A young woman recently wrote in asking me for advice on covering up her acne scars. For 2 years she has struggled with the kind of acne that leaves deep scars. The scarring, she wrote, has "been a huge blow to any self confidence I once had."
She reported some success with lasers and chemical peels at a local dermatologist but was having trouble getting another appointment. She had never used makeup to cover up her acne and wanted advice on what exactly to do especially since she is preparing to start college soon. This is the advice I gave to her, and I would give to anyone struggling with acne scars.
Dear ______ ,
Thank you for writing to me. I was struck by your email in particular because I can read in your letter that you are incredibly self conscious about your scars, which is understandable because our faces -- more than any part of our bodies -- are what people see the most. But I want to tell you a few things that I think will change your life.
Lasers & Chemical Peels
The best way to get rid of scars is to do what you’ve done: get professional help from a reliable dermatologist.
Lasers can do wonders and so can chemical peels, both of which you’ve done. Keep at it, don’t lose confidence, get a program for yourself to correct those problems and keep the acne at bay. (Your derm should be able to recommend a good solution for the acne).
In regard to correcting your skin, you are exactly on the right track. The key for you is to prevent more scarring from acne (hence getting on a good program like Accutane if need be) and removing the scars that you have with lasers and peels.
How to Camouflage Your Scars With Makeup
To camouflage your scars, you are also thinking along the right track. You will find concealers and foundation to be lifesavers if you have spots or discoloration from scars. If you have pock marks, it may be harder to camouflage, but let’s talk about covering up discoloration first.
You can disguise a concave pockmark or scar by using an angled brush dipped in a concealer that's a shade lighter than your skin tone. Fill in the center of the pockmark without going over the edges and then dust skin with translucent powder. If the scar is raised, use a concealer that matches your skin tone and pat the scar with the concealer, setting the concealer with powder.
For more information, see How to Properly Apply Concealer.
The Importance of Accepting Yourself, Scars and All
Finally, always remember that the most important beauty trick in life is to be confident and happy with yourself and who you are.
You are lucky that the scars that you do have are further back on your cheeks and can be camouflaged a bit by your hair, but you must not let these scars hold you back in life or keep you from getting a haircut you covet.
My dear friend David has acne scars literally covering his shoulders and back and yet he goes about his life quite happily with his shirt off (not all the time, of course, but you get the picture)! He exudes such joy and confidence and bliss in life that while you can’t help but notice the scars at first, you quickly forget them because David’s essence is so much more than his scars.
I can go on and on with examples, so I will. There are obese women who are some of the most beautiful, sexy women I know because they carry themselves with confidence and have an internal light that attracts people to them. I have big huge blue lines on the sides of my legs and cellulite on the back of my thighs even though I have a lovely figure and work out every week. I still go out in a bikini and without fancy coverups! People may think to themselves, “Oh, she has cellulite.” But that thought is fleeting and replaced with the memory of my essence which is confident and beautiful (or so I think, hahaha!).
So many people freak out about pimples, but the truth is other people focus not on the little blemishes here and there on you, they focus on the eyes, the mouth and the overall impression someone leaves them with. Your goal in life is to be someone who attracts people, not repels them and the secret to attraction is to love yourself for who you are.
You are going to college, this is one of the most exciting times in your life and it’s important that you surround yourself with people who have good energy and love you for who you are, not what you look like. It’s important also to talk to close friends about the things that bother you about yourself. Not only is talking therapeutic, but it makes the things you are worried about less scary and you’ll find out your girlfriend is freaked out about her cankles (when someone’s calves seem to disappear into their ankles) or her weak chin or her small teeth or a host of things that are a big deal to her, but not really to anyone else. It puts things in perspective.Anyway, I hope this helps you and I’m so glad you wrote because it reminds me that we all have blemishes that we hide and we must live life to the fullest in spite of them!
Have a wonderful time in college. I’m jealous! I want to go back in time and do that all over again!
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