On Skin Woes, Self-Esteem, and Self-Love

Today has been a horribly sad day, for reasons that I won’t go into because I almost never feel it is my place to do publicly. What I will go into is what I’ve been thinking all day, which is that more than anything else, our world needs positive forces in it to counteract the darkness around us–even positive forces that are fairly minor, like the positive force a mere beauty blogger might be.

So I’ll talk about something I’ve noticed a lot in the last few years. And that is that so many of us are so hard on ourselves about our skin, causing so much needless pain.

And I’ll illustrate it with pictures of my pretty succulents.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten many private requests for skincare advice from readers, both here and on my Instagram. Sometimes those requests come with photos. Almost always, the requests with the photos are framed as a last-ditch attempt for help. So many people confess that their skin problems harm their self-esteem so much that it affects their lives. They don’t go out as much as they would if they felt better about their skin, they feel less confident in every area of their lives, they’re desperate for a solution, any solution, to fix the problems and fix their lives.

Because I’ve seen the photos and heard the stories, I feel completely qualified to tell you this:

No matter what you think it looks like, it is nowhere near as bad as you imagine.


I have never, not once in my life, not once in the many times I’ve been emailed or DMed unfiltered photos of troubled skin, seen anything that’s even remotely close to what the person is describing as happening on their face. I see this tendency towards excessively negative self-image in good friends as well, good friends who talk about how their skin is “erupting” or doing horrible things. It is never ever ever as bad as you think. In fact, in many cases, the skin problems that are described as catastrophic, are barely noticeable.

Deep breath.

So please don’t let your perceived skin problems hold you back from enjoying your life, because it shouldn’t. Because, and here’s the thing, even if your skin problems were as bad as you think they are (and they are most assuredly not), the people who truly love you, the people to whom you truly matter, don’t care. At all. They won’t judge and they won’t mock. They love you for you. You are more beautiful to them than you can imagine, and that has nothing to do with the smoothness or evenness of your skin or how many pimples you have at any given time. It may be counterintuitive for a skincare blogger to say this, but really, none of those “blemishes” matter at all.

I didn’t start this blog and I’m not in this industry to perpetuate the idea that perfection is a prerequisite for a happy life. To me, that’s bullshit. It’s marketing at its most insidious. My take on skincare is that we should do whatever we can and whatever is in our power to feel better about ourselves–for ourselves. For many of us, our skin is a thing that can influence how we feel about ourselves, so improving on our skin can lead to an improvement in how we feel, and that is a good thing. That is an important thing. But in the end, it’s not about achieving Photoshop IRL results. None of us will get there. That’s not the point.

The point is about loving ourselves more and showing that love through the things we do to take care of ourselves, and one of the things we should do to take care of ourselves, is to be gentler on ourselves for our perceived “flaws.” Especially when our feelings about our “flaws” stop us from engaging with our world.

I love you guys all very much, and I hope I’ve been a positive force in your lives in my small way, but today I’m hoping to be a bigger positive force than I have been before. Please know that no matter how much you suffer from hormonal acne, no matter how much you struggle with PIH, no matter how many fine lines and wrinkles you’re developing thanks to the unrelenting march of time, you are all incredibly beautiful in your own way, because you are, each of you, YOU. You matter, regardless of what your skin looks like, regardless of where you are in your skincare journey. And you should never let your feelings about your skin hold you back from participating in your lives to the fullest extent you can, because the world? It needs YOU.


24 thoughts on “On Skin Woes, Self-Esteem, and Self-Love

  1. As someone who really struggled with acne in middle school on top of social anxiety, depression, and moving to another country, this deeply resonates with me. Skincare is a form of self-love and self-care that helped me to feel better on days that have been a bit rough. Thank you for this post ❤

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  2. I love this post so much. I have decided two tubes of tret ago that this is as good as it gets for my skin. I will never have perfect skin, it’s not going to happen as I age. I continue to stay interested and educated and do the best I can. Your blog has been a great resource. Thank you.


  3. My skincare “WOES” aren’t simply a matter of not reaching this illusion of “perfect” skin. Rather, it is of being stopped in my tracks of doing ordinary activities, and missing out on fun, activities with my family and friends on a daily basis. While I don’t care what other’s think of my not so perfect rosacea skin, it is the pain I feel on my skin when exposed to heat, or UV rays. Sometimes I wish it was acne or wrinkles, or sun spots (I know what sounds crazy) but I’m sick of the pain I feel that makes it so I can only go out after sunset. My family has considered moving to a cooler, cloudier city because my skincare “woes” have wrecked havoc on our lives. Welcome to my indoor “life”.

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    1. I also have rosacea skin, I walk around under an umbrella peeking out at the world. Because of the burning sensation when exposed to heat.
      The sun feels like its frying my skin.I know its because of blood vessels are so close to the top layer of skin, But I also know that there are things I can do to help my skin. And while I get funny looks for my umbrella I know that I am doing what I need to do to live a full life, strange looks and all.

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  4. I love this post! ❤️ I’ve suffered with skin issues, and most prominently, recurring perioral dermatitis, and I’ve never taken a more drastic hit to my self-esteem than when my skin was at its worst. I really feel for anyone dealing with skin issues, because it really does affect our mental health! We’re always the most critical of ourselves, though, so this is so important!


  5. I have really bad acne that has been causing me so much stress on top of depression that has been making it hard to find the energy to do my routine, and this post made me cry. A good cry. My acne causes me so much pain, both physically and mentally, and as it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve actually had skin problems, I keep mourning the loss of my old skin which, while not perfect, was the least of my worries. I need to accept that this is my new skin, and that’s okay, and filters and Photoshop are making me hate myself for something that’s not in my hands. Thank you, Fiddy. I needed this. I knew it anyway but it’s another thing to see it written down. Hope you’re doing okay ❤️


  6. This is a super post, Fiddy. ❤ I learned this as a mature adult who got hit with adult acne. All my previous skin problems, I realised, were not so bad – and I’d let them stop me from doing loads of things (in related items, see “middle-age weight gain”).


  7. Thank you for this post Fiddy! You’re definitely a huge positive force in my life! I hope everything works out on your end. Sending lots of love your way ❤️

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  8. Thank you so so much for this post. It was timely, as I’ve been feeling really down about my crazy skin (hormonal acne, stress, lots of travel). Thanks for reminding me that it’s never as bad as I think it is.


  9. Thank you very much for sharing those beautiful thoughts with the rest of the world.
    I do hope that you are feeling better today!


  10. This was beautifully written. I mostly lurk and use your reviews as reference for certain products and have found your reviews to be helpful. As someone who has gone through various stages of acne, and has finally gotten fairly clear skin, I must say that this post resonated much with me. The times of not-wanting-to-go-out, the times of refraining from looking in the mirror, the times when I just dressed down because I hoped no one would stare at me and my acne – they were all real to me. It didn’t help that well-meaning people around me recommended that I do this and that – which did not help. Makeup can only cover so much and when I removed it, so did my confidence. I’m 33 now and I feel so strongly about this subject. That we are beautiful even if we are not perfect. That it’s our imperfections that make us beautiful. That the media is the ultimate culprit in depicting a fake portrayal of how women should be; fair with big eyes, full lips, white teeth and a perfect button nose. Acne was a struggle in the past and I face (different) skincare woes. But every day that I step out of my house, confident in my own skin (literally as well as figuratively) is a step forward for me. Happy International Women’s Day. Love this post – thank you for being “real” unlike so many other bloggers out there. All the best to you.

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