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Confession: I'll Always Have Acne, And That's *Perfectly Okay* With Me

I've learned to love myself on both good and bad skin days.
acne acceptance beauty essay, having acne is okay
PHOTO: Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
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Acne has been a constant in my life ever since I started going through puberty. My spots were still small back then, but I didn't really give them a second thought until I hit high school. During that time, I was very stressed and constantly pulling all-nighters to get things done, and my skin didn't like that *at all*. It made sure to show me exactly how it felt by getting breakouts, whiteheads, and blackheads on what felt like a weekly basis. My skincare routine at the time was really bare-bones—a cleanser and maybe a moisturizer if I remembered.

I was stressed about school and that made my face break out, which then made me agitated about how my skin looked like, which led to me not being able to focus, and so on and so forth. It was a messed-up cycle. I barely took pictures of myself during that time because I just didn't want to have any remembrance of it.

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GETTING REAL ABOUT ACNE:

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Janina Vela Is Here To Remind Us That Acne, Pores, And Discoloration Are Completely Normal

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In college, I went through an ~experimental~ skincare phase. I saved up my baon so I could buy different products to see if they could work on my complexion. Some worked for a bit, others didn't at all. Looking back, I cringe at the thought of going through a ton of physical scrubs and strong toners because I thought they could "dry out" my oily skin and make my pores "disappear." (Spoiler: They didn't.)

Cheska Santiago having acne breakouts
An example of a particularly bad skin day. Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
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Cheska Santiago
I hated my dark spots, but I didn't know how to deal with them in the past. Courtesy of Cheska Santiago

It was only when I started working that my skin really began cooperating with me. As a Beauty Editorial Assistant, I would frequently get free products to review, so I was exposed to even more products that I only dreamt of buying back then. I began to take note of what worked for me and what didn't. I thought I was finally out of the woods—then the pandemic happened.

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Cheska Santiago
A ~rare~ day when my skin would cooperate with me, haha! Courtesy of Cheska Santiago

At the height of the quarantine last year, I was in a really bad state—mentally and physically. I spent most of my days in my room, feeling like I was stuck in an endless loop. I was constantly crying and stress-eating and the results of my "bad habits" began to manifest on my face. I felt like I was back to square one. I was angry at myself and my skin, but at the same time, I didn't even have the motivation to do anything about it. I was just tired and burnt out like everyone else was.

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Cheska Santiago
I was in a bad place mentally and physically, and it definitely showed. Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
Cheska Santiago having acne breakouts
Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
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After some time, I stopped fighting it. In retrospect, I realized I was being so harsh with myself and that I was basing my self-worth on how my face looked. I would berate myself for my breakouts and put my skin through so much. I've been living in the cruel bubble of social media for so long that I forgot that acne is *completely normal*. 

I realized I was being so harsh with myself and that I was basing my self-worth on how my face looked.

Since then, my relationship with myself and my body has completely changed. Of course, that's not to say I don't care at all about how I look—because I definitely still do—but it's not what I focus on anymore.

Cheska Santiago
I put on makeup without really concealing my spots and pimples, and that's totally fine. Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
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Right now, my skincare routine is concentrated on hydration (yes, even acne-prone or oily skin needs a bit of it!), with the occasional spot treatments, especially if it's the week of my period. Its goal is to give me plump, healthy, and glowing skin, rather than the "smooth" skin I tried so hard to achieve in the past. It took me years to realize that those things aren't really mutually exclusive.

Cheska Santiago
Finally at peace with my face—spots and all. Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
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Cheska Santiago having acne breakouts
I'd still get breakouts every now and then. Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
Cheska Santiago
Normalize selfies with spot treatments on, LOL! Courtesy of Cheska Santiago
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NGL, I still get breakouts from time to time, but I'm not ashamed of them anymore. Sure, my pimples may still take a hit on my self-confidence occasionally—I'm only human, after all—but I've accepted that they will always be a part of me (hello, genes), and that's completely okay. The road to acceptance and better self-esteem was a long and winding road, coupled with tons of self-loathing and berating along the way, but I'm finally at peace with myself.

GETTING REAL ABOUT ACNE:

5 Celebs Who've Been Vocal About Their Acne Struggles

Janina Vela Is Here To Remind Us That Acne, Pores, And Discoloration Are Completely Normal

Bianca Gonzalez Gets Real About Having Acne While In Quarantine

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