ACNE can leave many of us feeling insecure and battling to find ways to cover it up. But influencer Kadeeja Khan is proof that you don’t need perfect skin to be beautiful.
Here, Fabulous Beauty Panel member Kadeeja, 24, reveals how she learned to love her skin, spots and all.
Kadeeja Khan has struggled with acne since the age of 11Credit: Thea Baddiley
MANY people think acne is a phase, or a rite of passage you go through in puberty, but at this point, I’ve lived with acne more than I’ve lived without it.
I got my first spot at 11, and it quickly multiplied. After a visit to the GP for advice on how to deal with them, came the official diagnosis: I had acne.
I’d just started secondary school and was already anxious, but now there were a whole host of other questions on my mind.
What’s acne? How can I get rid of it? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t my skin be normal? Why can’t I just be like all the other girls at school?
She tried everything to get rid of her spots, from Roaccutane to spending thousands on productsCredit: Instagram/Emeraldxbeauty
I spent hours daydreaming of what my life would look like with perfect skin, but that wasn’t my reality.
Instead, I was called “ugly”, “disgusting”, “a walking disease” and the classic teen insult, “pizza face”, all for something I couldn’t change.
Would my life be easier if I wasn’t suffering with a skin condition? Would people treat me better? The constant bullying was soul-destroying, and so were the questions in my mind.
I became depressed and felt like the acne was ruining my life, reducing me to tears on an almost daily basis.
Kadeeja says her mental health struggled and she would often Photoshop her pictures to hide her acneCredit: Instagram/Emeraldxbeauty
For the rest of my school life I was a regular at my GP surgery, constantly trying new medications – from topical creams to antibiotics.
Some contraceptive pills can help with acne, but after reading about possible side effects, I didn’t want to take the risk.
After seeing a dermatologist, I tried Roaccutane, an anti-inflammatory drug only prescribed in severe cases to reduce oil production and bacteria – all with no real success.
The now much-publicised side effects of taking Roaccutane took over my life – I’d cry, get annoyed, angry and sad for no reason.
At the age of 20 she decided to drop filters and embrace her acneCredit: Instagram
So by the time I left school, I’d stopped the meds and turned to the high street, spending thousands of pounds over the years on skincare.
Every time I saw an advert for a product claiming to fight acne, I ran straight out to buy it.
As my bank balance plummeted, so did my mental health. I felt ugly all the time, worthless, sad, depressed and stressed. But I was too scared of judgement to tell anyone about the toll it took on me.
After my experience at school, I vowed nobody would have the chance to bully me again, even if I still had severe acne.
Kadeeja says ‘I want to give people a different kind of role model from the retouched images in adverts’Credit: Instagram
So when I started posting on social media, I turned to Photoshop – and I’m not the only one. Recent research by Dove found that by the age of 13, 80 per cent of girls are distorting the way they look online.
Heavily editing my images, to the point where I didn’t even recognise myself, became the norm, and I relished the praise these retouched images got: “Stunning”, “flawless”, “beautiful”.
I’d never received so many compliments. It felt good, but I knew they were based on a lie. I saw myself beneath all the make-up and Photoshop, and the reality was far from flawless. I felt like a fraud.
I didn’t want to contribute to the false beauty standards we see online and in some advertising. I wanted to show the world who I am, so people could see someone real on social media.
Busting the breakout myths
YOUR DIET IS CAUSING YOUR BREAKOUTS
Whether it’s fast food, chocolate, or dairy, there is limited scientific evidence that food causes acne. I’m a vegan and have been for the past year, yet I still have spots.
ACNE IS CAUSED BY POOR HYGIENE
While washing your face, towels and pillowcases regularly is important, it’s not going to solve the problem, and having acne doesn’t mean you’re dirty.
MAKE-UP MAKES IT WORSE
Most cosmetics face rigorous testing, but if you’re worried about blocking pores, opt for non-comedogenic products and always make sure you remove make-up before bed.
ACNE IS INFECTIOUS
Despite what the bullies say, you’re not a walking disease. Although picking spots can cause more near the original breakout, they don’t spread from person to person.
So, aged 20, I dropped the filters on my @Emeraldxbeauty Instagram page and embraced my acne. I loved the positive reaction from people, but with the honesty also came cyberbullying.
I couldn’t believe how much someone’s appearance could provoke such hateful comments, especially from strangers. Thankfully, I get twice as many supportive ones.
Dropping the filters has changed me as a person and I want to give people a different kind of role model from the retouched images in adverts. You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful – you are beautiful no matter what.
Growing up, I never thought I could love myself, and my skin, the way I do today. While nothing so far has cured my acne, I have found things that help…
Nip+Fab’s cleansing pads keeps oil at bay and stops it blocking pores, thanks to detoxifying charcoal and witch hazel, and gently exfoliating AHAs
- Nip+Fab Charcoal + Mandelic Fix Cleansing Pads, £14.95 for 60
Murad InvisiScar heals acne scars, even ones I’ve had for over a decade
- Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment, £35,
The Foreo Luna is great for a deep clean, and leaves skin soft and supple
Murad’s MultiCleanse removes make-up and grime without drying skin out
- Murad Prebiotic 4-In-1 MultiCleanse, £38
VOTE for your favourite premium skincare brand in our Beauty awards and win some amazing prizes.