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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Between the ages of 12 and 24, about 85% of people experience at least minor acne.

Acne, pimples, blackheads, acne scars, etc., are apparently so widespread and detrimental that there are about a billion products and routines said to get rid of them. Accutane, serums, creams, masks (either homemade or store-bought), and plenty of other step-by-step routines supposedly aid in the fight against acne. Not to mention the hundreds of YouTubers, Instagrammers, and Tik-Tokers that give skincare advice. 

A little over two years ago, I used various products religiously. I tried CeraVe, The Ordinary, Cetaphil, and many others. I followed skincare gurus, went to dermatologists, and watched Hyram videos. To give you a look into the reason for this skincare obsession, here are some pictures of me taken in June of 2021.

If it wasn’t obvious, I was having a severe struggle with acne and acne scarring, and nothing I was doing seemed to help. My skin was a serious source of insecurity. I wouldn’t be caught dead without tons of concealer on, I hated close-up pictures of myself, and whenever I sent Snapchats, I always had a filter on. 

Something had to change, so I signed up for Curology in a slightly more expensive effort to get rid of my skin issues. Luckily for me, Curology was worth my money, and my skin began to improve, slowly but surely, to where my scarring was much more faded. This allowed my confidence to improve; after all, who has ever seen a model or actor with a single blemish?

Now, my progress hasn’t been linear, and my skin is currently not as clear as it was in the photos above (taken May 2022). But this isn’t an advertisement for Curology or even a recommendation. Skincare is something I still take part in. After all, I do love a good face mask, but as my skin began to clear, I realized something. If acne is something that so many people have, that so many people are so focused on within themselves, then why would anyone bother to care about what my skin looked like? And furthermore, if no one cares about how many red spots I have or how textured my skin looks, why should I bother to care?

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take care of your skin. Definitely moisturize, wear sunscreen, and do whatever you need to do. But for me, I no longer care if my skin doesn’t fit into what society deems as “perfect.” I still have plenty of red spots and scarring, but to be honest, I don’t remember the last time I even bothered with concealer. I threw my old one out a while ago and haven’t bothered buying a new one. 

Looking back on some of my older photos, my skin does have a noticeable difference, but I don’t feel like I looked bad. I looked like me. Me with a different skin texture, but still me. I don’t think that I still look good “in spite of my acne,” I think that I look good with my acne. It’s there, and it is what it is. I will continue using my skincare products, but more for my own skin health than for some societal expectations created by unrealistic media standards that are used as a way for corporations to feed off the insecurities of young impressionable girls. 

In our day-to-day life, skin is referred to as “good” or “bad.” This is a binary method of sorting people’s skin based on what exactly? Texture? Tone? If my skin is healthy and protects my facial muscles, then why should it be considered “good” or “bad?” Most of the people who have “good” skin use lots of make-up or special lighting for their Instagram photos. There’s nothing wrong with using specific makeup or lighting to take a photo, but putting these people on a pedestal and treating them as the end-all-be-all for beauty and self-worth is good for no one. 

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you feel good. Your feelings about yourself should not be tied to how you look, especially when it comes to skin. My previous tendency to constantly compare aspects of myself to others is not healthy for anyone involved. Instead, I will move forward, happily holding my head up (makeup or not), and feeling like I look good in any photo, whether I am decked out in make-up and posing or completely bare-faced and lying on the couch. Because I know I look amazing in both photos, and I will continue to think that regardless of the ups and downs of my acne. 

Jess Alschuler

CU Boulder '25

Jess is a junior at CU Boulder pursuing an Aerospace Engineering degree with a minor in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. As a writer for the CU Her Campus chapter, she enjoys writing about the local music scene, television and entertainment, and the outdoors. In the future, she hopes to start a career as an Aerospace Engineer working with NOAA on remote sensing. She enjoys running, hiking, reading, and mountaineering in her free time.