Photo courtesy of Blume
It's 2020 and we've reached a point in the culture where we're actively finding things to celebrate, not denigrate. Body positivity has come to shape and influence the fashion industry in ways previously thought unimaginable, with entire sectors of the industry forming and thriving to meet the demands of individuals no longer interested in conforming to an unrealistic physical ideal.
Developing in tandem with the movement recently has been the skin positivity movement. While the movement encompasses a wide range of skin conditions (e.g. rosacea, psoriasis), it's notably helping individuals come to terms with their acne-prone and acne-scarred skin. The goal is to get rid of the shame of "not being blessed with flawless skin."
Acne Is Hella Common
Before we move any further, let's get the facts straight. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. Approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne.
So, yes, it is a skin condition, but no, it's not entirely abnormal.
Niche brands (e.g. Blume, Starface) have begun marketing campaigns that promote #pimplepower with models who are shot in all their "imperfect skin" glory. The message is hard to miss—acne should not be considered unnatural and something to hide. Although their advertisements may seem like American Apparel ads (and therefore not mainstream), they're actually more in line with the direction the overall skincare industry is heading with acne-care products.
This shift signals a changing attitude of what it means to have and address acne.
Everyone's Catching On Quick
Both the South Korean and European Union (E.U.) governments regulate acne-care products just like any other pharmaceutical product, with recent legislation prohibiting the use of salicylic acid (the most common chemical exfoliant used to treat acne) in products geared to children up to the age of 13.
Korean skincare companies have adapted and now tout naturally-derived beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) in their acne-care products. CosRx' Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser ($12) uses salicylic acid (i.e. the most common BHA) derived from Willow Bark. The United States isn't too far off. Neutrogena launched an acne-care line that uses Turmeric as its central ingredient with the intention of addressing acne as a natural complication of having sensitive skin.
The days of harsh, non-prescription acne-care products that make you feel like you're suffering from a god-forsaken illness are numbered.
For adults who are looking to move past their traumatizing teenage years riddled with acne, micro-needling, pico genesis laster treatment, and other pricey procedures geared towards promoting collagen production are promising options. But it is common, scientifically-proven knowledge that acne scars are unfortunately permanent roommates who won't pay any rent, and any cosmetic procedure aimed at reducing their appearance won't ultimately give you "flawless" skin.
The Culture Is Working In Your Favor
Admittedly, acne can just be painful—pain and simple. Even if you aren't looking to get rid of your acne for fear of becoming a social pariah, you could just as likely be working to prevent open wounds, irritating cystic breakouts, and scarring from forming on your face and body.
No matter your journey as a teenager battling their hormones, or an adult well into their 30s frustrated with occasional breakouts and acne scars, it's important to know that you're not a lone wolf left behind by the pack or damaged goods. You can rest assured that there are societal forces at large working to shift perspectives on what it means to have red spots on your face, and how you should feel about them.