Wrinkles, acne, eczema, psoriasis: These are are all common skin complaints, but if you happen to be suffering from one of them, it has the power to make you feel very isolated and unattractive. We spoke to some real women who share how they’ve learned to love their skin in spite of — and because of — aging, acne and other perceived “flaws.”
“I’m in my 30s, but my skin thinks I’m 15 again”
“My skin began going downhill after I had my third child. The hormonal changes have apparently triggered some imbalances in my skin tone, which means I get a very oily T-zone and lots of breakouts around my chin — especially during my period.
“I thought this period of my life was done and dusted when I emerged from my teens. To now be in my 30s, having breakouts again, is just not what I was expecting! It can be frustrating dealing with acne as an adult, but I know it could be worse. My sister is 32, and she still experiences painful, inflamed acne across her chin and forehead.
“For me, I have found that a religious cleansing-and-treatment routine, twice per day, is essential. And I’ve learned not to stress about my skin, as nobody is perfect. Even Kim Kardashian battles with dry skin and psoriasis. No one is immune from Mother Nature!” — Jasmin, 36
How to care for your skin all year round >>
“A giant wrinkle creased my forehead — and I cried”
“Without sounding vain, I’ve always had great skin. I’m naturally very fair-skinned, so I’ve always stayed out of the sun, and I didn’t have even a single crease line around my eyes until I was in my early 30s. Then, without warning, a few weeks after I turned 36, a giant wrinkle creased my forehead.
“And I mean GIANT! I cried. It’s not a small, discreet wrinkle; it’s a deeply embedded crevice that runs the full length of my forehead. It’s honestly taken me a couple of years to get used to it. It’s the first thing I notice in every photo. But then I think, well, so what? I’m not 20 anymore; I’m almost 40. We have this perverted idea of what we should look like, and ageless celebrities make it seem like we can have flawless, wrinkle-free skin for decades. But it’s just not realistic, and more to the point, it’s not natural.” — Erica, 39
“I came off birth control, and my skin went crazy”
“When I went off birth control, I wanted to do it the right way by visiting a naturopath to make sure my system was balancing out OK. Even though I was never on birth control to help with acne, when I came off it, my skin reacted terribly. Within a few weeks, I had terrible cystic acne, with lots of inflammation and redness.
“That was around nine months ago, and I’m not quite at peace with my skin yet. I’ve tried every diet change under the sun, including gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free regimes. I’ve tried all kinds of supplements and every beauty product you can think of. My hope is that with time it will improve. Birth control apparently wrecks havoc in your body and displaces your hormones for a long time afterward, so I’m trying not to obsess over my skin and instead just focus on [eating] healthy and nourishing foods, working out gently and minimizing stress in my life.” — Samantha, 27
“Pregnancy has created a monster”
“When I was pregnant with my first child, I had that beautiful, glowing complexion that you always hear about. With baby number two, it was a totally different story! My hormones were all out of whack, and my skin turned greasy, flaky, red and irritated. It wasn’t just my face either — my scalp was flaking and itchy, and it was really embarrassing.
“I did some research and began washing my hair with apple cider vinegar and water. Within three washes, my flaky dandruff started to get better. For my face, I’ve been using organic avocado oil. It sounds a little strange, but it has worked wonders! My skin is much clearer and not as dry as it was before. I definitely don’t take my skin for granted anymore, and now that I know how painful it can be dealing with raw, irritated, inflamed skin, I don’t complain about the odd breakout.” — Sara, 31
“I’ve learned to appreciate my skin for what it is”
“I had terrible eczema and acne in my teens, and although it went away in my 20s, I was left with some pretty significant scarring. When I was younger, it used to get me down, but I’ve learned to appreciate the human body for what it is — wrinkles, sags, scars, warts and all! I’ve created and birthed four children, run a 12 km marathon and presented on stages in front of crowds of 2,000-plus people. When I look at my skin and feel like I’m unworthy, I remind myself of all that I’ve achieved, and suddenly, pockmarked skin doesn’t seem like such a big deal.” — Shelley, 42