So many people think they have bad skin, but more often than not, they really don’t.


I cannot tell you how many times I meet people or advise clients who tell me how bad their skin is, when in fact their skin is never half as bad as they perceive it to be.

Seriously, this happens 99% of the time. The other 1% is truly merited – when skin shows skin disorders, needing attention.

Complaints about breakouts or blackheads are especially common.  Sometimes people tell me they have “very bad acne.” I look at their skin and think: What? Where? Half the time, I can’t even see the blemishes standing a foot or two away.  Being a trained skin professional, I immediately and automatically assess the skin of everyone I look at within the first 10 seconds – strangers or not.

So this begs the question – why do people think their skin is so bad?

There are probably dozens of reasons, but that’s not what I want to talk about…

Reality Check

Instead, I’d like to do a reality check, re-assure you if you’re feeling bad about your skin, and re-focus your attention on more productive ways to spend your mental energy.

So, my first goal is to persuade you not to feel so bad. I don’t want to downplay your skin concerns, or tell you that you don’t have bad skin when you are truly distressed about your skin.

But I do want to allay your grief if you are frustrated about your skin.  Obviously I can’t see your skin, but here’s what I can tell you:

First, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s not permanent.

Fortunately, skin is a dynamic, constantly evolving organ that can be changed (for better or worse). Take comfort in the fact that you can change your skin, unlike your height or bone structure.

It just takes time. And the right habits, products, treatments, and diet.

Be optimistic that your skin can and will improve.

Unless you have a serious skin disease, your skin is not as bad as you think it is.

We have a tendency to perceive flaws to be more exaggerated than they really are.  Perhaps we compare our skin to a perfect state of skin – no blemishes, no visible pores, no shine, no irregularities.  We see perfect states of skin in the media. But realise that skin is never perfect.  There are temporary states of perfection, but perfection doesn’t last.

Models, who exhibit flawless skin in photos, are not reflective of the population.  On a bell curve, they are at the very tail end of the curve, less than 1 percent. They have been selected for beautiful skin and more critically, youth.  Most people fall under the hump of a bell curve.  That is the norm.  That is reality.  Remind yourself of that, and the fact that almost every photo is Photoshopped.  Some people are lucky to be born with trouble-free skin.  Skin takes a beating from internal aging and the environment.  Skin inevitably moves from a state of perfection (only when we’re babies) to a lesser state of perfection over time. Everyone will struggle with their skin at some point in their lives.

The great irony is that I hear self negativity from people with good skin far more often than those with poor skin who could really use some help.  I think it’s because if you care about your skin, you expect more.  It’s okay to have high standards, just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Especially not for skin.

No one is scrutinising your skin like you are.

Trust me on this, no one cares about your pores or how your skin looks.  Sadly, we are a very self-centred society. People are far too focused on themselves these days to bother zeroing in on your skin. If they do not care about your skin, they are not paying attention to your skin. If they are noticing something about your skin, it quickly becomes an afterthought.

Now, if you should be so lucky as to have someone in your life who is actually scrutinising your skin, chances are it’s because he or she can’t their eyes off you. They are attracted to you! In that case you should be happy. It’s a gift!

Adopt the perspective that you have a first-world problem.

Remind yourself that there are so many other things that could make your life worse.  Blemishes are not desirable, but you would probably take those any day over the problems I listed above.  At least half of the people on our planet don’t have the luxury of worrying about their skin.  They’re worried about where their next meal is coming from, whether their home will be bombed, or how they will rebuild their lives after a natural disaster.

When you put things into a larger perspective, it may liberate you from feelings of inadequacy or inferiority, and it makes you appreciate what you do have so much more.

Re-Focus Your Mental Energy

The next thing I want to do is suggest ways to shift your focus away from feeling bad about your skin.

Stop looking in the mirror.

This is a colossal waste of time and energy. Looking in the mirror only makes you more obsessed and upset about your problem.

Obsessing over blackheads is a good example. I said it before, but let me say it again – no one is looking at your blackheads. Except you. Seriously! You may think a particular blackhead is noticeable, but it’s really not. The average person who comes into contact with you is standing a few feet away and cannot see it. And if they do, they could care less.

Focus your time and energy on something else. It will be far more productive. You’ll get some benefit out of almost any other activity, whereas looking in the mirror is only going to make you feel worse.

Do the best you can, and leave it at that.

Put some effort into caring for your skin (this requires diligence just like almost everything worth doing in life) and learning about how you can improve it.

After you do that, pat yourself on the back and say, “Ok I’ve done the best I can.”

What more can you ask of yourself when you do your best?  I find that trying hard and giving something your best is very liberating.  It frees you from pressure, guilt, and what if’s.

If at this point you’re not where you want to be with your skin, seek professional help and let someone else take over your burden.

Louisa Ashforth Signature