Ever prepared for your day wondering how you might be able to hide your skin in that client meeting, in that one-to-one with your boss or how to avoid making eye contact with any other human being in case they catch a glimpse of your acne? As an acne sufferer, I know that when it comes to bravely exiting the house, sometimes all you can think about is that your break out is the first and only thing people will see and pay attention to (everyone on the train will stare at me trying to work out what is on my face), and it is horrifying to think how this could impact your life and confidence (how on earth am I going to convince my manager I deserve a $5,000 pay rise when I can’t even muster the gumption to leave the house some days because my skin is so bad?) or how it will affect your professional profile (I can’t keep doing client presentations, it’s becoming too humiliating getting up in front of people – I feel exposed and like they’re looking at my acne all the time wondering what’s wrong with me or why I’m an adult with a teenage problem and why I’ve done nothing about it although I’ve tried everything..).
Believe me I’ve been there. Feeling exposed, embarrassed, like everyone is starting at you, isolated, humiliated and just downright hopeless comes with acne territory, but feels amplified when you throw going to work into the mix, it adds a whole other level of skin stress to what you’re already going through. So how are a few ways you can move through it?
Quick fixes to hide your skin
Now these quick fixes are not what I advocate you turn to in the long-term. These are short term strategies just to help you get through your day to day life without feeling excessively stressed or overburdened by your skin than you already might be feeling. These are a few bandaid solutions you can employ (again, which are only meant for the short term) to help you get through your longer term strategy of overcoming your acne altogether. This means that over the long term, these quick fixes will become redundant, as you’ll no-longer need them as your skin will be shining!
Again, I don’t advocate this as a permanent solution, but it may help on the days where you’re feeling really self conscious and need to ‘hide’ your acne.
I remember sitting in a client meeting once, with a scarf wrapped so far up my face only my nose and forehead were protruding from my fortress of solitude. My acne had broken out so badly around my collarbone, neck and chin that the thought of anyone seeing it made me cry and trying to cover it up with makeup hurt so much that I couldn’t consider that as an option. So I donned my scarf to literally wrap most of my face up and went from there. The good thing about scarves are that you can use heavy ones for winter and light ones for summer.
More affectionately known as a ‘skivvy’ which brings memories back of kindergarten, the roll at the top of the neck can also be used to cover up neck, jawline and chin acne.
What you need to watch out for: Because you will be putting a fabric on your acne, you must make sure the scarf or fabric is clean and sterilised, otherwise you may end up spreading your infection. If you do ‘cover’ your acne with clothing, consider spraying an anti-bacterial spray 3 times a day (just keep it on your desk). I use the DMK 60 ml ‘Acu-Mist’ both when I’m using acne-covered clothing and whenever I’m at the gym (to combat from any bacteria transported via sweat).
This is probably the staple acne sufferers turn to when trying to hide acne. Sometimes we can jump from foundation to foundation trying to cover up the painful cysts, boils and scarring not realising some of the chemicals can exacerbate the condition. So what should you be avoiding in your makeup?
- Bismuth oxychloride is the pearly, shimmery compound that makes eyeshadows and blushes so attractive and sparkly. Bismuth oxychloride is known to have been used since antiquity in ancient Egypt but now is a manufactured mineral (meaning it may show up in ‘organic’ or safer ‘mineral’ products which can be fine for non-acne prone skin, but for those of us with more sensitive skin, it can be damaging. The compound is harsh and tends to scratch the surface of the skin as well as cement itself accelerating pore clogging and waste build up.
- Lanolin. You may have heard of lanolin whic is a very popular compound that is an oil from sheep’s wool. It has a siimilar structure to our natural skin oil (which can be great) but unfortunately if you have acne, this means it can exacerbate the P.Acne bacteria you have meaning that acne infection isn’t going anywhere, it’s going to get stronger and stay there. Lanolin is a cheap-to-manufacture compound and is found in a lot of beauty products.
- Colour compounds DNC Red 30, 36, 40. These are the ‘pinkish’ colours you can find in blushes, foundations, lipsticks to make them pink. The compound is a bi-product of petroleum and coal manufacturing and is safe in small doses but toxic in large doses. This compound activates a process called ‘bioacccumulation’ where it builds up in your skin, making the build up of bacteria, dead skin cells and natural oils aren’t able to come to the surface of the skin and build up underneath the surface (giving rise to the more painful cystic like acne).
So what can you do?
Now I’m not saying all foundation and makeups are bad (and the three ingredients above are just 3 of many to watch out for) but selecting one that isn’t going to acclerate your acne is going to help you in the long run. Generally if you have acne, a popular over the counter branded make up most likely isn’t for you.
I use a bacterial foundation from DMK speciically made for acne prone skin (this means it can give you coverage AND fight P.Acne bacteria at the same time – what a win win). It may not be the brand for you, but looking for a foundation specifically designed for acne skin is where you should be looking.
If you want to take the organic products path, checkout sites like Nourished Life that host a wealth of beautify products that are organically sourced. To get some colour to your makeup routine, you can look at products that are coloured using organic fruits and vegetables like pigmentation from beetroot or goji berries.
Working from home
Now nothing says ‘run and hide’ like working from home. At one stage of my acne, I didn’t leave the house for 2 weeks because I was mortified of being seen in my condition. Again, this is a terrible short term fix, but one that might help you just from day to day. Trying to negotiate working from home one day a week may take away some of the pain, humiliation and suffering you may experience just leaving the house and going to work. It’s like a mental torture chamber sitting in front of clear skinned managers, clients and colleagues with visible acne and sometimes being able to work from home to hide it, can give that little bit of extra nurturing so you don’t have to feel exposed in front of everyone in your work life.
Now long hair. Not the best ‘fix it’ but definitely one you can employ (I definitely did). It was like a built in curtain I could pull across my face. Growing it long and wearing it out gave me the option of hiding as much as I could when I felt ashamed and embarrassed.
Although it’s a ‘hiding’ technique, I definitely advise being cautious with this one as your hair carries natural oils, bacteria and hair product that when it rubs off onto your skin, it can aggravate your acne. So if you are doing this for a meeting, pull your hair back straight afterwards and use an anti-bacterial spray afterwards.
Most of our dead skin cells live in our pillowcases. Have 7 pillowcases washed and ready to go to change every day (see if it makes a bit of a difference). You won’t be sleeping on a bed of dead skin cells and possibly a bacterial warground for your skin to react with whilst you sleep.
Leaders are readers
You’re here because you’re a high achiever and trying to unpack what is going on with your skin (good for you). But keep self-educating and learning about the science behind skin to give yoursef a better understanding of what is going on in your own body. As we’ve spoken about before, you are your own doctor at the end of the day and need to know your body inside out particularly if you want to heal yourself from acne and keep it at bay.
I’ve tried everything
Been there. Beauticians, treatments, dermatologists – you name it. I tried EVERYTHING. Or so I thought. But my ‘I tried everything’ was specific to just beauty products, treatments, creams and pills. I hadn’t tried everything ELSE in my life to give me balance. What about you? How are you managing the following? Once you’re on top of it, then you are managing everything:
- Stress: currently stressed at work? How are you managing it?
- Exercise: Are you exercising and giving your body the workout it needs to excrete waste?
- Diet: Are you feeding your acne with high sugar products?
- Relationships: You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Are you in supportive family, friend and romantic relationships?
- Getting a balance between all of these aspects are what you need to manage and control in addition to the correct beauty treatments to help you get on top of your acne. To read on how I approached this, read more here.
There’s nothing wrong with you
Most importantly. Just know that there’s nothing wrong with you. You are perfect the way you are and are beautiful. Suffering acne can destroy not only your self-confidence but self-love and instead create self-loathing and self-hate. One of the biggest ways to overcome acne (in the long term) is to understand and focus on your mindset and what you’re telling yourself.