Skin Positivity: Learning to Love Your Skin.
Updated: Apr 10
In today's society, there is a lot of pressure to look perfect (thanks, social media). But fact check: perfect. skin. does. not. exist. And who can define "perfect" anyway? Hormonal acne happens (I am a frequent victim). T-zones are oily. Wrinkles are inevitable. The list goes on… How do we fight this? By changing how we see our skin rather than changing our appearance. As I sit here writing this I have zit ointment all over my face, so I’ll be the first to say, easier said than done.
The skin positivity movement on social media.
Just like we have seen a change in body positivity (move aside Victoria’s Secret), a new wave of change is happening in the skincare industry. Do a quick search of #skinpositivity and you will see your feed flooded with real photos of real people with real skin. However, as someone who has had acne, I’m always thinking about my appearance, including my skin, because we (unfortunately) live in a society that makes harmful judgments based on appearance. This leads us to a new term gaining popularity: skin neutrality. Skin neutrality takes form in the acne acceptance movement, as an example: acne is one of the most common skin conditions and, like many other skin conditions, it’s not going anywhere. You can have healthy skin and still have acne—they are not mutually exclusive. The idea of skin neutrality is that skin is skin. It’s that simple and way more attainable. The goal? To start shifting perceptions and for people to stop measuring their self-worth on their appearance; don’t let societal expectations of beauty define you.
My journey with skin acceptance.
When I was in high school I started experiencing hard, red, painful zits on my chin and jawline that usually popped up a week before my period. We are talking zits so bad I swear they had their own heartbeat. Embarrassed and aggravated, my front line of defense was trying to pop the zit (which only seemed to make it worse and led to broken, bleeding skin), slathering on benzoyl peroxide, piling on cover-up, and sometimes hitting the tanning salon... *cringe*. I wanted to look like the girls in Cosmo and was completely unaware that my acne-fighting methods were actually doing more harm than good. For me, acne didn’t just affect my appearance, it also affected me emotionally. I would cancel plans with friends because I didn’t want anyone to see my face and I would usually be in a grumpy mood until the zit disappeared.
Fast-forward 15 years and my skin journey has been a long, bumpy (literally) road. When I tell you I’ve tried everything, I mean it. Facials, spot treatments, cortisone injections, medication, peels, salicylic acid, masks, fancy gummies, birth control (which messed my body up, even more, a story for another time), etc. To be completely honest, I am still on my journey to skin acceptance. It’s not easy and I am not sure if it’s ever going to be but even becoming more aware of the #freethepimple movement (the posting of makeup-free selfies accompanied by acne flare-ups) has pushed me in the direction of healing. I’m not saying that I no longer care about the way I look; I definitely do, but it’s not all that matters to me. Today, I focus more on my overall skin health and less on achieving unrealistic standards set by the beauty industry. I am more informed about ingredients and formulas and choose companies that set realistic skin expectations. Along with a consistent skincare regimen and a megadose of self-love, I continue to tell myself that I am not the current condition of my skin.
Do it for you.
The goal of this article is not to preach that everyone should stop using makeup, that injectables are bad, or that caring about your appearance makes you superficial. Instead, remember that knowledge is power and do what feels right for you. I personally love using makeup as an accessory and playing with different looks, depending on my mood. I am also very conscious of the skincare products I put in and on my body. Bright, healthy skin makes me feel confident about myself, so I will continue to work for it but I won’t let it encompass and dictate my self-worth and my worth in society.
What's the biggest challenge right now to skin acceptance?
Though you may feel like the only person in the room with a pimple, everyone is struggling with their own unique skin issues. Some of the best but hardest advice to follow:
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Our constant push for perfection is toxic. You can’t control acne, so instead focus on the things you can control. Maybe that means you stop following that one company that only posts those unrealistic pictures of models with perfect skin or maybe it’s being gentler with the way you talk to yourself. The real shift happens when we stop listening to certain experts or products that are convincing us how our skin should look. The beautiful yet tricky thing about skin? No two people have the same skin. What works for you may not work for someone else. And that is OKAY.
How stressing can heighten your skin concerns.
Stress, acne, more stress, more acne; this can seem like a never-ending cycle. The horrible truth is that stressing over acne can actually lead to more acne (our bodies are amazing, but c’mon!). When you stress, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol that produces an overproduction of oil glands in your skin. More oil equals more potential for blocked bacteria and hence more breakouts. Stress also causes inflammation in the body which exacerbates existing skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. The solution? I wish it was as easy as stress less, but for many of us, that’s not a realistic answer, especially considering the year we’ve all just had. What you can do is focus on a consistent, efficient skin health routine. Sticking to a daily skincare routine, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and regular treatments with your skin therapist are all ways to combat the effects of stress on the skin.
What can the beauty industry do to promote skin positivity?
No one’s complexion is 100% perfect, though media outlets try to convince us otherwise. As long as the beauty industry continues to use models with airbrushed complexions, we have a long way to go. Try following brands that focus on acceptance and empowerment, rather than concealing and “fitting in.” This will flood your feed with an abundance of skin positive people, products, and companies. Support and shop brands that are transparent about their ingredients, that show real people in their advertisements, and that embody the values you hold close. It may take some time, but there are brands out there that are pushing for change.
Finding the balance between skin acceptance and treatments for better skin health.
It’s no lie that when you look good, you feel good. We are living in a time when the industry is pushing clear, glowy skin which causes us to cover up rather than addressing the problems at hand. Instead of looking for a fast track to better skin, focus on investing in your skin health. Botox, facials, and peels all promise immediate results, but the same problems will continue occurring unless you take an approach that strengthens your overall skin health.
I am grateful to work for an amazing company that is helping to revolutionize the skincare industry. Kalvera Skin Therapy and the line of Kalvera products work together to elevate skin health, so instead of putting on a band-aid, they help you address the root cause and formulate customized treatment plans. I believe companies like Kalvera, with founders that put people and their skin first, will see growing popularity in the #freethepimple movement and help hold the past and current beauty industry accountable. Society might have a long way to go, but we can start by making peace with our skin.
By Angela H.
🗣️ Find out more on how Kalvera Skin Therapy can help you on your skin health journey. Visit us today!