We don’t usually see celebrities with acne, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have it. By the most modest of estimates, at least 80% of people experience acne at some point 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, most of the media we receive surrounding it is overwhelmingly negative. Acne is described as “dirty,” “ugly,” or even “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 acne is not. Having acne makes a person more likely to develop low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, and speaking as someone whose teenage acne has not gone away, despite now being deep into my 20s, I can attest to the damaging effects our society’s views on acne can have on young people.
Why is Celebrity Acne Such a Big Deal?
Celebrity acne might feel like one more overly personal thing about celebrities’ lives that the public relishes discovering, and it can be, but it can also be so much more.
It’s such a relief to find out our favorite celebrities are actual human beings, and if you have acne, seeing celebrities with acne can even be comforting. If these people with millions of dollars and access to the best dermatologists out there still have acne, then acne must be one of those things we just can’t control. Celebrity acne gives us permission to accept our skin the way it is. Ideally, we wouldn’t need the validation of celebrities with acne to feel comfortable with our own, but in reality, there’s nothing wrong with feeling less alone when you find out your favorite celeb has acne too.
That being said, it’s important to give celebrities their space. After all, their job isn’t to make us feel better, it’s to be good at whatever it is they do, whether that be modelling, acting, basketball, or any number of other specialized skills. Many celebrities in this article are young and even though their acne is not often on display, they could still be suffering from the various negative societal side effects of acne like anxiety and self-consciousness. Our aim is not to call attention to celebrity acne in a negative way, to make fun of them or ogle them. Instead, we want to change the narrative surrounding acne, from one of shame to one of acceptance. We want to respectfully acknowledge these celebrities with acne as a way to say, hey, acne is normal and okay.
Are There Really Models with Acne?
Yes! Models with acne are definitely a thing. If anything, models might be more prone to acne than you or me due to all the extreme makeup they typically wear for shows and photoshoots. Although makeup doesn’t inherently cause acne, particularly heavy or oily makeup can clog pores and make acne worse. If you’ve always wanted to be a model but you’re worried that your acne would get in the way, some of the most famous models in the world would tell you not to worry about it.
The Kendal Jenner Acne Story
Kendall Jenner is a 23-year old model and TV personality, and she’s been relatively open about her acne over the years. She says she’s had acne since she was 13, and like many of us, her self-esteem took a hard hit. Now she’s one of the top-earning models in the world, and she still gets acne.
The Kendal Jenner acne story and others like it need to be told more often, because the truth is, acne isn’t something that is overcome or cured, it’s something we learn to manage and accept. Many celebrities come forward with their stories of past struggles with acne, but few are willing to admit that they still get blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples from time to time. Kendall Jenner, on the other hand, typically talks about her acne in both the past and present tense, and her acne is sometimes visible at events. It seems the biggest change for her has been her attitude surrounding her acne. When she first got acne, Jenner says she used to try to cover her face with one hand while talking, and often couldn’t bring herself to look people in the eye while talking to them. Now, she still gets breakouts but she can strut down a runway, pose for a photoshoot, and attend glamourous events without even blushing.
Even though we rarely see Jenner’s acne, she assures us that we aren’t alone in our skin care woes, and we aren’t alone in the negative psychological effects it can have on us.
The Bella Thorne Acne Story
Bella Thorne is a 21-year-old actress, model, and singer who has had acne for years, and is as public about it as she can be. Her Instagram is full of makeup-free photos displaying her acne with captions about loving your skin and refusing to let the haters get the best of you.
The Bella Thorne acne story is a little different from Jenner’s because Thorne struggles with cystic acne, a severe form of acne that is often difficult to hide and even more difficult to treat. Cysts are like pimples that are painful, raised, and large, often around the size of a dime. Thorne says she was on isotretinoin, one of the most powerful acne medications on the market, for almost two years. Most people who undergo isotretinoin treatment find that their acne clears up almost entirely for the rest of their lives. At minimum, most people are free from their cystic acne. But some people continue to get cysts even after using isotretinoin, and Thorne is one of those unlucky few.
Bella Thorne is a great example of the power of loving your skin and refusing to listen to what other people have to say. She says when she was younger, looking in the mirror made her cry, and she admits that sometimes it still does. But she is fierce in her defense of others with acne, repeatedly telling her fans not to listen to anyone with ignorant, shaming comments like “Why don’t you just wash your face?” She says everyone with acne washes their face, and she correctly points out that acne is not a hygiene problem, it’s simply a skin condition. Thorne’s acne didn’t miraculously go away in order for her to become an actress, model, and singer. She has built that career with acne, and so can you.
The Jungkook Acne Story
Jeon Jung-kook, more commonly known as Jungkook, is a 21-year-old singer, songwriter, and member of the K-pop (Korean pop) band BTS. Unlike Thorne or Jenner, Jungkook has not been overly vocal about his acne, but it is often visible in makeup-free shots or at shows with bright lights.
Because Jungkook hasn’t talked about his acne, the Jungkook acne story is best told through his fans. It’s hard to know how long he’s been dealing with it or what kind of impact it has on him, but it’s easy to see how it has affected his fans. While a few have turned to stigmatized views on acne, most of his fans are overflowing with support. K-pop stars are typically styled with a lot of makeup, meaning fans don’t usually see their natural skin, which could lead some fans to believe their skin is simply flawless. Jungkook’s fans seem relieved that he feels comfortable having his picture taken without makeup even though he has acne, and some have said that his confidence has inspired them to be confident with their acne as well.
The Lonzo Ball Acne Story
Lonzo Ball is the 21-year-old point guard for the L.A. Lakers, and debuted as one of the most prominent rookies in the NBA in 2017. He also has prominent cystic acne.
The Lonzo Ball acne story is not so much a story as it is a simple reality. Like Jungkook, Ball hasn’t said much about his acne, but unlike Jungkook, there’s no good way for Ball to hide his acne, since makeup would not stay on during a game. Like so many of us, cystic acne is Ball’s reality, and he doesn’t try to hide it or apologize for it, because it is what it is. Many fans love that such a public figure like Ball has such obvious acne, especially as a biracial man. Men are often ignored in discussions about acne, and dark skin presents unique skin care challenges that deserve more attention in the skin care world.
Sexism in Acne and Media
You may have noticed that two of the four celebrities in this post have been very vocal about their acne, while the other two have made no comment about it in the media. You may have also noticed that it was the women who spoke up and the men who stayed quiet. This divide is part of a bigger issue in the world of acne and skin care that affects both men and women negatively.
Women are heavily scrutinized in the media, especially about their appearance, which is why women like Jenner and Thorne may have felt obligated to discuss their acne rather than simply letting it be known like Jungkook or Ball. The media objectifies women, making them objects to observe and critique, and even if a woman doesn’t care about this attention, it is always there, and often demands some kind of answer. Men, on the other hand, are often given more space to be themselves without having their appearance questioned at every turn. Ball and Jungkook’s acne is clearly visible, but it only comes up in passing in a few articles about their careers, whereas Thorne and Jenner have multiple articles specifically about 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 Korean skin care system involves 10 steps and focuses on prevention through gentle treatment.
Acne forms mostly through inflammation, which can be triggered by irritation, so harsh acne products typically only serve 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:
An oil cleanser is the first step because it helps remove your makeup from 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 simply wash your face with plain water, but in the evening make sure to start with an oil 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 or sweat, they certainly don’t help. This cleanser should be used every morning and night.
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, only use this product once or twice a week.
Toner is meant to clear away any residue left behind by these cleansers and exfoliators to make your skin as fresh and open as possible to all the treatments to follow. 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.
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 being less concentrated with acne treatment ingredients, but today essences are much stronger and are basically synonymous with serums. Whichever name 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.
An ampoule is a concentrated acne treatment for your acne 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.
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.
The Korean skin care routine doesn’t only focus on reducing acne, it is also an anti-aging process, which is why an 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 is the last hydrating step of the Korean skin care 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.
The last step in the Korean beauty routine is sunscreen to protect it 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 to create treat your skin gently while still fighting acne.