By: Cheryl Chiew //

Acne has been a part of my life since I was 14. At 23, it cleared up for a year and I rejoiced. But when I turned 24, adult acne struck with a vengeance. Teenage me would have been mortified by how unsightly and painful the angry, red pustules were. However, my adult self was less affected.

At 26, my acne is now more under control. But the real glow up was the self-love and confidence I developed from dealing with adult acne. Below are the five key lessons I have learned during my self-love journey.

You have the power to re-frame how you think

In the past, I was constantly worried about how people would perceive my acne and tried to hide my face. My body language was closed and unconfident, which led others to be less receptive to me.

However, growing up I learned most people did not care about my acne at all. And those who did were people I did not want to be around. Understanding that changed how I framed my perception of acne—acne was an external condition that did not affect who I was on the inside.

You’ve got to eat right to feel good (mentally)

In spite of my new perception, I still wanted to get rid of my acne because it was painful when touched. I knew my oily-sensitive combination skin was affected by what I ate. So I made sure to drink 2L of water every day and cut out dairy and processed foods from my diet. Within a month, my skin was noticeably less oily and the number of active pimples went down.

What was more important was I felt more energetic and hence, worked out more. Taking care of my body felt great and my elevated moods put me in a positive headspace. It became easier to speak kindly to myself and build self-confidence.

“Everyone is on their own journey and it does you no favors to constantly compare yourself against the accomplishment of others.”

You should not compare yourself to others

The biggest mistake I made when I was younger was trying any product that promised clear skin. As an adult, I’ve come to understand everyone’s skin is different and figure out what works for me. I delved into learning about skincare ingredients. My skin doesn’t like glycolic acid, AHA, and BHA; it doesn’t like fragrances and tea tree oil. So I made sure my skincare routine was consistent and respected my skin’s needs.

Am I jealous how some people can use shampoo to wash their face and have flawless, dewy skin? Yes. But I also understand my skin requires more care and that’s okay. 

Similarly, in everyday life, everyone has different abilities. Everyone is on their own journey and it does you no favors to constantly compare yourself against the accomplishment of others.

You have to accept improvement is not linear

If you do everything right, your acne might not budge. I went to countless dermatologists and even tried birth control. Still, my acne persisted. It would wax and wane with my period and flare up when I was stressed.

Instead of being angry and questioning “why me”, I’ve learned to accept that progress is not linear and does not happen overnight. What matters more is the process and that I had already tried my best. By extension, I learned to be patient and kinder to myself when things aren’t moving as quickly as I would like them to in my personal or professional life. Being more tolerant allowed me to maintain my inner peace more easily.

Dealing With Adult Acne

Adult acne can be embarrassing but know it does fade and does get better. To all who are also dealing with adult acne, know that acne is something you have, it isn’t something that defines you. Truly, what matters is who you are on the inside, your strength, kindness, and love you have for yourself and the people around you.


  1. I have acne too (like 90% of the world)

    But I have unbearable black heads (I’m Chinese and genetically, it’s very common in my family)

    And my pimples suck tooo

    But this…..article? Peace of writing?

    I’ll call it a influential essay, oops I’m getting off topic, what I mean is that

    This really makes me feel better about my horrible acne

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