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Looking Back: Adults On Teen Acne


We asked five adults to reveal the advice they would give their acne-riddled teenage selves. From not being so judgmental to not overdoing the meds, here’s what they had to say.

Amanda, 29
“I got acne around the age of 13, and I’d tell my younger self not to be so self conscious about my acne, especially at that age—almost everyone is going through it. I also took some really aggressive approaches, and I’m not sure they were worth the side effects. I was on Accutane, which is very strong, and then birth control pills, and I’m a little anxious about what I was doing to my still-developing body with all those hormones. I’d get my younger self off of hormonal birth control and off of Accutane, and find a less invasive skincare routine for acne.”

Anthony, 28
“I would tell myself to find a routine and stick with it! I was always starting and stopping and not following through. You can use the best skincare for acne, but if you don’t use it consistently, it’s not going to work.”

Christine, 23
“I would tell myself that I’m more conscious about it than anyone else. That being said, I couldn’t really help but be conscious of it, and ‘fixing it’ was really all I cared about. So, I would tell myself to take my meds, but don’t overdo it. Dry skin just exacerbates the problem. And not to roll my eyes when someone says diet may have something to do with it. All the bad stuff I put in my body tends to show up on my skin. And I would tell myself to be patient, that the white head vs. scar battle isn’t one I want to wage, and to think long term about scarring. And I would tell myself to remember, as cliché as it sounds, that I am beautiful just the way I am.”

Laura, 38
“I would tell my younger self about the scientific phenomenon know as the ‘spotlight effect.’ It’s a term used by social psychologists to explain our tendency to overestimate how much other people notice about us: our appearance, our behavior, and our social faux pas. We naturally assume people are paying more attention to us than they actually are. When I was a teen, I would stress out thinking my ‘giant’ breakout was all people could see. Looking back, I grossly overestimated the amount of people that even noticed, and there’s research to prove it!”

Jonny, 26
“First, I’d tell myself that you have to give it time. I know it’s tempting to jump from one product to another looking for a quick fix, but sticking with a consistent treatment and acne skincare routine will definitely pay off in the long term. More importantly, I’d stress that it’s not nearly as bad or noticeable as you think it is. Even though it feels like everyone you see or talk to is just staring at your acne, the truth is no one is even thinking about it in the least…they’re most likely worrying about their own imperfections and insecurities.”