I started getting acne when I was in seventh grade, a year earlier than any of my friends. Upon discovering my first whitehead, my heart sank, and I remember thinking, Here we go. And I wasn’t wrong - five years, dozens of scars and countless medications later, I still have acne. In those five years, I’ve learned a lot about my skin. I’ve also learned that people who have never experienced acne don’t always say the right thing. Here are some of the most frequent comments I get about my acne:
“It’ll pass.” / “It just takes time.”
This, by far, is the most annoying thing you can tell a person with acne. Nine times out of ten, when I hear this, it’s from someone way older than me who thinks that their three-day breakout in middle school is somehow equivalent to my years of cystic acne. (Spoiler alert: It’s not.) “Don’t bother with those fancy chemicals,” they tell me. “Just give it a couple months and it’ll clear up.” This is far from good advice. In many cases, acne is heavily affected by genetics; if bad skin runs in your family, waiting around isn’t going to do you any favors. Take action as soon as possible to prevent scarring.
“Just don’t touch your face!”
Again, this comment usually comes from adults who have never dealt with more than mild acne. While keeping your hands away from your face throughout the day cuts down the spread of bacteria, it’s not a serious enough factor to zap your zits permanently. Take it from someone who’s super strict about touching her face and STILL breaks out on the daily.
“No one even notices it.”
Okay, this one I give people a little credit for. Even though you’re trying to be nice, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. For mild and even moderate acne, sure, no one is really going to care that you have a few spots. After all, it’s normal right? But for people with severe scarring, cystic acne and the like, we know we’re being stared at. We know we’re being talked about, even if it’s out of sympathy. And we definitely know our acne is noticeable.
In no way am I saying you don’t have to talk to people about their acne but it’s usually best to let them bring it up - and when they do, try to listen instead of offering tips that they’ve probably heard a million times. :)