starlie smith acne

The Beauty Industry is Starting to Embrace Acne

And you should, too.

Anyone who’s suffered from acne knows what a pain the skin condition can be. Whether its a problematic zit or a face full of painful, cystic acne, pimples of any kind are not only annoying to deal with, but they’re also a big blow to a person’s confidence and ego (hence why there’s a $3 billion treatment industry behind it).

But recently, there’s been a shift in the conversation surrounding acne — rather than covering up, hiding or Photoshopping pesky pimples, celebrities, influencers and even fashion designers are embracing the red dots and putting them on full display. This change first began back in 2014, with the rise of the “acne cream selfie,” in which celebs like Ashley Benson, Lorde and Mindy Kaling posted photos of themselves wearing spot treatments on their pimples.

It's the new trend. 😜

A post shared by Ashley Benson (@ashleybenson) on

in bed in paris with my acne cream on

A post shared by Lorde (@lordemusic) on

That zit cream in your 30's life. At least I'm not going on the Tonight Show later today. 🙄

A post shared by Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) on

The trend was positively received, with the celebs receiving praise for combating the idea of perfectionism they were typically known for. We even wrote a story about it!

Then, a couple of years later, Malaysian designer Moto Guo made waves for sending models down his runway with faces full of acne. Dubbed “nerdy grooming” by WWD, the bold statement was viewed as problematic by many, especially since pimples were sensationalized as a “new trend” by many media outlets worldwide, with several playing into stereotypes surrounding people with acne, such as the condition being caused by not washing your face and of course, being seen as something only “nerdy” teens have.

The major concern seemed to be around whether or not the pimples were real or fake, with some people believing the perhaps-faux red bumps were a sort of appropriation of the skin condition (Esquire‘s Jonathan Evans described it as a “calculated PR stunt designed to capitalize on the reaction to a fake version of a real condition that affects around 50 million Americans”). However, others saw it as yet another positive push to to accept imperfections, especially for someone struggling with acne who is used to seeing airbrushed, flawless faces in the media and magazines.

Flash forward to 2017 and acne acceptance is only getting stronger. In March, model Starlie Smith (a.k.a. Lucky Blue Smith’s sister) was applauded for sharing a makeup-free selfie in which her blemishes were visible.

Also, WHO CARES IF YOU HAVE ACNE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL 💕 (A love note to myself & others struggling) #honest

A post shared by STARLIE (@saintstarlie) on

“WHO CARES IF YOU HAVE ACNE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL (A love note to myself & others struggling,” she captioned the selfie, adding the hashtag #honest.

Acne appreciation on Instagram can also be found on French illustrator Izumi Tutti’s feed, in which she turns her acne into beautiful constellations using blue eyeliner. Photographer Jamie Rose pursued a similar concept in the past, launching the Constellation Project on Tumblr to promote acne positivity.

While body positivity and diversity have been hot topics of sorts in the fashion and beauty industry, the focus has mainly been on size, abilities and skin colour, so it’s refreshing to see acceptance of various other aspects — including skin conditions such as acne, eczema, vitiligo and more. And considering how prevalent and easily accessible Photoshopping apps and even plastic surgery treatments have become, it’s more important than ever that we embrace all aspects of what make us human — flaws and all.

As i-D notes, “If we’re going to prove that the current body positivity movement is more than just skin deep, we need to extend our embrace of our skin — in all its variousness — beyond the catwalk and social media. Pimples are a natural part of being human, it’s time we let them shine.”