Darlene is a content creator from California. She shares her experiences with acne and rosacea.
I live in Texas, but I’m originally from California. When I got married in 2019, I moved to Texas in December of 2019. I actually started my Instagram because of quarantine and lockdown. I’d always been into makeup, and I always really wanted to start a page, but I was just self-conscious about what people would think. So, when lockdown happened, I had nothing else to do, and I went through depression being away from my home state, my family, and my friends. So, I began my Instagram page as a place where I could share my makeup looks and my favorite products. However, I was filtering all of my looks. All of my looks were altered in some way because I was really insecure about what my skin looked like.
It wasn’t until mid-2020 that I saw a post of someone from the acne community. She was talking about her acne, and I thought - “Wow, that’s so cool. She’s actually spreading awareness about her acne.” On the other hand, I also thought - “Wow, I’m over here editing my pictures…” So, I pretty much ended up feeling like I was lying to my followers. Those photos were not what I looked like. My skin wasn’t airbrushed, and it didn’t look flawless. So, I decided that I wanted to spread awareness on acne too. I was inspired to let people know that you can still look flawless, have acne, and wear makeup at the same time.
This was a very personal mission because I’ve had acne since I was 15 years old. Even though I've had acne for half of my life, I kept it a secret for most of the time. When I met my husband, he didn’t even know about any of that, and I would always wear makeup around him. He never saw me without makeup. I couldn’t even go to the store without makeup. If I was leaving my house, and people were going to see me, I had to have makeup on. At the beginning of our marriage, I would wake even up earlier than he would so I could put on makeup. I was trying so hard, and sometimes I began to break out from stress. I always break out during stress and anxiety. So later, when I moved away from my family right before COVID I was especially stressed and broken out. From the time that I had known my husband, my acne had never been that intense. I was super embarrassed. I couldn’t even show him what my face looked like! Eventually though, he saw my Instagram page.
He asked, “Why didn’t you ever tell me about this? I would have told you that you didn’t have anything to hide. I love you regardless of what your skin looks like. ”
I told him, “I don’t know…I was just ashamed. I was ashamed of what my skin truly looked like, and I just wanted to hide.”
He didn’t make me feel like that, but I just had the idea in my head that I needed to look perfect for him. So, when I opened up to my followers about my acne, I inadvertently opened up to my husband at the same time. This was life-changing because I had never talked to anyone or even my family about the mental effect that acne had on me.
When you have really intense acne, it kind of affects your entire life. Everything you do feels as if it revolves around your face. So, I missed out on a lot of opportunities when I was younger because I let my acne dictate my actions. Upon really bad breakouts, I would cancel events. I would cancel hanging out with people or doing certain things because of what my face looked like. I do feel like I held myself back from building relationships and from having connections. I was more worried about what my face looked like, and that's where it affected me. My acne kept me at home and from experiencing things. All the while, no one knew that acne was causing me to cancel. I never told anybody, and I internalized everything.
Social media was the first time I had ever expressed anything. At the time that I admitted to having acne, I only had about 1,000 followers, but it felt like a big deal to me because people could clearly see my acne. A lot of people messaged me and said, “I never knew it was that big of a deal,” or they would admit feeling self-conscious about their skin too. The post truly opened up a conversation.
That was my goal because I thought about the past comments on my filtered post that said, “Oh, my gosh. Your skin looks so good.” After seeing those comments, I would think to myself - “My skin does not look like that." I felt guilty and dishonest about filtering my images. Those pictures are still up, and I’ve even posted them on my story saying - “This is so obviously filtered!” But, people don’t always know this. That’s why I wanted to stop using filters. What if someone young and impressionable thinks - “Oh, my gosh, I wished I looked like that” - without even realizing that I struggle with acne too? So, I wanted to be open with the people who follow me, and I want to help others struggling with acne.
Along with opening up about acne on Instagram, I’ve also addressed how I’ve developed rosacea. I saw my first dermatologist when I was 20, and they prescribed me some medication. I don’t remember what it was, but one of the possible side effects was rosacea. I developed rosacea from the medicine at 21. So, on top of dealing with acne, I was dealing with something completely new that there’s no cure for. Rosacea makes your skin very sensitive so now I have to be careful of what I use for my acne too. However, I don’t stress. There’s no point in stressing, and I’ve learned to accept that my acne and rosacea will come and go. I just take it as it comes, and I’ve stopped obsessing. The first thing I used to do in the morning was rush to a mirror and check my skin. That was my first thought of the day, but now, I’m finally in a place where I can do the same things as a person that doesn’t have acne.
I go to work, go to the store, and go out with friends with no makeup. Not covering my acne and rosacea is my new normal, and I don’t see it as something that should stop me from pursuing the things that I want to do. For example, before, I would have never believed working with makeup brands to be possible. However, I’ve been able to work with some of my favorite makeup brands. Before, I would have felt like - “Oh, they’re not going to notice me because I have acne.”
But, now I realize that acne is just a thing that I have. It’s not “Me.” I’ve been able to accomplish anything that I want regardless of having acne. I’m just living my life, and acne is just there, but my world does not revolve around it now. I know now that we don’t have to be poreless and perfect. Makeup or not - we can rock our imperfections. It’s a process, but once we start to be open about our major insecurities, we help to create a difference even if it doesn't seem like it. By accepting yourself, you’re helping others accept themselves and realize that their skin is totally normal too.