4 Famous Celebrities with Acne—Their Stories

Jeff Hautala
By Jeff Hautala, Co-Founder of Exposed Skincare

The majority of people experience acne at some point in their lives, usually between ages 11 and 30, so why is it that we often feel alone in our skin struggles? Despite being one of the most common skin conditions in the world, acne is typically depicted very negatively in the media 📺.

Acne Is Mostly Labeled as “Really Bad”

In popular media, pimples are described as “dirty,” “ugly,” and “disgusting,” even though it has nothing to do with hygiene, and is a relatively minor skin condition. Despite acne itself being minor, the psychological effects of how our society talks about it are not, and having so-called “bad skin” makes a person more likely to develop self-esteem issues, anxiety, and depression. I’m speaking as someone whose teenage acne has not gone away, despite now being deep into my 20s, so I can attest to the damaging effects our society’s views on acne can have on a person.

Kendall Jenner is a famous model, Instagram celebrity, and she also has acne.

Why Is Celebrity Acne Such a Big Deal?

We don’t usually see famous people with acne, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Some of them have taken to social media quite candidly. In fact, it’s such a relief to find out our favorite celebrities are actual human beings, and if you have acne, seeing a celeb with the same skin issue as yourself can be comforting, even liberating. If these people with millions of dollars and access to the best dermatologists in the world still have pimples, then the condition must be one of those things we just can’t fully control.

At the time of writing, many celebrities 🌟 in this article are still young, and even though their acne is not often on display, they all confess to be suffering from the various negative societal side effects of acne. These include anxiety, low self esteem, and feeling very self conscious.

With this article, our aim is not to call attention to their acne in a negative way. Instead, we want to change the narrative surrounding pimples from one of shame to one of acceptance. We want to respectfully acknowledge these celebrities with acne as a way of saying, “Hey, this is normal and okay 👍.”

Celebs Who Struggle with Acne

Performing celebrities might be more prone to acne than other people due to all the makeup they typically wear in front of the camera. Although makeup doesn’t inherently cause acne, particularly heavy or oily make up can clog pores and exacerbate acne. If you’ve always wanted to be a star 🌟, but you’re worried that your acne would get in the way, some of the most famous people in the world would tell you not to worry about it.

Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner has been a model and TV personality since 2007, and she’s been relatively open about her cystic acne. She’s had it since she was 13, and like many of us, her confidence took a hard hit. Now, even with her acne, she’s a reality and Instagram star, and one of the top-earning models in the world 🌎.

Few celebrities are willing to admit that they still get blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples from time to time. Kendall Jenner, on the other hand, openly talks about her present acne, too, and it is sometimes even visible at events. After an appearance at the Golden Globe Awards with her pimples on full display, the star became the target of public scorn. In response, Kendall Jenner wrote a pitch-perfect letter to her fans, in which she was very frank about her struggles with acne.

Kendall has been relatively open about her cystic acne when she was a teenager.

“I had such bad acne when I was younger. It completely ruined my self-esteem—I wouldn’t even look at people when I talked to them. I felt like such an outcast; when I spoke, it was with my hand covering my face.”

These days it’s encouraging to watch her confidently strut down a runway, pose for a photo shoot 📸, and walk the red carpet. Even though we rarely see her pimples, Kendall Jenner assures us that we aren’t alone in our skin care woes, and we aren’t alone in the negative psychological effects they can have on us.

Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne is an actress, model, and singer who has been as public about her struggle with acne as anyone can be. She has cystic acne, and a cyst is a severe form of pimple that is often difficult to hide and even more difficult to treat. Cysts are painful, raised, and large, often around the size of a dime.

Thorne, who often appears without make up in photos, says she has completed a few courses of isotretinoin, one of the most powerful acne medications 💊 on the market that permanently rids most users of their acne skin issues. But some people’s acne struggles continue despite isotretinoin, and Bella Thorne is one of those unlucky few. She has also claimed that the drug made her feel depressed.

Yet, despite her battles, Bella Thorne remains an inspiring example of the power of loving yourself despite your skin blemishes, and refusing to listen to what other people have to say. She’s also fierce in her defense of others’ battles with cystic acne, as this Instagram post reflects:

Bella mentioned that she has completed a few courses of isotretinoin.

[It’s] no secret I struggle w acne. Sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s just not. I’m very self conscious and constantly feeling bad about myself. BUT I shouldn’t feel bad. It is normal to have acne. EVERY1 does! It’s only our society and social media outlets like this one that tells us we have to have “perfect skin” to be considered socially acceptable. I’m here to tell you rn (*&@#!) THAT. I’m going to show my skin for what is it and own it. No matter what any1 says.

Chrissy Teigen and Brooklyn Decker

It’s easy to rave about famous people with acne who’re keeping it real in fun ways too. Chrissy Teigen, an American supermodel, has never shied away from sharing her struggles with acne, or indeed anything, with her fans, judging by her thousands of interviews and Instagram stories 🤳. However, one particular Instagram story caught our attention—Chrissy Teigen’s funny “pimple off” with fellow supermodel, Brooklyn Decker.

It started when Decker posted a pic of her awkwardly-placed pimples on Instagram. Chrissy Teigen responded by tagging her friend in an Instagram clip and giving a cool response.

Celebrities just like the rest have suffered with pimple.

“I see you trying to out-pimple me, Brooklyn Decker. I see you.” Decker shot back with a video and a hilarious, “Don’t even try me right now. I have two eyes on my chin.”

Mild self-deprecation and humor make these two stars’ struggles extra-relatable.

Mindy Kaling

We also love the humor with which Mindy Kaling approaches her whole life. This star and co-producer of The Mindy Project posted again recently about her skin struggles in an ironic Instagram post:

Mindy Kaling depends on light therapy to keep her face clear.

That zit cream in your 30’s life. At least I’m not going on the Tonight Show later today. 🙄

Mindy Kaling was, of course, going on The Tonight Show that day. Her adult acne and face treatments have been a popular topic of discussion over the years, and she even mentions it in her biography, Why Not Me?, Kaling depends on light therapy to keep her face clear.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber, one of the world’s most famous pop stars, is also one of the very few male celebs who chooses to be open about his skin struggles—but only just. In a single Facebook video that’s since been deleted, the star confessed that the condition bothers him a lot, causing him to hide his face by wearing hats 🤠.

In the video, he admitted that his skin blemishes affected his confidence, and pointed out that any photo can be manipulated:

Bieber attributed his pimples to mono and Lyme disease, both of which are particularly debilitating illnesses.

“It’s the worst for your self-confidence [especially because of] all these filters on Instagram. People are like looking perfect with their skin and you feel like that’s a reality, but in reality a lot of people probably have bad skin.”

In an earlier Instagram post, the celeb attributed his pimples to mono and Lyme disease, both of which are particularly debilitating illnesses. He has since received treatment for these, and his wife has helped him get his skin red-carpet-ready with sensible skin routines.

Other Celebrities with “Really Bad Skin”

Here’s a list of other very relatable stars:

  • Actress Brie Larson
  • Actress Cameron Diaz
  • Actress Emma Stone
  • Actress Lili Reinhart
  • Actress Rachel Bloom
  • Model Ruby Rose
  • Model Taylor Hill
  • Singer Miley Cyrus
  • Singer Katy Perry
  • Singer-Actress Selena Gomez

Sexism in Acne and the Media

You may have noticed that not many famous people with acne in this post have been very vocal about their skin condition, while most prefer to keep it very low key. This is part of a bigger issue in the world of acne and skin care that affects both men and women negatively.

Women, and especially their appearance, are heavily scrutinized in the media 📺, which is why Jenner and Thorne may have felt obligated to discuss their acne rather than simply letting it be known, like Bieber. The media objectifies women, and even if a woman doesn’t care about this attention, it is always there.

Men, on the other hand, are often given more space to be themselves without having their appearance questioned at every turn. Bieber’s acne is clearly visible, but it only comes up in passing in a few articles about their careers, whereas the women mentioned here have multiple articles dealing specifically with their skin. Because of the endless spotlight on female appearance, Thorne and Jenner are forced to dedicate some of their publicity to their acne rather than their careers 🌟.

Still, this doesn’t mean men have it easy. It simply means they struggle with different things when it comes to acne and the media. Many men are uncomfortable sharing their skin care struggles because acne is seen as a “girl thing.” Instead of posting encouraging things about loving their skin and making it through periods of low self-esteem due to their acne, many men are forced to stay silent, making them feel even more isolated 🤵.

Korean Skin Care for Acne: A Popular Celebrity Acne Solution

Korean skin care for acne is a popular treatment among many celebrities with acne, and among common folk like the rest of us, too. The system involves ten steps and focuses on prevention through gentle treatment.

Acne forms mostly through inflammation 🔥, which can be triggered by irritation, so harsh acne products typically serve only to generate even more acne. The Korean skin care system focuses on hydrating the skin to keep it from getting dry and easily irritated (and thus easily inflamed), gently removing excess oil, and treating what little acne does form through concentrated serums. The following are the 10 steps of Korean skin care for acne.

Oil Cleanser

An oil cleanser is the first step because it helps remove your makeup of the day. Makeup on its own doesn’t cause acne, but when it builds up in the pores it can lead to blackheads and whiteheads, so it’s important to remove it at the end of every day. In the morning you can wash your face with plain water 🚿, but in the evening make sure to start with an oil cleanser.

Water-Based Cleanser

The next step is a water-based cleanser to help clear away any sweat or dirt that has accumulated during the day or throughout the night. Although acne is not caused by dirt and/or sweat, they certainly don’t help. This cleanser should be used every morning and night 🌙.

Exfoliant

Exfoliants are great for acne, but you need to make sure you buy the right kind. Exfoliants help remove dead skin cells and oil that can clog your pores, but if you use an exfoliant that’s too harsh, it can cause irritation and inflammation 🔥. Look for exfoliants containing salicylic acid or lactic acid, and to follow the Korean skin care routine, use this product only once or twice a week.

Toner

Toner is meant to clear away any residue left behind by these cleansers and exfoliators 🧴. It also restores the pH of your skin and improves skin tone. It’s important to get a toner that is water-based rather than alcohol-based in order to best protect your skin. Toner should be applied every morning and night.

Essence/Serum

Depending on which site you read, you may see this fifth step listed as either an essence or a serum. At one point, there was a difference between the two, with essences having less concentrated acne-treatment ingredients. However, today’s essences are stronger and are basically the same as serums. Whichever you prefer, this step is meant to help actually treat your acne. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, rice extract, or yeast, and use this step both morning ☀️ and night.

Ampoules

An ampoule is a concentrated acne treatment that should contain great acne-fighting ingredients, like tea tree oil 🍃, vitamin A, or vitamin C (though be careful with the vitamin C if you have dark skin, since it has been known to cause light spots). This step should be used every morning and night if you have stubborn acne, but once your skin starts to clear up, one evening application is best.

Sheet Mask

At night, your next step is a sheet mask. Sheet masks are one of the key steps to Korean skin care for acne because they are intensely moisturizing. The best sheet masks are thin cloths saturated with hydrating ingredients like green tea extract, aloe vera, and cucumber extract 🥒.

Eye Cream

The Korean skin care routine doesn’t only focus on reducing acne. It is also an anti-aging process, which is why eye cream is applied every morning and every night. Acne typically doesn’t appear around the eyes 👁️, but fine lines and wrinkles do. Hydrating eye creams containing ingredients like honey and collagen can help prevent them.

Moisturizer

Moisturizer is the last hydrating step of this routine and it should be applied both morning and night 🌙. One of the most popular ingredients in Korean moisturizers, in particular, is snail mucin, but green tea extract and hyaluronic acid are also great additions.

Sunscreen

The last step in the Korean beauty routine is sunscreen to protect skin from harmful UV rays ☀️ and skin damage. This step is only necessary in the morning—and make sure you find an oil-free sunscreen to avoid clogging pores.

If you can’t afford this many products or don’t have the time to apply them all, you can always stick to the most vital steps using the Exposed Skin Care System 🏆. Our Basic Kit includes a Facial Cleanser, a Clearing Tonic, an Acne Treatment Serum, and a Clear Pore Serum to cover the basics of good acne skin care. Our products combine natural ingredients like tea tree oil, green tea extract, and aloe vera with scientific ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur in order to treat your skin gently while still fighting acne.

Our Basic Kit facilitates the most essential skin care steps in four simple but powerful products.
Our Basic Kit facilitates the most essential skin care steps in four simple but powerful products.