Acne effects and solutions go further than skin deep

Riley Johansen | Editor-in-Chief

Rilee Malloy | Staff Writer

While the concept of skincare may seem complex and confusing to many, simply looking in the mirror can tell more than one would think.

Many teenagers struggle with their skin as the weather continues to get colder and stress begins to build with the end of the semester nearing. Although acne is very common among teenagers, treatments and skincare routines that reduce acne can be hard to find because types of skin and acne vary by individual.

Junior Holly Zeuch has struggled with hormonal cystic acne for as long as she can remember. Zeuch said that in the high school environment, judgment from other students can make everyday acne feel anything but normal.

“I feel like acne is hard to talk about,” Zeuch said. “People will see acne and automatically assume that that person is unattractive because of that. A lot of people aren’t very comfortable with their acne, showing it or even talking about it, so they cover it. I wish we could talk about it more because we could normalize it.”

Talking about it is the exact thing clinical esthetician Lexi Grosvenor wants to do in her efforts to help men and women of all ages manage their acne.

Grosvenor describes herself as having “a passion for making people feel better about their skin”. She works at HerMD Cincinnati, a women’s healthcare center, providing skincare treatment and advice. The foundations of her advice begin from knowing where individual problem areas for acne are and what they mean from the frequent cystic, hormonal acne to other acne hotspots experienced by many teens.

“Cystic acne is usually around the chin and cheek,” Grosvenor said. “Breakouts on the forehead that could be from a lot of dairy says something about your liver; diet, dairy, sugar. Hairline acne usually tells me that it’s from their hair products, or they are athletes [who may not] wash their face right away after sweating.”

While there are plenty of suggestions and solutions that can be offered by professionals like Grosvenor, it takes time and commitment to find skincare solutions that work. Zeuch said that she tries to stay in an empathetic mindset when it comes to acne, as she knows it’s not a quick fix for anyone. 

Zeuch encourages others to think in terms of the “10-second rule”. If it’s not something that someone can fix in 10 seconds, it helps no one to point it out. 

“It’s okay to have acne, it’s okay to not look like everybody else,” Zeuch said. “It’s a part of human nature — it’s not something that you can usually control. It means you’re doing what you can and as long as you’re comfortable with it you just have to learn that whatever you’re doing is all you can do.”

Changing one’s mindset is no easier than changing one’s skin overnight, which is why the added everyday stress on top of insecurity is quite a real issue. Grosvenor is aware of the impact stress can have on acne and, in a time of year that many find stressful and overwhelming, recommends not slighting self care out of a normal daily routine amidst schoolwork and outside commitments. 

“Stress does have a huge factor in your skin,” Grosvenor said. “Even the way your organs function under stress. I think it’s so important that you do self care, even if for just 10 minutes a day. Just taking a few minutes for yourself.”

For high schoolers, it can be very easy to get caught up in the latest internet skincare fads. Grosvenor, however, warns her patients to not overdo often useless products targeted to teenagers and advises them to stick to the basics when it comes to self care. 

“Staying hydrated is a huge component,” Grosvenor said. “Your skin reacts three days later to what you have eaten or drank, so if you feel like you’re getting stressed out it’s super important that you stay hydrated. Being in high school, it is difficult to find that extra time, so making sure you’re cleansing your skin, your makeup brushes and your helmets for all my athletes. Just making sure you’re taking care of yourself plays a huge part in your skin care in general.”

As students begin to put these habits into practice as an ongoing process to achieve clearer skin, Zeuch pushes for a mental adaptation as students walk through hallways of faces struggling with the same realities as them. 

“It’s okay to have acne, Zeuch said. “It’s a perfectly normal thing that most people deal with at one point or another in [their] lives and just because you have it doesn’t mean you’re unattractive or ugly just because somebody else doesn’t. They are still as human as you are.”