Natalie Lukaitis

How I learned to love my skin again

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  • Our digital beauty editor shares her story of how she battled adult acne

    When I was 13, I was blemish free. A lot of my friends were going through the turmoil of teenage acne, but I had a face as smooth as a baby’s bum. It wasn’t until I was 26, when I got my first spot. I had just moved to London from Australia and the pollution levels got the better of me. Well, that, and my intake of coffee increased, which meant my intake of dairy increased too. Within a few months I had broken out on my left cheek and by the end of the year I had certifiable acne on both sides of my face.

    I’ve always regarded myself to be thick skinned. There are very few things in this world that can knock my confidence, but suffering from adult acne is one of them. Nothing can really prepare you for how a few small spots can make you feel both on the outside (they can be painful AF!) and on the inside. And no one can make you feel better by simply telling you you’re beautiful the way you are (but I thank you for trying, Sam).

    My confidence was simply knocked, it was cut down. Every time I looked in the mirror, I was overcome with a sense of defeat. Some weeks, the cystic lumps would subside and I would pray that they wouldn’t come back. But they would. Time and tie again. Disappointment after disappointment.

    With some diligence my acne eventually subsided, but I was left scarred both physically and mentally. You couldn’t get me to leave my home without a full face of make-up three months ago. It didn’t have to be the full works (foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, false lashes, you know the drill), but I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead in public without my security blanket layer of foundation or concealer.

    You see, at the time, to me, my acne scars weren’t just scars, they were a beacon of ugliness, asking for people to stare. Somehow I had convinced myself that because I had a bit of redness on my face, I was hideous. If I chanced a walk down to the local grocery store to pick up some bread sans make-up and bumped into someone I knew, I would physically recoil, attempting to use my hair as curtains to hide my face. My reaction to adult acne was that bad.

    But the big turning point came when my daughter asked me why I hated my skin. She’s 11, so she’s entering an impressionable point in her life. Problem is, my lack of tenacity had taken over so much, she was aware I was wearing a mask of confidence each day. I was gutted that a few scars on my cheeks had taken so much of my self poise away.

    The next morning, I woke up, wiped my face with micellar water, moisturised my skin, kissed my daughter goodbye and went to work. She had a great big smile on her face. She knew she had made a difference with one question. She had woken me up to the fact that skin is just skin. It doesn’t define who I am.

    I won’t lie. When I left the house, I felt the most self-conscious I’ve ever felt. But after a while I started to feel comfortable in my skin again. I wore my acne scars with pride that day and I’ve been wearing them the same way ever since.

    Yes, I still love make-up and if I can really be bothered in the morning, I’ll go to the effort of applying it all. But on the days I want to just be me, I do and I do it feeling like I love the skin I’m in.

    Black Friday 2021

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