Personal Posts

The In-Visible Scars of Acne

Photo Editing Natalie Setareh

I'm Natalie. No matter where you are on your makeup journey or hustle, I'm so glad you're here! I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, it can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I'd love to connect with you!

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Teenage Acne Scars Adult


About a week ago, I tossed and turned all night because I felt compelled to share my journey and struggle with acne. Although I do not struggle with acne to the extent I did in my youth, my pregnancy has discolored my skin and all my old acne scars have become visible, which has taken me to a dark place I haven’t been to in a really long time. (Add pregnancy hormones, weight gain, and the growing pains that come with pregnancy and you’ve got one hot mess!). During my pregnancy, I’ve also had several breakouts that just won’t go away ::ahem, acne:: Instead of hiding behind my hair, and loads of makeup, and staying inside, I’m coming out and sharing this with you.

Nobody sees your imperfections like you see your imperfections.

Everyone is more worried about you noticing their imperfection, so breathe easy!

I wish I had known an “acne survivor” when I battled acne as a high school teen but I didn’t. Fortunately for me, I know “acne” is a phase – it’s not going to last forever, I promise. Hormones go crazy into adulthood and skin changes, regardless of your gender identification or not.

If I can overcome acne and my acne scars, so can you.

It took me several takes to get through this video as I recalled exactly how traumatic it was for me (and my brother) during that time in our lives.

I’m in no way a medical doctor or dermatologist but like others who battle acne, I experimented with and found products that would disguise my acne as much as possible. I am always happy to offer advice based on my experiences and the experiences of those close to me confided in me. It was never 100% covered up and only pictures with tons of flash were able to smooth out the imperfections. My heart really goes out to the guys who struggle with acne because most aren’t going to experiment with makeup or grow their hair long to cover up their face.

Three Little Bits of Wisdom To Help You Get Through Your “Acne” Season Of Life

1) You aren’t alone in this struggle

This one is a tough one because in my experienc, I was seemingly the only one in my immediate group of friends during high school (and parts of college) who had acne.  Of course, they loved me for me, never brought it up, and were supportive knowing why I wanted to “stay in” sometimes. They loved me with or without makeup but at the end of the day, they didn’t really know how I felt on the inside.

I wish I had an “acne” friend, someone who knew what I was going through. 

It doesn’t have to be like, “Hello, I noticed you have acne too! Want to be depressed together?” No. Please don’t do that. Form a relationship, go out to coffee or sit at the lunch table together. Ask them how they cope. How they feel. Just having someone alongside you who knows how you feel and what insecurities you are struggling with is invaluable. Let me tell you, acne in adolescence is almost expected… acne in adulthood is taboo.

Acne is not gender specific — fortunately, women have a community (and industry) of support–in the form of new skin care products, concealers, foundations, spa treatments, you name it! Let’s face it, most men are not interested at all in cosmetics but I guarantee you they are interested in skin care, spa treatments, etc..the industry just needs to become more gender neutral. I see that changing a lot. If you are too shy to spark a new conversation, that’s okay. Remember, celebrities have acne too! They just also happen to have entourages of makeup artists, photographers/videographers, and photo/video editors to make them look flawless. But alas, they are human too. Just google “celebrities with acne” and so many sites pop up.

Paparazzi loves capturing celebrities without makeup or disguises just to show the world what they really look like. Isn’t that terrible!? I mean, at least I can control to a certain extent what pictures of me are being broadcast to the world but celebrities don’t always have that luxury. That’s a disgrace! I especially admire the celebrities actually step out and show the world their acne or acne remind the little guy, you and me, that’s it’s okay. Remember, you are not alone even on the grandest of levels.

Natalie Setareh Skin Type Guide

2) Remember, most commercial beauty photos are edited (for good or for bad)

10 years ago, I would say every marketing picture was edited and that’s what you saw. But now there are so many more images promoting anything and everything, and it’s borderline creepy how fake everything looks!

  • Celebrities like Kim Kardashian use FaceTune before uploading selfies to social media
  • Instagram influencers are often using filters and apps like FaceTune to blur (or light-blast) imperfections in their skin
  • YouTubers invest in lighting that blurs out imperfections in the skin (look for the ring lighting reflections in their eyes, it’s normally a dead giveaway)

Let’s not even get started on how much money beauty companies spend on their advertising campaigns! I could write an entire post on the superficiality of online images, especially those in the beauty industry. However, once you accept the fact the images we see as consumers that are constantly being fed to us are edited and not realistic representations of the individual, then it’s really not a big deal! Consider it art 🙂

Tip: Follow accounts where they intentionally post unedited/un-retouched photos of the skin, you’ll find so much comfort seeing real skin and scars and gasp, even acne!

Follow hashtag #gossuntouched to see real selifes & edited selfies here.

Like I said in my video, physical perfection is unattainable. I just love it! Here’s my before and after — would you have known it was edited had you not seen the before picture? And I did barely ANYTHING to my picture. I could’ve slimmed my face, widened my smiled, added blush & lashes, a dab of lip color, and it would’ve look realistic. I just got done with a Zumba class when I snapped this pic.


Natalie Setareh Unedited Selfie FaceTune Selfie Acne Scars Adulthood Bottom Line: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. If you can’t beat them, join them! Edit your pictures if that’s going to make you feel better and DON’T FEEL BAD that you are editing your picture. Everyone else is doing it. Just be real with yourself… And just FYI — for my before and after, I used the Perfect365 App.

3) Take a good, hard look with your diet

No, really, I mean it. I look back at my time with acne, when I was in high school & an underclassman in college and to be really honest, I really don’t think my diet was super healthy. I would grab McDonald’s with friends after school sometimes, drink sugary Starbucks beverages, and eat out at restaurants on the weekends because that’s what we did. Add onto the fact that acne is also genetic on one side of my family — so double whammy.

Please remember that there are plenty of super healthy people who still suffer from acne. It’s not JUST diet.

Have you had your hormones tested through saliva and a blood sample. You’ll be amazed at what’s going on when you take a hard look at what’s going on in your body — this is normally done through a ND or homeopath.

Last but not least, please love yourself…

You can control how you manage the stressors of acne. You can get through this. If you are battling acne and found this helpful or have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.  I am not a doctor or trained professional… I speak from a place of empathy. This post has been heavy on my heart and I just want you to know that I am here for you.

Stay Beautiful!

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  1. […] on their skin with makeup. I have acne scarring that I wish I could erase some days, too! (You can click here to read my blog post all about the visible and invisible scars I have from that period in my life). However, changing […]

  2. […] actually on Accutane or awhile) I know it can be a bit of a sensitive subject (read/watch my vlog here). Breakouts, hormones, and other issues can make us feel hopeless. A good professional photographer […]

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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin