How social media helped me accept my skin

Don't @ me, but in middle school, I never really had bad skin. It was only later, way after it seemed like all my friends had gotten past their puberty-induced breakouts, that my acne decided to grace my face. Now, without fail, I *always* get a ginormous zit between my eyebrows and a few scattered across my forehead right before my period or when I’m super stressed out. (Oh, and they usually don’t go away until about a week before the next group pops up.)

Even before my breakouts, I’ve always been a makeup girl—I live for new trends and application techniques. And throughout my years of playing with products, I was forever trying to recreate the glowy, awless skin of my favorite celebs who look like they’ve never had a zit in their lives. But no matter how much foundation, concealer and highlighter I added, I could never mimic the uniform radiance and smooth texture of those gorgeous, famous faces on my screen. Even after spending more time than I want to admit meticulously applying makeup, I’d feel really drained and bummed when I could still spy bumps under the layers of product.

Then, I started to see some of my fave celebs share their unfiltered skin on social media...and my mind was blown. Keke Palmer recently shared that she suffers from cystic acne caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). When she posted a video of herself with zero makeup, I cheered her on. Kendall Jenner got a ton of backlash for walking a red carpet with bumpy texture under her makeup. Her response? “Never let that [*bleep*] stop you!” Yes, girl! Seeing a literal supermodel dealing with the same issue I have made me feel so much better. Elle Fanning recently posted a photo of her pink eyelids with the caption, “Eczema but make it eye shadow.” Nothing ever spoke to me more, since I too get red, aky, itchy patches on my arms, neck and, yes, eyelids. It’s the worst...but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one walking around with natural pink eczema “eyeshadow.”

All these stunning, seemingly perfect stars have skin conditions just like me. And while I know celebs are real people with real issues, I’d never seen anyone *actually* reveal the truth behind their professional glam sessions and extreme photo editing. Plus, they were so positive about it!

Since then, other celebs have opened up about *their* skin realities. Hailey Bieber deals with perioral dermatitis, China McClain has acne scars, Zendaya gets pimples on her back and chest and Ashleigh Murray experiences hormonal breakouts. Lili Reinhart and Lucy Hale have even posted sel es on Instagram with spot treatments and patches covering up zits.

Seeing this kind of authenticity and honesty has motivated me to be more open about my own skin. Throughout quarantine, I basically stopped wearing makeup. Even when I was on Zoom all day, I’d just rub in some SPF and apply some lip balm. And when I finally worked up the courage to post my own no-makeup selfies on Instagram? The likes piled up.

Of course, wouldn’t you know it, since I started wearing less makeup, my breakouts have become less frequent. I now have days when I look at my skin and finally see it glowing on its own—without any highlighter. Yes, I still get period pimples and my eczema flares up when my skin gets too dry. But I no longer let it ruin my day.

I haven’t abandoned my love of makeup, but I have learned to embrace my uneven skin. I no longer feel like I need a full face just to run to the store or meet a friend. I wear makeup when I want to, regardless of the state of my skin. And that feels pretty great.

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our August/September 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.

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by Erin Reimel | 9/24/2021