive affirmations to myself every day so I could get my mind out of the negative place it was in.

…you are more than your skin and you will come out of this feeling stronger and confident in yourself…

Its been a journey with a lot of up and down moments but I am so happy with where I am today. I’ve overcome a lot of challenging obstacles along the way but I really wouldn’t change anything. It has gotten me to where I am now and that is a person who is stronger, confident and happy in her skin.

The acne community on social media is a wonderful place – it lifts you up in times where you feel so down and alone. The support that each and everyone gives you is truly amazing. I am so grateful for the acne community. It really has reminded me that I am not alone in my healing journey.

If you are struggling with acne, I just want you to remember that you are more than your skin and you will come out of this feeling stronger and confident in yourself because you are BEAUTIFUL and don’t ever forget that or let anyone tell you otherwise.


Follow Rachelle’s skin journey on Instagram.

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Hannah’s Story

I started getting acne when I was in sixth grade. It came on abruptly and made me feel insecure like I never had before. I tried all kinds of creams and prescriptions, and even got on birth control to try to balance my hormones, but found little relief.

I tried not to care what people thought because I knew it was out of my control, but I started to get picked on and my insecurity grew. I began wearing tons of makeup to try and hide my skin, but it only made things worse. I just couldn’t win.

Through the years, I tried every product I could think of to cure my skin, but I never found anything that cleared it enough for me to feel confident without makeup. It started to wear on me.

My self-esteem faded and I felt hopeless. I hated looking in the mirror because I felt so gross and dirty. No amount of cleansing or masking ever made me feel clean enough to leave the house with confidence. I was always afraid that people would only see my flaws when they looked at me because that’s all I could see any more.

It wore on me and made me feel so ugly that I overcompensated in other areas, developing an eating disorder, social anxiety, and depression simultaneously. I was a wreck.

Thirteen years later, my hormones have evened out quite a bit and my skin is nowhere near what it used to be, but I still quickly pick out my flaws when I look in the mirror, even if it’s just a small breakout. When I complain to my husband about my skin looking worse some days, he usually says he didn’t even notice until I pointed it out. I’m finally starting to realize that I’ve trained myself to zero in on my imperfections and compare myself to other girls, and those are hard habits to break, but I’m learning.

I spent time, money, and many years searching for a fix, but nothing has healed me more than the simple fact that people aren’t focused on my blemishes when they see me. I used to be determined to have perfect skin, but now I’m determined to be kind to myself – from the inside out. I may not have perfect, spotless skin, but I feel good knowing that I’m doing my part to cultivate a healthy lifestyle and environment for my skin to heal. And my confidence is growing in the process.

Follow Hannah’s journey on Instagram.