Of all the social media platforms I have, I could go the longest without Facebook. It’s not as quick as Twitter, not as insanely pleasing as Tumblr. It’s, as the kids say – basic. However, without it I would have never scrolled along and stumbled upon Dinuki Suraweera’s Huffington Post article, “How Having Adult Acne Made Me More Accepting of Other Women.” In it she detailed her struggle with facial imperfections after moving to New York City, which she told me of the move and the outbreak, “I think your skin takes a toll when your life is thrown off balance like that.”
At first I wanted to talk to a dermatologist about this topic, but after contacting a few and not hearing back – it was fate this article popped up in my feed. A doctor can tell you this and that, but when it comes to living with it, who better than someone like Dinuki? So we’ll find out more about this 31-year-old copywriter’s struggle with acne as an adult and how she got through it all.
Kendra: You said when you get acne when we’re older, “you’re an insecure teenager in an adult body.” As a kid, we’d freak out to our parents and likely beg them to get us Proactiv. Do you feel adults pretty much react the same way when they’ve got a bad breakout going on?
Dinuki Suraweera: I think it can be similar and different in certain ways. Many adults, like teenagers, still suffer from insecurities but those insecurities are now about career, finances, relationships and overall “real life” stuff. Getting acne as an adult is mostly just really annoying and kind of embarrassing because you’re trying to navigate your grown up life and adult acne becomes one more thing to worry about. So while I wouldn’t say that adults necessarily freak out, it is something you wish you didn’t have to worry about.
Kendra: Did you ever go to any extremes to rid yourself of acne? Like some weird remedy you found on some new age site or something?
Dinuki: Haha, yes! I think the biggest past mistake I’ve made while treating acne is to freak out and start using every acne remedy I read or hear about. While I haven’t used anything too crazy, there were times when I would use over the counter creams along with remedies like tea tree oil and even lemon juice. Over medicating only makes your skin very dry and produce more oil which leads to more acne. Staying moisturized, using oil-free products and one good acne treatment should be enough.
Kendra: One part of your article mentioned how you always thought people were thinking about you when you went out, but you noted how that was crazy. I agree, I think it’s a little weird to assume the world cares about a stranger more than themselves. Do you think that mental turmoil people put themselves through is far worse than the physicalities of acne?
Dinuki: Yes, definitely. The funny thing is, here I was so consumed and embarrassed about the acne on my face while walking by so many others suffering with the same issue. We all struggle with something that makes us feel bad or less than ideal – whether it be our weight, height or some other characteristic. The important thing to remember is that imperfections are what makes us human and the mental abuse we put ourselves through because of them is a waste of time – people care much less about how we look than we think they do. And if they do care, I’d say it’s more their issue than our own.
Kendra: You noted at the end that you don’t hate on the acne woes you went through because it made you learn not to judge others for what they’re going through. Do you feel you would’ve never had that revelation without going through that? Do you feel that life lesson would’ve ever come with age instead?
Dinuki: As we get older, we start to cultivate more empathy and compassion towards others because we start to realize (if not already) that life is tough and everyone is going through their own struggle. I’d say that the acne struggle taught me that everyone has their own unique relationship with how they look. While we want to encourage people to love themselves and not focus so much on what’s on the outside, we also have to realize that we don’t know what that person went through that causes them to feel a certain way about how they look. Maybe I would have eventually learned that in another way if not through acne but I’m glad it happened when it did.
Kendra: What’s your number one advice to adults living with acne right now?
Dinuki: I have two things: The number one thing is to not focus on it too much. Even though you feel insecure about it, try not to consume yourself with it. Once you’ve put things in perspective, treat it! Do your research, go to a dermatologist and get help. Most people’s acne is completely manageable. All it takes is some education and small lifestyle changes.
Kendra: Thinking back through everything the acne put you through, what was the biggest high and the biggest low of it all?
Dinuki: I would say the biggest low was how much I let it affect my mood. Somedays, waking up and seeing my broken out face would completely ruin my day. But looking back, I wish I didn’t allow it to control me so much. I mean, it’s only acne! While I don’t want to discount anyone’s struggle, it’s also not okay to completely lose track of all we have to be thankful for because of pimples on our face. The biggest high was getting rid of it! Lol But seriously, the biggest high is knowing that every struggle, no matter how small, builds character. Anything that makes us more relatable, empathetic and compassionate towards others is not in vain.