Healing Your Acne: Expectations vs Reality

Dealing with acne can be an exhausting process, and I know all too well how frustrating it can be. It’s an emotional yo-yo, going up and down from hopeful to hopeless, as you try one thing after another to heal your skin.

There is the spark of excitement when you try a new product, or learn new information and think, “Oh! Maybe this is what will fix my skin!” But it’s often followed by the feeling of defeat when you decide it didn’t work. (Surely I’m not the only one who has found themselves in a weeping puddle on the bathroom floor…).

After spending 15 years on that ride, I finally learned that I was actually causing myself more grief than necessary because what I was expecting wasn’t realistic. I was setting myself up for disappointment.

Now that I’ve had countless hours speaking to people struggling with acne, I know that a lot of those expectations are common. So to help save you from unnecessary disappointment and fewer rounds with the yo-yo, below are my top 7 unrealistic expectations when you are trying to heal your skin.

You expect one change to make your skin 100% better.

Reality Check: Acne is usually the result of several things being “off” with your body and your skin – so it’s not likely that one change is going to solve the whole problem. If something you do helps a small amount, that is a step in the right direction. Don’t write it off because it wasn’t a total cure.

Also understand, even if there is only one thing you need to do make your skin perfectly clear, it’s impossible to know what that one thing may be. It’s going to be trial and error. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work.

You expect a product or pill to do all the work.

Reality Check: If you’re past the crazy teenage hormone years and still dealing with acne, it’s a sign that something isn’t quite right. Relying on a product or a pill probably won’t work in the long run. Most likely there are other changes you’re going to have to make. If an easy fix existed – you would have found it by now.

You expect to make constant steady progress.

Reality Check: This point is best explained visually.

progress charts

There are going to be ups and downs on this journey. No matter how clear your skin gets for how long, more breakouts will happen (as I’ve recently relearned). But conversely, no matter how broken out your skin has been for how long, improvements will happen. Learn to take the changes in stride.

You expect what worked for someone else will work for you.

Reality Check: I’ve seen some down right bizarre suggestions for healing acne. “I healed my skin by eating 10 apples a day, nothing else.” “I used a Brillo Pad to scrub my acne away.” “I got rid of acne by putting urine on my face.” (I should note – all of these are real suggestions I’ve seen online…)

I hope these people are well meaning, but how skin reacts is a very individual thing. Not only are drastic things like this not likely to work for you, they’re plain bad advice. In your search for a solution – please keep your common sense and safety in tact and don’t put all your hopes on someone else’s “solution”.

You expect one person to have all the answers.

Reality Check: Hand in hand with the previous point, even if someone is educated, has lots of experience, and truly knows what they’re talking about – they will never have all the answers. This goes for me as well. I know a lot – but I don’t know everything. I wish I did – then I could help each and every one of you. But I can’t.

When reading or listening to someone’s advice, keep a level head. Take the information that resonates with you, that feels like a good fit – but don’t be afraid to get a second opinion or try someone/something else.

You expect improvements to happen over night.

Reality Check: It’s hard to wait for things to work, I know – but don’t abandon a method if it doesn’t work for you immediately. It can take weeks, often even months to see improvement, especially when you are trying to get to the root cause of your acne. Putting immense pressure on everything you try only causes unnecessary stress – and that can prevent or delay healing. Breathe, be calm, and give it time. To help take the pressure off, the next point is important.

You expect your life won’t get better until your acne clears.

Of all the misguided expectations we have around acne, I think this is the most important one to nip in the bud. I know it’s easier to say than accept, but here’s your reality check – that voice in your head that says life won’t get better until your skin gets better is lying to you. You do not have to wait for anything to be happier, healthier, and lead a fuller life. You can start doing that right now. And in making the effort to do that right now, you reduce the stress in your life, the anxiety, the hopelessness – which allows your skin to heal faster. Pretty cool side effect.

Keep all of these things in mind as you navigate your skin care journey. Stay hopeful, but check in with yourself to make sure your expectations aren’t getting carried away.

Now I would love to hear from you. Did you catch yourself saying “oh, that’s me” for any of these? I’ve personally carried every single one over the years – so that’s ok. Now that you are aware of it, what are you going to do to change it? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time.

Much love,

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