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  • Naná

Having Adult Acne as a Black Woman

Everyone wants perfect skin. For some, this is something easily achieved by maintaining a simple, easily implementable skin care routine and simply having great genes. For others, obtaining great skin means going through a strict, extensive routine and always being vigilant about what goes on their skin.

Lastly, there are those of us who despite trying every method in the book never seem to be able to have our skin cooperate with us. What makes having acne and/or other skin conditions as a black woman all the more difficult is that in general, black women are expected to have perfect skin. And to be honest, I can see why considering most of the black women I encounter do have perfect or close to perfect skin.

When we get acne as teenagers, we start out with lots of hope towards our future and pray that the acne is only due to pubescent hormones; however, once we hit our twenties, that hope starts to dwindle, and the future of our skin looks quite bleak. Acne is something that can strip you of all of your confidence and make you feel extremely insecure.

Sometimes it can have less of an effect on your confidence as you grow older, but other times, the scars, both physical and mental, can remain completely intact. To this day, I wonder if I have more confidence now because, although my acne still rears its head often, it is not as bad as it used to be, and I wonder if I would have as much confidence if it was still cystic as it was in the past. I can only imagine the struggle those who were bullied for their acne must go through.

It is hard trying to envision yourself as a celestial melanin goddess when you do not have the smooth, pore less skin that completes the image. Despite everyone and their mom’s endless declarations that black soap and shea butter will clear your skin, grow your crops, and fix your credit, this is just not the truth for everyone.

Having acne is an endless cycle of changing your diet, drinking gallons and gallons of water, trying new products, frantically changing pillowcases, and ceaseless dermatologist visits. And if it is hormonal, it is choosing between having acne and dealing with whatever side effects that are caused by the medication / birth control you have been prescribed. Furthermore, those of us who find products that actually work for our skin are chained to these products, up until our skin gets too accustomed to them, that is.

Right now, I have come to the point where I am wondering if I should just accept the fact that I will have acne for the rest of my life, since it has not gone anywhere in eleven years, or if I am just discouraging myself with these thoughts and that I should not give up the fight against acne.

There is one thing of which I am certain, though. The image of melanin goddesses needs to change to include black women with skin conditions. Black women who have acne, you are not alone, and I applaud you for your self-love and skin care journey.

Naná is a proud Brooklyn native and aspiring digital nomad. She enjoys travel, nature, and art. Her other hobbies include reading fantasy novels, binge-watching series on Netflix, and language-learning. Find her @blackbelletravels

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